Saturday, August 8, 2009


(Pya, showing island names; click to enlarge)

To begin reading this sci-fi novel or for background information, go to my Chapter One post from yesterday. To read about the background of the first novel, read my post here, which will also direct you to appendices. There is a glossary of sorts for this chapter at the end of this current post. Terms first introduced in previous chapters will not be re-explained here.

Blue, I hope you're having a speedy recovery! I rushed this just for you. Lub, Mags


The huolon raced the sun, flying into yesterday's dark of night, back into Moja. When Pyosz heard Abbo rouse Maar, she sat up and looked out the window: Impossible darkness in all directions, but who knew what kind of life below, and to what depth? It was the dark of one moon and crescent of another, not much in the way of light to reflect off the water.

After 20 minutes, though, Pyosz sensed a change in the blackness below, as if they'd passed over land. In the next second, she saw a dim light, unmistakably human, and knew they were over Mti, the small settlement of foresters, pig farmers, and woodworkers who perched on one edge of a woods-heavy island. She had family down there: Halling's siba Tu, her partner Pank who had also been Pyosz's habibi Veida's sibiya and so was kin in her own right, their only child Nk and her partner Frahe. She wished it were daylight and they were awake, because she felt sure they'd be out watching for her, to give her a wave. She like these cousins very much.

Tu and Pank were each single until almost 40, never thinking they'd find the kind of love they now had. Tu worked in the mulberry groves of Seda and Pank was a duck and goose farmer on Beras. But then Pank had transferred to the ejida on Byli, and there was no room for her in the bucky there, so she found a bunk in the bucky on Seda, preferring a short daily ferry commute to sleeping on someone's couch. By their second night at the bucky dinner table, Tu and Pank realized they would never stop finding the need to talk to one another.

Tu had a remote cousin with a manage on Seda and a spare room, so they moved out of the bucky and into shared lodging. There were no emmas or abbas nearby -- Tu was orphaned like Halling by that time. Still, they had always wanted children, so with no real expectation but hoping against hope, Pank applied for Leave to become pregnant. They, and all the rest of the family, were flabbergasted when Leave was granted. That same rogue Genist who had taken Prl as apprentice decided to give these two middle-aged women a Contribution. And on their fourth try, it worked. They had Nk, the absolute joy of their existence, a clever and deft child with the long flat bones that ran in Veida's family.

The year after Nk graduated, she and her emmas migrated to Pya, one of the very first families to do so. At first they lived with everyone else on Dvareka, in the original settlement there named Pertama, or "first". This was between the Pertama River and the stone ziggurat which had been the last dwelling of the original colonists. Apparently, an epidemic of some disease the colonists could not identify or treat had killed enough of them that the survivors were too few to manage the work of survival for more than a couple of years. Another small group had been isolated on the island Mill named Hore, for sorrow, but they had perished as well. Logbooks for Pertama had been found in the owly caverns next to the river, and Yoj's translation didn't give her all the answers she wanted. Especially, there was no mention of the colony at Skene, which might mean the Pya colony had come and died before the Skene attempt. No records at all had been found on Hore, only skeletons and artifacts which seemed to indicate that one pathetic survivor had lived on there for at least a decade, utterly alone.

Nobody wanted to live on Hore, still, after all this time.

Dvareka was mostly fairly level land with soil that could be amended and turned into vast stretches of crop fields. There were groups of trees everywhere which appeared to have seeded themselves, windblown, from the northeast corner of Dvareka where a planted forest was thick and ancient. The colonists had also left behind pigs on the island, who retreated to the woods at night but rooted through all of Dvareka by day. Lmape, the original exploration team leader, had been attacked by wild pigs who burst out of a thicket near the river. Her thigh was cut open and had to be stitched. Oby's laser made short work of the attacking pig and the rest were driven back. Mill reported in her radio broadcast that night "We are happy to declare the pigs of Dvareka are identical to those of Skene in appearance and flavor." After two weeks of existing on canned and dried foods, the entire pig had been roasted on a blazing fire in direct contravention of Skene's instructions to not ingest native foods until testing had been carried out. Along with the pig, they had baked apples and chestnuts from nearby trees, although this tidbit didn't make it into the report.

