Hi and welcome to one of my favourite days of the week, Book Tuesday. Today I am featuring a writer who has spent many years crafting his stories. Howard is from the South-Eastern part of America and published his first novel, Beyond the Elastic Limit, in 2010. Piercing The Elastic Limit followed in 2012. Now I know these titles are very original. They travel through time and space, drawing the reader into epic fables woven by Howard and created through moments in history.
“His works concern the Elastic Limit, a technical term used in the books that deals with time distortion. As well, this jargon is a metaphor for the reader’s imagination.
All couched within the Time Travel genre, each volume contains strong historical content, often biographical, providing exacting insights into differing time periods.” (quoted from Howard Loring’s info pack)
For today’s enjoyment, I am sharing a story taken from his collection of twelve short stories under the title, Tales Of The Elastic Limit. The book can be read from the back to the front or vice versa! The stories are wonderful and I’ve decided to go with the first story I read: Chapter 11, The Woman Who Changed Everything. The second half of the story will be shared with you next week.
The Woman Who Changed Everything
A Brief History of Beans
Even as a child, things that grew had fascinated her. Of course, as gathering wild plants was within the female realm, this was fortunate. Other women in the tribe were good at the task, as she became, but she really enjoyed it, as well.
When the foraging parties had left each morning, she dashed ahead, eager, anticipating. If the gathering was good, the women’s baskets were soon full and the young girl was then free to roam on her own. She used that time to look at plants.
It didn’t matter if they weren’t edible. Often the most captivating ones she found were not. She just liked things that grew, for they were always interesting.
As a toddler too young to gather, her chores had included helping, as best she could, the older women as they engaged in cleaning in and about the family’s tent. This involved tagging along as the toothless ones dumped the garbage at one of the various pits the tribe used for the purpose. It was there that the young girl had first noticed the newborn growing things, struggling to live at the pit’s edge.
Why would plants live in such a smelly place, she wondered? Still, they did, pushing their spindly stalks to the sun. They even moved their new, tender leaves towards its direction, and how did the growing things know to do this?
Later, after turning old enough to forage, she discerned even more intriguing things, details the others didn’t notice or care about. They couldn’t be bothered for their only concern was filling their baskets, and looking at things that you couldn’t eat held no fascination for them. She, however, was always captivated.
Her primitive tribe of hunter-gathers had no permanent home but perpetually moved about, yet often as not, if the local game was plentiful and the men and their dogs successful in the hunt, it stayed put for more than a season at a time. And, when this did happen, through all the year the inquisitive girl had carefully noted each change occurring in the growing things. Soon, no matter the season, she could predict what would happen to them next, and she was always proved correct.
A few times, while still very young, she tried to grow plants but this had never been successful. She’d dug holes and placed sprouts from the pit’s edge into them, but the plants had perished, drying up in days. Then she’d tried planting them closer to the river but these, having little sun, also died.
Undaunted, on the next occasion she once more planted in the sun, but this time she watered the sprouts.
A neighbor boy she knew, whose father was headman of her clan, thought this whole idea very foolish. Why work to grow something that grew elsewhere? What was the purpose, given you could just go out and find it?
Still, she persisted and carried out her idea. Because the boy liked her, he feigned interest, and he even helped her tote the water. But the experiment proved inconclusive, for the tribe had traveled on before the outcome became apparent.
She resolved to try again once the proper conditions permitted, but thinking in this next effort of using a different kind of plant.
In the meantime, her life moved forward, as did her wandering tribe. Once the boy became a man, he took her, now a fine woman, as his mate. They were happy.
She quickly became a mother several times over, and for a while this halted her excursions. Yet she never forgot her plan. In fact, she thought of it often as her offspring aged, for each reminded her of how the plants also grew and changed.
When her children were toddlers she resumed her foraging, for they could now accompany her. However, as they demanded much attention, she had no free time to implement her long simmering idea. Yet, once adolescents they began to have chores about the camp, and this at last allowed her to consider it again.
The tribe’s currently claimed area turned out to be bountiful, and the tribal elders, who were the headmen from each clan, announced their decision to stay for as many seasons as the abundant game continued to thrive. So, the young woman judged the time to try once more might never be better. But what growing thing, she constantly wondered, would she endeavor to cultivate in this newest attempt?
Then, one day late in the afternoon, she discovered a peaceful meadow cut by a lazy stream encircled and hidden by the deep, surrounding forest. The open field was thickly covered with many vines that twisted and climbed amidst each other. From long experience she easily recognized these plants, now in full flower.
Soon, she knew, these vines would bear pods, and these pods would then grow the tasty beans so prized by her kind. She also knew that other gatherers would take them if they could, even before they were ripe, for everyone in the tribe enjoyed their hearty flavor. Therefore, the young woman told no one of her find.
Every few days she went back to assess the bean plants, knowing that once the pods ripened they would soon pop open.
When they did, of course, the beans were released and fell to the ground, thus becoming harder to gather. So, each day she tried to pick the ripest pods just before they popped, correctly judging from both familiarity and long experience the most opportune moment to harvest them.
Indeed, they were very tasty.
As the pods ripened at various times, her harvest continued for several weeks, but soon almost all of them were gone. She noticed, however, a few of the plants had pods that although ripe had failed to open, as if to protect the beans inside. Finally, when the days turned cold, she picked these now hardened pods, as well.
Yet, she didn’t cook the now sleeping beans they held.
She put these pods, only a handful, in a hollowed-out gourd she used for storage. From time to time she’d crack one open, finding the beans in perfect condition. Once the weather warmed, her long considered plan was fully formed.
She picked a sunny hillside not far from her tent, and set her children to clearing an area sufficient to accommodate her beans, now seeds of the next generation, which numbered well over twice the amount of all her fingers. She then scattered them about, lightly covering them against the birds that also appreciated their delicious flavor. She carefully watered them, and waited.
Yet they did not grow. She resolved to find out why. She then dug up a few and examined them.
They still seemed perfect, and she was confused. Next she decided to visit the original meadow, to see if any beans were growing there this season. None were, but she found something else in the clearing, something quite unexpected.
He can be reached via email through his publisher, PreCognitionPress, at http://www.precognitionpress.com
Join me next week for the second half of the story.