December 21 – Solstice

Posted on: December 22, 2012

I made sure I was up at 6:12am, to light my Bayberry Candle and welcome in the Solstice.  I was very quiet, and knowing John was sleeping in the computer room on the futon, made me smile.  I have this content feeling that everything will be alright now.

I opened the stove to drop the ash, and stumbled back to the warmth of my blankets.

An hour later I surfaced from my cozy cocoon of dreams, dreams of radiating heat, only to find Tufts on my chest, pawing at the covers.  I shooed him away after the requisite scratch behind the ears, and pulled my robe on again.  I had left the sweatpants on, so all I had to do is slide into my slippers, and toddle to the kitchen.  John was still sleeping, so, quietly as I could, I set the water to boil and pulled out the French Press.  I put two scoops of coffee into the pot, and peaked around the corner; yep, still sleeping, blanket covering his bald head.  I just had to smile to myself.  Snapping out of my reverie, I brushed the last of the ashes into the lower pan, shut the grate, and started to rebuild the fire.

Guess I was making too much noise because shortly John was up and heading for the bathroom.  I set the griddle on the stove to preheat then took the opportunity and went thru the tv room to the door at the deck.  Oh, my… a LOT of snow.  Even though the blizzard had stopped, the wind was still pushing it around.  I needed to get a path to the generator and John needed a shower!

I added more wood to the fire just as he came back into the kitchen.  He smiled shyly.

I had already added the boiling water to the French press, and when he appeared, I pressed it.  “Ready for some coffee?”

“You really have coffee?” He seemed either impressed or unbelieving, I’m not sure which.

“I don’t drink it much, so there was some left over,” I know I lied, but I’m so use to not talking about what I stocked up on before the Event it came natural.  There was enough coffee to last John a long time.  He smiled as he took the cup from me, and sipped.  Was that a tear I saw??? “Have a seat, John,” and I pulled another chair next to the stove.  “I’m betting you would really like a hot shower.”  He peered at me over his coffee cup like I was teasing him with a pot of gold and would snatch it away as he reached for it, but he nodded.  “yeah, me too, but the generator is buried in snow.  We need to do some shoveling.  I don’t expect you to exert yourself without some food, so I made you some toast and jam.”  I knew the carbs would help him a lot.  His eyes widened as I lifted the cover off the griddle to expose three slices of bread, nicely toasted.  I moved us to the table, set down the plate in front of him and got a jar of blueberry jam from the fridge.

“You’re limping,” he said as he smothered a slice of homemade bread with my preserves.

“I twisted my ankle a few days ago.  It’s fine, just a little sore,” another lie.  I took my slice of toast, minus the jam.  Soon after, we both had shovels and got a path dug and the gennie free of its snow-dome.  I started it up and plugged in.

I retrieved yet another package from the back store room and set it on the dryer in the bathroom.

“It’s kind of generic, but you might want some clean clothes after you shower.  There are sweat pants, t-shirts and socks.  I’ll get you a sweat shirt.  Just put your clothes in the washer, I’ll start it later.”  And I left him alone.  Soon I heard the shower running.  I don’t think he meant for me to hear, but I caught a definite groan of contentment.

While John was showering, I got a jar of sausage patties from the back storage to break up for his sausage gravy, plus a can of precious milk.  I had just put a pack of bacon in the fridge to thaw yesterday, and the biscuit mix was in the cupboard.  The chickens had slowed down laying, but I was still getting four eggs a day.  I added more wood to the stove to bring up the oven temp for the biscuits.  Breakfast was just about ready, when he came out, looking sad and I was very concerned.

“John, what’s the matter?”

He took a deep shuddering breath.  “That felt so good.  I can’t understand why I waited so long to come here.”  I can’t understand that either.  The clothes fit him fine, though a little loose.  I handed him an oversized sweatshirt, but knew soon he wouldn’t need it.  The stove really warmed things up in here.

“I don’t want to run the generator too long.  While I take a quick shower, I need you to fill these three buckets from the kitchen sink. Just leave them on the floor. Then I’ll shut the gennie off and finish fixing our breakfast.”  I didn’t wait for any comments.  I’ve found that having something to do is often the best tonic and John needed something to do.

I showered in record time and while toweling off, I started the washer filling so the clothes John put in there could soak.  The room was chilly and prompted me to dress quickly.  I combed my wet hair then fluffed it so it would dry quicker.  I’ve been going without makeup for a month now but I still like using some moisturizer.

