When I was lead through the door, the councilors were seated at a long table in front of maybe 50 chairs. I sat up front and in the center as the councilors thanked me for the medicine. I was urged to discuss the proposal I had mentioned earlier to one of them. I asked the council if it would be alright if those that were to be involved in this endeavor, that they may be present to hear of this account. The council didn't seem to have a problem with this, but wanted to share a few things with me first.
Apparently, other than the local farmers who had been cooperating all along, I was the first from "the outside" not needing assistance and who was presenting something to offer. They were hopeful that there might be others like myself, who might eventually come in. However, they thought this wasn't likely to happen, coming from our area. From what they could gather from eye witness accounts and aerial flights made over the area, suggested that perhaps 80 to 90% of the population had expired. That most small rural communities had not fared well at all during the long winter months. Starvation had disseminated whole communities and in some, evidence of cannibalism had been discovered. I was assured, that it wasn't likely any groups of people survived within at least 40 miles of the location that I came from. That being the very small community next to this one. The council was cooperating with other communities and would soon become trading partners with them. They were cautiously becoming optimistic about the future. However even more were expected to die due to their weakened state before things could be turned around.
I thanked the council for their insight and information. This put my mind at ease somewhat, it did answer many questions that I had. My wife and the others who were going back with us, were brought in and seated.
I explained to the council, that this group of people and I would attempt to bring in "harvests" coming from the area, into the community. I would need time with this group before more people could be brought on in helping to achieve this endeavor, that would likely be in the late summer. We had already enough fuel stock piled to make three such trips back and forth in the boat that I had arrived on. This would likely increase as more fuel was expected to be gleaned. If the council would a lot us the goods to bring forth a dry crop and those of preserves would be much appreciated. The council quickly agreed to this and assured us that they would help all they could providing labor, boats and fuel to bring forth all that could be harvested. The council asked us if there was anything else we might need before we started our journey back? I requested a dozen chickens and chicken wire to contain them, this was also quickly granted. Everyone seemed pleased, I shook hands and thanked each member of the council. Our group would leave the community at nine o'clock the next morning.
At the seven o'clock morning report on the radio, the announcer came on almost ecstatic. The whole community was going to do something that was monumental! It was going to send off, for the first time, a dozen people of it's own on a mission! That this mission would almost guarantee fresh fruit and those of preserves coming into the community! This would greatly ensure the survival of the community in the coming months. That these "explorers" would only be the first needed to start up the operation and many more would be called upon later that summer! Everyone was expected to gather at the "Welcoming Station" to send these "brave hero's" off!
There was a large crowd of perhaps, 2,000 people gathered in front of the station when our group was assembled. Upbeat music was playing over the loud speakers as the crowd cheered! Our group was then greeted with handshakes by every member of the council. Pictures were being taken of this event. Then a two-way radio was presented to the group and more pictures were taken. The councilors wished us well and would be looking forward to our return.
The crowd parted as we made our way back down the hill. There was a lot of tears, hugs and handshakes, moving through these great people. It had been a long journey for them of unimaginable horrors, yet they managed to stay alive. I felt proud to be leading this group of people and knew they would be productive, if only to support the brethren they were leaving behind. They would grow strong again and it would be soon when more people would be brought on. This was the start of a new day and there would be many more to come.
At the beginning of this journey, it was my hope there would a chance of survival for my wife and I. Perhaps now, we'll have the chance to begin a new life together, one that is worth while....
Many thanks, yooper