[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with: Richard Armitage as Sam Wakeforest, Marcia Gay Harden as Sam’s older sister Tessa Wakeforest Shoop Delaney, and Emily Deschanel as Tessa’s sister-in-law Olivia Delaney, and others as noted.]
Authors Content Note: “Love in the Great Pine Woods” is a mature love story with dramatic themes of love and relationships. It will mostly be at the PG and PG-13 movie levels. Specific chapters or passages may have a further rating of: L for language, D for dramatic emotions, and S for sensual themes. And I will rate the chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide for a chapter, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And as is my habit, I will summarize the previous chapter’s events at the beginning of the next chapter.
Scheduling Note: This love story begins around the Thanksgiving Holiday–as we are now–and I have the first several chapters written, but for some editing and the illustrations. So I will try to post several chapters today and tomorrow–to keep us in “real time” in the story. Thereafter, I will post about weekly in rotation with my other story that is winding down.
“Love in the Great Pine Woods”, Prologue
At the age of 45 years, Samuel “Sam” Wakeforest has everything a man could ever want–a tight knit extended family, blue skies, land that takes his breath away, he is his own boss, and he has a purpose for his life. And yet, his loving but sometimes over bearing older sister Tessa would say that he lacks one thing–a wife and a family to call his own. And Tessa’s new sister-in-law Olivia Delaney is just such a prospect. Olivia is shy and plain by her own reckoning–a maiden spinster in her mid thirties. However Tessa sees potential in Olivia–especially for her brother Sam, if his sister Tessa can convince him of that. And Sam’s and Olivia’s well ordered individual lives will inevitably begin to change as they forge a deepening bond of love when they blend their lives together.
“Love in the Great Pine Woods”, Ch. 01 (PG-13, D, L): My Mountain
Sam Wakeforest takes his usual walking tour of the Great Pine Woods of Wakeforest Mountain on this brisk Tuesday morning with new fallen snow three inches deep upon the ground. He is alone, but not really. These woods belong to him and he belongs to the woods. Their conservation is his life’s purpose, and he will protect the Great Pine Woods with his life. Such is the nature of the binding covenant that he made with his parents and with the land.
As usual upon his solitary walks, Sam reflects upon nature’s beauty spread in panoramic wonder before him. Walking in the Great Pine Woods this Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving, I feel a sense of peace and contentment. The new fallen snow blanketing the area gives the woods a hushed feeling–beautiful and serene [(2) right] . I never tire of it–how this land, my land, assaults my senses in every way. The air smells crisp and clean, filling my nostrils with the forest’s pine tree scent. The snow crunches under my boots as I am the first one to disturb its pillowy surface. The only thing I hear is the occasional bird call or animals rustling around the forest floor.
Breaking through into a small clearing, I see a few animals scurrying about now–the odd squirrel trying to get one more nut for his wintry hoard, and the birds nesting in the thick foliage of the fir trees. On rare occasions, a large 12 point deer buck that I have named Majestic, will stop to look at me –no fear being present in his eyes since I am a daily visitor to the woods–and I am not a hunter. The animals know that they can trust me. And we do not allow hunting by anyone on our lands.
This is my land–Wakeforest land–the whole Wakeforest Mountain of 5,000 vertical feet. Yet I am but this generation’s lead conservator for future generations of the 100 year old Wakeforest Family Lumber Mills. Wakeforests had settled this land in the 1850’s when we were the only human inhabitants. The birds of the air and animals of the forest make their home here as well. We live in harmony with one another, each using only what is necessary to survive–and to sustain the habitat that we call home.
My brothers and I are very careful stewards of what trees we cull for commercial building and furniture use in the past ten years of booming housing construction since the great war ended in 1945. And the old growth tree areas we leave untouched and pristine–never to be cut, our legacy of nature’s beauty for future generations. For the forest lands that we do harvest selectively, we plant two trees for every one tree that we cut down, us knowing that other forces may affect tree growth–such as extreme weather conditions, fire, and idiots.
Then while walking further into the Great Pine woods near the preserved old growth forest, I hear a chilling sound–a loud mechanical buzzing noise ripping through the silence that can only be from a chainsaw. But these are my woods, and no tree is to be felled here. Racing toward the sound in hope of saving my trees, I see two idiot tree poachers 100 yards away who dare to trespass on my lands.
