two months later.
The winter had been a rough one with more snow than we'd ever seen. I had to give up hunting and gathering more "gifts", as all this loose snow confined travel just around the house. This little game of solitaire my wife and I had been playing, tested our very spirit. I had cut enough firewood with the chainsaw to last perhaps three years and she made trip after trip hauling logs on the plastic toboggan, to the wood pile. Also, I dug a new hole for the outhouse and rolled it over logs to the new spot. Using ferns sure filled a hole quick!
The radio almost became a third member of the family. The winter had been especially hard on the people in town. Even though truck loads of beef had arrived before the deep snows came, it simply wasn't enough as they tried to stretch it out in soups and such. To even compound matters worse the water main had frozen, leaving the entire city without running water. The diesel back up just couldn't keep the flow fast enough and the line had frozen. They endured a couple more major fires but had been lucky as much what was lost, couldn't be lived without. The hardest part was the town had lost a significant amount of people to sickness. Outlying areas were also reporting similar problems, as whole communities were trapped in the snow with very little to eat. Reports coming in from "hams"were getting fewer as more were going off the air. In town, a group of five people were caught raiding a meat locker. They were tried, convicted and hung, all in the same day.
On the bright side, the radio was now playing three hours of music every Friday night! The Christmas music had been such a hit. A little concert was even performed over the air by local musicians from town. Over the winter months the commissioners were announcing constructive plans for the town. These new plans sounded exciting and were going to shape the town toward what the immediate future might bring. They were working together with what they had locally. This is what had kept them alive up to this point and they were going to expand further on this concept.
Organized crews had already been sent out gleaning goods that had been left behind. These goods were being cleaned-up, sorted and stored, in large warehouses. In effect they would become "trade goods" and this is what the new economy would be built upon. Goods and services brought into the community could be exchanged for these goods. Rapid expansion of local cattle, dairy, hog and poultry operations, was to be expected. A communal garden would be started, and acreage supporting grain crops would be moved closer to the community. Fuel that had been stock piled would be used to support these projects. Electrical power however limited, was expected to be created from a renewable resource for the betterment of the community. A new water system was to be implemented this spring.
A mood of optimism was being fostered in town that would hopefully spread throughout the "listening area", via the radio station. Mutual benefaction for everyone would only be realized through the spirit of cooperation. My wife and I thought a great deal about this and about the family we had left behind, who could be barely alive.
We decided that we would attempt to venture back to town in a boat that was left behind by the neighbors. Although my plan had kept us alive and well up to this point, it just wasn't feasible in the long term. I thought it would be just a matter of time before other people would venture here and how could I defend this alone? We both were wondering out load, if living a life like this was really worth it, if it couldn't be shared with others.
one month later.
Spring had finally sprung! My wife and I had stocked piled a considerable amount of gleaned goods that the neighbors had left behind. After the snow pack became hard, trip after trip was made to caches in the woods. On one such trip, we had seen a small plane fly almost over head, the first one we seen in months. Getting the inboard/outboard pleasure boat to the beach was a real job but thankfully it was full of fuel. We'd be taking more than enough fuel to make the trip there and back. This came from our fuel stock pile, that we had built up. A small row boat would be towed behind filled with trade goods. Probably more of what they already had, however we had special medicines that were also left behind by the neighbors. We were set to make one of the biggest trips of our lives.