A Place to Stand
Chapter 6 - Greenways


A Place to Stand
by
Dave Patterson

Copyright Notice

On Green Island



It is not necessary, may even be counterproductive, to regard our many corrupt businessmen and politicians with anger and a thirst for revenge for the great damage they have wrought during the last decades of the 20th century, both to our societies and our planet and its other inhabitants. Similar individuals have undoubtedly been doing similar things since humans first gathered together in societies, but in many ways, it may be argued, they have little choice in their actions - as the deer in the forest eats leaves and the predator eats the deer and the carrion eaters eat either when they get the chance and the decomposers eventually deal with them all and everything in the natural cycles, so a certain type of 'businessman' and politician, lacking in some essential 'human' genes, feel it is their way in life, their right and even obligation, to attempt to become 'respectably' (as opposed to those who deal in more overt violence and accept the label of 'outlaw' from any society) wealthy and influential through bribery, deceit and behind-the-scenes or covert violence, and when meeting with some success are urged on to ever greater excesses in what can be seen, in 'modern' society, as a suicidal feeding frenzy as each crazed feeder blindly, thoughtlessly, mindlessly seeks to outpace his (there are few 'hers' at the significant levels of this evolutionary appendix) rivals. They would no more think of trying to live the calm, useful, non-greedy, non-frenzied, peaceful, community-oriented way of life of a non-predatious, fully human citizen than the lion or wolf would stop hunting and try to survive on leaves and berries or the rain would consider falling some other time than over your picnic. And it does little good to rail at the vagaries of nature.

Rather, as we deal with nature’s harsher aspects or those which inconvenience us in ways we can overcome without a great deal of overt destruction, as we have built warm houses to shelter us against the snow and cold and survive and even prosper in such harsh climates, as we have constructed mighty machines to carry us across oceans in hours or even to other planets, so we are quite capable of devising systems of government and society which control these human predators who are so obviously born with nothing a civilized people would recognize as higher human morality or ethics, wherein the 'we' merits pretty much the same consideration as the 'me', and the welfare of the group is duly considered along with the somewhat natural selfish desires of the individual to provide for him or herself and his or her closest bloodkin, recognizing that the survival and prosperity of the group means survival and prosperity for the individual as well, in a truly egalitarian and human civilization where all contribute and all profit in a synergistic way as the accomplishments of the many working together transcend those of the individual by magnitudes of order. We are a new experiment on the planet, a species capable of predatory behavior, but with a herd rather than pack instinct - a dangerous combination when left uncontrolled, a predatory species without the inbuilt instincts against wanton destruction or destruction of kind all other less sentient predators have. Small steps to such ends have been made continuously since the first Erectus struck down the first Neanderthal to steal their food, or cave, or woman, and the other Erecti gathered together to lay an even bigger strike on the remaining Neanderthals until there were none left at all. No other species behaves so.

In ancient Greece a system of citizen participation in an organized community was first tried, on the fields of Runnymede a Great Charter was born, and 150 years ago American gunfighters in the Wild West were forced to lay down their sidearms for the greater good and peace, at least legally speaking, although in the brutal history of that country since then the law of non-violence against innocents has been recognized much more in the government-sanctioned breach than the following thereof.

It was not an easy task in previous times to corral human predators, nor will it be any easier in this time, because, as always, predators, honed in the harsh school of natural selection where all mistakes, all wrong turns, are of the high consequence variety, are strong, resourceful, and cunning, in that they learn from their mistakes and devise new strategies to circumvent or even trump our efforts at control. They have always as much as possible infiltrated the governing bodies which we 'let's do it together' types have erected, until, during the last few decades, they control many of our largest governments outright through bribery and corruption and their promotion of the ethically weakest among us to high office, and thus are in an ideal situation to block or diminish our efforts or desires to control them. But control them we must. Their madness, their hubris, their blindness to the destruction they wreak, previously somewhat at least localized, now grows as mighty and far-reaching as the machines we build, and threatens to destroy us all.

