Enduring on the Lake

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chapter 35


Zane got us back on track and we talked about other stuff; salt and meat was only the beginning.  I told him that the shipment I was expecting would have helped to add a lot of variety to the pantry. 

“Powdered eggs, custards, condiments, dessert fixings, nuts, gelatins, syrups, canned fruits, dried soup mixes, potato flakes, beverage mixes, dried fruit, cornmeal …” 

“How big is this shipment?” 

“Three full pallets.” 

“Whoa.” 

“Yeah.  So don’t count on your buddy necessarily wanting to go out of the way.” 

Zane shrugged.  “You don’t get if you don’t ask.  Can’t hurt.” 

“True.”  I looked up the stairs.  “Sounds like Max is stirring.  He’ll probably be hungry.” 

“No probably about it.  You sure …” 

“And what exactly have we been talking about this whole time?” 

Zane finally grinned and said, “Ok, ok.  You know there’s something else I don’t see that you’ve included in this plan of yours.” 

As we walked up the stairs into the kitchen I asked, “What?” 

“Foraging.” 

“You mean like going along the road and picking stuff?” 

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean.  Josh will drive you crazy talking about that stuff.” 

We entered the kitchen to find Max looking for us.  He was relieved but tried to hide it and it was a few minutes of making him a sandwich which turned into a few more minutes of making Zane and I sandwiches before we got back on track.  It was actually Max who asked, “Were you talking about that stuff that Uncle Josh does?  That forestry farming?” 

I looked at Zane having never heard the term.  “Forestry farming?” 

“Yeah, Zane has a side business that he makes decent money from in season.  He grows mushrooms and cultivates some other wild stuff and sells it to some of his clients.  The wild yam is popular and so are the wild herbs he harvests.  He can probably give you some starts … uh …” 

“I know what starts are.” 

“No I just meant I …er … didn’t mean to assume that you were going to you know … stay here. Permanently.” 

I bit my lip.  “I’m honestly not sure what is going to happen with things the way they are but I do know it includes me staying in Harmon.  I’ve always loved the cabin.  That’s why it wasn’t a chore to do what Daddy asked and move here and take care of the place.  Money is going to be tight – I’ve got some idea that tourist season might not be the money maker that it has been in the past – and that’s going to be a problem for me.  Daddy always kept up Grandpop’s habit of keeping the property taxes paid two years in advance so that if he had a bad year or hit a bad health spell that the family wouldn’t lose this place right away.  But the propane and groceries aren’t going to last forever and then there is phone and electric to think of.  And insurance … and health insurance … and …” 

“Easy Syd.  One step at a time.  Remember, you don’t know anything for sure yet.” 

I sighed and just accepted that he was a skeptic about “feelings.”  That is fine, it isn’t necessarily bad to have a skeptic to balance out the more emotional side of the whole feeling thing.  I told him, “Either way it is something I need to be thinking about because Daddy would expect it.  Eventually I’m going to have to do more for myself than what I’ve done up to this point.  But like you say, I need a few more facts before I can start making decisions.  It can’t hurt though to start this forestry farming … and you mentioned foraging.” 

“Yep.  Josh can help with that too.  You’ve actually got options on this lot when you wouldn’t expect it.  How many acres do you have anyway?” 

“There’s forty.” 

“No way.” 

“Yeah.  I guess most people don’t realize our lot isn’t just the long narrow ten acres from the road down to the lakes edge.  We also own from the other side of the road all the way back to the county road.  It used to be terraced garden space prior to WW2 – and if you walk back in there you can still see most of the retention walls, they’re made out of local stone – but it’s all overgrown and stuff now.  I can show you the plat map and the property tax papers if you don’t believe me.” 

“Uh … I … well it’s not that I don’t believe you but …” 

“But you want to see for yourself.” 

“Yeah.  I hope you don’t mind.” 

I shrugged.  “Why should I?  It’s public record just not necessarily public knowledge.  We used to own eighty acres but the way Daddy explained it, Grandpop sold off some of the acreage to people who built some of the vacation cabins on this side of the lake.  We also used to own some of the land that the Lodge now sits on but that was sold the year Daddy was born to some developer that wound up going bankrupt.  The land was sold a couple of times after that until it was finally sold to the people who build the Lodge that stands there now.” 

“Wow.  I never knew.” 

I shrugged.  “Ancient history.  It doesn’t mean much of anything to people that are still living.” 

“Maybe not the stuff you sold but three-quarters of your land is fallow right now.  Owning that wood lot will make setting traps a lot easier.  It’ll make it easier to get wood out of too.  Do you know if it is fenced off?” 

“Yeah it is because the county and forestry service own and managed the lots on either side of ours.  They fenced their land with that great tall galvanized poles and fencing which means we have a fence line also.  The utility company ran the fence that runs parallel to the county road out of the same kind of stuff.  Only place that the fence line needs work is right on the other side of Lake Road and you can see from the porch where the old posts rot where they stand.  One of the projects we were supposed to do next year was buy barbed wire and metal posts and get that section fenced to keep the summer kids from going up in there, having parties, and leaving all sorts of trash.  I swear we’ve made more money off of recycling cans out of there than I can even guess at.  And there’s enough bottles in those crates in the barn to build a glass house with.  From there shapes you can see it’s been going on for generations.” 

Zane gave me a funny look.  “You Zitterbarths sure aren’t what you appear to be on the surface.” 

Not sure how to take that I let it pass.  “So what kind of foraging can Josh teach me about?” 

“All that stuff he cultivates in his forest farm plus a lot of other stuff.  I’m far from being an expert but just looking around I can tell you that if the blackberries make you’ll be swimming in them come June.  You’ve got mayhaws and elderberries down near the lake.  That small stand of trees over behind the barn are sarviceberries.  You got a couple of pawpaw trees in the yard not to mention pecans, hickories, and walnuts up in that wood lot … and you better go get them pecans before the tree rats do.  Josh could probably walk around here and find two and three times what I just mentioned without even trying.”   

“Would he?” 

“Would he what?  Come out here?  Sure.  He gets his jollies off of teaching that stuff to newbs.  All you need to do is be even just a little interested and he’ll be out here like a shot.  You should mention it tomorrow when we go hunting.  He’ll be there.  Speaking of I need to go make a couple of calls.” 

I was a little relieved to have Zane go focus on something else.  I know he didn’t mean to but Zane made me feel foolish that I hadn’t been working on certain other projects already.  I’ve been here since August; I could have tried a small garden even if it was just in containers.  I could have been checking out books from the library to learn about that foraging of wild food stuff and what grows in this area.  I should have put away a lot more salt and thought about all of the ingredients I would need for canning and preserving food.  Now I’m behinder than behind.  What if all I can do is make a list of stuff I need but never have any way to acquire it?

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