When Singer and Caela had played as children, and then as lovers, and then as old loving partners, in the woods, it had not been the forest of the long march. They had played in the beginnings of the great uncleared woods on the other side, further still from the city. This was land their people would slowly move into as they grew to have use for more cleared space, making sure to keep the forest they had marched through in their escape an unmolested barrier against any possible contact with their fellow colonial descendants. The city folks could expand in their sector. Those they had exiled could grow into the land further south of their tiny settlement. The large buffer of forest land must be kept between them. They had agreed, even if under extreme duress. They had no need or desire to return to where they were so clearly unwanted.
Since woodland was cleared as needed for building, farmland, various projects, community activity tended to focus toward their southern edge, further and further from the forest through which they had traveled to this place they were making their home. As was common, Singer and Caela, with the help of family and friends, had built a cabin on land newly cleared at the time. Singer’s father, Jase, had always been a loner. He enjoyed time with his friends; and everyone was his friend. He loved his kids and their mothers, and his lovers who did not bear his young. He loved his solitude, enjoying his anti-social twitches of behavior without concern that he was causing annoyance or inconvenience. He enjoyed being as wild and free as he pleased without suffering pained looks or rebukes from the less unrestrained who sincerely loved him but could not understand how he felt he had to be. They could understand enough to let him be, in all his temperamental glory. He built and rebuilt, expanded and rearranged, his cabin just inside the forest through which they had arrived. This worked out well. He fancied himself and was treated as a kind of sentinel, watching over the last outpost before approaching foreign territory. Because there was an almost legendary feeling of despair associated with that forest, it was left, and Jase with it for the most part, to its own fate. There was no other reason to go there but specifically to visit Jase. Fortunately for all involved, it was easy to check in to make sure he was in a good frame of mind for visiting, even without the electronic communications equipment they had long left far behind. For Jase did enjoy the company of visitors, whom he gladly beckoned to join him in play at whatever project was currently engaging his attention. He was always quick and happy to join in with others’ projects if they should ask his participation. He was loud and jovial at celebrations, pulling his friends into gaily dancing as he encountered them along his galumphing path. He enjoyed the companionship of others and the companionship of himself as long as both were available from which to choose. Singer and Caela as children often enjoyed spending playful hours with Jase, a bigger kid with wonderful, often challenging, ideas for having fun. The tasks involved never seemed like work.
It was Jase’s old cabin, abandoned when he abandoned this life, to which Caela had moved, away from the gaggling crowd. Once she was no longer caught up in her long-practiced daily devotions to family and work, she found she was happy in her own company. Like Jase, she felt better able to stay easily involved with those she cherished while keeping separate time to herself in a contemplative place of her own. The main activity of the community had moved further south into land cleared over the years since Jase’s tenancy. Caela had plenty of room for her own gardens, one for herbs and one for fresh vegetables. She had plenty of room to take a longer view. Not so compulsively active as Jase had been, Caela could arrange her little piece of the world as she chose and quietly grow within it.
In essence our lives consist of a great deal of caring for, looking after what we cherish. Do we know what we cherish by noticing the direction of our gaze?
Dancing in his arms, because where Singer was there was music, eyes shining into shining eyes. Her gaze belonged to Singer. It widened to include Felicity once their daughter expanded their life.