Here is the next part of Pittown – Silent Order.
A big change is coming. We are at a tipping point.
Chapter 25: Elements of Life
It was only the first month of autumn but already the mornings in Store Creek were cold. Ben’s grandmother’s house was not climate-controlled like his city apartment where inside living was so monotone that you couldn’t even tell what the outside temperature was. In Nanna’s House, there were holes everywhere – between the floorboards, around the windows, and, essentially, wherever there was a join of some sort. In fact, Ben thought that there were so many holes in the house that he was practically living outside.
Heating was dependent on the old wood burner in the centre of the loungeroom. Although the same burner was there when Ben lived with his grandmother as a child, he had no idea how it worked. He tried starting it but it wouldn’t fire up properly. When he opened the door of the burner to check on its slow progress, it spewed smoke out into the room. He shut the door, gave up on his fire-making ability, and put on a coat. The next morning, feeling the cold seep into his bones, he gave the fire another attempt. He stared at it and told both himself and the burner that he was not incompetent and that he could surely work it. Instructions? he thought. He found, on the back of the burner, a faint label which read,
Air is food for fire. To get the fire going, the flue needs to be wide open. Once the fire is cranking along, close the flue or your wood will disappear before your eyes and all the heat will travel up the flue and out into the world. However, when it is time to add more wood to your fire, make sure that you open the flue again or your cosy loungeroom will become a smoke-filled, cosy loungeroom.
Great, thought Ben. Open the flue. Flue, where are you? What does a flue look like? He found a knob at the back of the burner. It moves, he thought. It must be the flue. He triumphantly opened it to get the fire going. Once the fire was roaring along, he closed it again and watched, with fascination, as the burner slowly ate through the wood while sending out a massive amount of beautiful heat.
Ben didn’t come to Store Creek as often as he thought he would. Like most holiday house owners, his intention had been to come every weekend. However, it took a big effort to extricate himself from life and work in the city. Besides, the quietness of Store Creek was a little unsettling. It was fantastic for a few hours but then it became somewhat disconcerting. Most people cannot tolerate peace and quiet for too long and the normal life-cycle of a holiday house is to be visited with great excitement for a little while and then to be basically abandoned for most of the year. What’s more, although Ben originally wanted many visitors, he found that, after a while, he didn’t. There was something about the house that brought out Ben’s deeper side. He wondered if it was because it was the place of his childhood, or if it was the effect of being in such a tiny town, or if it was because something was happening to him and the house was an auxiliary to this rather than an initiator of it.
Apples, peaches, pears, and plums littered the pathway where Ben walked. He pulled a handful of grapes from the archway. Delicious, he thought. Nothing tastes like homegrown fruit. He remembered a story that Merlyn once told him about a rural community in Russia where everyone grew their own food on their small patches of land. Not so unusual, perhaps, but, in this community, the gardens grew their produce in a way which most benefited the particular physical needs of the individual owners. As a result, illness was rare. No one could explain it or, if they could, they weren’t saying anything.
Along with the rest of the garden, the vine over the front door, at Nanna’s House, had been given free rein and was completely covering the entranceway. If you didn’t know where the door was, you wouldn’t easily find it. Ben liked it like that. The vine swayed in the breeze, allowing Ben into that place where all important things happen. The place that is silent, solitary, life-changing but seldom spoken of, momentous yet almost imperceptible.