The World According to Luke
Book III: Days of Future Past
Chapter 1: Auld Lang Syne
The next morning was beautiful, crisp and clear, not a cloud in the sky. After checking the lookout, we decided to open the corredores. There were still presents under the tree, with all the commotion of Adam’s birth, the adults hadn’t opened their presents.
The children were still interested in the newness of their toys, which kept them busy and quiet. Joe and Carlos were on the porch drinking coffee and watching the sky. Pretty soon, they had company and more company until all of us were out there sitting quietly.
Carlos brought six boxes with buffalo bone wind chimes. Everybody was amazed and pleased by the soothing sound the chimes made. Joe hung Miranda’s and Josie’s, and the gentle breeze made them oscillate, hammering a real pleasant sound. It wasn’t intrusive if there was a conversation going on, and it was soothing when there wasn’t conversation.
“Nice day,” Gramps said as the wind chime bones rattled in the background.
“It sure is. I think we ought to do like the Aztec used to do,” Carlos said.
“Oh,” Laura replied. “What did they do?”
“Their calendar was arranged in eighteen, twenty-day months, which made for three hundred and sixty days, the last five days of every year, they stayed put. The accepted wisdom was that, in the dead of winter, evil spirits wandered the earth and devoured the souls of anyone they found loitering outside their homes. So for the last five days of the year they did nothing but stay near the safety of their homes, lest their souls be consumed.”
“But that was just an old superstition. Wasn’t it?”
“All superstition is based on truth, Laura; perhaps the Aztec knew something, like the Maya, who initiated that particular custom.”
“You’re not serious. Are you, Michael?”
“No, of course not, but as hard as some of us have worked this year, perhaps it is not a bad custom to reestablish. Joe and Carlos couldn’t sit still for five days, anyway!” He chortled.
“We would’ve all worked if some people would’ve let us,” Laura followed Gramps goad, looking at Josie and Miranda.
“Ay, Señora,” Joe said. “There isn’t not enough work around here for to keep us all busy. There was times when we did not do nothing, and you are wrong, Señor Maik. I could get used to sitting around muy rápido. It is in the sangre, Señor.” He smiled a toothy smile.
“Well, I am grateful that you didn’t work as hard as you think you should have, but I’ve seen you when there was nothing to do,” Gramps said, still goading them. “If there is nothing to do you invent something and do it. Who else would’ve thought of making wind chimes out of buffalo bones?”
“You was in no condición, Señora,” Josie added in their defense.
“Well, I’m all right now, so I’ll be working right along with the rest of you.”
“I think little Adam might have something to say about his desayuno, lonche y cena walking away from him. You just take care of him, and we will handle the rest for a while, Señora,” Josie said, laughing.
On clear days, the kids played on the snowmobiles to use up some of their pent-up energy. I say the kids, but I was right in the middle of that fun along with them.
Shiro and Miyako did their exercises outside daily, and the kids would watch and copy their actions. The way it looked from afar, Gramps called it playing with invisible balls on an invisible balance beam. Shiro and Miyako were graceful, and the kids were kind of funny trying to match their motions, but in time, they were all as nimble.
The clear weather lasted for about ten knots; the Aztec custom died a sad death in three days, though I used the time well. At the end of the string, we hung up our strings and showed Shiro and Miyako their honored place in our growing string room. Soon, the second stack of paper would join my first one. During those five days of rest, I put the finishing touches on it. I discovered that I was the only one who had stuck with the idea. Everyone had small stacks where they’d started, but after spring, they’d gotten busy with the place and stopped writing.
This little chronicle became my companion, and I missed it when I did not write daily. It gave me a place to tell when things bothered me, and a place to inform my descendants when things were important enough to save.
So much had gone on last string: we found new friends and buried their loved ones; our food supply grew instead of dwindled, even though there were more people in our camp. There were twelve more people that we knew about in the Chapin Mesa compound, and only God knows how many more survived The Fall.
