The Beginning – Chapter 11, a brief break from bashing Nenana

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.

Chapter 11
I had my washer and generator loaded in the back of my truck and was hauling out bags of laundry to head to the river when Will and Shari came over from the shed. I asked if they would like to go with me, but they declined. They were going to stop by their house and see if they could start cleaning it up. If not, they would go to town and pick up some clothes and groceries to last until they could go home.
I locked up my house and went on to the river and laundry day. Usually I just used rainwater at home or snow melt, but with the extra use on my rainwater and not much rain, I would just use the river.
After parking the pickup as level as possible, I dumped buckets of water in the washer and started up the generator. After it got going, I packed enough buckets of water over to do the rinse when it was time and relaxed with a good book to read. Usually winter is when I get to do a lot of reading, so it was nice getting a break.
I do 3 loads of laundry, then go home to hang them. I have clothesline stretched between trees all over behind the house. One of these days I will actually set it up better with posts and crossbars holding the lines. I have one line from the porch across a small gully to a tree on the other side with a pulley, so I can hang clothes standing in one spot.
After everything is hung and the washer put away, the generator unloaded and some leftovers for lunch, I weed in the garden and transplant from the sun porch to the greenhouse. The buckets I used at the river are full of river water, and I used it for the transplanting.
Will and Shari came back late in the afternoon. They were still not able to go into their home and after talking to the police in town, they were nervous.
Her ex-husband had flown in to town almost a week ago and 2 other men were with him. They had rented an SUV and it had not been located yet. Neither had the other 2 men. From descriptions, Shari thought one was Rod’s brother, Rob and the other, his best friend, Jeremy. She said Rob was Rod’s shadow and anything he did was fine with Rob. She was surprised Jeremy was with them as he seemed to always be trying to settle them down when they got too extreme in their actions.
So, there was still 1, maybe 2, people on the loose that might harm Shari, although who had taken out her ex was a mystery to all of us. Noah pulled in as we were discussing this. He had not been at his camper since yesterday morning and was just on his way back from meetings in town.
He brought a newspaper and started talking at once about the murder out in the area. The looks on our faces must have clued him in that we were aware. So then Will explained what had happened since yesterday morning to Noah.
He said on his way to town yesterday fairly early, he had seen a rental SUV parked about a mile beyond Will and Shari’s place. He had not thought anything of it, figuring they had vehicle problems and caught a ride to town, which is not unusual out here.
The river was still too high for any type of fishing, although tourists may not be aware of that, so they may have been off fishing, also. We cussed and discussed all the options we could think of from the possible to the improbable and did not reach any decisions except that it was terrible and we all needed to keep an eye out for strangers in the area or anything that did not look right. There was an APB out for the rental SUV so that would probably be found somewhere soon and a vehicle stolen for transportation to get farther away, possibly. Or, they may just be parked off some small side road or unused driveway and biding their time.
I invited everyone in for dinner and rummaged in my pantry for something different to eat for comfort food. I decided on stew with dumplings and opened several jars, dumped everything into a pot on the stove and got it heating while I made dumplings.
While we were eating, Shari asked how I managed to have such a variety of food on hand all the time. So I told her about my canning and buying large cans of fruit and vegetables at the member store in town and re-canning it into smaller jars so I could enjoy it without any waste. Our climate doesn’t make it easy to grow everything in enough quantity to be assured of all I wanted. She said she would like to learn how, so after dinner, we started a list of what she should have, to get started. She wants to have enough supplies on hand that they don’t have to go to town every week for groceries. I tell her she will really appreciate that in the winter when the weather can turn bad easily and fast.
Will and Noah seemed interested also, so we all talked about things they could do now, to make winter easier.
We spent the evening making lists. Clothing, food, wood cutting supplies and tools to make it easier to make what they planned on building. They wanted to fix up their place to have some of the same things I had on mine and that they had noticed at the place down the road. We would look over my place in the morning so they could see how I had managed and I would let them know what I wish I had done differently.
Pal started barking and he wasn’t sounding friendly about it. This was the first time I ever heard him sound mean. I looked out the window, but only saw the dust of some vehicle making a fast exit from my yard. I’m not sure, but I think it is the SUV rented by Shari’s ex.
Sometimes not having a phone is not so good as we have no way to contact the Troopers. I turn on the CB radio I have in the house and we listen for a trucker going by. Maybe we can let him know and he can call the Troopers when he gets to town. None of us know whether the 2 remaining guys want to carry on Rod’s agenda towards Shari or not, or if they know what type of vehicle Will and Shari drive. But if they do, they now know where to find them, since it is parked right in front of my house.
We finally contact a trucker and he agrees to pass along the word to the Troopers.
We are all a little jumpy, so we sit and talk later than we had planned. Finally everyone wanders off to their places to sleep and I check on my chicks one last time. Then Pal and I do a walk around the yard and I am carrying my old shotgun. It should discourage anyone from messing around much.
