If you haven’t read the Featured Article, The Alula Family in Isla Pardiso, you will want to catch up on it first
** One swear word at the end.
In my isolation and loneliness, it seemed like winter had lasted months, instead of the few short weeks we had endured through the cold. Day or night, it was was continuous blizzard with howling winds that ran chills up my spine, every time I heard the high pitch whine whistle the air. I had to keep reminding myself that there was nothing there and we were completely safe.
The falling snow was so thick, that I could barely see to find my way to the washroom across the beach, so out of necessity, I placed a bucket in the corner and it became my temporary toilet.A second one became the “snow bucket” which I placed close to the fire to melt into water. That warm water was used to wash my hands, and give Jade a quick scrub in the diaper area. It was all I could think to do and it was better than trying to warm up after a trek to the washroom. The cold was so bitter, it cut right to the bones and I just couldn’t completely get rid of the chill once I came in from the storm. Plus I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Jade alone.
Poor Sophie still had to go outside though. She pushed her way through snow that was so deep all you could see was her neck and head up above the snow. Luckily, she never complained and even seemed happy to go, which was good since I had no other solution for that particular problem.
My food store was holding up. I was surviving quite well from eating fresh food from my garden and the eggs from the chickens. At least I was still able to eat healthy.The garden house had worked out very well and with the heat from the room next door, the plants hadn’t gone into hibernation like I feared they would. I don’t know what I would have done had that happened.
The cold had lasted longer than I had anticipated or had been told by Jin when we arrived here from France. It seemed I remembered him saying three days. This was no three days for sure, and I wondered if he had downplayed it for me since I had never experienced winter before, or was this winter itself unusual for the season?
I decided that it would be good if I started a journal to document important happenings on the island, to refer back to as needed. It wasn’t like I had someone to discuss things or help me bring memories to the forefront of my mind. I began the journal by documenting the beginning date of the winter and describing every aspect I could think to write. I also included a plan for a cooking apparatus to build before the weather began to turn cold again in the Fall. The fresh food was good, but this season I had limited choices with raspberries, strawberries, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and pumpkins. Along with the apples I had picked from the tree outside. The area just wasn’t big enough to plant anything else and the seeds I had collected from the plants on the boat, were still drying and wouldn’t be plantable till hopefully Spring time. Fingers crossed.
One thing I could say for sure in regards to needing a new way to cook food was, attempting to hold a frying pan near the fire to scramble eggs was incredibly dangerous! And HOT!
So here I was, sick of my food choices, claustrophobic from being cooped up in one room, tired of always being in the dark and exhausted from sleeping with Jade on my chest to be near the heat of the fire. Basically downright miserable, oh and stinky I should add. I was in real need of a shower! Not something a gal likes to admit but there it was.
I was pacing the room and found myself having conversations with the air; greeting non-existent sims and imagining what others would be doing at that moment.
“Am I going insane?” I asked the air. “I mean people aren’t really meant to be alone so long. Of course I have Jade and Sophie, but they don’t talk back and I am sure the talking back part is really important in preventing insanity because there is nothing to stimulate the brain and keep you from falling into one frame of mind thinking and that would be really important don’t you think Jade, to keep a mind healthy.” I gasped for air and immediately felt dizzy. Gosh I am soooo tired. So I slumped to the chair and stared at the opposite wall, till I saw just the tip of….something. The more I stared the more I wondered what it was. I placed Jade on the bed, making sure she couldn’t fall off and went to investigate.
It turned out to be a box with Jade’s new swing that Maya had never put together before she was born. One of the men must have moved it for me to the barn because I didn’t remember storing this at all! I began to pull the pieces out of the box and assemble it myself. It was purple of course, but a lighter purple than the rest of Jade’s furniture and accessories. When it was finished, I crossed my fingers, and placed her in the swing. Jade LOVED IT!
It felt so good to finally have her out of my arms. I didn’t realize how sore they were from constantly holding her. Jade giggled and cooed to the motion of the swing and the hanging toys above. Her happiness and excitement combined with my exhaustion made me a bit silly while I played with her, but I didn’t care! Who was around to see anyway? Later that night Jade fell asleep in her swing and I decided to take a chance by leaving her in it for the night. I slept so well alone in the bed, that I awoke feeling almost like my old self. My arms were still incredibly sore but I didn’t care at all. I felt so happy, I sang songs that sprang to my mind and danced around the room which brought even more giggles from Jade.
That day I wrote in the journal,
I had never attended church, nor did I give much serious thought to any kind of Sim God, mythical or otherwise, but I had to admit it felt like I was getting help from somewhere. A guardian angel perhaps? No matter, I was thankful, for that I could definitely say. I couldn’t do this…all on my own.