Skene declared all forests off limits for harvest unless it had gone through their winding bureaucracy, where decisions were made by people who not only had never been on Pya but probably had never been to one of Skene's three small sets of woods. Pya had four large islands plus one medium-sized one where the original colonists had intelligently planted different varieties of trees, no doubt intending future harvest and replenishable use. Hayashi Island was named for the fact that it was entirely covered by pine and other evergreens. Trumpinne, named for its shape like a bird drumstick, was found to have a surviving ancient olive grove five times the size of that on Yanja. Linmu, also meaning woods, was mostly nut trees, beech, hickory, walnut, pecan, and filbert. Mti was a mixed forest, though mostly oak, maple, chestnut, hornbeam, poplar, and cherry. The woods on Nec, however, had filled the explorers with awe. Its trees were impossibly tall, with trunks so wide that all of them standing with outstretched arms could not wrap around it. It was not until they were home that the botanist identified this species, sequoia, from an ancient reference.

Despite all this plenty, the woods on the northeast corner of Dvareka were declared protected by Skene. Harvesting trees could only be done by submitting forms and waiting for approval. In the meantime, the pigs were a menace to settlement. A large number of them were trapped and taken to Prase, which Mill arbitratily declared pig habitat, since it too rocky for much farming and had no other visible resource. The first immigrants spent weeks gathering stone to build a wall across Dvareka from ocean to river, enclosing the woods now named Puaa for the pigs there and making the rest of the island safe for human use.

Once this was done, Tu and Pank, along with a couple of other adventurous souls, went to Mti with some basic supplies and a few of the secano metal huts as shelter. Pigs were "accidentally" released into the woods, but before they became territorial, Pank and Tu found newly-fallen trees in each of the most beautiful hardwoods. They cut wide boards from these trunks, sanded them to a high gloss and covered them in varnish, then shipped them back to Skene as "samples". They knew full well the lumber-lust this would set loose on Skene.

In the meantime, the rest of the fallen trees, along with several others, were planed into lumber that was immediately used to build a barracks, a cookhouse, privy, toolshed, and a canopy for their outdoor sawmill. They filled in no applications and sought no permits, claiming it was all salvage and no environmental use except as eventual sawdust, anyhow. It was two years before Skene found out the timeline of how things had occurred, and by then, weekly shipments of wood were a regular export from Pya to Skene, so nobody complained.

Nk turned out to have a particular gift for seeing the possibilities in a board's grain and transforming it into spectacular furniture. She apprenticed to a timmer, who had another young apprentice, Frahe. Within a year, Nk and Frahe were partnered and gave up forestry for woodworking. Pyosz had heard their pieces furniture were works of art, unequaled by any other on Pya or Skene. Well, she'd heard it from Mill, but she thought it was true as well. In due time, they had a single child, Frank, without requiring the services of the Genist or of Briel. Frank, two years older than Pyosz, was now on Skene, training to become a comadrona.

When Pyosz had visited Pya as a child, she always spent one day of her visit alone with Tu and Pank -- none of the other young cousins were invited, just her and these two women who were by then starting their 60s. Mill would drop her off on Mti, wearing hardy clothes for roaming through the forest. They'd fry bacon to make sandwiches, put on hats and gloves, and head into the wild woods.

Pank always seemed to know if a pig was nearby, and she'd alert them. Tu would shimmy up a tree -- it was a marvel to Pyosz how adept these older women were at getting up high in a tree within seconds. Pyosz would be handed up to her, and then Pank would follow. They'd watch the pigs appear below, root around for a while and wander off; sometimes the tree-sitters would drop twigs on their bristly backs. Pyosz was never afraid with Tu and Pank.

They talked softly, stopping to show her every wonder they could. After a few hours, they'd be near one of the small streams on the island. Pyosz's kiatus and sokken would be removed so she could wade barefoot in the cold water, while Tu foraged for fruit and nuts to augment their lunch. Then they'd sit on mossy rocks and eat the heavenly crisp sandwiches, alternating with slices of apple or pear cut by Pank's big knife she wore on her belt, and finish with walnuts. In between bites, they took long drinks of the cold, clear water. Pyosz imagined this was how they lived all year long, spending every day wandering the glades: In her mind, it was always summer on Mti.