As the phoenix prepares its pyre it looks to rebirth; it may be that the huge, unsustainable doomed construct we call the 21st Century Global Capitalist Market Society, where greed and lies and the arms trade rule and the deaths of thousands unnecessarily each day is meaningless to the elite rulers but less so to those who suffer, will be the tinder igniting the phoenix’s pyre heralding the great conflagration of the 2nd age of man and the dawn of the 3rd millennium, the new world, the new Aquarian society long spoken of in Wicca and other ancient wisdoms, to arise from the ashes of the old.

Is there no other way? Must most of us perish like the phoenix in a vast vindictive volcano that our offspring inherit a new, better world? It is not yet known.

The portents are, however, not favorable.

Hope for the best - prepare for the worst.

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“Hi Daddy Daddy! Are we going to feed the fish now?”

The bright voice of Elizabeth floated in through the back door just before the door itself opened with a rush and a bang and the patter of footsteps raced across the grey wooden floorboards of the old woodshed which separated the kitchen proper from the outdoors. Flashing blue eyes, waving yellow hair, brown summer freckles and a happy smile with what seemed to be constantly upturned corners of her mouth stopped and stared expectantly at me over the edge of the table where I was finishing my toast and coffee while reading the last of yesterday’s editorials from the Colonial and Voice on GI-AGORA, the Green Island Citizen LAN. I could not help but grin at this apparition which greeted me like this almost every morning, her enthusiasm for life never flagging, but growing each day.

“Of course we are, Sweetie! Gimme about two minutes while I finish a note and then rinse my dishes, ok?“ As the door banged shut again behind a flying blond wave as she finished her u-turn through the kitchen with an "Okay dadeee!" floating behind her, I clicked away from the news site to my GW account to write a short note to Brittany in response to the short one she had left earlier - she was usually up hours before me, it was her 'alone' time that she treasured mightily; mine was more apt to be at the end of the day rather than the beginning. We were opposite in many ways like this, but very alike in the ways that counted, and, as with the early-late dichotomy, our differences tended to intersect like a jigsaw puzzle, complementing and strengthening our lives rather than complicating them. Today she had left me a note saying she was meeting with our legal people this morning to talk about the Greenways action, and would be in touch with me later, and I just wanted to let her know I got the note, and my plans had not changed from what we had talked about the night before. Brittany's lawyers had been unable to find out anything for sure yesterday afternoon, but, like her and I, they felt that there was no realistic, legal way that Greenways could be taken from her, and certainly there was no cause for any kind of alarm on such short notice, so even though it was a nuisance that must be dealt with, we shouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about it. Our lawyers were good people (there were a few good lawyers even on corruption central Prince Edward Island, and more now as the worst of them found no more business from the government and had slinked off to places where their 'talents' were more appreciated, along with their exorbitant hourly billing rates; like many things they are necessary and good in certain proportions but harmful if indulged in overmuch, and the so-called 'legal profession' had become like a malignant tumor on the body politic many decades ago, and metastasized its evil ways throughout society, and getting rid of this cancer was a painful process).

After leaving the note for Brittany, I gathered up my cup and plate to give them a quick rinse at the sink and leave them in the drying rack - a prime rule both individually and socially, if people want to get along together in an equal sort of society, is don’t leave your messes for someone else to clean up. Rinsing a cup may be a smallish matter in itself, but it indicates a much bigger underlying sort of attitude if you think you are too busy to do it but someone else is not. Not to deny division of labour and such things, but we all live here and we all share in the work.

As I pushed out through the back screen door into a slightly cloudy Island morning, taking a deep breath of the clean air, noting the smell of an overnight shower and the earthen smells it released that I loved so much, noting the chirps and trills of some of the birds, I caught the eye of Elizabeth. She watched me stretch with her big eyes, dancing impatiently from foot to foot.

“So - what have you been up to already this morning, eh, Sweetie?” - like her mother, her inner clock was timed to wake her up with the birds, and Brittany loved to get out together with her daughter for a few private moments of mom-daughter stuff as they watched the sunrise and the dawning day. They rarely told me anything of what they talked about together, but I knew that my two most important people had some quality mom-kid time most mornings together - one reason, perhaps the most important, Elizabeth was turning into such a fine human - fine teachers tend to have that result, and they didn't come much better than Brittany, a real Earth-mother type I had thought from the first.

