Thursday, August 05, 2010

Chapter Three: The Thimbleberry Gallows

Dear Sirs or Madames,

Many apologies for the long period of silence. Though I'm sure you must have been very worried for my well being, I can now write that I am in good health and spirits and have returned from my long tarry in the northern lands. Sojourning in the woods for many months now, I have seen virtuous beauties and terrors, air sweet with Spring, down pouring heavens, barreling rivers spilling into endless lakes, waves of light dancing across the naked night sky and the eyes of unknown beasts watching as we sleep.

The tale begins in the city, as usual, with Sir Mulch and Lady Crow desperate to escape their inundation of humanity. So, the three of us decided to play the adventurers and traveled far into the northern regions of the Upper Peninsula, exploring and trail blazing our ways back into the very essences of ourselves, to the place where again there is nothing but quiet. Alas, however, once Lady Crow and Sir Mulch had communed enough, they decided by committee that I must return to the coarseness of city life with them. Unable to refuse their wishes, I devised a plan to strand myself and make my own way in that wilderness. It was in the coach on the journey back that I, feigning sleep, made myself the smallest Ive ever become, the very smallest, in fact, and climbed to the window where I let the rushing air sweep me away from my caretakers.

Upon arriving in Chicago, it wasn't long before my absence was noticed and Sir Mulch and Lady Crow quickly devised a rescue mission for me. They recruited the help of M. Kulhmann and devised a strategy for my extraction over many nights of suppers and libations. I understand the three reflected for months on how this effort would be executed. It had to be original in form and contain precise amounts of chaos and lucidity. The name of the plan became The Thimbleberry Gallows. The name is taken in inspiration of the indigenous berries grown in the UP. Thimbleberries are like raspberries but with a sharper, earthy flavor, more seeds as well. The whole thing, in fact, resembles the efforts of pioneers in the 1840s. The area of my reprieve, as it were, was modeled after Copper Harbor, Michigan, and it was here that in 1844 an army base was established to explore and protect newly found copper deposits. Fort Wilkins was only in operation for two full years until it was decommissioned. While active, though, the people that lived there were subject to some of the fiercest external conditions one could imagine. Six month long winters, average snowfall of 200 inches per year, being completely isolated from any communication brought by schooners once the lake froze over, and during the summer impenetrable swarms of biting, black flies. You might recall that my previous excursions included insects as well - Gregor and Flea, but these are a whole other breed of beastie. Aside from the elements there was also immeasurable boredom, frustration and the uncertainty of just how long they would remain there.

And so it was that the team was assembled with Lady Crow at the helm, Sir Mulch filling in for a supplanted comrade, M. Kulhmann for the muscle, Thom Sigsby returning from the flea and new recruits Brenda Barrie and Tom Gordon. The effect was a spinning vortex of time where something got lost in people, and something else was discovered, all with the help of a little girl named Fanny Hooe. I'd like to think that was me, but then again, no one has yet to name a lake after yours truly.


(written by C. Riter)

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