Her best memory was when she couldn't have been more than four. They came to a place that Pank recognized, and she put her two fingers to her lips to sign "no talking". A very large poplar was climbed, and once they were all settled safely between two massive branches, Pank pulled small field glasses from her gilet and focused them on an even larger tree 20 yards away. In clear line of sight was a dark patch on the trunk, and Pyosz gradually realized this was not discolored bark but a hole in the tree, a wide black hole. She saw a blur of white momentarily inside the blackness, and jerked back against Tu. Pank put the glasses to her eyes and breathed into her ear how to focus them. It took her long minutes to finally twiddle the knobs in the right direction, but suddenly a fuzzy white head with a short beak leapt into her vision. If Pank had not been holding the glasses, Pyosz would have dropped them.

Pank breathed "Owlets, two of them, and their emma behind, can you spot them all?" Eventually Pyosz did. Emma owl was massive and drowsy, watching them but not alarmed. Her babies were curious. Pyosz had thought I bet they never saw a little human before, just like I've never seen a little owl. In fact, she'd not seen a grown owl, either. This was her first. After long looks, they slid back down the trunk and went on in the opposite direction, Pyosz between them, gripping their hands tight.

Mill had told her Tu and Pank were still employed as foresters, though now as expert consultants, no longer doing manual labor. Since they were at least 80, the age when most long-lived Skeners retired, Pyosz thought they must love what they do. They shared a Manage with Nk and Frahe, but Mill said it wasn't quite to their liking for some reason. However, there were no ferries to Mti. The only way to go back and forth from there and the rest of Pya was by air.

Pyosz was so absorbed in her memories that she forgot to try to see Saya Island's outline in the dark as they flew over until it was too late and they were dropping down onto the jichang in Koldok. If it had been light, Saya would have dominated the western view from any point in Koldok. Once the loud engine stopped, Curds immediately began yowling again, anticipating release from her torture.

"Is Mill at the Lofthall?" asked Pyosz as the pilots began unbuckling. Abbo snorted. "It's two hours before dawn, she's dead asleep. She said to put you in her office, there's a cot in there. She'll come wake you up soon enough, along with the ejida worker who's been filling in at Saya this week. We're to leave your stuff inside the Lofthall door, except that what you need with you."

"My carryall, I guess" said Pyosz, feeling a little abandoned. "And Curds."

"Don't let her loose" warned Maar, looking into the carrier. "Wow, that's an unusual color, she white all over?"

"Utterly" said Pyosz.

"Is she simple, then?" asked Maar. The occasional all-white katt on Skene was often born with pale blue eyes and an inability to learn. They tended to die while still kittens.

"Nope, smart as any other katt" said Pyosz, picking up the now rank carrier with one hand and her carryall with the other. She took them to Mill's office, where her cot was neatly made up and waiting. Pyosz shut the door on Curd's outrage and went back out to help the pilots with her other belongings, but they had already unloaded them and were opening the back hatch to retrieve the crate of sheep.

"After we get these in that shed" said Abbo, "We're leaving the rest for the distribution crew. The canteen is open if you want something, but I'm heading for my bunk."

"No, I'm fine" said Pyosz. The silent, shuttered town was not the welcome she had anticipated.

"G'night, then" said Abbo, grunting as she and Maar dragged the large crate over the jichang. Maar was panting heavily and didn't say anything.

Pyosz turned uncertainly and went back to the Lofthall office. She washed her face, then ventured outside again to use the privy. There was no sound of human activity at all. She hurried inside and tried to comfort Curds, who only wanted out of her carrier, nothing else would suffice. Finally Pyosz lay down on top of the blanket still wearing her otos, not the least bit sleepy, and pulled the earflaps down on her cap to shut out some of Curds' noise.

She had just dozed off when Mill flicked on the overhead light, sending Pyosz's body into shock and her mind into confusion. "Hey, sibiya, I am sure glad to see you! Gaahh, what the lev stinks in here? Oh." Mill ruffled Pyosz's head, then bent over the carrier, saying "Hi, unhappy katt."

