Day 360

I am beginning to wonder just who rescued whom.

I am not an explorer. I have never, before this year, had to cook my own food. Oh, I knew that cooking would make the nutrients more available, and that fire could be used to cook food as well as frighten away animals. And it was no problem, once I found stands of trees and dead wood, to teleport wood to the vicinity of the shelter, where I have a fairly substantial pile. I even found a straight stick of the right length to allow Songbird to hobble around while her leg is healing.

But I know just one way of cooking. That is to hang the item to be cooked over the fire. This results in food that is raw inside and charred outside. Songbird put up with this for about three days. The fourth day, she dug a hole in the ground and lined it with large leaves. When I came back with a large fish for our dinner, she grabbed it and demanded the knife I’ve been cleaning my catches with.

She proceeded to clean the fish, a good deal faster than I do. She then stuffed it with a number of plants I didn’t get too close a look at, and told me to transfer about half of the coals from the fire she’d started – I’d shown her how to use my sparker – into the pit. Next thing I knew, she was lowering a muddy package into the pit, scooping the rest of the coals on top of the package, and piling hot rocks over it.

“That was our supper!” I sputtered.

“Good,” she agreed. “Sun touch trees.”

By the time the declining sun had almost reached the trees on the horizon, the odors seeping from the pit had my mouth watering. Nor was it a vain promise. When Songbird uncovered her muddy package, it had hardened into a shell around the best fish I have tasted since I crashed here.

“Good?” she asked.

“Very good,” I replied.

She looked as pleased as Patches with a fresh bone. “I cook. I can’t hunt, but I prepare. You hunt? Bring plants I need?”

“Tell me what you need, and I’ll find it,” I assured her. I wouldn’t know her words, but as long as she visualized what she wanted, I was confident I could find it.

Nor was pit-roasting her only way of preparing food. Today she took a gourd, filled it with leaves, berries, tubers, bones and chopped meat from last night, and then dropped hot stones in to heat the water. Again, I had doubts, which were rapidly assuaged by the odors rising from what she had prepared.

Tomorrow I have to ask her why she was left alone. Surely they could have done something for the leg other than abandon her!