The next morning, none of us look like we got a very good night’s sleep. I did get my load of firewood cut and hauled before anyone else made an appearance. While I am unloading, I smell bacon cooking and my tummy lets me know I haven’t had breakfast yet. I start toward the house when Shari steps out of the little shed and invites me in for breakfast. Wow, a person could get used to this. She had bacon, eggs and French toast all set out on the little table and we certainly enjoyed it all. It’s really nice eating a meal I didn’t cook and has no part of a bear included in the menu.
After eating way too much breakfast, I start on the weeding. Shari and Will have a million or so questions each about what I am doing and why. I offer to help them get a spot tilled and planted as it is still early enough they could get some fresh salad greens and a few other things growing yet.
So we load up my tiller and head over to their place. We find what may have been a garden area in the past and Will started up the tiller and started making rounds of the area. It was in a very good location and they should have no trouble growing thing there. While we were working the area, Will, tilling, Shari and I throwing rocks, a Trooper pulled in. He came over to where we were working and we all took a break and told him about the SUV in my yard the evening before.
He did give us an update on the murder and told Will and Shari they were free to go back into their home, now. I don’t think Shari was too happy to go back in, knowing 2 of the men were still at large. I offered them the shed until the house could be all cleaned up and things put in order. She jumped at the chance.
Rod wasn’t shot with the rifle, like we had all thought, he had been stabbed in the back. But his prints were all over the rifle. The knife was from her kitchen. It had a partial print, but not matching hers or Will’s. The Trooper sort of looked at me, but I quickly pointed out I had been with them at the time.
The Trooper left and we went back to the garden spot. Will said they had garden tools back in the shed behind the house, so he went to bring some out. After he brought rakes and hoes and shovels out, we got busy making fairly straight rows although there is more planting space in crooked rows. They didn’t buy my idea so we did the string and stakes thing to make straight rows. It did look nice when we were finished.
Will offered us lunch at the Hit & Run, so we headed over there and brought them up to date on what we had learned. Seems Noah’s Dad was hanging out there for the day, working on the old dozer. Rose was working on a small cabin and Kara was running the snack shack.
Roman came walking up the hill while we were still there. He said he needed a couple of tools he couldn’t find in his stuff in his truck. Kara yelled over to her mom and she came over to see what was needed. She wasn’t sure if she had what he needed, either, so they went down to her storage area to see what they could find.
They came back fairly soon, and told us someone had been in the old storage unit she kept things in. Looked like they stayed overnight in it. The storage unit was a section of one of the old pipeline camps, an Atco unit. It wasn’t in good condition, but there was still a bed in one of the rooms and it had been used.
Roman and Rose seemed to be hitting it off fairly well. They had both lost spouses to death and were alone. They both liked to work and got pleasure from a job well done. Hmmmm, seems like maybe we should be edging them together a bit more. Now what to do for her daughter?
“Hey, Noah, do you have a brother?” Oh sheesh, why did I ask that?
“Well, as a matter of fact, I do,” he answered. “Why?”
“Oh, just curious.” Me and my big mouth.
Noah came over where I was sitting on a bench and sat down beside me. He picked up my hand and held it while looking at me with those darn melted chocolate eyes. “I was going to ask you if you minded if my brother came out and joined Dad and I.” he said.
Okay, this was just too perfect. If he was even half as nice as his brother and Dad, they were a bunch of guys just needing pounced on.
Roman said he was heading to town to pick up his tool trailer and just bring it out. He had a lot of supplies that would make repairs on the old dozer and backhoe much easier and he needed a place to park the trailer as he now had it in storage and they were charging him a bundle to store it.
Noah walked over and spoke to his Dad a couple of minutes, they parted and Roman headed to his truck and left.
I figured I had spent more time socializing the last couple of weeks than I had in the last 5 years and had better get home and back to work. Even though we were all stuffed from lunch, Will picked up ice cream for each of us as we started back to his SUV. I’m going to have to get busy or not fit into any of my clothes.
While the tiller was still running after unloading it, I took it around between the rows in my garden. I spotted several plants that needed thinning out a bit, so after parking the tiller, went back with a flat and trowel and dug up a few here and there. These would jump start Shari’s garden for her. As I dug each plant, I labeled with magic marker on a plastic fork handle and stuck it in the flat beside the plant. That should save her being too surprised at what was growing in her garden later.
When she came out of the shed and saw what I had fixed for her, she started to cry and laugh at the same time. I wasn’t sure what to do. She sputtered a bit and said she guessed it was raging PG hormones or something but that was just so nice of me and she was just so happy to be living near so many nice people. Will came over and patted her back a few times and I could tell he was as clueless as I was.
They decided to go right back over and set out the plants so they wouldn’t wilt down. They took a jug of manure tea I had mixed up and I told them to pour a small amount under each one before setting it in the hole and covering the roots, then watering them in.
After they left, I worked some more in the garden and greenhouse. As the afternoon progressed, I started getting a feeling like I was being watched. After the events over at Will and Shari’s, it made me more nervous than usual, so I worked my way toward the house and right on inside. I think I better start keeping Pal with me all the time when I am outdoors now, even if I have to tie him to keep him safe while I am falling trees.

