We left our cozy little compound, Brad and Abby and I, and took our time hiking back down to the camp. Brad stayed for a few days, but was anxious to return to Walt’s old place. Funny how we still called it that; Walt had been gone for years.
We’d gotten the old pump system working and repaired, thanks to Brad, and scavenged some old PVC pipe to rig up irrigation for the garden. Since we didn’t have to hide anymore, we started digging up the meadow across the road so we could get our seeds in the ground. Oh, we were still careful, but it was more habit at this point than any real fear.
“Damn, it’s hot.” I wiped my face and walked over to the old stone steps that used to lead to a screened porch. “Abby, take a break, will you? You’re making me feel lazy.”
Abby looked up and shaded her eyes, gauging the position of the sun. She shrugged and kept digging, tossing her blond braid over her shoulder, and hollered back, “In a minute!”
See, there’s the difference between us. She keeps going and going, with her “in a minutes,” and when I’m done, I’m done. That’s all, folks.
So I took a swig of water and watched her work. About five minutes later, I gave up and grabbed the hoe again. Sigh. Of course I knew it was important—and this was just the start.
We still had to gather and cut firewood, but the fallen buildings would provide a lot of that, at least for this winter. And Abby would go hunting. Not me. I can shoot, and I have no problem defending myself or anyone else, but I’d just rather not kill something I’m going to have to eat. Not that I mind eating it, but don’t want to look at it first, when it’s still alive.
Had to find water barrels too. Probably go into town for that. Ha. A long time ago, a trip into town from camp was a hell of a lot of fun. Now, not so much, although you never knew what you’d find, even after all this time.
Colonel Barton and his guys had cleaned up the place, and after him, Colonel Hoefer. Mostly, though, they just cleared the roads and shoveled everything off to the side. Big piles of who-knew-what.
In town, too, there was still stuff to be found if you knew where to look.
But in the meantime, this garden was kicking our butts. Four days now, in the August heat.
Abby finally stopped and took a drink. She looked around, grinned at me, and said, “Come on, let’s go for a swim. We can finish tomorrow.”
Thank heavens. I set my hoe up against the steps and walked over to the footbridge, slowing impatiently while Abby caught up.
We took the old trail to the lake, up around the east side of Sunnytop. Years ago, the lake had been full of young girls canoeing and jumping off the floating dock, running around and giggling.
Now, of course, most of those girls were dead, like everyone else, and the old dock had long sunk beneath the surface.
It was quiet now, and hot, the sun reflecting off the water, and the fish had come back. We’d cleaned up a couple of the canoes and used them from time to time. We talked, sometimes, about building a new dock, but we never did . . .