A short brown woman around Mill's age stood in the doorway, and she said crankily "She brought another katt?"

"I guess so" said Mill. "Pyosz, this is Poth, she's going with us this morning to train you in all things goat. Poth, this is the new capriste of Saya." Poth was now looking at Pyosz's new otos with an unreadable expression, but she shook her hand and said "We've got a thermos of tea in the sinner, if you're ready to go."

"Uh, yeah" said Pyosz, standing with jangled weariness and collecting her things. In the main office, another cranky-looking woman was sitting down at a desk. Mill said "You're up early, Jiips."

"Like I had a choice" said Jiips darkly, casting a glance at the carrier. Curds was back in full scream mode.

"Pyosz, this is our radio operator, Jiips. We're heading to Saya, I won't be available even by radio for however long it takes, refer all questions to Oby" said Mill. Pyosz's trunk, hamper, and crate of books were gone from beside the door: They must already have been loaded on the sinner.

Pyosz followed Mill and Poth to a nearby sinner. The sky had lightened enough that Saya was visible, and this sight stopped her for a moment. She had forgotten how large it was. She wished she had a little more time to adjust, but Mill stopped to look back at her and she hurried on.

The flight took all of a minute. Mill asked after the abbas, asked how the journey had been, but they were there and Poth was striding off into the dim trail between trees. "She's getting the wain" said Mill, tying down the sinner. Pyosz took a second to look around her.

Saya was a long arc that was high at either end. This end, which held the goat barn, pen, chicken house, water tank, jichang, and a few other structures she couldn't determine yet, was framed in rocks overhanging cliffs down to the sea. At the opposite end, she remembered, was the hot springs, an orchard, and then a good-sized woods. In between, with a sharp drop, was grassy pasturage.

They could hear the wain coming before they saw it. It was battered and wobbly, oxidized aluminum frame over iron axles, with a person-sized yoke in the front. Pyosz wondered if it would collapse under the weight of her trunk and books, but although it squealed when pulled, it lasted until they reached a tiny metal hut next to a tin canopy over an outdoor kitchen and table. There was wood planking on the sandy ground under the kitchen, but no shutters or any kind of rain-break for the sides. The stove and cold box were quite small, and there were two ancient metal chairs at the table. On the table was a rolled-up straw pallet.

Mill said "Go ahead and put your katt inside the cabin with Ember, it's still too early to let them loose, owls, you know." Ember must be the name of Ferk's katt. Pyosz felt a gush of sorrow for Ferk and poor Ember, who would never understand why she'd been left. Pyosz decided to leave Curds in her carrier until she could roam free.

The "cabin" was, in fact, one of the modular secano structures they'd used 20 years ago to reach Pya. It looked very much as if it was from the original expedition, with dull, stained aluminum walls strengthened by struts every few inches. It was barely tall enough for her to stand upright in, and there was a bare metal single bed, some cupboards on the wall, and perhaps enough space to hold her trunk beside the bed if she turned it sideways. Some sort of reeds or grass had been woven together and stuffed into the spaces between the struts -- surely it could not be for decoration, because it looked like compost. Probably some form of insulation.

As she shut the door on disbelieving Curds again, Mill said "Uh, the pallet Ferk had been using was, uh, we tore it apart and put it on the compost." Poth said obliquely "I scrubbed that floor in there." Mill went on "The solar panels on this roof and the kitchen supply only the kitchen. Oh, and the shower, there." An outdoor shower with a small water tank on a frame, heated by the sun. "If you drain these batteries, your coldbox and stove will go out, and even worse, the radio here, so be careful. The chicken house and well has its own solar array, which is always adequate for those needs. And the goat barn has a large array, but it needs it because the commercial milk coldbox and the drying shed is in there."

Pyosz looked at her, confused. "There's no geothermal plant? The only power here is electrical solar?"

"Uh, yeah. We've never had the funds to dig for geothermal, and Ferk didn't care" said Mill. Poth was starting to look impatient. "Oh, and the power for the chain-drive on the ferries comes from Koldok, but the dock lift on Saya is part of the chickenhouse circuit."