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Nenana Borough Testimony

Land Grab

Land Grab


It is simple. I do NOT want a borough out here. IF I had wanted to live in a Borough, I would have continued to stay in the Fairbanks North Star Borough where I owned a home and some land. The steady rise in taxes was the determining factor in selling it all and moving out beyond the tentacles of power exerted by people elected to work on our behalf. But it never fails, as soon as they find themselves in a position to spend, they remember things they have seen in other places and decide that we will all benefit from expanding. They spend like drunken sailors on their first shore leave in a year. Sorry, Sailors, I know not all of you fall into that category. But Politicians seem to, nice until elected, then suddenly drink the koolaid and become bloated bureaucrats.
A Borough has no other duty than to appraise your property, and collect taxes on it. Once you have a Borough, you are stuck with it. Manley, Minto, Rampart, what have they said to make you think life will be any better overseen from Nenana by a group that can not spend within their means and are using you to bail them out of the hole they have dug themselves deeper and deeper into? This is not the first time Nenana has spent money it did not have.
Look back a very long ways to the village of Nenana getting an airstrip. They contracted my husband, Charlie Stowell, to construct a rough clearing and airstrip so they could show good faith in getting a real airport. He took his crew and equipment to Nenana and cleared the area and put in a rough airstrip that met the size requirments they asked for. As soon as he was finished and asked to be paid, he was informed there was no money, Sorry Charlie.
He told them at that time, if they had been honest with him from the start, he would have constructed it, but on his own, without having to pay his crew or pay the taxes, unemployment, social security etc. for that crew out of his own pocket. As it was, he footed the bill for the entire thing and never was paid a single dime for Nenana getting an airport.
Now Nenana again finds itself in deep doodoo and again wants someone else to bail them out. Well, just do like most of us do, learn to live within your means, Nenana.
What a turn around for Stevens village, if they are indeed in favor of becoming part of this Borough. Through all the years I have lived up here, any time any of the villages anywhere near them, Manley, Minto and Rampart, wanted to do anything to upgrade their ability to make their lives a bit easier, whether it was roads kept open, upgraded or being built, to exploration on their own lands, Stevens Village has made sure to oppose it. If there were hearings being held, it was a given, if they were there, they were opposed. Is it somehow because now you need something? Or have you decided to let other people pay for things you want?
Look to Delta to see the best way to continue as a free entity. Delta has successfully managed to ward off annexation and still be a viable community, without the overbearing presence of a taxing body hovering over them, waiting to pounce on anyone unable to pay their taxes for no services, just the fact that they have to live somewhere and are unlucky enough to be under the thumb of oppressive Borough government. Most people that live out of town and Borough do so for many reasons. Some of the best reasons are the fact it is the ONLY place a person truly owns their property. Anyone that can lose their property for nonpayment of taxes actually is only leasing their property from the Borough, with the Borough holding the power to foreclose on their land if they are ever unable to pay the assessed taxes.
The only reason Nenana wants such a huge amount of property to be under their thumb, is the amount of taxes they can raise and spend to their evil little heart’s content. At present, that would mostly be by taxing the pipeline and the two pump stations included in their massive grab. The gold mining at Livengood is a bonus, but Livengood was not included on areas notified or for hearings to be held. By the time the oil quits flowing, someone is going to have to pick up the slack from lost revenue. Guess what? That will be the rest of us caught in the eddies of their power hungry grab. We are already in compliance with State Law, being listed as an Unorganized Borough, we do not need to be in an organized Borough.

