Saturday, January 02, 2016

Dawn on Jefferson; Chapter 3: the walk

The walk to town is actually pretty boring. Especially today. its not like we were really in danger, just that we were being careful. Taxitos are the real danger right now this time of year. There are bud sprays for them though and the sprays smell bad. Not too bad, but bad enough you don't want to wear it if you can help it.

When I get to school, I do straight to the pool and take a shower. I don't smell like bug spray then.

Even with the bug spray, it is best to still button up like we do for the walk. There is often that ONE taxito that won't take a hint with the spray. Maybe it just muscles its way through the gag reflex to try to get a bite of person. Maybe its the bragging rights? Can you imagine!?! A bunch of taxitos hanging out and bragging.

"I bit a cow once! Tasted terrible!"

"Oh yeah? *I* Bit a HUMAN!"


They'd be liars like so many kids getting together and trying to brag. But there would be that one taxito, one kid, who would go off and try what they were bragging about not realizing the others were lying. Then, well, if a taxito bites a person and sucks a person's blood, they die. Kids lie sometimes. It can do more hurt than kids often realize.

Adults lie, too, but they can cause even more hurt than kids, but its rarely lies that get people killed. Just hurts them really bad inside. Sometimes really bad. Sometimes they lie by telling the truth. That's the scary way to lie.

Bragging, that's not something I like. I guess I have more reason to brag than most, but I don't. I like being one of the kids. I like attention, but not like after that time. oh ok. we'll talk about it. After school.

Right now, I am on a walk with my Dad to school. Let's get back to that.

There is actually a creek between Dad's farm and the town. It borders the farm in the direction of town. Dad wanted to have the farm have the creek be inside the farm, but the land grant was based on geography and the surveyors, like they always do, wanted to use natural features for defining land and areas. Creek to the north. Hills to the east. River to the west. Another creek to the south.

Yep, he's right next to the river. I worry about flooding, but the place is built rather well. He had the bots build a huge berm around the central part of the farm to keep any really high waters out. It almost looks like an impact crater where a meteorite crashed into Jeff from space when you fly over. Its not, but it does look that way.

Actually, Earthers can look up Xico Crater in Mexico. It might remind you of that. On a smaller scale.

Its far enough back it doesn't get noticed from the house. There are Jeff trees between the berm and the house and it only rises as high as the treetops, so you can't see it and it doesn't block light since its far enough from the farm structures. Walking up it isn't much fun, but the really cool part about the berm though is when it snows. We have our own sledding hill since there are no trees on it and my brother and I can have separate parties because of how big the diameter of the berm is.

We climbed down the far side of the berm using the stone stairs. Dad made them look old even though they are only a little bit younger than I am. Aesthetic reasons he says. Walking down the switchbacks five stories high isn't bad, but going up is. Its good exercise.

Walking up and down it isn't as much fun, but we manage. Even so, the berm is a good 300 feet from the creek. The north creek, the creek in the direction of town, was named Leakey Creek - Dad thinks he's funny but I think there might be more to it - and the southern creek he calls Stinky Creek (it has a lot of wetlands...and the smell of rotting doughnuts is NOT yummy).

We built a bridge across Leakey Creek and used Earth wood. It was really expensive. Even the genetically engineered varieties cost so much. The reason we did that was because there are so few critters on Jeff that can eat Earth wood and so it will last a long time without needing a lot of treatment.

Dad would have said 'Tree-tment.' Dork.

Crossing the bridge is always fun. I love the sound. The THUMP THUMP THUMP of beating feet on the wood. Its beautiful too. Dad's taste is interesting. He's a fun, serious, weird, infuriating man.

The walk through the forest beyond is fun. Listening to the twarpers is interesting. Take a bird song and mix it with harp music and you sorta have a twarper song. They'd actually not birds or even fliers. They are more like gliding frogs, if frogs had six legs, two for gliding with and four for walking. And if frogs lived on Jeff naturally. For a second I thought about telling Dad about the idea of frogs on Jeff, but think better. He might think about raising them for food. That doesn't sound appealing.

You have to be careful what you say: people can take words and get ideas and then run with them. Dad is often like that. It can be awesome. It can also be infuriating.

There are flying things on Jeff. However, they're not big yet. Stuff like the taxito. Bugs or the local things like them. yes, that means the local equivalent of flowers have bugs pollinate them, but different than on Earth.

Through the forest. The path is really a road. Flying transport is the most common on Jeff. However, some things its better to carry across the ground since it wastes less energy. In theory, the section next to dad's is for sale, but no one has bought it. The cost is really the cost of building the infrastructure to support the farm or whatever. Dad picked his pretty far out. On purpose. The road crosses multiple farms. Its looks like its cobble stone, but its not really. There are layers below and there are few cars or trucks.

Too few people live in Shadwell and even fewer come out here.

Dad and I talk. We rarely NOT talk. May be that's bad. Maybe that's good. It is what we do though. He's promised me a tower, a place of my own on the farm. We've been arguing over when it will happen, how tall it ought to be and where it ought to be placed. I wanted it on the berm and Dad rejected that: he said it was Bard-dur, not Orathanc. I asked for outside of the berm and he rejected that. I asked for a very tall one and he's dubious but hasn't rejected it. On earth, this would all be a bit silly. However, after the robots do most of the work on JEff and are not that expensive and there's lots of raw material, like wood and stone virtually for free, it isn't tough to do. Or cost a lot.

This discussion goes on for quite a while until a twarper misses its mark and smacked into me.

I screamed! Get it off! Get It Off! GET IT OFF!

I really didn't need Dad's help and I knocked the stupid thing off me as I was yelling. He actually cracked up and when stopped laughing, he took the stunned twarper and placed it on a tree. He kept his bemused the entire rest of the way to school.

He asked about Jack and if Jack would find it funny. I wish he'd not tease me about Jack. Jack whose sister is named Jill, funny parents. haha. Not as "funny" as my grandpa. I have an uncle Teddy. Jack Chakrabarti. He's cute and I like him, but I DEFINITELY don't want him to see me with a twarper clinging to me in stunned terror. I gave Dad a dirty look.

We walked on and a bot drove by. Two drones also buzzed past. We are getting close enough to town now. if I wanted to I could now walk on my own, but we're not there yet. When I was younger, Dad and I used to make up funny stories. Faeries and goblins, trolls and more when we did the walk. It was fun. it was also what little kids do.

We waved at some of the farmer's own drones buzzing around. Some times they'd waggle their props at us and buzz on. We neared the Blasted Lands and cross through the gate. There's a wall all the way around. The Blasted Lands ought to be called the Pasture, because its all earth grass. Pretty in its greeness. Jeff plants aren't green.

We walked in and stop at a coffee shop. I got a pastry. Dad got a cup of coffee. We warm up a bit. Spring is cold still. And this was our ritual. We warmed up and chattered. He asked me about math. He doesn't worry about my writing or my reading or other subjects, not even advanced biotech or robo command. Math. bleh. I'm not bad. I'm even better than many of the kids. I just don't enjoy it. He didn't let up. He never did. Everything is math. bleh.

Off we go, warmer than before and to the school. its a small town, so all four levels for school are in the same building. Elementary, middle, high and college. Everyone from six until twenty-one. The entrance a giant arch. it says something in Latin:


Never cease learning.

I agree! But! Its SCHOOL!

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