“We went and fed Goober the bunny his lettuce and carrots that we got from my garden, and we went and talked with my pony Jangles - Daddy, can I get a big horse soon? I think Jangles is really nice, but I’m almost a big girl now and you said when I was a big girl I could get a real horse like you have so we could go and ride along the big trail by the Bay together some day you know with your big horse Aragorn and maybe Mommy too on Arwen and I want a horse called Baggins and Beezer can come too and we can take a picnic too and...umm - ”

I finished my stretch as Elizabeth ran down and paused briefly for a breath and maybe to figure out where she had started and where she was going with that thought, and smiled in sheer joy at the innocence and beauty of the slightly puzzled look on her face as her brain tried to catch up to her mouth, took her by the hand as we headed down the steps to the gravel path, pausing for a second while I pulled on my rubber boots.

“One of these days, Honey, we’ll get you a real horse for sure - maybe for your birthday next year, eh? Jangles is getting a bit old as well, and I imagine you’re getting a bit heavy for him. So we’ll certainly be thinking about it. Did you have a nice time with Mommy this morning?”

“Oh sure, Daddy, it was really neat you know when I got up at about six I went outside and saw Mommy standing on the new cement base for the new windmill, you know? down by the goat field - and she was just standing there looking out over the Bay and the dunes watching the sun come up, with her hands in her coat pockets and her hair blowing just a bit - she was standing so still, Daddy, but she looked so strong, it was like that silly, that silo, oh that sillyharry thing, she was all black from the back when I saw her with the sun coming up on the other side you know, but standing like a giant on the windmill base, I just watched her for a minute Daddy it was really like she had one of those halo things all around her head - but then I went and got her, you know, and then we went and looked at some mud worms at low tide at about 6.30 and they're really neat you know! and there was a big flock of ducks and a opsrey way overhead just circling around without even flapping its wings you know like they do you showed me lots of times and lots of birds, and we came back and I had breakfast with her and walked her down to the gate about seven thirty. She showed me the Horsetails by the little bridge - the Eck - Ecka - oh, what? Eckaseesum? - you know what Horsetails are, Daddy? She was a bit quiet this morning I hope there's nothing wrong - ”

After wincing at the idea of getting up for a 5:30 AM field trip I chuckled at her attempts to grow her vocabulary, which was pretty substantial already for an 11 year old, the people who invented the word 'precocious' must have had Brittany's offspring in mind, and helped out - “Equisetum, Sweetie, equisetum. Yes, I think I know what Horsetails are. And it's os-prey, not opsey or whatever...”

We had been walking as we talked, of course, and by now were almost at the large aquaculture ponds which were something of a new addition to the Greenways projects. We had spent over a year planning for the aquaculture system, working through as many variables as we could based on permaculture and environmental accounting principles, and thought we had things pretty well covered for a sustainable, enviro-friendly fish-growing operation - fish were a much more efficient source of protein in every way than red meat - this year would be the big test. We had located the pens themselves about 50 yards inland from the high tide strand line of St. Peter’s Bay, in a bit of a gully to minimize the vertical distance the salt water needed to be pumped (and the amount of digging that needed to be done) - three large plastic-lined tanks about 20 meters by 30 meters by 2 deep, two for growing and one for use as a settling and neutralizing tank for the filtered flushing-through water. There was a constant flow-through of bay water, driven by our windmills, and 99+% of wastes were removed from the water before it was returned to the Bay, well out in the main channel to minimize any pollution effects, (and released, of course, only during the ebbing tide for impact-free tidal cleansing), and 99%+ of the wastes were recycled on the farm. In theory, anyway - how practical these figures were would be determined over the next couple of years, after a full growth cycle or two. But such theory held little interest for Elizabeth, at least yet, who just loved to get out on the gangways between and around the pens and throw handfuls of feed to the fish, who made a great commotion jumping around and generally roiling the water. Fortunately she hadn’t started naming them yet - it was always traumatic when we had to kill and eat something she had made a pet of first. The "You're not killing Hermy!!!!!" incident after her first visit to a lobster pound when she was four years old will be long related in this family, I am sure. She seems to have gotten over it, but when Brit and I want a lobster we generally go to one of the 'Lobster Dinner' tourist places still.