The Beginning – Back again with Chapter 10

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.

Chapter 10
Almost an hour later, a State Trooper car pulls into the driveway. We stand so the officer can see where we are located. He walks slowly up the hill towards us, looking all around the area as he comes. I have met him before and he seems to be a nice, fair person, not prone to jumping to conclusions.
He has a camera and takes an occasional picture as he comes up the hill. I am sure we are all well represented in the photos for future reference. He introduces himself and asks us each our name, age and place of residence. He also has a recorder going, so nothing will be missed. He asks each of us how we came to find the body and if we know the deceased. I swear his ears perked up when Shari said it was her ex-husband.
An ambulance and another State Trooper car pulled in and he motioned them on up. Trooper Douglas relaxed a bit and the 2 Troopers walked around the body and took more pictures. Will pointed out where the rifle was and more pictures were taken in relation to where the body was. Measurements were taken and finally the body was turned over.
A quick guestimate on time of death from air and body temperature set the time of death as less than 2 hours ago, give or take a half hour. So the shot we heard was probably the one he died from. Will told them the time we heard the shot and they checked his watch with theirs for time.
As the body was being loaded, something fell out of the body’s hand that had been fisted around it. Shari gasped again and fainted. Will knelt down beside her and gently smoothed her hair back from her face. The ambulance people came at once and had Will move back as they hooked her up to take her vitals. She slowly blinked and opened her eyes wide. Staring around at all of us, then the police and the ambulance and out she went again.
She slowly came around again and the look on her face was so tragic I wanted to cry. The EMT unhooked her and asked her a couple of questions and she nodded. He said something else to her in a low voice and helped her sit up. Will bent back down beside her and the EMT quietly spoke to both of them, then went back to the ambulance.
I think I guessed what Shari was going to say before I got back over to where she still sat on the ground. Her arms were protectively wrapped around her middle, like she could shield herself for the future. The looks on their faces was a study in scared and joy. The EMT had confirmed what she had thought for a while, she was pregnant. The murder of her ex in her yard, was terrifying. Just the thought that he may have been here while she was alone in the house brought shivers down my spine. Maybe this is why Will hovered all the time.
The Trooper came back over and knelt down beside Will and Shari. When he opened his hand, he held a small delicate cross on a chain in his hand. This was what had fallen out of the hand of the corpse. It had a lot of meaning for Shari and she could hardly take her eyes off it.
“The last time I saw that, it was in my jewelry box in the house, just this morning.” She said.
I offered to stay here with Shari while Will and the Troopers went to the house and check it out.
I heard some cursing as they got to the door. The house had been trashed. The door was broken off the frame and inside the house looked like someone had intended to ruin everything in it. The Troopers went back to the cars for evidence kits and Will again came back and sat down by Shari. She turned her face into his shoulder and sobs shook her small frame.
We were only away from the house a little over 2 hours. So much destruction in such a short time. Of course we have no idea how many people were involved, but anger and hatred screamed out from the havoc they had created in such a short time.
When the Troopers come back out of the house, they ask if there is any place that Will and Shari can stay for the night, so they can get some help out from town. One of the Troopers will stay while the other goes in for the people and materials they will need to process the crime scene better. They do not want to leave it unattended. I am not sure whether they think we will move or touch anything or if they think someone else is still hanging around and may return and remove or change some evidence.
I offer to let them stay in my little guest cabin. It is more of a storage shed, but does have a bed in it. I lived in it until I had enough of my cabin built to move into it.
We are allowed to leave and on the way to my place, we pull in at The Hit & Run to let them know what has happened and to watch out for strangers hanging around and keep their doors locked. They offer some clothes for Will and Shari until they can get in and salvage some of their own. I don’t have anything that would fit either of them.
We pulled down to Noah’s camper to let him and his Dad know and left him a note, as he wasn’t home.
After we got settled at my place, I fixed a quick meal that none of us much wanted. We picked at it and tried to get some down.
A short time later we all wandered off to our beds, locking all the doors as we went.

