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Ft. St. John BC
I got your letter and I really hope you are feeling better. Iím sorry you missed the Prom. That jackfruit sounds enormous and it made me wonder about how big the tree is it grows on.
John told me that the day I stop asking if I am an adult is the day Iíll become one.
Well, weíve arrived and settled in. John is out deer hunting this morning and Iíve got a cup of hot strong sweet coffee on the go right now. Where to begin? I suppose the trip up here might interest you.
We left before dawn the day after John finished his job. Sam was incredibly worried weíd leave her behind and hid in boxes as we loaded them. Sheíd weasel her way out as another box was put in the truck and slither into it screeching protests at being disturbed. Sheís quite a cat. She loves going for rides and wonít put up with staying home when we go out. When we are motoring down the road sheíll sprawl around Johnís neck like a fur stole. She never uses her claws and has such faith in him to keep her safe. John isnít used to cats as pets and it took him quite a while to be charmed by her but she never gave up ingratiating herself.
Johnís idea of road travel matches mine pretty much. Itís all about getting there in good time and nothing about stopping except for gas. All the scenery Iíve seen so many times before anyhow. We didnít stop to eat until we needed fuel. I got fish and chips and saved a piece for Sam. She was so famished she mistook my thumb for food and punctured it. Ouch! I had to go back inside to flush the grease and fish out of my wound. That was at Hazelton and I begged a Band-Aid off the cafe owner and we were away again. We veered off the main road near the north end of Francois Lake and took the back gravel road to Ootsa Lake. We got to Johnís momís late that night. Sam decided she would stay in the truck rather than visit which was just fine by all of us. I should explain that Sam canít be made to do anything she doesnít want to. Iíve never come across a cat like her before.
Next morning, when I told Johnís mom about the RATS she got out this vile smelling yellow paste and spread it on a piece of bread. It was either strychnine or cyanide and she told me it worked every time. It made me glad Sam was safely and out of harmís way. I knew that if she had happened upon a poisoned rat she would have taken great pleasure in playing with it. John went to get his horse and trailer the next day. The trailer is an open topped one. He thought he had tied the horse securely but it got loose and reared up while coming into the yard. It hit itís head on the gateís overhead beam and then crashed through the side wall of the trailer. It was dead by the time it hit the ground. Iíve never seen a dead horse before and Iíd never seen John so upset. He was so angry and I felt so bad for him I took off to leave him alone. There was nothing I could have done or said. When I came back the horse and trailer were gone. He wouldnít speak to me and took off in the truck. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen helping his mom can beans and cook supper. We didnít talk to each other either. It was a horrible day but by supper time John had returned and was in a better mood. I havenít mentioned the horse since and neither has he. You know, I donít even know itís name. Sam was quiet for the rest of the trip and spent her time curled up on my lap. John was quietly tense and Sam avoided him. Almost like she sensed his grief.
The rest of the trip wasnít bad except for the flat tire we got in the middle of the Pine Pass on the Hart Highway. Pete, I hope you donít mind me using all the names of roads and towns. Itís easier to write about this way. When we got out of the Rocky Mountains the land began to level out into the rolling hills of the Peace River country. The forests changed to spindly jackpine trees instead of the huge fir, spruce and cedar Iím used to. Pete, you would be amazed at the size of the trees on the coast. John was ticked off about the flat because of the delay. We had to get a motel room in Chetwynd because of it. He didnít want us arriving at the homestead after dark.
Ft. St. John was as dry and tacky as Iíd remembered it. We stopped at the Co-op to get some food supplies and headed out towards the farm. The road was gravel and clouds of dust billowed up behind us. The homestead is forty miles due north of town and Iíd never been along it before. Farms stretched out in golden fields of wheat and I could smell the harvested crops. We passed one farm which looked very prosperous and John told me they had the mineral rights to the oil drilled on their property. John said the homestead act only gave the deed holder title to the topsoil and any oil drilled belonged to the government. I watched the land roll by while wondering about what my new home would look like. Before I knew it we turned off the main road and started down a dirt road. The first farm house we came to, John told me that his ex-girlfriendís family lived there. Iíd never even thought about his past up until that moment. I stared at the ramshackle house and wondered if she was at home. I noticed horses in the corral and John told me they belonged to her younger sister and brother. We went up a small hill and as soon as the road leveled off, John turned right down another dirt road. On each side there were scrub willows growing and John said the land belonged to Ben and Helen who are my in-laws. Helen is one of Johnís sisters and if we had kept going straight I would have seen their house. Halfway down the road, on the right, was a pond and I was told that was where we would get our water from. Pete, cows and horses drink from that dug out slough and it made me feel slightly sick when I looked at it.
Then, I saw white honey bee boxes and the willows melted away to wide open fields. In the distance, I saw a silver trailer and a small building. It was my first glimpse of my new home. Pete, as I drink my coffee and remember my arrival all I can think of my feelings at that time was a deep sense of dread. When we stopped, John left me alone to explore the trailer. It didnít take long. Itís 8íx28í and there is a propane stove, a coal oil heater, a couch, a kitchen table, a kitchen sink with no running water and the Ďbedroomí is incredibly small. Everything is painted green or wood paneled. Outback, thereís an outhouse. Every cupboard I opened was strewn with mouse droppings, but no sign of RATS! Yay! There is no electricity or telephone here either. Iíve written a couple of letters to my mom.