We opened the little shed where the feed and scales and other supplies were kept and measured out the feed for the two growing tanks, and I watched Elizabeth happily walk out along the boardwalks between the tanks throwing fistfuls of feed and laughing at the splashing fish while I undertook a look-around, a visual assessment of the farm, as I liked to do each morning for a general overview to make sure everything was looking well - and just because I loved the life and property here so much, and felt so lucky to be living here.

About 100 yards up a slight incline was the big old farmhouse called Greenways, a rambling wooden and stone structure built over 100 years ago when this part of PEI was still a fairly important ship-building center, and this very property, somewhat ironically considering our strong environmentalism these days, home to one of the larger ship-building businesses in the area. A large three-story central block facing north towards the Bay was flanked on the east by a two-story wing, at the back by a largish greenhouse we had added for the southern sun and a one-story conglomeration of back sheds eventually leading to the kitchen. Wrapped around the front and west sides was a big old verandah with a somewhat sagging roof where we liked to sit when we had a chance on a summer’s evening and watch the fishermen making their way home or checking their lines or nets around the Bay, although we didn’t seem to get much chance to do that these days. The whole thing was based on white, but it hadn’t been painted in about three years and was pretty patchy-looking at the moment, although we had started a paint job a couple of years back and got all the trim painted green and blue ("to be contrary", Brittany had said), which was now fading a bit. Add to this the various pastels (also faded) in different sections of the building, and the weathered grey of the sheds, and that was Greenways the multi-hued house - not your average suburban bungalow, as Brittany was fond of saying when describing it to someone new. In various areas around and near the house were little herb-rock gardens we’d been working on for a few years - quite peaceful and beautiful spots now that they were maturing - we’d both been familiar with permaculture principles for many years, and Greenways was our chance to see what could be done on PEI, where the climate presented a serious challenge.

Elsewhere, there were half a dozen large white modern windmills scattered throughout the property, 80-100 feet high, rarely still, all lazily spinning problem-free this morning. With the almost constant breeze over the Island, and our direct north shore frontage, we had a combination of windmills and solar panels that provided almost all of our power requirements now, and were almost ready, after some considerable discussion about pros and cons, to put a small but efficient and supposedly quite powerful experimental tidal generator into St Peter’s Bay to give us some extra KW. There was a growing power industry on Green Island, and with researchers from Athenia, we were now on the verge of energy self-sufficiency - something undreamed of a few years ago, when private power companies were loath to spend the necessary money in such a low-population area and the best the governments could do was promise 5-10% self-sufficiency decades into the future. As with many things on Green Island, the power situation was another example of what can be accomplished when the capitalist-'investor' (some of us felt the term 'blood-sucking parasite' to be somewhat closer to the general situation) profit motive is removed from necessary social infrastructure, and progressive, sustainable communities become the major focus. Quickly, too, when governments are truly concerned with the public weal, rather than maximizing corporate profits by looting the public purse in various ways.

About another 100 yards east of us was the Morell River, fronted by a thickness of yellowy-green scrubby alders along most of its length, although we had cleared an area behind the bar for our vessels where remnants of the old ship-launching ramps still existed. Across from our property on the east of the Morell was a large area of salt marsh, which was a haven for many species of birdlife (both Brittany and I were avid birders, something that had helped bring us together in earlier days), and a few hundred yards upstream the Morell railroad bridge was visible from the shore area. To the south and west the property was bounded by woodland, primarily scrub pine and spruce, poplar and birch, but we had been encouraging the re-establishment of the more durable hardwoods such as maple and beech, hoping someday to restore something of the original Acadian forest that had covered the Island before the shipbuilders and mercantilist traders came along, whose worldview said that trees in the forests were best used to create human wealth in the present generation, rather than something to be honored, used sparingly and preserved for future generations, as the inhabitants before them had believed, and had so preserved their heritage for thousands of years, a world view we were trying to restore at least to some extent.