A Small Rant

It seems like every time Politicians/City Council Members/Communities spend beyond their income, they start looking around for some Patsy to pay for their indiscretions and poor planning.
Currently, it looks like Nenana and Stevens Village have gotten themselves so deeply into debt that they are going for a major land grab by encompassing a huge chunk of the State for themselves a Borough. Yay for them, it sounds so good to have all that tax money pouring in for absolutely no services provided to the Patsies that will be forced to pay to live on their own land or lose their homes.
Why would anyone in their right mind blindly accept being forced into this new borough? There is absolutely no plus side for the people involved. I can see where Nenana and Stevens Village will come out ahead, someone will have to pay for their inability to live within their means. Their poor planning does not constitute an emergency for me. However, if they succeed in getting their new borough, then I will definitely have a major problem.
I live on a fixed income. There is little chance of getting a job out here to meet the cash that will be needed to pay property taxes. There are many in my position and if we lose our homes due to inability to pay property taxes, then we will become a drain on the nearest town which would be Fairbanks which would not even be the cause of our losing our homes yet bearing the brunt of supporting us. We get no services from the towns in question and that is fine, we do not ask for any. However, if we are going to be in the position of having to support their grandiose ideas of what they need in those towns, they better be offering some really good services to all of us living out here in the Bush.
It’s really great that Politicians live better off YOUR money than YOU can afford and expect YOU to be happy to keep supporting their lifestyle.

The Beginning – It’s about time, here’s chapter 9

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 9
I didn’t sleep too well after that surprise, last night. I knew I was enjoying having Noah around and that we worked well together, but no idea he was thinking along those lines, also.
I check on my spring and it is looking better every day. I start downstream from the source and dig out an area to gravel later for the place to fill water jugs. Then I dig carefully upstream, hoping not to ruin my little spring and see how I should place the perforated pipe.
I place some fairly flat river rocks down and then the pipe on top, gently sloping downhill. More rocks all around the pipe and out a ways on each side, trying to maintain a level surface. Then heavy duty plastic carefully on top of the rocks and foam board on top the plastic, another layer of foam board over all of that with the seams offset. A final layer of heavy plastic and I am ready to cover the whole works with dirt.
Water is flowing out the end of the pipe, so it is still going downhill. I fill the wheelbarrow with the dirt removed below the pipe and spread it over the plastic covered foam board. Then I start a ditch from the overflow toward my garden area. If I can get the water to flow as close as possible, it will save me a lot of work later.
Pal decides digging should be shared, so he gets in and digs with me. Too bad he doesn’t know which direction I am trying to go with this. I find that if I start a shallow furrow the direction I want to go, he is willing to dig in the easier dirt under the roots and moss. Maybe we can be a working team, here.
When I decide I have done enough on the water for the day and head for the house, I find that I missed breakfast and in danger of missing lunch. Guess that little project took a lot longer than I planned on spending there, today.
Pal and I eat a quick meal and I leave him in the house when I go down to cut trees. I don’t want him to get hurt if I lose track of him.
I think I have almost enough wood for myself for this season and probably next, also. So I go ahead and ring some more trees to have dry wood when I need to cut next year. I am slowly clearing a good wide firebreak line around my property.
After putting away all the tools I used today, I fix a small meal and go weed in the garden a bit. It isn’t very high with weeds, but I would rather keep them down so maybe I can find the vegetables as they grow. The chicks love the little weeds now and expect them when I come on the porch. The seeds planted under the plastic are growing quite well and I pick some more of the lettuce for a late sandwich, when I go back in.
After some weeding and watering in the garden and greenhouse, I head over to Will and Shari’s to check on their spring.
We hike up to the spot we dug in and it has a nice little pool of water and a bit of overflow going off into the moss. They decide to go ahead and improve it so there is another source of water on their place. We spend a couple of hours pulling small brush and weeds and digging around a bit more.
As we are walking back from the spring, there is a shot off to our left a ways, but quite close. They have their property posted, so we go to investigate. It did not sound like a large caliber weapon, and with only one shot, it is hard to pinpoint the area it came from. We search around a bit and spot something red over near the trees at the edge of their property. As we get closer, it appears to be a person on the ground. We all stop and look at the body, not believing what we are seeing.
Slowly, we approach, but the person does not move. By the size and shape, it appears to be male. None of us wants to touch, but if he is alive, we should render assistance. Will finally touches the man’s neck and does not feel a pulse. Shari is getting very agitated and says she thinks he is someone they know. We move to the other side for a better view of his face and Shari gives a little moan and passes out.
Since there is nothing to do for the man, we work on bringing Shari around. She is white as a sheet and back in ghost mode. “It is my ex-husband, Rod.” she whispers. “He found us.”
As we circle around trying not to trample the area, Shari finds a rifle. She starts to pick it up and Will and I both grab her to stop her. She is in shock and keeps saying it is her rifle that her Daddy had given her a long time ago.
If she had picked it up and it is her rifle, it would have had her fingerprints on it and her ex-husband dead on her property. I can just see the District Attorney gleefully rubbing his hands together over this one.
I offer to stay and stand guard while they go call it in to the Troopers. This is going to be messy. I feel like someone is watching our every move. I really wish I had Pal with me and a very large gun. I do have my small handgun tucked into my pants pocket and it does not show.
A pipeline security guard is driving by as Will and Shari start to pull out and he waves the guard over. Will explains the problem and the guard pulls in and drives up towards the body, but parking back a ways. He looks at the body from a distance and the rifle, but does not walk over and does not touch. He says he will call it in for us, if we like, as he is going to be in range with his cell phone pretty soon on the pipeline frequency.
I feel better with the other 2 staying here with me and the feeling of being watched fades away.
While we wait, Will and Shari talk about her ex, wondering how he found them and why he came out here. No matter how we talk it around, none of us have any answers.

