Emerging from the misty rain that poured from the night, there came
a sign. Divine, perhaps not; but welcome all the same. “There
it is,” called Brad, pointing excitedly. “Salmon Arm,
twenty clicks... Hammer family, here we come.”
Two days, we would stay. And hard-working ones they would be. Computers
humming like toasters; video-cameras swallowing one tape after the
next; cables lying everywhere, coiling like tired snakes, tripping
the cats whenever they tried to cross the room.
Outside, on the telephone. Sure enough… Val. Battering out
the last bugs of a server-swap. At the kitchen table, his nose bare
centimeters from a computer screen, Erik was smoothing the bumps
of roads yet to be driven. Commitments, appointments, interviews;
he scratched at his head, twisted his hands, attempting the torturous
task of fitting them together. Chris and Brad, in the living room,
were running miles upon miles of video-tape before their eyes. Clipping
the best, the brightest. The strongest, highest, fastest. Then,
placing them carefully aside.
“Right,” said Paula, hands upon hips, no-nonsense upon
face. “This stuff, so far as I’m concerned… done.”
She walked a quick circuit of her home, unplugging cameras, flipping
power buttons, confiscating cell-phones. “We’ve got
some weeds to pull.” Like bats, they came blinking into the
light, and piled into pickups.
But weeds, I gotta say; a decidedly poor word for what lay in wait.
They stood head-high in places, even higher in others. The stalks
were thick and fibrous and fiercely resisted the bite of any tool;
the roots gripped the soil with soldier-like determination. Moreover,
thistles, burrs and mosquitoes waited within this tangled jungle.
To stab and poke and sting.
Erik, however, strapped himself to the largest machine available,
pulled the starter, and waded in. “Follow me!” he called
over his shoulder, shouting above the noise of the machine. “I’ll
clear the way!”
Not all, I must admit, was this rocky road; this tough and rugged
stuff. A place was also set at the table for flowers and fun. You
see, Paula would allow no otherwise.
Therefore: Late upon these evenings, four-wheeled dirt-bikes rolled
from garages, horses trotted from stables. Wave-runners coasted
close to shore. Bar-b-cues sizzled.
But soon enough, these days were done. A motor home, again, was
sputtering to life. “Wow, Hammer family,” Erik said,
leaning from the passenger window as the vehicle rolled away. “This
stay at your place. It really… nailed the spot! Hah!”