Pyosz kept trying to make sense of a set-up very different from how things were on Skene. "You said well, freshwater well? Where's the grey water tank?"

"Uh, there is none" said Mill. "The sink and privy both drain to the inlet out there between Saya and Koldok. But the current is extremely swift, everything gets dispersed and carried away. So, uh, the privy has a seawater flush hose. Don't use that for anything else except a fire. The fire danger here is extreme, with all this grass and woods, and it's up to you to spot it and put it out before it destroys the island. But the saltwater will of course kill anything that you douse, so...only in worst case need."

Pyosz could suddenly hear Prl's voice in her head. See what you've gotten yourself into?

The bleating of goats had become continuous, and Poth said "We have to get started."

"Okay." Mill followed Poth's long strides toward the barn. Pyosz paused long enough to get Lawa's gloves from her carryall, tucking them into her gilet because she wasn't sure if Poth was going to give them a withering glance as well.

The barn reeked of ammonia and animal fur. Poth began rattling instructions at her. "This is the canister containing udder wash solution, you put one cup per bucket and fill with warm water. You have to wash each udder before and after milking, or else you'll get contaminant in the milk and risk infection for the goat. You use one of these wipe rags per goat, don't use it for more than one goat or you'll risk infection. You have to wash these every other day or you'll run out, boiling water with disinfectant. This is Ferk's log book, you have to keep track of how many quarts or gallons each doe gives -- "

Pyosz interrupted. "How do I know which goat is which, do they have collars with names on them?"

Another cold look. "Of course not. I don't actually know their names, you'll have to figure it out. She has a list of their names in the book, but we don't have time for that right now. Okay, grab a doe and lead her to the milk stand. No, that's a buckling, does have udders full of milk." Scathing scorn and a glance at Mill. "Okay, put a half-cup of feed into the trough at the front and she'll stand there as long as she's eating, but you've got to work fast. Well, most of them will, anyhow. A couple of them are kickers, if you lean your head toward their side they'll break your cheekbone or put out an eye. Okay, now sit on the stool and reach under..."

Five minutes later, Pyosz finally got a stream of milk to come out of one pink teat, by which time the doe was done eating and ready to leave. She was told to keep her in place and finish the job, using a bump at the end to persuade the doe to release her last bit of milk. In the meantime, Poth set a second stool beside the other milkstand and began rapidly filling a bucket from a dark grey, older-looking doe.

"This one I do know, she's Boulder and she's one of the kickers. She's also the lead goat, wears a bell and takes offense if she's not the first to be milked. But she takes offense in general" said Poth. Like you thought Pyosz.

After Poth had milked five goats and Pyosz had started on a second, Mill wandered off. Pyosz heard her talking to someone, presumably on the radio. Within half an hour, Pyosz' thumb pad was throbbing and threatening to go into spasm. Mill came back to the barn and said "It's full light out, so I released the chickens into their run, fed and watered them. The chickenhouse really needs cleaning, though. Do you want me to let the katts out?"

Pyosz managed to lose only a pint of milk as the current doe in front of her kicked over the bucket. "You levvin -- oh, let out Ember but not Curds. I need to be with her for that transition."

An hour and a half later, Poth had milked a total of 40 goats and Pyosz only 8. Even that number was with Mill's assistance, pouring her full buckets into the five-gallon milk cans and doing her after-washing for her. In addition to her thumbs, Pyosz's shoulders, neck, and forearms were on fire from muscle strain. She stood to stretch and Poth said "Grab Boulder, lead her to the kissing gate."