The Beginning – what a wait, it’s chapter 8

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.

Chapter 8
The next morning, I take a grub hoe and shovel out to the little spring and start digging a bit about it to see if I can increase the flow a bit. I dig and pull out all the water weeds and willows I can manage. The alders I cut and dig around the roots until I have a fairly good mound of stubs and roots piled over to one side. The ground is all saturated and very mucky. I shovel out as much as I can, making a small shallow pool area. It appears to be filling fairly fast with muddy water. I will leave it a couple of days and see how it looks.
After some breakfast, it is back to cutting and hauling firewood. I had not been paying attention to the days of the week and not seeing Noah for a few days, he surprised me by showing up and pitching right in on helping with the firewood.
While we are loading the pickup, he mentions the odd sounds he had heard earlier this morning. I tell him about the possible spring I have found. The possibility of water on the place is exciting to me and I probably babbled on too long about it. I know most of the wells that have been drilled out here have been disappointing in depth and quality of water. If I can find something I can do myself, no matter what quality the water, I can purify it for drinking and cooking. That would save me a big worry and also make my gardening easier. The spring is actually uphill of my garden plot. If it wasn’t, I would be laying out a new future garden plot if this really is going to be a good source of water.
After we unload the pickup, we walk over to the area I dug out earlier and I am surprised at the volume of water coming out. I decide to try to improve it in the morning, but continue to work on my wood supply the rest of today.
After we unload the wood, I fix some lunch and we take the sandwiches with us back over to the wood lot. We finish up the day cutting, hauling and stacking and I am amazed at how well we work together. Noah treats me like a partner, someone to talk to and with. He says he is getting muscles on his muscles. We have managed to put more wood in the woodshed in one partial day of work, than I could have by myself in 3 or 4 days of steady work.
I tell him I need to go down to the river and haul some river rock to enclose the area I dug out around the little spring. He offers to haul rock from the gravel pile down the road, but I explain river rock won’t leave a muddy flavor in the water. We head to the closest river and find a good, easily loaded supply of rocks. The pickup is well overloaded by the time I think we have enough.
After carefully driving the pickup between the trees, getting as close as possible to the spring, we pitch out the rocks into a pile. Somehow, it doesn’t look like as many on the ground as it did in the pickup. We decide to go to the small river in the other direction, as we had loaded all the easily loaded where we were. Noah suggested stopping at the Hit & Run for something to eat and I realized it was getting late. We pulled in and I think she was about to close up but was nice about not being obvious. We ordered a couple of cheese steaks with potato salad, chips, pickle and iced coffees. She started up the generator and fixed the sandwiches and had our order ready in a very short time. The coffees were delicious while we waited. I mentioned to her that we were hauling river rock for my new little spring and she said she had a couple of spots on her place that seemed to seep pretty good, too. She always planned on digging them out to see if it would flow freely. Now she was going to have to actually do it. She said she had some sections of new perforated sewer line, if I wanted to have a piece to bury in the rocks for the water to leach into. I offered to help dig out her seeps, we both accepted. We set a time the next morning and we went on down for our load of rocks.
I checked my spring the next morning and it was looking good. The water seemed to be flowing a small steady stream. Not a large amount, but if it remained steady, it would do fine.
Rose was waiting for me when I arrived, and we set out to the seeps she had marked. The first one was actually a fairly good seep and we marked it well with tape. Then we pulled some brush and weeds away from it. As we worked, the water flow increased a bit and we got excited to think maybe we could make springs on both places. She had paid to have a well drilled. It was over 300 feet deep and not extremely good water. They used it in the summer to wash clothes and bathe, do dishes and water the garden, but not for cooking or drinking. She had never been able to afford getting the quality tested, so wasn’t sure on content.
