Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Cattail
Wes Boyd
İ2010, İ2011



Chapter 21

The field behind where the auction had been held looked considerably different in the daylight five and a half months later. The corn stubble that had poked out of the ground was long gone, and had been replaced with the stubble of harvested oats poking up through the green of clover. There was a bright blue sky dotted with clouds overhead, and green on the trees, although to the practiced eye the leaves were starting to look a little aged. Soon they would be falling as another winter came to the Michigan countryside, but no one wanted to think about that, not on this of all days.

Although most who were there that morning appreciated the nice weather, there were few comments about the rest of nature's scene. There were other things to draw the eye -- mostly the black of a hundred or more Amish buggies scattered around, horses idly grazing on the clover of the field. There were probably several hundred Amish present, ranging from babies in cradles to elders barely able to get around with canes, and all ages in between. This was something that didn't happen very often even among the Amish, and there were people who had driven their teams for a couple days to be there for the rare event of a combined house and barn raising.

While there were a few cars and trucks of English friends parked toward one side of the gathering, right in the middle of all the activity was an incongruous sight that was about all that kept the scene from being one from a century before: a tan and white 30-foot 1996 Itasca motor home that had come the farthest of anyone to be present at this day of days. The generator behind one of the rear wheels was roaring to keep up with the demand for power that Roger and Catalina were putting on it with a pair of Skil saws. There was no way they could keep up with all the sawing needing to be done; there was plenty of work being done with hammers and handsaws, which they could hear occasionally when both the power saws were quiet, which wasn't often.

Once again, David was marking cuts for them just like he'd done down in Pass Christian the winter before. If anything he was even more careful than ever before, because it was his house and barn that were being built. And it was just in time; his wife Sarah, who'd also worked with them in Pass Christian, a sweet girl with a sweet face, was, as they say in the Bible, great with child. David didn't plan on going down south this winter as there was going to be plenty to do around their new farm. Any spare time he might have had would be spent with Michael's logging crew, felling trees back in the woods and helping haul them out to the road.

Though they hadn't yet had the chance to look around very much, Roger and Catalina were happy to be here. They'd been alerted to this event in a letter they'd received at Cedar Breaks National Monument a month before, and they'd agreed instantly there was no way they were going to miss it. Still, it had taken four days of leisurely driving to get back to Wychbold from Utah, dragging the Geo Tracker behind them, of course. Once Roger had gotten over his snit about Fords or nothing, he agreed it made pretty reasonable sense, and he figured he might as well let Catalina win one once in a while. They'd taken a couple days to unload some of the summer gear from the new motor home, and load some carpentry tools, although Roger doubted much would be needed besides the power tools.

The Amish women had spent much of the morning preparing a great noon meal, and around the time the sun was high work gradually ceased as people drifted over to eat. There was still work to be done on the house and barn, but it was coming along nicely; from what he could see, Roger thought there was a good chance it would be wrapped up by the end of the day.

"Might's well go see what's for lunch," David said finally, and added, "Don't eat yourself full. There's work to be done yet, and supper likely will be even better."

"Good enough for me," Catalina said. "I'm ready for a break."

"Me, too," Roger agreed. "But things sure seem to be going well."

"Yah, they are," David said as he led them over to the tables that had been set up a ways away from the activity.

Before too long Roger and Catalina had found a place at a long table with Aaron and Michael, who invited the couple to join them.

"So," Aaron said. "From what little I've heard you've had a good summer."

"We did," Catalina said. "The place is magnificent, really beautiful, and about as far from around here as can be imagined. The job was a little dull in a way, although we got to meet a lot of interesting people."

"It must have been different indeed," Aaron said. "As different as Pass Christian is from here."

"Oh, much more than that," Catalina told him. "We were way up in the mountains there, and it never got really hot. I can't imagine what it would be like down there in Pass Christian this time of year."

"It was very hot when we were down there this time of year last year," Michael told her. "Hot enough to think about taking off a shirt sometimes, even though it wouldn't have been proper."