A couple days later, the storms ended and we were left with a beautiful sunny sky. The island looked magical, like a painting and I almost hated to ruin it by walking across the smooth canvas of snow.Reflecting from the sun,the snow gave the island a look of glistening diamonds over the ground, on the leaves of the trees and the surface of the water in the pond. It was truly beautiful.
The snow was so deep, it was almost up to my knees in certain places I walked. Jade was still fast asleep, and would be for a few more hours, so I decided to give this “making a snow person” a try. It was much more fun than I imagined it would be, rolling the snow into balls and patting it down to make smooth curves. I thought he turned out pretty good for my first try and with no lesson from someone who knew how to make them. Looking at him, I burst out laughing because I had the stray thought, that the snow person would give me something else to talk to.
“What do you think Mr. Snowperson? Want to be my new friend?”
I shook my head for if I imagined a temporary figure made of snow made a good friend, then I was farther down the road to la la land then I thought. Perhaps it was going to take more than one good night sleep to return my brain back to normal hormone levels.
Standing on the dock looking out to where the boat used to sit, the water was the most beutiful shade of blue I had ever seen.
Above the water, a clear and bright blue sky showcased light wispy white clouds that looked like they had been painted by the softest brush. It gave me hope that Spring was soon on it’s way and I wished that I had my camera with me to take some shots. I took some memory shots instead. As beautiful as the scenery was, the temperature was still way too cold to be outside any longer and I retreated to the warm barn to see if Jade was still asleep.
While munching on some raspberries for breakfast, I looked at the pitiful state of my garden. Many of the plants had begun to whither from lack of water. Even if I could stand to fill the watering can from the freezing ocean, the plants would never be able to handle to the temperature of the water. They would go into the equivalent of shock, but for plants. It would all have to be heated by the fire and I felt exhausted at the thought of all the work that would be. The onions carried on, looking healthy as can be….it just figured. Like I was going to pick an onion and eat it raw. I knew some Sims ate them that way, but tried that once myself and never again. Yuck! I brought in one can of water, heated it by the fire to room temperature and watered the four plants that needed it the most. If it was still cold tomorrow, I would do a bit more.
Later that night, the air seemed to be more damp than usual and I found myself standing closer to the fire to keep warm. I had already tried to sleep in the bed, but the sheets themselves felt that damp kind of cold and even fully dressed I couldn’t seem to settle. So I got up and had a midnight snack of roasted tomatoes, hoping something warm in my belly would help to warm me from the inside out.
I didn’t want to pull Jade any closer to the fire and expose her to the smoke rising from the pit, but she didn’t seem to be complaining about the dampness and her skin was warm to the touch, so I left her be. My only worry, was that she could get sick and then what would I do?
Jade had fallen back to sleep and as my body was so full of sleepy drugs, the sound of the waves outside once again lulled me to sleep. I woke the next morning to bright light coming through the glass door to my garden area. I laid there for a moment, rubbing my eyes, listening to Jade’s even breathing…..and birds? Was that really birds I was hearing?
I threw back the blankets and rushed to the windows in the garden house. The snow was gone! Lush green grass and a strong sun in the sky revealed a melting snow person and birds picking worms from the ground. I walked outside to watch this brilliant red bird as it hopped across the grass.
I had no idea what kind of bird is was, but as it had never been on the island before, I surmissed it must be a Spring bird. I opened up a page in the journal to roughly sketch the bird. If I ever had a chance to ask someone, or look it up in a book, I wanted to remember what it looked like.
The air was still crisp, but most of the damp feeling had gone. I decided to open the barn door to air out the space and hopefully dry it out. Sophie was excited to see the birds and she excitedly barked at them while trying to entice them to play. They watched her with wary eyes but continued to pull long worms from the ground. Since, she was getting no response from them, she decided to dig holes all around the yard! Once I saw what she was doing from the window, I scolded her and made her come back inside for a time out. She looked at me through the window while I repaired all the mess she had made to the grass. She never made another hole after that.
I was pretty hot and sweaty by the time I was done and since Jade was happily playing in her swing, I decided to take a quick shower for the first time in….how long. But when I reached the washroom I discovered a mouldy dirty little room. Oh the smell coming from that stall! It took longer that I thought to scrape all that off and when I was done, I was in even more need of a shower. I was sure there was green goopy stuff in my hair from my efforts. I felt so much better when I was done, the best I had felt in quite some time.
The next morning I walked in to the garden room to hear little cheeps coming from the chicken coop. They were so cute! But I was very glad to see them, as two of my chickens had quit laying eggs. They were probably too old as they were here before I arrived on the island. They would make a good chicken soup or stew….if I had the courage to actually do it. Only time would tell where I fell on this decision.