Even though our workload increased, with all the innovations Joe and Carlos introduced, it took less time to do more work than had ever happened in our little haven. Now, after a hard string, we were talking about doing nothing for five knots, which was easy to talk and dream about, but, as we discovered, it wasn’t so easy to accomplish. Gramps and Laura had discovered that as first Joe and Carlos took over all his chores, and later, Josie and Miranda took over Laura’s.
We all worked along with them, but they made it seem like play rather than work. To them, it was just something that needed to be done, and they’d never shied away from work. As Gramps said, they invented work just to stay busy.
For the first two knots of our five-knot experiment, we did nothing except cook and eat, but by the third knot, our experimentation into the easy life had proven fatal. We’d all want to help with the cooking, and the ones who’d been working were showing signs of distress doing nothing. Laura was right; we couldn’t sit for five knots without going crazy. But she found out that Adam, though a quiet child would not tolerate his meals being too far away for too long. It was mutually agreed that sitting idle was a pursuit best left for old age.
Before the old strings were hung, idleness had defeated us all. Joe and Carlos were in the shop, Shiro and Gramps in the media room; the kids, including Miguelito and myself, rode the snowmobiles and chased around until we were exhausted.
Then, the distress call came—and so did the blizzard.
“Michael! Come in, please!” Mary’s frightened voice echoed through the hollow corredores.
“She doesn’t sound too happy,” Gramps said, as he ran to the radio.
“Yes, Mary, what’s the problem?”
“It’s snowing—” the radio crackled with urgency.
“It’s wintertime, dear. It snows regularly.” Grampa smiled a smile you could hear.
“But it is half way up the crevice, Michael. If this keeps up, we’re gonna be sealed in here by the snow.”
“Are you still burning weekly?”
“Yes, sir, religiously.”
“Then the crevice should stay warm. You shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”
“But, Michael, we’ll be locked in here.”
“Do what I told you. If the snow gets to the top of the crevice punch some vent holes in the sides, the heat should melt the snow above as it rises. You need some vent holes to keep circulation flowing. That will create a chimney effect in the whole crevice. Dig some holes in the snow, low in the crevice along the wall, to the end of the snow, so the escaping heat creates a draft and you should be fine. God’s just building you a shelter to survive in. The snow pack will act as an insulator, like an igloo. Stay under the pelts and keep a fire going in the kiva at all times.”
“I’m scared. We’re all scared. We’ve never had this much snow!”
“Don’t lose your head. You won’t freeze as long as you have air circulation and heat within the crevice. But you can’t let the snowpack turn into an ice wall before you dig the vents. You have to have vent holes to replace the oxygen the fire consumes. The draft will freeze the tube’s walls and keep them from collapsing. Don’t make the vents too steep so you can have access to the crevice if you need to go somewhere. You should have enough food to outlast the snow. Make sure the chickens stay warm, or you’ll lose them, and there goes your food supply. If the chickens die, don’t eat them. It’s in Deuteronomy, pay attention to the wisdom of the ages, dear.”
“Yes, Michael, thank you.”
“If we can, after the storm we’ll check on you. The antenna might not work buried in snow, but we’ll try. Read your bibles and stay warm. It’s all you can do until it thaws. Could you tell from which way the storm came, Mary?”
“It is coming from the northwest with a hard wind preceding it.”
“Then it should be here soon. The breeze is picking up. Let me get to buttoning down my place, thank you and stay warm,” Grampa said putting the radio down as he darted out of the media room barking orders. “You heard her. We got a bad one coming. Get the machines put up and the kids inside. It’s gonna be a fast one—not much warning.”
“It’s topping the mountain now,” Carlos said, as he returned from the lookout.
“We’ll barely have time to get the walls of the corredores back up. What a shame, I was sure enjoying this weather.”
“Good thing we left the radio for them, huh?” Gramps said, winking. “It would’ve caught us by surprise, otherwise.”
We got the cover triangles on the passageways as the flurry started and we settled into hibernation mode again. Little Adam’s first ten knots had been blue, but he would see a lot of white ones the first few months of his life.
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