April 11, 2015: Piece of Trash
It’s been nearly a month since I’ve spoken to the Gunter girls. This morning, I stopped by for a visit. Little Jacob is huge! He was a big boy when he was born, but now he’s a giant. Overall, the girls seem to be doing well. They look much healthier. They’re starting to put some weight back on their frames. That’s a good thing. Laura was more than a little concerned about Jamie before Jacob was born. How that boy grew to nearly ten pounds before he was born is anyone’s guess. His mother was skin and bones. The dark circles under their eyes seem to have gone away. Neither of the sisters appears to be chewing her nails these days. All-in-all, the three women seem to be in much better condition both mentally and physically than they were before we had to … put Jake down.
Is that the right term? It sounds like what you would do to a suffering family pet or an animal with rabies or a broken leg. “Put them down” does not sound like something that should be done to a human being.
Moving on … if I don’t miss my guess, Janelle, the younger of the two Gunter sisters, has a bit of a crush on D.J. Nearly every word out of her mouth was about some project she and D.J. worked on together. It’s nice to see that, even in the new normal, some things never change. Girls and boys still vacillate between googly eyes and cooties, depending on their age and, probably, the day of the week. I’ve never heard D.J. mention Janelle even once. He probably still categorizes most girls his age in the “cootie” category.
Jamie appears to be a great mother. That’s quite an accomplishment these days. It’s hard enough to be a seventeen year old girl in the new normal, let alone one that had to give birth to a baby in much less-than-ideal conditions and now has to care for that baby while trying to avoid dying of dehydration, starvation or gunshot wound.
It’s all relative, I suppose. A hundred and fifty years ago, pioneer women lived under much the same conditions. Of course, their mortality rates, as well as those of their children, were considerably higher than what we saw over the last fifty years.
One step forward and two steps back? I’d sure like to see where we are 150 years from now.
I need to get over and see Pete and his family as well. Maybe we should have another Union Creek community get-together. We could all use a distraction from the daily drudgery that is the new normal.
Speaking of distractions … I think we have one that might keep us busy for a little bit.
While I was talking to the Gunters, Janelle mentioned that she and D.J. had been walking out in the shelter belt on the southern edge of the farm and had come across a piece of trash – a beef jerky package. A year ago, we would have picked up the trash to keep the place clean and thought nothing of it. Now, it’s an oddity. Outside of the piles of trash we found in or near the houses occupied by the Hernandez gang members, we almost never see trash or litter these days.
Janelle said she didn’t think much about it, but D.J. made kind of a big deal of it. He told her to step back and started searching the ground around the area where they found the jerky package. Apparently, D.J. found some tracks nearby but Janelle wasn’t sure if they were human tracks or animal tracks.
It’s possible that some animal found a scrap of jerky still in the package and carried it to that location. Possible but not likely.
Stranger still, D.J. hasn’t mentioned anything to me. Normally, he’s very security conscious and quickly and efficiently reports anything out of the ordinary (the new ordinary) that he sees.
Maybe he looked over the tracks and saw nothing of concern.
Regardless, I need to look into it.
Terry and I spent some time on the radio over lunch. They’re getting settled in. Things are going about as smoothly as can be expected. Their house isn’t very large and things are pretty cramped with seven people living there. Tempers are a little short according to Terry. He didn’t elaborate. I suspect that some of those with the short tempers were close by as he and I were speaking.
Mike was able to shoot a nice-sized doe yesterday. That’ll provide meat for the seven of them for a while. Jenny and Laura were going to work with the kids to make a meat dryer. I suggested that they might use the small shed to the north of their house. Terry liked that idea more than constructing a dryer from scratch. The shed is big enough that they could dry three or four deer at a time if they can shoot that many. There’s plenty of green wood on Terry’s place and both he and Mike have chainsaws.
Laura chimed in over the radio that they’re getting a garden planted. Early April is almost perfect timing to start a garden in these parts. There are a few crops that should probably wait until a little later, but Terry’s family made their move at a good time as far as the growing season goes. They should have a good harvest come summer and fall if they can keep the varmints and deer out of the plot. Coons, possum and deer can ruin a garden in a matter of minutes. A good fence is about the only way to protect your produce. An outdoor dog with a taste for critters doesn’t hurt, but it can also chase away game that needs to fill the stew pot right along with the vegetables from the garden.
I’m still worried about their security. Terry didn’t mention any plans to implement any security improvements. Then again, I didn’t ask as that’s not something to discuss on an open radio channel. They only have four adults to pull guard duty. Mike and Jenny and their neighbors got along fairly well with just four adults but it’s definitely not an optimal group size. That’s six hours of guard duty per day, every day of the week, if you post only one guard. In addition to everything else that needs to get done … that’ll wear on you.
We’re fortunate that we were able to add Ariela and Mandy to our duty schedule when Terry and Laura rolled off. Virtually no impact. That’s probably more than a little selfish but there’s not much room for selflessness in the new normal.
Speaking of Mandy … she’s struggling mightily with the loss of her husband from what I can tell. Losing your spouse … that’s hard regardless of the outside circumstances. Having to watch your spouse bleed to death and being able to do almost nothing about it … it’s going to take her a while to recover. The poor girl just sort of wanders around woodenly with a blank look in her eyes.
I gave Sam what was probably an unnecessary warning to give her some space. “I got it,” was his reply. His attention may be helpful, but there’s definitely a line that should not … cannot be crossed. Too much and we may end up with another Melody on our hands. Frankly, I’m already more than a little concerned about that. Mandy seems to be going in the wrong direction – getting worse each day rather than better. Maybe Heather can help her. Ariela’s definitely doing everything she can. Unfortunately for Mandy, Ariela’s approach is largely based upon her time in the Marines. I’m not sure that approach will work for Mandy.
We should have stockpiled some psychotherapy books.
Time for a little therapy of my own. I’m going to go find my boy and spend some time with him.