Sam: “Stop! That is my tree!” I bark at them.
They can’t hear me above the chainsaw din. But they see me flying toward them–wild eyed and carrying my rifle. I stop 20 yards from them and shoot my rifle twice in the air off to the side. It is our signal to call each other when there is trouble. I can only hope that my brothers will get here in time–so that I don’t have to shoot these idiots still holding their now mute chainsaws. That would require more paperwork on my part–and I hate paperwork, I think snidely.
I am dismayed to see that the idiots have already gouged two 4 inch deep gashes on either side of a beautiful 15 foot pine tree–effectively killing it. It can’t be saved–but maybe the birds that call it home to can be saved as I look up into its branches, seeing a nest there.
Idiot#1: “What the ….”
Sam: I menacingly point my rifle at the intruders and bark my orders–my former military background as an Air Force Captain in WWII was a mantle that I wore easily. “You are trespassing upon my land! Drop your chainsaws and run, or I will shoot you where you stand. I don’t care if I kill you or maim you. It’s all the same to me.” I bluff.
Idiot#2: “You can’t shoot us!” The idiot stupidly takes one step forward–his stilled chainsaw menacingly hovering in his hand.
Sam: “I can and I will shoot you. I am deputized with special powers for the county.” I flip up the lapel of my overcoat revealing my shiny brass Deputy Sheriff’s badge. “Though sadly, I will have to refrain from killing you. But maiming you is alright.” I point my rifle at each of them again and grin menacingly. I have perfected my menacing look over the years–part evil grin, part narrowed steely eyes, part hunched over stance as if I am ready to pounce. And it helps that I am over 6 foot 2 inches tall–towering over most people. So I seem more intimidating than I really am.
Idiot#1: “But we were told that we could cut down a tree for the Christmas holidays. We’re spending the next six weeks here at a rented cottage.” He whines in his LL Bean plaid wool peacoat. But the idiots wisely set their chainsaws upon the ground.
Sam: “You are miles away from our XMAS Tree Farm that is found at the base of Wakeforest Mountain. And we don’t open until the day after Thanksgiving. You had best get moving before the cavalry comes.” I wave my rifle around at them some more as I stalk 10 yards closer to them.
Idiot#2: “Oh? You and what army, Johnny Appleseed?” [(2b)] He sneers.
The idiot blusters and tries to insult me–not a wise move on his part. But I do wonder what is keeping my brothers. Then I hear a jeep speeding up the trail and smile.
Sam: “This army.” I tilt my head toward the sound without taking my eyes off of the idiots. I have had run ins with tree poachers before–some of them had threatened violence, to their own unending chagrin.
The jeep screeches to a halt about 10 feet from the idiots–with the wheels spewing up the only patch of ground gravel not covered with snow. The idiots wave their hands in front of their faces and cough. Good! My three younger brothers quickly pile out of the jeep–each of them carrying a rifle. My brothers are also over 6 feet tall and big and burly like me from our forestry occupation’s physical exertions.
Kevin: “What are you two idiots doing on our land killing trees?”
Idiot#1: “We were told that we could cut down our XMAS tree on the mountain.” He whines again.
Todd: “Obviously, you were misinformed!”
William: “Our XMAS Tree Farm is at the base of the Mountain–and doesn’t open until the day after Thanksgiving!”
Idiot#2: “So he just now told us.” The idiot points to me as my brothers divest them of their chainsaws, axes, and saws.
Sam: I adopt a disdainful attitude as I explain to my brothers. “Clearly, these two are temporary vacationers, because everyone else knows when to come for XMAS trees. And where.” Then I turn back to the idiots. “This area of land is the old growth tree forest. It is strictly maintained and preserved. And no trees are cut down that are not dead already.” I emphasize.
Idiot#2: “But these trees don’t look so old.” He pouts gesturing to about a dozen or son 12 – 15 foot trees.