"The what?" said Pyosz. She couldn't remember which one was Boulder. Poth had left the barn, and Pyosz heard the wain begin protesting their way. Mill said "The double gate to the pasture, it's called a kissing gate, don't know why." Pyosz felt a vicious pain in her buttocks and wheeled around, ripping her cheek from the teeth of a buff-colored goat. Swearing and trying to twist around to see if she was bleeding, Pyosz yelled "You levvin old turd, I oughta -- "

"Hitting 'em makes no difference" said Poth, coming back in. "That biter, Ferk named her Molars. She sure had a sense of humor, our Ferk." She and Mill laughed sadly. She grabbed the beard of a grey goat, presumably Boulder -- there were many grey goats -- and tugged her toward the door, but Boulder broke into a trot and quickly found her own way to the gate. Poth followed, pushing at goat flanks and saying to Pyosz "Load all those cans into the wain, and then all the cold cans. You milk twice a day, before dawn and before dusk, but you only deliver in the mornings. Last night's milking is in the coldbox."

Pyosz grabbed the handles of a full can and grunted as she muscled it up into the wain. Poth didn't return until Pyosz had all the cans loaded. She picked up all the dirty wash rags and strode back to the kitchen area, dropping them beside the laundry tub. "You want to save out any milk for yourself?" asked Poth.

Pyosz looked in the cupboard for a pitcher, finally locating one which she had to wash out. She filled it clumsily from a can and opened the cold box, which was empty but smelled like it had recently contained rotting food. Pyosz washed a plate as Poth paced in irritation, put the plate on top of the pitcher and set it in the coldbox. Mill said "You should have staples in the larder, lots of eggs and veggies in the tillage, fruit on the trees in the orchard, and you can get whatever dairy stuff you need from the djostiker. I didn't buy any extra food for you, but I did put some of our island's corn meal and dried corn in the larder."

"Thanks, s'bemma" said Pyosz. Poth was pulling the wain toward the point of the island, where a muddy trail descended rapidly toward a dock. Locking the wain's brake at dockside, Poth and Pyosz lifted the cans onto a wooden platform between the dock and ferry which turned out to be a pulley lift. Poth said "Only time this is too high for the ferry is at very low tide." She leaped nimbly into the ferry and began offloading the cans into a rimmed channel in the middle of the ferry. She looked at Pyosz and said "Milk goes bad fast, you can't dawdle with this once it's out of the coldbox."

Pyosz scrambled into the ferry and helped her. Mill followed and sat by the control to the chain. Once they were done, Mill pulled the lever and the ferry began clanking toward Koldok. This, at least, was familiar to Pyosz. She knew the extreme drag at the chain was only the current, and she remembered how to unhook one connector at the intermediate pylon, rehook it to the circle ring before unhooking the second connector, and then repeat the process at the chain which took them on to Koldok. To their right was the chain which led to Arta Island, the home of Mill, Oby, Oby's emmas and sib, plus Abbo when she wasn't at the Lofthall. To their left was a chain going to an as-yet unoccupied island.

On the five-minute transit, Pyosz said "Why do I have a pallet instead of a mattress? And why do all the trees have copper wire mesh around the trunks?"

"We don't have a mattress factory on Pya" said Mill. "They're fiercely expensive by the time they get shipped from Skene, so we make straw pallets for interim use. Since we don't know who's going to take over Saya, they could already have their own mattress, I got you a temporary. But you slept on it as a kid when you visited, they're comfy."

Poth added "The wire is to keep the bark from being eaten off by goats. Ferk liked to let them run loose around the cabin sometimes, said it kept down the grass. The tillage is safely fenced it, but they'll eat anything they can. Including my ass thought Pyosz, sitting gingerly on one cheek.

At the Koldok wharf, Mill climbed the ladder to go find a cart while Pyosz and Poth unloaded the ferry onto another pulley lift. By the final transfer of ten heavy cans to one of the metal carts left sitting around town for public use, Pyosz felt like her back might be permanently injured.

"Okay, I've got to run, I've got a full day at the ejida ahead of me" said Poth. She shook Mill's hand, wished Pyosz "luck" and strode away in the direction of the road to Pertama.

"Come on" said Mill, "I'll introduce you to Kolm, she's the djostiker for Pya."

Kolm's Manage and adjacent business was at the end of the central street on the right. She was waiting out front. "Sorry for the delay" said Mill, "First day and all."

"It's okay, I'm just glad you're here" said Kolm. She was round and perhaps ten years older than Pyosz, with a real smile and creamy brown skin. She helped Pyosz unload into a room where a huge vat was ready to begin warming the milk. They emptied the cans through a large strainer, and Kolm turned on switches. The milk began swirling around in the vat.