I spent the rest of the day watering the garden, heating it to room temperature and lavishly wetting the ground so it would make it all the way to the roots. It took me all day, but the work was worth it, because the garden looked fabulous by the time I was done.
It was most important that I didn’t lose a single plant. Now if only a magical being would just do all that weeding for me….
One afternoon, I placed Jade in her crib to take a nap, then decided to stroll the island to check everything out. Nothing was amiss, thank goodness. I really didn’t want to return to barn and be stuck inside while Jade slept. I paced around in front of the pond, looking up at the lighthouse, and trying to gain the courage to also check it out.I hadn’t been up there since before Ian had died. But it needed to be checked out, so I mustered the courage and began to climb the ladder.
There was nothing to find but Ian’s last painting he had started, just before Jade was born. Brushing my fingers down the canvas, I felt every bump and every division between the squares. I had no idea what his plan was with the painting as there wasn’t enough to form a picture. It made me sad, as I thought about both his and Maya’s life cut short when they still had so much more to do. I brushed a tear that had fallen onto my cheek and thought about my own predicament. Perhaps I had made a mistake staying on the island. It was clear that Jin was never coming home. It had almost been a full year since he was sent away. He clearly didn’t care at all for his baby sister, let alone the person he had pledged to marry. I didn’t know how I could have been so wrong and in that realization, what obligation did I have to him, really. Maybe I should give some real thought to finding a way to leave the island, taking Jade with me.
I was too upset to make decisions, but decisions would have to be made, sooner or later. Do I stay? Or do I find a way to go?
Each morning we rose to temperatures that were warmer than the day before. Before we knew it, we were back in summer clothing and once again living on the second floor of the barn. I was happy to be back in my own bed as I’m sure was Jade, and most importantly, I was thrilled to be warm again!
I put aside all my doubts about staying on the island and just tried to be happy with the life I currently had. The days were growing longer, providing more daylight which helped to greatly improve our moods. The water still wasn’t warm enough to do any swimming or snorkelling yet, but I didn’t freeze my fingers off as badly every time I needed to water the garden. The sun was warm, but not so warm as to be hot and we once again enjoyed much of our time on the beach. I couldn’t wait to teach Jade how to swim and play in the sandbox with her. Everything was rosy and I was feeling quite optimistic again.
But then, everything began to fall apart. First, the washroom broke and I had no idea how to fix it, so I was back using the pail again. I found a handiness book on the shelf so I could learn how to fix it, but it was a little like learning a different language. So it was very slow going.
Then, the barbecue had a mini explosion and caught on fire. I had no idea how it started as I was only cooking hot dogs on it. It took me forever to put the fire out and when it was done, the barbecue was completely ruined. As it was my only way to cook food that wasn’t over the pit on a stick, I was severely ticked off!
Then, in the middle of the night one evening, we had an intruder on the island. One who obviously had the intention of robbing me. What he thought he was going to take, I did not know. It wasn’t like I had anything of value to have. Not even a working toilet to steal. Luckily, Sophie saw the robber and scared him away with her vicious sounding growls and barks. The robber never returned, but I never did quite get a full night deep sleep after that.
Then, about a month before Jade’s birthday, my happy little girl became completely miserable and at times in consolable. I walked the floor with her for days listening to her cry before finally wondering if it could be teething. After washing my hands, I stuck a finger in her mouth to feel her gums, which resulted in Jade’s screams intensifying. I didn’t feel any sharp points but her gums were swollen and red. I had no idea what to do, or how to make it better for her.
Jade wouldn’t let me put her down for anything and for the moments that I had to, it was heart breaking to listen to her cries. I felt so incredibly sad for her and completely inadequate as a caregiver. I was once again second guessing my decision to stay on the island, instead of leaving with the boat so long ago. I was exhausted, she was exhausted and so we took to sleeping whenever I could get her calm enough to fall asleep.
Late one afternoon, I had her snuggled comfortably in my arms and in a relatively deep sleep, considering how emotionally exhausted I was and still feeling slightly unsafe from the robber. I was dreaming. Dreaming of Jade as a child, running and laughing beside me on the beach with Sophie happily barking behind us as if to say “hey wait for me”. All I knew was how happy I felt with my daughter, my beautiful daughter. Her face, was slightly blurry, but still I knew she was beautiful. She turned to me and I saw her mouth moving in speech, but I couldn’t hear anything she said.
“What did you say baby?” I said to her. “I couldn’t hear you.”
Jade walked up closer to my face and out of her mouth I heard,
“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?”