I just heard a shot! Iím going to go see if John bagged a deer. Iíll finish this letter to you later.
(one week later - sorry!)
Jeez, itís really hard to catch a moment to write. John had shot a deer and luckily enough I came to my senses before I charged into the middle of a hunt. Heíd only wounded it and had to track it down to finish the kill. His bad aim messed up one hind quarter and put him in a cranky mood. Venison is wonderful. The first time eating it for me. Weíd been living off fool hens/prairie chickens up until then because we donít have any livestock yet.
Pete, please keep writing to General Delivery. We did get a postal box but my neighbour Valerie will be picking up my mail during the week. Valerie goes to town every day by school bus and told me sheíd stop by the post office for me. Sheís the sister of Johnís ex-girlfriend and dropped by the week after we moved in. Oh Pete, you should see her ride that horse of hers. Itís like they are one. I donít think Iíd ever have been such a good rider even if Iíd been brought up with horses. Sheís fearless.
The second day we were here, I got up and walked around the property. Itís a section of land. Normally a section is 640 acres but this land parcel is on a correction line which has something to do with land being squared off and the earth being round. Most of our property still has to be cleared but we have 100 acres in summer fallow and 50 acres ready to be ploughed. The soil looks poor but it seems to grow reasonable grain crops if winter holds off long enough.
Valerie will be by in a little while and Iíll give this to her to post tomorrow instead of continuing. Iím sorry for the delay in responding and will probably have more time once winter sets in. Wonít be long because itís already quite cold in the morning and the days are getting shorter.
Take care of yourself.
Peter Paulino de Villa
700 Mulawin Street
A lot of things happened already. I am now in college and first semester is ending soon. I enrolled myself with the influence of two cousins to College of Computer Management and Information Technology here in Polytechnic University of the Philippines. I major in Bachelor in IT. I really would like to take anything that can make me an artist someday like Fine Arts or Mass Communications (I believe Iíll be good as a news-caster!). I stay with an Uncle and Aunt (who have three daughters nearly my age) in Manila and goes back to my parents in Quezon only every other weekend. I have Humanities and P.E. subjects every other Saturday.
Today is Sunday and I am writing this here in a cafeteria beside Gunao Lake, Dolores. Mary Jean will be meeting me here. I asked her yesterday if we could go back to Manila together. Sheís also enrolled in another college (not a university) in Manila taking up a two-year course and staying with a relative. This should be a great time for both of us; maybe this could bring us together as friends. I saved a few bucks so I could treat her to dinner.
Okay, gotta go.
Hey, itís me again. Guess what? Mary Jean didnít show up. Iíd like to crumple the first letter I wrote but realized the part I told about school is longer, so what the heck I can just let myself be embarrassed! Boys deserve this from girls sometimes.
As much as Iíd like to forget about her, the thought that I have been chasing her since first year high school nags at me. I even think sometimes that once if she could finally fall for me Iíd drop her like she was a .. I donít know. I love her. First time that I ever told someone this. Well, she knows and my mother and my brothers know. Her mother knows but in their eyes theyíre probably thinking weíre both young and mine couldnít be true love. But I am telling you Penny, I love her. I thought I already have loved a couple of girls before but didnít realize till now that those two werenít for real after all. Could it be that this one is too? How I wish. So I could stop and concentrate with my studies. I mean, my parents have very little resources to support me and I cannot fail them only because I got out of focus. You know what? I guess Iíll have to stop thinking about her if only for the mean time.
You are lucky youíre getting a jackpot: three letters in one envelope, hahaha
Maybe you are wondering about what happened to Marius. The last time I went home to Dolores I saw him passing by the front of our yard. He didn't look; he was with a few old ladies - the devotees of Inang Santissima. I wonder if he ever thinks of his old friend and their old schemes that are odd, Magick! not the usual amusement of young people like basketball or anything. My mother has got to have her peace of mind.
But I donít have! In my heart I didnít stop, I just stayed away for a while but Iíll be back. Iíll be seeing the wizard Marius again.
This is a PS of the three. After this I promise to send the letters right away.
I think college is really good for me and for the mind. I have a few solid friends around me, some of them grew up here in Metro Manila just like me (I was with my parents in Quezon for four years only) and the others graduated from high schools in other provinces. Theyíre quite cool even though they're geniuses. Have I mentioned my course accepts only graduates with 95% and above National College Entrance Exam results? Fortunately, I got 95 and that's also the reason why I landed in this difficult college course. Most of my classmates are nerds and are patron saints of orderliness and good manners! But like what I said, college is still good for me. I am the artist in the group (we are ten: five girls and five boys) I sketch, I join plays and I sing. I am good except in subjects that arenít my major! I got my class cards only this morning and my Algebra, Physics and Computer Programming are a mess! I donít know what to tell my mother. But hey, I got 1s in my Computer Graphics and Humanities.
Iíll be looking for a night job next semester so I could have extra money for lots of other things. But something is bothering me Penny, something someone told me in a canteen near PUP. You have good looks, why donít you use it? A fortyish man told me this. I thought he was talking about modeling and was appalled to learn that he meant hustling. I donít know! I felt both flattered and humiliated at the same time.