The days that have followed Cal and I deciding that the kind of family we are no longer involved the connection we had with other people but the ones that we have formed with each other have been both good and difficult. They have been good because we face them together. They have been difficult because of what has been happening outside of the haven we have done our best to create for our little family.
The gated community at the farthest end of Shell Point Drive, that piece of land that juts out into where the river and Hillsborough Bay meet, has been completely cleared of residents. The marina in the community that faces the river side is being used by a combination of Coast Guard, National Guard, Port Authority people, Fish and Wildlife, and it is being run and organized by state level DHS. The marina’s docks can each easily moor over a dozen large boats; more if they are smaller ones. Additionally, over seventy-five percent of the houses in that community have their own private docks, some of which sit in deep water and can moor very large boats. Many of the private docks were damaged but are being repaired.
The houses that are salvageable are being turned into offices, supply buildings, and housing or barracks depending on the rank of the individuals utilizing them. They have fenced off the area, put a manned gate at the entrance and have also built placements for guns. In essence it has been turned into a military outpost of sorts. The money and man hours invested in the project speaks volumes about how long they expect to be there.
They’ve also taken over the resort at Little Harbor as well as the shoreline along Dickman Island and on up the coast along the wetlands of Tampa Bay until things narrow across from MacDill and Hillsborough Bay begins.
Cal and I have discussed things at length. On the one hand having those people next to our property is worrisome. We keep a very low profile. We keep the shutters closed most of the time. We are very careful not to give them any reason to kick us out the way they kicked out the few people that had been left there. Actually kicking them out is a little strong; they did provide a moving van for those that wanted one.
One of the reasons why we haven’t enlarged the garden more even though I really want to is because we are trying to keep a low profile. The last thing I want to do is draw notice to us and perhaps get them inquisitive. I’m sure they already know we are here and probably what we have up to a certain point, but I’m not going to go out of my way to give them reason to investigate more closely.
On the other hand having all of those military types around is a pretty sure formula for keeping the bad guys that have been patrolling the river looking for easy pickings far away. On the third hand – and we ran out of hands several times while we were “discussing” this situation – if the terrorist incident really was the first salvo in a war being in the armpit of a bunch of military types isn’t going to be very comfortable at all. Of course we are already practically rubbing elbows with MacDill and somehow that is considerably less comfortable than it used to be.
It was certainly nice to have Cal home as his one week mandatory leave turned into two. Thus far they are still getting paid but I can’t see that continuing. I know Cal is trying to come up with alternative careers but I can also tell he really wants to be a cop of some flavor. But what if he gets blacklisted? He’s worked since he was in high school, always with the intent to be a cop; what if it isn’t something that he can be for a while? What if that dream goes up in smoke completely?
It hurts to think of the suffering that Cal will go through if he loses his dream. I think we’ve both done what we can to stay as busy and constructive as possible. One of the things we did was plant beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, kale, lettuce, and nasturtium. But doing so I began to come to the end of my seed collection.
“Cal, I want to go out.”
Sighing, he hung up the hoe he had just finished sharpening. “I won’t even pretend I don’t know what you mean. And I know you wouldn’t mention it without good reason.”
I nodded. “I know you are doing everything you can to keep Feena and I safe and I don’t have a problem with that. It’s your job. But there are things I need to do that you can’t do for me. I need seeds.”
“You sure you can’t make do?”
“I … look ... you have a moment to look at this?” When he sat beside me at the picnic table I showed him, “We’ve agreed to split the responsibilities around here. Your job is security, my job is food. Everything else we pretty much share or seek compromises on. I watched you use those yard diagrams the other day to explain to me what you meant about certain positions and what all, and to add up what we have and what you’d like to have and why. Well, I thought it was a great idea and it helped me to understand what you meant so I made up my own diagrams and a calendar to see what we still need so I can do my part around here.” I took a breath and peeked to make sure he was following what I was saying. “Look here, I can get us this far,” I told him pointing to the month of January. “I think I’ve even got it figured out how to save seed from each crop. But if we don’t get more seed for the other seasons where different stuff is grown there will be a large gap in what we are planting and harvesting.” Trying to be as honest as I could I added, “It … it might be OK but … but what if … you know … the stores. What if the stores don’t restock. I remember reading in history books about how food gets to be in very short supply during war time.”
Cal thought about it and then asked, “Anything besides seed?”
“Whatever doesn’t make us stand out … I mean when we’ve gone shopping we try and mostly look like everyone else; you said that was a good thing. Like everyone I’d like more paper products. I’ll eventually need flour even if I do start using the feed corn to make masa with. I’d like to spend those ration cards on whatever we can; but I’m thinking to try the Carneceria first, maybe find out some local gossip. Maybe see if some of the U-picks are going to open or if any were so damaged I shouldn’t even think about them being available for next season. I wish I could talk to Dorrie but you and Josh talk until you lose the signal.”
He hiked an eyebrow at me like it was something he hadn’t been thinking of. “Josh and I are talking shop, trying to keep up with what is going on. I can’t promise, the signal comes and goes, but I’ll try and remember to ask if Dorrie is around next time.”
I shrugged. “Maybe she doesn’t want to talk. Her Uncle Darryl told me about how they are being with her. I just … look … seeds aren’t the only reason I want to go out. I need to see how things are with other people to put in perspective how we are doing. Part of me has a good suspicion but I’d still like to see it with my own eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t need to but I do.”
Cal nodded. “I can understand that. You’re probably feeling cooped up too.”
Shrugging I told him, “Not so much with you around. If anything I wish I could put up a big wall. Sometimes it feels like we’re being watched all the time. I keep expecting somebody to come along and say ‘OK lady, let’s see what you got so we can take our fair share.’ Or maybe they’ll want to take all of it.”
“Is that what you were doing looking in the crawl space?”
“I told you I know it was silly. Don’t rub it in anymore.”
He shook his head, “Not silly, just not very realistic. Under the house will be the first place someone would look for stuff. It also isn’t weatherproof under there.”
Dejectedly I said, “I know. And the attic gets too hot to store much but the dried stuff … and that I have to be careful with because I don’t want to draw any unwanted nasties like roaches and mice into the house.”
He chewed the inside of his cheek for a minute and then said, “Let me make a couple of calls and make sure we’ll run into as little trouble as possible. Depending on what we hear, we’ll make plans.”
I knew that is about as good as I am going to get. He did make some calls today but hasn’t heard anything back. He said if he doesn’t hear anything tomorrow then we’ll try and go out the day after that.