Her spring was on a steeper incline than mine, so she could put a pipe in and have it high enough to fill containers under it. I could maybe, after I dug out a bit more around my area. She was apologetic that her backhoe was not running or she could have done this all much easier.
We took the pickup down to her storage area and found the perforated pipe. We loaded 2 pieces and dropped one by the area we had dug out for her and she got out there while I headed back to my place. She had made good use of her old dozer while it had still ran. The roads were not bad on her place, just needed some smoothing in areas. Too bad her equipment was all old and not working for her.
When I got home, I unloaded the pipe and Noah walked up. The man seemed to be a glutton for punishment, the way he just got right in and helped, no matter what the project I was working on. We carried the pipe and a chainsaw over with us to the spring site and I was pleased by the amount of water that was running.
Since I had made it pretty close to the spring with the pickup, the day before, I decided to try using it to pull out some of the stumps of the trees that were right around the spring. Each tree and shrub would drain water from the spring and the farther back I could clear, the better the chances for my water supply.
We fell a few of the small trees and then hooked cable around the stumps and to the back bumper of my old pickup. Easing into it did nothing, so I backed up a bit and gave it a jerk. The small stump came sailing. We decided that was good and went right on to the next one. When we got to a bigger stump, we changed the cable over to hook into the trailer hitch as it was fastened to the frame and might not come loose as the bumper was. We cleared the immediate area of stump wads with the pickup and I felt pretty good about it. I’m glad none of the trees out here have a tap root or I would have just wrecked my pickup.
We went back over to the house and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. Will and Shari drove in soon after. They had brought a picnic lunch and wanted to know if we would join them. Food has always been one of my habits I enjoy a lot. Shari was an excellent cook and the fried chicken was still hot and crispy. We were just in the middle of enjoying lunch when another rig pulled in to my getting popular driveway. No one believes the signs any more. I need to get some new ones.
Noah started smiling and went to meet the new arrival. Seems it is his Dad. The 2 men walked back over and Noah introduced his Dad, Roman, all around. Soon he had a plate of food in front of him and we were all talking at once again. This is a nice older man, I wonder how Rose would like to meet him? If he is anything like his son, maybe they would hit it off. She could use some friendly male companionship, I think. Now, how will I make sure they meet?
I needn’t have worried. Talk soon came around to the springs we were trying to clear out and we decided to go help the neighbor get as far along as we were on mine. This could be perfect.
When we pull into the drive at The Hit & Run, I am sorry we just had lunch but thought we could all handle something to drink and ice cream to see us through the work ahead.
Kara and Rose are both there and we order ice creams, a couple of sodas and a couple of iced coffees. We explain what our plan is, and Rose seems dumbfounded. I don’t think she is used to having help and especially help that just drops in. She comes along with us and I see she had moved her backhoe over to the area near the spring. We hooked the cable around clumps of brush and she pulled with the bucket on the back. It sure saved wear and tear on the pickups. Then the backhoe started belching out oil and she shut it off. She said it did that as soon as it warmed up while working. Roman hopped right up and started looking it over. Seems he is a retired diesel mechanic. How perfect. The 2 of them seem to hit it off right away and I must have a goofy smile on my face because Shari sidles over and grins at me then winks. She is enjoying this, also. She has come out of her shell. Maybe pounding nails was good for her. Will says she is brimming over with ideas on things they can build at their place and she wants to be in the middle of building them. Gone is the ghost and it makes her beautiful.