Much of the space between the house and woodland on the upper slopes was given over to our large market garden - we were almost entirely self-sufficient ourselves, and growing enough to save in various ways for use through the long winter, and enough of some things to sell at the St. Peter’s Farmer’s Market on the weekends through the summer, or occasionally the Athenia market in Charlottetown. Chemical-free produce had a large and growing customer-base, now that most people were aware of the great damage done to the environment by the years of heavy chemical spraying that had been the basis of agriculture on the Island for many years, not to mention their own health from ingesting all the agricultural chemicals and hormones that were such a central part of the so-called 'Green Revolution' of the 60s. Like so many things related to capitalist infrastructure, the very name itself was a perverse lie - it was indeed a 'revolution', but it’s purpose was no more 'green as environmentalists understood the term than 'free trade' agreements had anything to do with trade or freedom, at least for most of us. The big fish kills in Island rivers during the black years of the 1990s had created a movement to strictly regulate such chemicals, however, and the government had finally been forced to do so, against the loud protests of the agro-chemical-farming industry, a protest which was not yet silenced, although as the few large potato operations became Green Island Black Sheep and were sold off and subdivided into numerous mixed-crop organic operations more like they had originally been, the pesticide lobby was fading away, as were the pests (two-legged and otherwise) that had thrived in their monoculture operations.

I completed my sweep back - the few minutes I managed many mornings like this was something of a meditation for me, calming me for the coming day’s activities, looking along the vista of the big St. Peter’s Bay out beyond the fish cages, stretching from St. Peter’s Village off to the south, the church spires barely visible in the distance, to the small opening to the Gulf of St. Lawrence off to the north, where the large sand dunes of Greenwich were visible even from here. The gently rolling hills, divided into a farmer’s quilt of fields, divided by hedgerows and stone fences and trees and shrubs - countless shades of green interspersed with the yellows of early grain and red soil - of the north side of the Bay captured my attention for a few moments - their great beauty never diminished, nor the patterns formed by the endlessly shifting shades of colors and shadows playing together. A smile on my lips, I looked down a little closer to home where Elizabeth was just throwing the last of the feed into the near pond, laughing and tossing her head in such innocent joy as the fish jumped up to capture some in mid-air before the others had a chance to get it.

With a sigh of resignation, I looked at my watch.

“C’mon, Elizabeth,” I called to the small blond wonder still entranced by the jumping salmon, “let’s walk you over to the Dellington’s. I have to get into Charlottetown to meet some people. Let’s go!”

She poked her face into the fish feed bag to make sure there wasn’t a last handful to drag it out another few seconds, saw there wasn’t, and turned the bag upside down over the cage, scattering the crumbs for a last morning snack for the never-satisfied fish.

“Okay - on my way, Mr Minster!” she laughed at the nickname she had created for me one evening a few weeks previously when hearing me referred to as a government minister on one of the news shows. She returned the bag to the shed and closed the door, then skipped over to where I waited and took my hand. We forged a new path through the morning dew and grass-spider webs glistening on the green grass as we turned our steps towards the grey stone walls of what at one time was the carriage house, but many years ago had been turned into a guest house, and now served as the home of Lilac and Abellard Dellington. The Dellingtons had come with the farm, as it were, when first the Blacks and then Brittany herself took possession; the farm had actually originally been theirs, but like so many others in the increasingly grasping capitalist ascendancy of the 70s and 80s and onwards world they had lost it to the banks when the growth in farm income failed to keep pace with the growth in interest rates charged by their local friendly bank (interest, somewhat ironically although typically, on loans the bank had encouraged them to take in the first place to 'modernize' with the 'green revolution' promising great profits for all, turning into just another bank scam to acquire ever more of a country's assets, never giving a single damn about the people and lives they were destroying along the way), and Joseph Black had got the farm at a fire-sale price. He did, however, at Brittany's insistence, as she was feeling somewhat guilty about the situation, not being a capitalist at heart, keep the Dellingtons on to do the actual work, as he was more interested in being a gentleman farmer on the Island colony (as he always referred to it), with some vague plans of restoring some grandeur to the old ship-building property. He had never made a go of it, but the Dellingtons had stayed, and had worked the fields of Greenways as a mixed farm for many years - it was one of the things we were lucky about with Greenways, that it had never been turned into a potato farm like so much Island land, thus the soil was less depleted from years of monoculture soil depletion and chemical usage than in many other farms. They were a wonderful old Island couple, honest and big-hearted if a little conservative in nature and suspicious of new things, had never had children of their own for some reason, and had taken to Elizabeth like a long-lost grandchild, as she had to them.

