Day 006: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Summary: Cookie, Martin and Evie venture into the cedar and asphalt grove to forage for food and herbal medicines early on the sixth day.
Date: 7 May 2016
Related: None
Cookie Evie Martin 

Asphalt and Cedar Grove - The Wilderness
As the forests spread east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the thick hardwood forests become more temperate and filled with evergreens. This particular region of the forest is primarily cedars and firs. Once, this may have been the area of a major interchange between highways, but it is now filled with tall, thick cedars. Heavy chunks of asphalt lay sporatically throughout the grove, including several cement barriers and naked rebar. The corpse of an old rusted sedan is completely impaled by a juvenile cedar tree with the trunk growing out of the center console.
6 Days after Landing, early morning

Early morning light filters down through the cedars, dappling the ground and the chunks of asphalt and wreckage with flecks of gold. Evie heaves her pack higher up onto her shoulders; she's been granted temporary use of one of their few backpacks for the collecting of food and medicinals. "Here," she announces, stopping in the middle of the grove and turning in circles to take in the wild sprawl of nature. "We'll start here, anyway. It's closer to camp and I don't suspect Grounders. The others will be keeping them busy anyway."

The pack hits the ground with a thump, and Evie unzips it to pull out a canteen. This she sets beside, leaving the otherwise empty bag open to dump in their finds for hauling back to camp. "Thanks for coming, Cookie. I know you know what to look for. If you see any, I'd like to harvest some dandelions. And we'll take the leaves from these trees. You know what garlic and onion plants look like?"

"S'all good," is the smiling reply to the thanks. Cookie's a bit of an old hand at foraging — if a career spanning four days qualifies as such. "Too bad it's unlikely we'll find fennel. Ever. Makes for a nice dandelion greens salad." Or so she's read. As for garlic and onion plants: "Mmm hmm. Looking forward to knowing what they taste like. Curious how close the artificial flavors in the Ark come to the real thing."

Evie graces Cookie with one of her rare smiles before shedding her jacket and leaving it to sit beside the backpack. She pulls her knife from her waistband and looks around once more, frowning. "I'm going to scrape some cedar bark. No way this knife will get me to the heartwood, but maybe Cole has a tool we could use to cut down a young one. Stay in the area, within shouting distance, and call if you find something interesting. I'll do the same. We can collect anything that looks like it might be useful even if we don't know what it is." Already she is walking toward a young looking cedar, and she pricks the trunk with the tip of her knife experimentally. "Oh, and ginger! Look for low-lying, heart-shaped leaves. Real green. We might find ginger at their roots."

"I would love Zingiber officinale." Judging by the way she says it, Cookie might well get all aflutter and swoon were it to ever happen. "Will go so great with the onions and garlic," that she absolutely is going to find. She is determined, yo. Don't let the chill set of her shoulders convince otherwise. She is on the hunt! Alas, the aforementioned Asian ginger won't be found unless the radiation somehow magically transformed the wild ginger indigenous to North America. "I'll settle for Asarum, though." Which they might actually acquire.

Evie is quiet for a moment as she peels away cedar bark from the young tree, frowning at the hardwood trunk beneath. She pulls up the hem of her shirt and makes an impromptu pouch in which to collect the pieces. "You're likely only to find Asarum here, I think. I'm not sure that the nuclear fallout transplanted entire continents." She laughs quietly at the thought and steps away, and a crunch beneath her right boot draws her attention. She leans down to inspect what she steps on, but recoils with a faint "yeugh!" "Something crapped here," she announces, stepping back even more and scraping her boot in the dirt. "Watch your step, eh? It's old, though. Oh! Dandelions."

Thus distracted, Evie changes course and ventures further from the center of the grove toward a patch of promising yellow-gold flowers. These she yanks up by the handfuls, made awkward only because she refuses to sheath her knife. "Over there," she calls to Cookie, pointing to a grouping of thin green blades that look like rather tall grass. "Check those out. Maybe onion."

<FS3> Evie rolls Survival: Good Success.

"A girl can dream, right?" Cookie's voice is warm and wry. "And if that dream doesn't come true, I still have a whole list to run through." Yeah. She's amused. Then very pleased. "Damn, girl. You have good eyes." For those lovely green blades are, in fact, onion. "Hello, my lovelies. Your goddess demands your sweet flesh as a sacrifice." *Yank!*

Laughing, Evie maneuvers her way from one patch of dandelions to the next until her shirt is full - mostly of the wild weed. She tracks toward the backpack and dumps the haul into the bag, dusting the bottom with her offerings. "I can't thank you enough for helping me at the river. For a moment I really thought I was going to die." She dusts her hands on her pants and then steps back, just in time to hear a rustle and a crack of twigs from the north. She freezes - mostly out of fear - but nothing else happens. After a moment to remember how to breathe, she slumps a bit and scans their surroundings for more potential harvest.

