The first winter was the hardest. The breakdown came at the end of summer, too late for even those of us with seeds to plant a second crop, knowing what was coming. There were too many hungry mouths to feed them all, too little clean water to offer every traveller a swallow for a parched throat. At first we tried to help all who came to the house with just a little food and water before sending them on their way. ¬†Then came the first would be thief, wielding a knife and demanding a week’s provisions for his woman and himself. I hung his body on a tree near the intersection of US 60 and the interstate, his knife in his chest, a sign around his neck, “I tried to steal food”. I gave her a few days provisions and left her in the shade of the tree. After that, we ¬†stopped grazing animals in the pasture visible from the road, stopped using candles and lamps except in the back rooms of the house, took down the old windmill, felled a tree across the main driveway, and wore our pistols always. We made it through the winter without starving, but I ran out of trees near the interstate.


Stories, fragments and digressions