We leave Noah’s Dad and Rose tinkering with the backhoe and head back to the Hit & Run. Kara asks how it was going over there and we talk for a while about the projects we are doing. She says she and her Mom are doing pretty good on the wood for the coming winter. Will is surprised that firewood is so important to us this early in the Spring. So we both start in on him about getting ready for winter and the need for lots of firewood each year. He says he has some firewood in the woodshed that was there when he bought the place a few weeks ago. He has never spent a winter here. So since we are all out and about, we offer to go look his supply over and see what needs to be done for them to have enough for the coming season.
Noah trots down to see if his Dad is ready to go and comes back saying we can pick him up on our way back. Seems Roman is now looking at the old dozer and thinks it will be easy to get running again. Kara gets all excited and says she sure hopes so as that was a Mother’s Day present from her Dad to her Mom one year. Wow, now that would be hard to beat in the present department. She said yes, Dad was really good at giving the unexpected. One year he gave Mom a rifle for Christmas, even.
We all get in our vehicles and head over to Will and Shari’s. They have bought one of the places a couple of miles on down the road. The folks that had owned it wanted to move to a warmer climate. It was a nice place and Will and Shari were fixing it up to look even better. The woodshed out back was not very large and was about half full. I told them a cord of firewood is a 4’ x 4’ x 8’ stack. We measured the pile in the shed and they may have had about 4 cord in it. I suggested they get a firewood permit from the State and not cut any of the wood on their own place unless needed in an emergency. Will saw the reasoning in that and asked where to go in town to get the permit. I told him and he made a note. Shari was laying out the area she wanted a greenhouse built. So we looked it over and I complimented her on the site she had chosen. A good south slope with no shade over it. If they hurried, they could still plant in it this season. I had some extra plants she could have for it. She said they would get the supplies needed for the greenhouse and the permit when they went to town tomorrow. I offered to come help them build if they wanted, but she said they were using a kit and it should be simple. We walked out into the trees a bit, looking for water brush and seeps to see if they may have a spring showing, also. We found some water brush, but no active seeps. We pulled a bit of brush and the roots were very wet, so we kept at it. Will brought over a shovel and dug out a bit in the middle low spot we had found. The area was very muddy and as he dug, it was getting muddier. He decided to check it tomorrow or later this evening.
We went on down to the river and loaded up the pickups with river rocks and took them back for Rose. We backed the pickups close to the area we had dug out and piled the rocks for her to use around the spring.
Noah’s Dad still wasn’t ready to leave as they were talking away a mile a minute. He asked Rose if he could come back by sometime and she told him, any time. He said he had some tools that could help on telling exactly what was wrong on the dozer and maybe something to help the backhoe, too. I think they like each other.
When we get back to my place, Noah and Roman go down to his camper. It has been a long busy day. I’m glad we could help Rose and Kara and maybe Will and Shari.
Noah came over a few minutes later and tapped on my door. I asked him in and he smiled and asked, “Are you setting my Dad up with the neighbor?” I smiled back and said, “ I sure am.”
He laughed and said, “Good, I haven’t seen Dad that interested and happy since a while before Mom died a few years ago. It is like having my Dad back. Thank you. ”
He reached over and kissed me a small kiss on the lips. Sparks, Wow.. Then he placed his hands on my shoulders and kissed me for sure. Oh my, this guy can kiss.
He steps back and looks about as surprised as I feel. He starts to stammer an apology, then says, “No, I am not sorry.” and kisses me again, gently and thoroughly. A person could get used to this.