"I could use your help again, you know, and I'll return the favor by lending a hand with the food prep. I'm going to need to boil some of these things to make tea. Maybe someone will sacrifice some drink containers to our cause. Maybe Cole can fashion some jugs out of wood or something." She stoops and pokes at a plant before pulling it up by the roots; it appears to just be a handful of wild grass. She casts it aside and moves on, frowning in concentration. "What goes good with onion?"

"S'all good, sis." *Yank!* "Good thing you have mad hand job skills." *Yank!* "You even double fisted, like a pro. Don't be surprised if people ask you to teach them your spear shaft grip technique." Is Cookie snickering? Yes. Yes, she is. If she hears the crack and rustle to the north, she gives no indication of being alarmed. And it's not like her eyes are on Evie. *Yank!*

As for what goes well with scallions, the chef easily, maybe even a bit wistfully, replies, "Chives, garlic, yogurt, miso — although I would't mix miso with those others. Pancetta." Not that she's ever tasted most of those things, but she's knowledgable enough and has a refined enough palate that she has a decent idea of the flavor profiles. "Goes really well in a seafood pancake."

The cedar grove at mid-morning is quiet except for the disturbances caused by the sounds of Evie and Cookie moving throughout the area to reap the fruits of their labors. A light breeze rustles the leaves, potentially obscuring the approach of others on foot. At this moment, Cookie is crouched along the edge of the small central clearing collecting wild onions, and Evie is standing near the backpack trying to figure out what to do next.

<FS3> Evie rolls Survival: Failure.

"What the hell is yogurt?" Evie inquires, although the foreign word rolls awkwardly off her tongue. "Sounds vaguely familiar." She claps her hands together as she spots what could be one of those illusive patches of wild ginger, and she traipses in the opposite direction of Cookie as she heads for the cluster of leaves. Although they are faintly kidney-shaped, their edges are more jagged and they're taller than usual. She pokes her fingers around the group for a moment before pulling one up - root and all. Her nose wrinkles as a cluster of beetles erupt from the tiny hole and scatter in all directions, and her disappointment is practically palpable as she casts the plant aside in disgust. "Not ginger. Keep looking. Seen any garlic?"

<FS3> Cookie rolls Science: Good Success.
<FS3> Cookie rolls Survival: Good Success.

Martin exits into the clearing with a couple of plants already gathered in his collection as he moves to join the herb gathering. He offers a wave to the two as he aproaches form the distance, then greet them as he draws, "Hello, Cookie, Evie. Had much luck so far? Any great finds?" He holds up his two and states, "I managed to find some ramps in the woods."

<FS3> Martin rolls Survival: Success.

Aww. No comeback quip about Super Action Kung-Fu Boner Grip? Cookie will survive. "Yogurt is a food produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. It's nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. You can flavor it with other things, but it's somewhat tangy on its own, and comes in several different varieties." Walking to the backpack with her gathered bouquet of scallions, she asks Evie, with an amused quirk of her lips, "Wanna hear about the conversion of lactose to glucose and galactose?"

Oh! But there's Martin. "Hey, there, Marty Mar! Nice score! I'm about to find myself some garlic to go with all these lovely greens." Cookie shakes her scallions and deposits them into the bag, also round-aboutly answering Evie's question. "How're you feelin', hon?"

Evie lifts a hand in greeting to Martin, and then gives him a silent thumbs-up as he holds up his own score. "You can put it in the bag there and keep digging around. Cookie is basically making me look like the biggest amateur when it comes to herb-hunting. At least I'm still handier with a shaft." She offers a wry wink to the other female before turning about and scanning the southern scope of the grove. "We got dandelion and onion and some cedar bark and leaves so far."

Martin raises an eyebrow at the discussion of kung-fu boner grip and handling shafts. "Uhhhh, what conversation have I just walked in on? Do I need to circle the clearing and give you guys some privacy? Because, I will be honest, I have very little input into kung-fu shat handling techniques." He chuckles as he tosses the two ramps into the collection, before moving off a bit and spotting a yellow flower next to his feet. Leaning over to pick it, he calls out, "Hey! I think I have something here." Lifting up the picked herb he adds, "St. John's Wort maybe."

