"...I trusted in the Almighty… I knew I could only be killed once,
and I had to die sometime."
-Anne Bailey, 1823

Tuesday, December 7

Empty handed, but for my rifle

Dearest ones,

It seems a few pages of our journal have fallen from their bindings, we shall try to replace them within their proper places. Though we beg your forbearance should they appear out of their proper order.

15 November

We return, empty handed, but for my fine riflegun. Provisioning for the winter has been poorly done and yet, strangely we find ourselves well satisfied. We journeyed to the hunting grounds of Caintuckee to join with my dearest Mr. Mains for a hunt in Boone’s wilderness.

Upon our arrival, we found the entire Mains household rejoicing, for news had only just come from England of the birth of young master Henry Mains, brother to master Ronald, treasured son of Mr. Jason Mains. After much visiting, we set forth once more, traveling alongside the river toward Limestone and further onward toward Mr. Boone’s forests.

A snug rockhouse well known to myself and Mr. Mains was once more destined to be our shelter. Tucked up well, safe and dry, we found the small cache of fire wood left from our previous years hunt. After a scout to determine we were in no immediate danger from the wretched Shawnee, we set forth to hunt with purpose.

Though the scene was quite beautiful, the autumnal colors were not nearly as well defined as in years passed, what with the severe drought conditions experienced these many months, one could hardly expect the usual bursts of oranges, and fiery reds. Further, the confounded dryness caused nearly each and every step to be announced with much crackling and snapping of twigs, leaves and the heavy covering of mast. For though the previous year’s crop of acorns was dismal, a bumper crop now littered the forest floor. Hours quickly passed as we slipped through the trees accompanied only by squirrels, chipmunk and the occasional calling of crows.

Seeing very little sign of the deer we had thought to be prolific in the area, we separated for a few hours, each hunting as our preferences dictated. He, tracking and slipping shadowlike through the woods; I settling down beside a small, but well used pond.

Luck was surely not on our side and though the time was well spent, it proved entirely unproductive. As the sun dipped below the tree line, movement along the far knobs attracted our attention toward a small group of turkeys, too far off to assure a kill. Much discouraged, we returned empty handed to the coziness of our rockhouse.

A fire was struck, our blankets lain and our meager camp established. As we lay beneath the stars with a warm fire to ward off the chill of the fall air, my heart was much at peace. Clouds rushed over the face of the waxing gibbous moon and leaves danced in the moonlight. My dreams were soon filled with visions of grand stags and marvelous hunts.

Long before the new day’s sun breached the horizon Mr. Mains renewed the night’s fire bringing warmth and light by which we enjoyed keeping company and our simple meal of corn porridge, jerky and coffee. Much revived and refreshed, we set forth on the morning’s hunt.

The early hours had brought a bit of rain and a heavy wetness hushed our departure. Together, we retraced our steps toward those areas which had shown the most promise the day past.

I, to my small pond, only to find upon the dawn’s light a mighty buck had shown his midnight contempt at my encroachment upon his territory! An entire section of the scrub brush was much damaged; my adversary having left rubs and scrapes to clearly define this as his own! Undaunted, and somewhat encouraged, I rested aside a tree, huddled in my blanket with my fine riflegun at the ready. Mr. Mains, for his part investigated the surroundings to find similar signs, but no deer were willing to show themselves.

Once more we rejoined and giving in to our desires we found ourselves another rockhouse in which to rest. After climbing nearly straight up and into a very large rockhouse, a discovery of some merit was made. Hidden beneath a singularly placed piece of rock on a large slab of sandstone, was a hominy hole; made by ancestors of yore.

Running my fingers over the smoothness of the hole’s perimeter, thoughts of other women in this very place soaking corn into watered ashes and then beating it within the confines of this conical filled my mind, Further exploration showed defined areas for fire, gathering and sleeping. The majesty and sacredness of this experience was nearly overwhelming and we felt honored to have shared this space with our ancestors.

The remainder of our time together was much enjoyed, yet our purpose remained unfulfilled, and still no meat gained for our winter provision. And still, onward winter comes.

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