Sam: “Hmmmm.” I growl as I tightly fold my arms in front of my chest to try to keep
warm in the freezing air [(3) right] . I lost my gloves when a raced to stop the idiots, so I’m a bit crankier than I usually am. “These few trees are young because this tree that you killed and the others here were planted 15 years ago to replace the trees that were felled because they had died.” I think, idiot, but I don’t address him as such–since I already flashed my badge of office at him and I should maintain something of a professional attitude–my threat to kill him, notwithstanding. “I’m giving each of you a citation, and I’ll need to see your driver’s licenses.” They fish for their wallets in their back pockets and give their licenses to me. Then I take out my carbon copy citation ticket pad and write them each a $100 fine that they groan about. “You pay your fines in cash within the next two days at the county courthouse in town that is open during the afternoons today and tomorrow or you go to jail for a week–your choice.” I keep their licenses and the original copies of the tickets. “You get your licenses back when you pay your fines.
Idiot#1: “What about our tree cutting equipment!” He gestures to their chainsaws and axes in a pile by my brothers.
Sam: I grin. “Oh? Didn’t I tell you? They are forfeit as another punishment condition of your crime. I waived a salary in lieu of keeping whatever items we confiscate when apprehending criminals.”
Idiot#2: “That’s not fair! We paid a lot of money for our chainsaws!”
Sam: “Kevin?” I look at my brother. “Take their car keys.” I threaten.
Idiot#1: “No! No! We need our car to get out of here.”
They look at me pleadingly. Oh how the tables have turned.
Sam: “Then I suggest that you do that!” I hiss. “And if I see you two buying or carrying other saws or axes, I will confiscate them and put you into jail so fast that your heads will spin!”
Idiot#2: “Let’s go.” He pulls on the other idiot’s arm and mutters under his breath. “We’re getting nowhere here.”
Sam: “Damn straight! And before I file my official report, I will contact the federal authorities in the surrounding counties. So that you know not to attempt to trespass upon anyone else’s lands.”
Idiot#1: “Alright.” He says resignedly. “We’re sorry. We didn’t know.”
Ignorance is no excuse! However, the idiot seems contrite. But I venture to guess that his change of demeanor is only because he got caught.
Sam: “Now you do know. And if you pay your fines and behave in an otherwise civilized manner during your stay in the area, then I will not have a reason to put you in jail. Are we understood, gentlemen?” I glower, then I hold out my hand to them. I may teach someone a lesson, but then I expect them to have learned it and I treat them with civility.
Idiots: “Yes sir.” “Yes, Sir.”
The idiots each hesitantly shake my hand–considering that I am still cautiously holding my rifle in my left hand, and my brothers each have their rifles pointed at them. The idiots can’t have been more than in their mid to late twenties–rich boys with no sense nor respect for the land. And I’m not besmirching rich boys, since technically, I am one via our Wakeforest Family Lumber Mill.
And I suspect that the idiots will be startled to see my brother Kevin at the county courthouse in his capacity as Bailiff and Justice of the Peace when they pay their fines. I’m sure that the look on the idiots’ faces will be priceless. But the idiots will then know for certain that they will be closely watched–which will hopefully make the idiots behave as they should from here on out as guests in our area.
I suppose that I should be glad that the idiots were only killing trees and that they were not deer hunters–for we are in deer hunting season. But hunting is forbidden on Wakeforest Mountain. I would not have been able to restrain myself were I to have come upon the idiots if they had killed or maimed the 12 point buck Majestic–or any of our lands’ dear. Deers and trees are living things that should be protected. And I have seen enough of the tragic results of the killing and maiming that went on in World War II, to last me a lifetime.
After the idiots leave, my brothers and I assess the damage. At least it is only one tree lost. But still, that is one tree too many– with fifteen years of growth lost, due to the idiots. So in the spring, we will have to start again and plant another tree. And before we leave, we carefully move the now dead tree’s bird’s nest to an adjoining and larger living tree–waiting to make sure that the birds nest is secure and that the birds return to it. The birds know me and often perch on my cap as I walk through the old growth forest. But I thank god no one sees that–or I might get the nickname of birdman. But I take the birds trust in me seriously and humbly.
