Second Harvest (Chapter Five, page 1 of 21)


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In the eleven years since any precipitation, Roy has watched his creek slowly dry up, leaving mere rocks and dust. The branches of the cottonwood tree continually wither leaving a smaller crop of leaves with each passing year. As Roy's eyes scanned the small plot of dirt beneath the enormous twisted cottonwood tree, he clearly observed several grave markers. One headstone indicated the site for his grandfather William and another for Rebecca, his grandmother, and her still-born child. Additionally, Roy's father, who perished in a skirmish with Apache Indians involving hunting privileges, rested in this small plot of land. Rebecca, Roy's mother, was also buried in the same enclosed area. Roy, having no desire to continue his family's curse, chose to live in isolation in the same log home his grandfather built.

Other than the occasional trace amounts of silver and nickel, the mine shaft that Roy's grandfather and father worked with such tenacity, yielded nothing of tremendous significance. Looking around the homestead, Roy was keenly aware that the farm appeared as tired as Roy felt. Up until four years previous, Roy had a large garden rich with fresh vegetables, but with the extended drought, these were now distant memories. Forced to give up on his large garden, Roy needed to grow something to eat-so he made alternative plans.

In addition to hunting wild game, Roy existed on the food from a smaller garden he created on the leeward side of his cabin. Indirect sunlight kept the tiny patch thriving while, at the same time, the shade of the log home protected his vegetables from the direct rays of the hot sun. By hand-carrying buckets of spring water, to this small plot, Roy preserved the tender plants. When the large garden had been functioning, Roy was able to preserve the extra produce by canning and then storing it inside the tunnel walls. With reverence, Roy reluctantly pulled from the larder inventory, but only because he hated riding into town for supplies.

The entrance to the mining tunnel, located behind the stone fireplace of the log home provided many functions. In the summer, Roy propped the door open so that fresh mine air could move through the log home. Back in 1870, while searching for silver, William and Thaddeus discovered an artesian spring deep inside the tunnel. The spring became their source of drinking water, then they redirected the tunnel along another route. Although moving the rocks was hard, dusty labor, the cold refreshing spring provided sweet comfort.

Across the mantel sat Roy's various cherished treasures. In addition to three family photographs, a dusty triangle-folded American flag stood exposing its discolored stars with two war medals pinned in the center of the triangle. Reverently picking it up, Roy blew the dust off and replaced the flag to its original position. He then shook the dust off a folded green Army cap. Opening it up, he placed the hat upon his head, and it resembled a tent. It too was restored to its resting spot on the mantel. His grandfather's brass compass and handmade hunting knife also sat off to the right; Roy let his finger dance over these two treasures.

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