As we approached the door of the carriage house, it opened and Mrs. Dellington stepped out, fanning her full-length apron to shake the flour from its folds - fresh baking every day was both an old Island tradition and a most welcome dietary staple at Greenways. It had been a bit of a contest for a few months to get Lily, as we usually called her, to switch from her traditional white flour to the much healthier and tastier whole-wheat flour, but now she was an enthusiastic convert, and usually had a basket of whole wheat breads and rolls and tarts and other treats for the Farmer’s Market on the weekend - something new in her life that we had introduced her to that she had come to love.

“Nannie nannie!” cried the irrepressible Elizabeth, dropping my hand and running off across the lawn to where Mrs. Dellington kneeled with open arms and wide smile. As always. Real people are so good like that.

“Come to Nana, wee one! And how are we this morning?” she picked up Elizabeth and swung her around, doing her own small survey of things important to her, looking over to where I was arriving at the edge of the steps.

“So, Mr. B,” she said, looking down at me, “and what business with the new Island government will you be up to today then?” Almost five years since the election, but still new to Mrs. Dellington, bless her heart.

Mrs. Dellington had never approved of the People’s Government, although she, as many other Islanders, had not been entirely happy with the traditional system the few years preceding the change either. But as an Islander born and bred, who had spent perhaps 20 days of her life more than 10 miles from her home in St. Peter’s, it was firmly fixed in her worldview that the province of PEI was governed by the Liberals and Conservatives, who took turns in the completely natural, and comfortable, course of events. They were special people, those who had run the Island since time immemorial, and there was something out of place in her universe that someone else was now speaking in her daily newspapers who did not declare themselves to be either Liberal or Conservative. But Brittany was part of the change, and she had loved Brittany like her very own special child since her arrival, and, another practical Islander trait, she was generally prepared to stick politics back in the closet if it threatened to get between her and her family.

“Yes, Mrs. Dellington,” I replied, smiling up at her, for I had always had a great affection for her and her disapproval of some of my recent activities could not change that, “I will be off to the city today for some meetings - as you know, the Referendum is at the end of the week, and there’s a lot of activity at the moment - and then I'll probably be away overnight with a couple of guests to the Island, showing them around a bit.”

“Oh, I know, Mr. B, I know, about that referendum you're all having,” she replied, “and don’t think Abellard and I ain’t talkin’ about it all, of an evening, either!” she warned, a glint of fire in her eye, shaking a pudgy finger at me. But also a smile on her face - even through her troubles, she recognized, I think, that although I represented change to her, and was therefore basically suspect by definition, I was not actually evil incarnate, and maybe, just maybe, something good might come of it all.

“We've been to the St Peter's meetings too, you know, more than one of them - Abellard, bless his soul, rather enjoys the chance to have his say, and he actually feels that the other people are listening and he is helping change things for the better, they usually agree about things you know, after a few hours of talking about them. It's altogether a new idea, you know, making our own decisions as a community and actually having the government do what we want rather than having them politicians sitting on the stage and telling us what they're going to do whether or not we much approve, which I will say there has been more than one time we were just a bit unhappy with that, you know, and we're not just sure it's all true yet, it sounds altogether too communistical to me, you know, like Joe Bibble keeps saying is all you folks are doing, but then it seems to be working ok as well, so maybe there's something I'm not quite understanding yet, maybe it's not really communistical or something, I don't know, I haven't enough time to think about it all, you know, I've never understood all them high-falutin ideas, but I know sure as I'm standin here that Abellard and myself, now, we sure ain't no communists but we sure can appreciate the chance to have our say at them meetings and feel like we're actually being listened to, if you know what I mean - and if that's communism or socialism or whatever, well, maybe I've been misunderstanding some things for awhile myself, I don't know I'm sure, really. Maybe we'll see on Friday, though, Abellard seems to think you'll do ok, you know, he don't say much at times to you I know, but he says to me when we talk at times that it would be a bad thing now to go back to the old ways, and I think a lot of others agree, even if they keep some opinions like that to themselves, like they used to have to, you know, if they wanted the roads plowed and stuff. But how about Brittany, dear? Is she all right, then?" she continued, changing the subject, a small frown of concern coming to her face, “When she come over this morning to say she was on her way, then, she looked a little distracted, I noticed that, I did, you know. And when I asked her if everything was alright, she didn’t really answer. I figured something was up....”

