“Ugh! Close, but not close enough,” Gram whispered only to herself. Where did that rascal go?” Her sharp green eyes scanned the tree tops until they locked on a thick fork in the tree. “Ah! I see! You made it home this time, squirrelly. Don’t count on it next time!”
Dressed in her favorite comfy cammies, Gram headed back through the forest to her shabby lean-to. Her two rescue dogs ran on before her. Inside, she hung her bow and arrow satchel on one of the hooks by the door, poured a cup of water, and made herself comfortable in one of the rockers on the porch. Her partner, Roy, crafted the chairs, and many other tools, from local trees. She sighed with appreciation as she welcomed the moment’s quiet.
Soon she would join the rest of the family at the main tabernacle for supper, but for now, she enjoyed the peace and quiet of the forest with the dogs, Alpha & Beta.
The lean-to wasn’t much, just a few split logs put together like the old Lincoln logs she played with as a girl, but made to look shabby and desserted. It sufficed as shelter, after all, what more does an older couple need but a bed, a toilet, a fireplace to ward off the evening chill, and a porch with rockers? A camouflage net hung from the trees surrounding the tiny cabin, and an unseen root cellar formed a sort of foundation and emergency shelter.
Years ago, the family had put their money together to purchase this parcel of land in eastern Tennessee, southwest of Knoxville. They had discovered a system of tunnels through the property, and the men amended them to suit their needs by blocking a few and reinforcing others. Each of Gram’s three children and their families had a home nearby. They had everything they needed. They lived simply, but happily, taking care of each other. They lived their own lives freely, and gathered daily for the evening meal to give thanks to their Creator for their love for one another, His protection, and His guidance.
Government had gone crazy in the last decade, and many chose to “disappear” into the wilderness to avoid the ever-watchful eyes of Big Brother. George Orwell’s 1984 might have been published in 1949, but it came to pass with the shift away from traditional American values toward the dawn of the 21st millennium.
“The yams are looking good! I wasn’t sure they were getting enough water,” gram said to the attentive dogs.
Her “garden” took much of her time everyday, such as it was. Not a large garden or a proper one with defined borders and rows, but random root vegetables to feed her and her family along with the meat they could still hunt or the fish from the nearby river. While mornings were spent in the garden, her afternoons were spent with her grandchildren, teaching the lessons of Freedom.
Before the Revolution2 started, gram was a teacher, so it was only natural that her heart was wrapped in the stories and tradition of early America, when God was still central in the culture. This is what she eagerly, lovingly wove into the lessons she gave her grandchildren as they gathered around her for “school.”
The men were off with the local militia for weeks at a time, but they had been back just last week to fill the family in on the news from the war. The patriots were standing strong, as their predecessors had at America’s beginning while the tyrannical government stretched its claws deeper into the private lives of its citizens. In the last month, they said, the tide seemed to be turning in our favor. More and more citizens were feeling the pinch of government infringement. Laws and regulations in conflict with the American Constitution were piled on the backs of the people until they nearly suffocated Freedom.
The dogs broke her reverie as they barked toward a woody grove. “What’s out there, girls? Dinner?” She chuckled softly, but the barking grew more intense, and the dogs trotted to investigate. Gram ducked inside to grab her shotgun as the girls reappeared with a young boy. He looked about 10, but scrawny and dirty.
“Where’d you come from, boy?” she asked with just a tinge of annoyance in her voice. The boy didn’t respond.
“Come here, boy.” She set her shotgun down beside her and motioned him closer. “You’re a mess, child! Where’s your family? Where do you live? Come, child, I just want to help.”
“Big brother went to war.”
“What about your family, child, your parents?”
“They’re gone, ma’am. Long time gone.” He looked down as if the carpet of leaves might somehow contain them.
“Well, never mind that now. Come sit here with me a bit and let’s get acquainted proper like. You can call me Gram – everyone else does!What’s your name?” She smiled. “You hungry, child?” She stepped inside and returned with an apple which she proffered to him.
…………….. to be continued