I feel like a thief.
But I’m a mother and I’m happy to shoulder that guilt.
Avery gave it up last night. Apparently we were one of the last kitchens in the city to stay open — everyone else shut down three nights ago. We’ve been so consumed by trying to find Gil — and then finding Gil — that I failed to notice. Avery called me at about 11 o’clock last night. I was still numbly moving around the condo, just moving with no purpose, when I got the call.
She was shutting the kitchen down and handing out all the food in the warehouse. She wanted to give the folks who had worked there first pick.
Dad and I got in the Passat and loaded up. Mostly rice and beans, about 250 lbs. of flour, a case of dried powdered milk, several boxes of carrots and sweet potatoes and onions. Some of the peach preserves and apple butter and even the pickled beans. Every single scrap of chocolate and sugar I could find. There was a whole pig’s worth of cryo-vacced primals that I strapped to the roof. I also took the pressure cooker, the Hobart mixer, a couple of knives, and every bloody fucking one of those tomatoes that I canned.
I can’t believe that was only a month ago.
Driving back through the ghostly streets gave me a bone-deep chill. The riots down in Southie were too far away to hear, but I could see the dull red glow of the fires off the low-slung belly of the clouds. I was driving, Dad was riding shotgun — literally. He was crouched in the passenger’s seat with the double barrel cocked and held across his chest. The same man who had stopped me from firing just a few nights ago was ready to shoot. Happily, there wasn’t a soul in sight.
Paul and I and my folks talked about it until late at night, after I got back with the food. The violence in Southie has stayed contained so far, but with the kitchens shut down, the shooting war in Connecticut and the Berkshires, and the city a target for the US forces, it’s just not safe here. And winter is coming.
It’s 80 degrees today, but the London plane trees are starting to show yellow around the edges and it got down into the 40s a few nights ago. Unless there’s a massive relief effort, the city is going to be a humanitarian disaster this winter — there won’t be heat or food for all these people. We’re very well stocked, thanks to my efforts and last night’s raid on the warehouse.
But that just makes us a target here. Already we get looks from some of our condo neighbors. We’ve seen evidence of someone trying to jimmy our storage locker open. Two of the chickens have gone missing. And it’s still September. In the cold heart of February, I get the feeling we’d be murdered in our sleep for the food in our kitchen.
With my folks here, we can pile into two cars and bring up as much food as humanly possible to the cabin in the woods. We’ve got food, water, and fuel up there. I planted potatoes back in the spring that should be ready soon, plus there’s a giant wood lot filled with plenty of deer and dead falls, and, most importantly, a scarce population that entirely used to self reliance.
I doubt any fighting will make it to the North Woods. We’ll be able to hunker down for the winter.
Paul has already gone out to trade some things for enough gas to make it up there. Mom offered up her jewelry but Paul said that our liquor cabinet would be worth more. I insisted on keeping a pair of vodka bottles, but he’s been in and out all morning, taking a bottle of brandy and coming back with a five-gallon can, going out with three litres of wine and coming back with a gerry can.
Dad’s been doing guy things out in the back with the cars. Mom’s been taking care of April while I gather up heavy blankets, first aid supplies, tools, that sort of thing. She looks white faced and pinched. She’s worried about her dogs. They are huge and eat a lot. We don’t know if we can take them. I know she loves them like her children but if it’s a choice between feeding my mom’s two dogs and feeding my daughter, the matter is simple.
Dad just came in. He traded the cryo-vacced pig primals for a car trailer to hitch to his SUV. That doubles our carrying capacity. We may be able to take some of the books.
April has been very quiet, very still. She occasionally asks about Paw Paw, sniffles, and then goes and sits in a corner with her stuffed rabbit. Right now she’s asleep in my bedroom so I can pack up her room. Going through her toys to pick out what we’re going to take has been tough — we only have so much room, both in the car and in the cabin. I want to sit and hold her, to croon songs and read to her, to hold her and promise everything will be okay.
But I feel guilty already for taking a few moments here to rest and get my thoughts together and to tell you all, our friends, that we’re leaving. April will have all winter to heal, in the quiet woods. Right now I need to think about surviving.
Paul’s back. I gotta go.