<FS3> Evie rolls Survival: Good Success.

By now the faint rustling of leaves has grown louder, although the wind hasn't kicked up any. The snapping of twigs is accompanied by the sound of something brushing against a tree trunk; a cedar several feet past the clearing shakes wildly when disturbed, casting off loose leaves and small twigs.

<FS3> Cookie rolls Alertness: Good Success.
<FS3> Martin rolls Alertness: Great Success.

"She could *totes* give lessons," the maker of yum-yums tells Martin about Evie's shaft handling skills before she departs for where she's pretty sure she saw what might be garlic. When the token male member of the group mentions having little input himself, Cookie's smile turns slyly amused. "You sure that's something you want to admit out loud? Or is this your way of saying you're hoping Evie and I will start making out while you watch from behind a tree and practice your own technique?"

Just as she's shoving the third bulb of foraged garlic into a pant pocket, something draws her attention. "Did you guys hear that?" And then she glimpses something brown, and possibly hairy, through the clustered foliage. With a twinge of trepidation in her voice, Cookie decides, "We have company. And I don't think they're hiding out there, hoping to beat off watching us make out, Evie."

With her back turned, Evie sees nothing; she doesn't even realize that something might be prowling the edge the glade. Instead, her gaze has landed on a spreading patch of green dotted with tiny orange flowers. As she stoops down, her excitement burbles over into a cheerful announcement: "Guys, I think I've found some jewelweed!" Hurriedly she begins collecting the leaves, plucking them up by the handfuls and dumping them into the makeshift hammock of her shirt. "Great for idiots who stumble into poison ivy. Holy crap, there's a lot here." Martin's mention of St. John's wort has her glancing up briefly, and she lets out a happy whoop of joy. "Get as much as you can, dude!"

Pluck, pluck, stuff, stuff. Evie scoots along the ground in a crouch, but she pauses with an outstretched hand at Cookie's warning. Goosebumps flare up along her arms, and she rises slowly to scan the area. Nothing doing, though. "Maybe just a rabbit," she replies hesitantly, glancing back to Martin and the cook with a faint laugh. "I think they prefer fucking to fapping. Go chase it down, Martin. Maybe when you come back we will be making out." She dumps her load into the backpack before straightening and putting her hands on her hips.

Martin smirks to Cookie, "Actually, I was secretly hoping for a hands-on demonstration. Let me judge the actual skill you claim Evie has." He shakes his head at the conversation and starts plucking more Wort. As he scans the treeline, he pauses for a moment. "Something just caught my eye. I think…it might be a boar. Maybe." He points in the direction of the sighting and begins removing the spear he has around his shoulder.

Martin's words might just be the trumpet sound that the creature needs. The undergrowth rustles again, several feet closer to the group, and the telltale sound of snuffling follow. Is that the sound of a hoof scraping on a rock?

"Don't play with my emotions like that, girl," Cookie tells Evie about maybe making out. Judging by the delivery, she's probably joking. Probably.

A boar? That's so much better than a rabbit. Never mind that they are vicious buggers that could tear her up. Why? Because they also are delicious. Even so, it's not like she's going to be the one to kill it. Butcher, yes. Kill, no. When she turns enough to catch sight of Martin with his spear, those doe eyes of her widen and go alight. "If you kill me a boar, I'll give you a demonstration myself." Judging by the delivery, she might not be joking. Might not.

Evie jumps at the sound of the snuffling, and her reaction is to immediately scoop up the bag and canteen. "Drop your shit in here. We are leaving. I'm not messing with a fucking boar. Martin! Come on." Already she's zipping up the bag, so the rest of the plants are going to have to remain in everyone's pockets. She slings it over her back and scans the grove for any other signs of the creature. "We must be in its territory. Let's go back and let the hunters know. They can organize people to get it for you, Cookie babe."

Martin perks up a bit at Cookie's statement, "Oh?" He then eyes the boar. "As tempting as the offer really is, I am not so sure I would fare well against a boar." He holds his spear out in front of him, eyeing the animal warily as he back up towhere Evie is. "In fact, I kind of like Evie's idea better. I'll have to earn demonstrations the old fasioned way - charm." He chuckles a bit, but it is a little hollow with the boar near.

But— but— Pancetta, Evie! Pancetta! Do you see Cookie's sadface? It is so sadface. So, so, so very sadface. Even so, she relents, joining the others, quipping to Martin, "Fresh pork would work better."

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