"Okay, come into the creamery here, let's jot down your totals. I'm guessing you want some of your own lovely cheese?" said Kolm. "Well, not yet that you milked, but from your goats."

Mill excused herself, saying "I really have to go deal with business, kiddo. Stop in at the Lofthall later if you want. Call me on the radio for anything at all, and I'll check in later." She hugged Pyosz tightly, saying "You're saving our goats, here."

Pyosz lingered in conversation with Kolm, relishing her warmth and encouragement. She took half a pound of butter, a quart of raw yogurt, and two kinds of cheese, soft and aged, wrapped in kelp paper, when she finally left. Kolm came out to help her load ten clean cans into her cart. The empty cans felt miraculously light.

As Pyosz pushed her cart back to the dock, she saw many curious glances directed her way, and a few friendly waves. She thought about going to visit Briel and Dodd, or returning to the Lofthall, but Curds was alone in her foul carrier, so she made her way back to Saya. By the time she got the cans into her wain, her shoulders were throbbing again. Tomorrow I have to do this lifting all alone she thought. And the milking tonight will probably take me until midnight.

She left the cans in the wain, but put away her perishables and unpacked the hamper. The coldbox was completely crammed by the time she was done. She opened the cabin door and almost reeled at a funk that she didn't think was entirely Curds. When she opened the carrier, Curds shot across the sandy clearing and into the trees. Ember gave brief chase, but then came back to the kitchen and began crying next to the cupboard. Her fur was black and orange swirls, and she looked to be at least five years old.

"I bet you get fed twice a day, too, huh" said Pyosz. She filled a bowl with water and set it under the table. She found fisk in the larder, crumbled it into two bowls, and set them at opposite ends of the under-table area. With a moan of pain, she lifted the pallet onto her shoulder and dumped it on the bed. When she opened her trunk, linens were on the very top, and she gave a silent thanks to Prl. She felt too far gone, however, to put sheets. Instead, she tossed a quilt over the canvas ticking of the pallet, threw a pillow onto the bed, and dropped down after with a long groan. Just a nap she told herself. She was asleep in less than a minute.

Bucky -- A residence hall for unpartnered workers in a given locale.
Comadrona -- Midwife. Most births on Skene are at home with a comadrona assisting.
Kiatu -- canvas lace-up shoes worn by children, dyed bright colors
Sibiya -- Niece or nephew, the child of one's sib.
Timmer -- Carpenter.
Wain -- Farm wagon.

There are 24 hours to each day, 8 days to a week, 5 weeks to a month, 10 months to a year
One year = 400 days, 50 weeks
First five days of the week are work days for all occupations and school days for children, followed by a three-day weekend where the first day is market day, next day popular for performances and social gatherings as well as community meetings, last day often given over to rest and quiet. Exceptions are lighters and sinners -- they must work when the weather allows.
In Skene, ferry schedules (and consequently some work and performance/meeting schedules) are run according to tides -- many ferries cannot run during high tide because there is no morrie vaseo when leviathans can approach shores or inlets.

Day one: Moja
Day two: Iki
Day three: San
Day four: Empat
Day five: Ot
Day six: Roku
Day seven: Sju
Day eight: Shmonah

Month one: Raccolto (main harvest begins this month, New Year, big honey harvest, apples dipped in honey -- school resumes, autumnal weather, storms at end)
Month two: Burzas (onset of winter, long storms, hog slaughter)
Month three: Kall (coldest month)
Month four: Jian (cold but starting to warm at end -- sheep shearing)
Month five: Yaomur (rain month, much fog, rice planting)
Month six: Nastere (spring month, lambs and kids born, some slaughter, planting in earnest)
Month seven: Lamminsade (spring continues, two week period of storms)
Month eight: Med (eel migration and harvest, beginning of summer, first light harvest, first honey harvest = school out)
Month nine: Ljeto (high summer)
Month ten: Mchele (late summer, cooling begins, rice harvest)

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.

1 comment:

Blue said...

Wonderful! Great recovery-read. Keep it coming!