John was sitting in front of the stove when I came out. “If you show me what you do with the generator, I can do that for you,” he offered.  I smiled gratefully and put a knit hat over my wet hair to go back on the deck to show him what to do.  That taken care of I finished making breakfast.

“Is that….?” John was wide eyed, looking at the biscuits in a basket, with sausage gravy in a boat; eggs and bacon on his plate.

“That’s what you said you wanted….”  I just smiled, knowing he was impressed.  Shame on me, I was trying to impress him.  “Don’t get use to it though; I did this for a special reason: your first day here.  If you decide to stay, it won’t always be like this – it can’t be. As a rule, I only have two meals a day.  No real breakfast, just toast; soup for lunch; but a more hearty dinner.  I hope you can adapt.”

“One meal a day will be more than I’ve had in the last two weeks,” he admitted, as he dug into his meal.  I had to chuckle over the ecstatic expression on his face as he ate, but his comment haunted me.


After he’d finished eating, I poured him the last of the coffee.

“Oh, that was wonderful.  Thank you.  I really should have come here sooner.”

“Why didn’t you?” That question had been plaguing me.

“I dunno, Deb, pride maybe and I didn’t want to be a burden to you.” I ignored the Deb, now wasn’t the time to be picky.  “We all kept waiting for things to go back to normal. Then the generator quit and with it our heat.  We were burning logs in the fireplace but it wasn’t enough.  When Duane and Sandy stopped coming, I knew it was bad, but I didn’t want to abandon the others. We ate what was left in the refrigerator, and when that was gone, several of them piled into the big van and went to Marquette.  There were only three of us left,” a sad cloud passed across the back of his eyes and he took a sip of coffee. “There wasn’t much left this past week, except cheese puffs.” I frowned at that. “When I woke up two days ago, the guys were gone and so was the last truck.  I waited thinking they went in search of food, but they never came back.  That’s when I remembered what you said to me the last time you were there:  To find you.  It’s ok, isn’t it?” Now he looked unsure.

I took his hands in mine. “Of course it is John, of course!  I meant it.  In a way, waiting like this has made it easier,” I hesitated, “I couldn’t feed all of those men, but I can feed you.”


We talked for another hour or two, about the different things that were going on in the country.  The guys there on Eagle Beach never knew about The Stone Soup Kitchen; that might have made a difference; maybe not.

Awhile later, we went out to the barn with a pail of water for the chickens and the basket to collect eggs.  Once in the barn, I remembered the mattress pads and had John climb the ladder to get one off the top shelf.  I also grabbed the blow-up mattress and foot pump.  It was a real struggle getting the bulky things back to the house in the wind.

My inner doubts were fading.  John and I seemed to work well together, at least so far.  After all it was only changing his bedding around, but it was a start.  He didn’t question what I was doing or why, like so many men do, he just did what I did and we were done in no time.  When he offered to bring in wood, I assured him there was plenty for now, but he could do that tomorrow.  He seems anxious to earn his keep.

While he was re-shoveling the deck and all the steps, I started on dinner.  Remembering a comment from what seems like so very long ago, I know he likes pasta.  A jar of home-made sauce from home grown tomatoes, plus a jar of meatballs from when I emptied the freezer back in October, canning everything I could.  Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread: everything from storage, except the bread, but I had made two loaves of Italian bread last time and froze one in the coolers outside.  All I had to do was heat everything thru and cook the pasta.  I hope he likes spaghetti pasta, I’ll have to ask.  Pasta stores so well that I have lots of every shape that’s made.


Dinner was a big hit.  I even opened a bottle of wine.  I felt I deserved it and John would appreciate it.  I’m really nervous.  There’s a tension building between us, in just this short time.  As much as I have felt this attraction for many months, I’m not sure I’m ready to change our relationship.  My emotions are too much in flux, too much pressure, everyone wants something from me; I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t.   I know I can’t shut down, but I also can’t open up, not just yet, not right now.

2 thoughts on “December 21 – Solstice

  1. hmmmmm… yes; Deborah’s job is to take care of others, whether by massage or as the township Emergency Manager. I can see how it’d be scary to let go of that. Some things are best if they come slowly. I hope circumstances allow that. Glad you have those preps !!

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