Then my brothers and I finish cutting down the now dead tree and hoist it onto the flat bed of our modified army jeep as we all squeeze into it to go back down the mountain. We will take the tree to the Wakeforest County Orphanage tomorrow as our XMAS tree donation this year, in lieu of cutting down another tree. This tree’s death will not be in vain–the children will enjoy an early surprise, even though they didn’t get to pick out their free tree this year. However, we will still host the children at our XMAS Tree Farm on Friday to our usual kid and family friendly activities of sledding and sleigh riding, with hot mulled cider and pumpkin cookies and lessons about tree conservation–with coloring books and crayons for the children to take home with them.
Our older sister Tessa does our XMAS Tree Farm refreshments with the aplomb of the accomplished and welcoming hostess that she is. It is nice to have her living in town again, though she came back for a sad reason–her having returned from living in the big city five years ago after her husband died. Then last year she married again, to the town’s banker Roger Delaney–a childhood classmate of hers who had also been widowed several years ago. So she will be staying in the area. My brothers and I are glad of that–me especially. They all have families–spouses and kids–but I never married. So Tessa coming back home to live with me in our family home that we grew up in for a while was a welcome change–having someone to share my day with and to do things with–with her whipping our family home into shape with her organizing and redecorating zeal.
However Tessa no longer keeps house for me–as she did before she remarried. So my home is a little untidy at the moment–something that Tessa abhors. And Tessa asserts and inserts herself once a month with a cleaning and organizing binge that insures that our family home does not sink into an irrevocable state of bachelor neglect for my meager housekeeping skills. I maintain the mechanicals and grounds. It’s just that a man does not do dusting and vacuuming. Though I had to learn to do my own laundry when I was in the military–my towels, sheets, and underwear are ship shape and Bristol fashion [(5)].
And I also have a smallish log cabin [(6) right] that I use on weekends that is situated on the edge of the beginning of the incline up the slope of Wakeforest Mountain–and that I built it with my own two hands, and with the help of my brothers. I have a small generator for running the lights and a small furnace on the worst of cold nights. Otherwise, it is candles and the central fireplace hearth that serves as a heating hub for it. And well water for plumbing, washing, and drinking needs. My cabin has just three rooms–a small bedroom with a full tub shower bathroom on a septic system, a kitchen, and a combined eating and sitting area. But it is plenty big for me. And my cabin has no womanly decorating touches in it whatsoever–plaid blankets and pillows, as well as, brown cowhide leather on the chairs and couch are my only design choices–and I mean to keep it that way.
I know that I am set in my ways, but I have no lady friend in my life currently who would require me to compromise. But my single status is also a sticking point for my older sister Tessa–who is forever trying to marry me off, I think groaningly. However today’s events in the forest will likely pique and distract Tessa’s interest when we all gather for Thanksgiving in two days with Tessa and her husband at the Delaney Mansion. And hopefully, the tree poachers topic will derail her thoughts from my matrimonial prospects, for at least some time. I live in hope.
To be continued with Chapter 02
“Love in the Great Pine Woods” Ch. 01, by Gratiana Lovelace, November 24, 2015 (Post #832)
1) The “Love in the Great Pine Woods” story cover is a composite of two images by Grati:
a) the Richard Armitage portrait is from the 2011 Project Magazine photo shoot and article interview, that was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/ProjectMagJuly2011/album/ProjectMag-05.jpg;
b) the snowy Pine forest vertical image was found on Pinterest at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/62/fa/ff/62faff1253d55f571eb3659cc7661e73.jpg
2) The Snowy Pine forest image was found on Pinterest at https://secure.static.tumblr.com/1af9bbf5599c47838a7d2fec429580a5/5hdpepv/P9rntjwg7/tumblr_static_tumblr_static_110u5ivvbgu80cwk84884088s_640.jpg
2b) For more about the American of the 1800’s, John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed
3) The Sam Wakeforest image is of a Richard Armitage portrait (cropped) from the 2011 Project Magazine photo shoot and article interview, that was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/ProjectMagJuly2011/album/MattHolyoak-14.jpg
4) 1955 Land Rover image was found at http://www.silverstoneauctions.com/land-rover-86-series-1
5)Meaning of “ship shape and Bristol fashion”: was found at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shipshape_and_Bristol_fashion
6)Image of Sam Wakeforest’s forest log cabin weekend home is a snowy cabin in Telluride, Colorado that was found at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/e2/b9/15/e2b915af95e32cf1d21c31a959ddb6d8.jpg