“Well, Mrs. Dellington,” I said, “you're very observant, as always. And yes, something has come up quite suddenly, and we ..”

I didn’t get a chance to finish my answer - suddenly Elizabeth squirmed in Mrs. Dellington’s arms, shouting “Beezer! Beezer! Lemme down Nana lemme down!” leaping from Mrs. Dellington’s arms as she did so, and taking the steps two at a time she dashed off across the lawn to where a pony-sized ball of black fur was gallumphing across the grass, long red tongue flapping in the wind of its passage, not to mention two long black ears and a long black tail and a couple of shiny black eyes. It let out a “Whoof!” as it saw Elizabeth approaching, and slowed and stopped as she reached it, dropped to her knees and flung her arms around the great shaggy neck. The dog seemed to throw back its head with a big smile, as the girl spoke to it.

“Hi Beezer!” her voice drifted back across the lawn, "Where have you been all morning? We've been up for hours! I missed you, bad doggy!” And she hauled the compliant giant down on its side beside her on the dew-wet grass, rolling and laughing.

I looked up at Mrs. Dellington, smiling. “Well, I guess she’s in good hands, and I better be on my way. As I was saying, though, something has come up with Brittany, yes, and it may be a problem, but I think it's not time to start worrying yet, and since it mainly concerns her I think I’ll leave it for her to tell you what she wants when she feels she should - I know she wouldn't want to worry you.”

She looked at me for a minute, then returned my smile. “Ok, Mr. B, I guess I understand. Have a good day then, we'll spend the evening at the big house as usual until someone gets home so the wee one can sleep in her own bed.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Dellington. I’ll try to!” I turned and waved and called to Elizabeth. “Bye Elizabeth - have a nice day, and I’ll see you tomorrow!”

She turned from Beezer the big black dog and waved, “Bye Daddy Daddy!”, and then dashed off across the field with her best friend galumphing beside her. I watched for a second, remembering for some reason the carefree days of my own youth not too far from here, then remembered to breathe again and turned to leave.

I walked back past the house where I changed the rubber boots for some comfortable sneakers, grabbed my jacket and small knapsack I often carried packed with a few toiletries and books and papers and things, then strolled out the lane to where a bicycle waited at the gate for the short pedal into Morell where I would catch the 8:25 GRIS-RT, weekday regular route, Souris-Ch’town - GRIS-RT trains were a bit notorious for being on time, and I didn't really want to wait another half hour for the next one. I paused a few seconds at the little bridge over a small creek that meandered through the property to the river and saw where Brittany and Elizabeth had been looking at the Horsetails, and felt a brief twinge of regret that life was so very full these days of work and what we regarded as necessary political activity - both of us felt that time was far more enjoyable and usefully spent building Greenways and studying nature, such as the Horsetails at my feet, or the small garter snake whose tail I saw disappearing through the grass on the other side of the creek. Soon, we both hoped, there would be time for more.

But first there were some things to be done - things that would not be easy and maybe even unpleasant, things that could go the wrong way, things that could have unthinkable consequences if we failed to deal with them properly. The problem of Joseph Black and his desire to wrest Greenways away from Brittany and I, the problem of Joseph Black and his political comrades who wished to wrest our newly established democratic government and Green Island away from us all.



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