It was a week into the new year.
Birch was gone. (“But I’ll be coming back to stay this year,” he said as he left.)
Stan was gone. (“Can we find some way of keeping him out permanently?” Sal asked.)
Peter and George and Fred were all gone, presumably off doing lawyerly things.
And the Troll was also gone, taking Purslane and Roly-poly and Thistle and Nematode off with him.
“Sure is quiet,” Ken said.
“It’s winter,” Marge said. “It’s supposed to be quiet. Besides, I like it quiet.”
“Me, too,” said Grace. “Now we can get some things done.”
And, in fact, around the commune, things were getting done.
Luna and Viv and Chuck and Patsy and Strange Brew were in the EcoGreenHouse planning the commune’s crops for the next year.
Dan and Sal were meeting with Sowbug and Dandelion and Sorrel and Earthworm and Lois and Mo, and they were all talking about winter repair work and all types of building plans for the spring.
Cat and Blue Sky were in the produce stand selling every vegetable that could survive the cold. Paul G was helping by running between the stand and the EcoGreenHouse transporting winter crops with occasional side trips to the kitchen for snacking.
Nancy and Will were holding down the fort at the pastry stand while Darren was preparing dinner for everyone. The whole commune was hard at work.
It was a busy, productive beginning to what everyone was hoping would be a busy productive year. It was hard not to be excited about what they might accomplish.
“And I’m expecting more folks to join us this year,” Luna said.
“Where will we fit them all?” Viv asked.
“I think that’s what the construction crew are talking about,” Luna said.
And, indeed, Sal and Dan were outlining their plans to expand to all the building and repair folks.
“We’ll need space for more folks by spring,” Sal said. “Fortunately, we still have room for another person or two here now.”
“Are we expecting anyone?” Lois asked.
“You never know what’s going to happen here,” Dan said.
In the main kitchen, Darren was working on dinner and testing the flavors. “Still needs something,” he muttered. “Maybe I should drizzle it with EVOO.”
He went rummaging through a cabinet in pantry until he found the olive oil He sprinkled it everywhere, perhaps just a little too enthusiastically. When he was done, there was oil on the dinner, oil on the table, and oil on the floor. “I’d better clean it up,” he said and started searching for a towel.
Will came rushing in the kitchen. “The rolls!” he said, running to the oven. He pulled the sheet of rolls out. “Just in time,” he said.
Then he turned, maybe a little too quickly, still holding the sheet of rolls. His feet hit the patch of oil on the floor. Both feet went into the air and rolls scattered everywhere. “Whooops,” Will screeched. He came down rather hard.
“Oh my,” Darren said, looking at the mess. “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t worry,” Will said from where he was lying on the floor. “I’m sure I’m fine.”
He tried to stand up. When his legs wouldn’t hold him, he sank back to the floor. “I guess I’m not fine. I think you’d better call somebody. And you probably need to pick up those rolls.”
Paul G walked into the kitchen just in time to catch Will trying to stand. He sighed. “Don’t move. It isn’t worth it. Believe me. I know just how you feel. You look just like I felt this summer. I’ll call the hospital.”
“Can you help me get him to a chair?” Darren asked.
“No,” Paul G said. “Don’t move him. We’re going to need to keep him where he is until the ambulance crew arrives.”
He went over to the phone and made the call whiles Darren picked up the rolls.
“I don’t think you’ll be doing much baking for quite a while,” Paul G said to Will when he got off the phone. “Think of it as a little vacation.”
“Nancy is going to hate this,” Will said.