"Well, yeah," Catalina said. "Mom spent most of the down in the Florida Panhandle, and she said it got pretty hot and humid. She's glad to have a break from it."

"I take it she was enjoying herself," Sarah said. "It was hot enough here."

"Oh, yeah," Catalina smiled, apparently remembering to not mention a couple of details like the fact that Bonnie had spent the summer wearing considerably less clothing than Sarah -- in fact, none at all for most of it. That wasn't something Sarah needed to know. "She was helping her boyfriend run a campground he owns down there, and I guess they had a pretty good time."

"Well, to each his own," Sarah said. "Just so long as she was happy. Going to Pass Christian last winter was considerably warmer than staying here, but I guess we'll not be going this year. There'll be too much to do here. Are you going back down there once you're done here?"

"Not for a while yet," Catalina told her. "Although Mom is planning on living down there in the future, she still has things to clear up here. She's back now, and she wants to clean out the house and set up an auction, then get the house on the market." She glanced over at Michael and grinned. "It's a city lot so there's no land there to speak of, and not really any trees worth the cutting, either."

"It's just as well," Michael smiled back. "I think we shall have enough to do here this winter. I'm not planning on going back to Pass Christian this winter either, although I suspect Aaron will be."

"Yah," Aaron said. "There'll likely be a few of the folk there that weren't there last year. Most of them are here today, but you'll get the chance to get to know them later if not today. 'Twill be a few weeks yet before we can go, the first part of November if the harvest is in by then."

"Yeah, that's about when we were planning on heading south, too," Roger said. "You're going to the same place, then?"

"As far as we know we're going to be picking up where we left off, although I've been told that a lot of the debris has been redded up, so there'll not be that problem. It would be good to have you and your power saws with us again."

"Well, good," Catalina said. "At least we shouldn't have to be running back and forth to Michigan all winter."

"Yah, but it was for a good cause, as you can see today," Aaron told them. "None of this would have happened had you not gone to the trouble. Believe me, you can cause us trouble like that any time you want to."

"I'm just glad it worked out," Catalina said. "However, I don't know of any more elderly relatives near death who would make us do it all over again."

"Yah, but you had no idea of what was involved," Aaron told them. "Of course, we did not either, but the Lord knew what he was doing. It all worked out for the best, and unless my eyes deceive me, it worked for the best for you as well."

"Oh, you mean this?" Catalina said, holding up her left hand to show off the plain gold ring she wore on it. "We just decided it would be a good idea and simplify matters a little. We didn't want to make a big deal of it, and one day when we were taking a day off down in Las Vegas we just decided to get it out of the way."

"Still, it looks good on you," Aaron smiled. "So, assuming the Lord doesn't have other ideas, have you plans for next summer yet?"

"Not yet," Roger said. "We've pretty well decided we're not going back to Cedar Breaks again. It wasn't a bad place by any means, but there are other places to see, and we might as well see some of them."

"I must ask," Michael said. "Have you given any more thought about driving a horse and buggy from here to Pass Christian?"

"It still sounds like a good idea," Roger said. "But there's no way we can do it this year, what with everything else going on, but maybe next year. We still don't know much of anything about horses, but we were thinking that if we're going to be spending most of the winter in Pass Christian with you, it might be a good chance to learn something."

"Yah, it might," Aaron smiled. "And like everything else, you don't know what good might come of it. Were I a younger man and had I the time, I might like to make that trip myself. If the opportunity comes your way you might's well make use of it."

"That's kind of the plan," Roger smiled. "Take what opportunities come our way and try to make use of them. Maybe we can do a little good for someone along the way."

"Yah, that's more than many in your position would do, but you have the good hearts and the good will to do it, so I expect you'll find more to do," Aaron told him. "Oh well, we could sit here and jaw all afternoon, but there's yet work to be done, both here and down where the storm ravaged. We might as well be about it."

-- 30 --

7:14 PM, 4/11/2010


Thanks for reading Cattail! I hope you enjoyed it! -- Wes


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