Back to the Beginning
This missive, written so close upon the heels of the last, is a function of the limitations of the human body. Although events were still very much in motion after my impromptu run to the post office, my pen-hand was exhausted and I was burning the midnight oil, so to speak – not midnight to be exact, but even ten o’clock is a late hour the night after one has had much too much to drink.
May I just say your plans for a new window-box herb garden sound wonderful? So calm and soothing. I daresay I ought to build one as well.
When I returned home from the post office, at more regular pace and having smoothed my hair the best I could (although I still looked a fright, I saw in the looking-glass as I got back), I was dismayed to find Mr. Ridegtop still there. Mostly stone-faced, but also slightly bemused, he was sitting at my kitchen table. In my favourite chair. I do admit that I have only two chairs, and one very rickety indeed, but I still felt obscurely infringed upon. Not to mention that my dearest wish at the moment was to wash up and change my clothes.
He began by asking me what was the matter, whether there had been some emergency. I told him no, there was nothing. Perfectly lovely morning (in fact, it was the afternoon, and I dearly desired solitude so I could shudder over what I could remember of that letter I’d written). He asked whether this was a convenient time to discuss my findings. I lied that yes, of course it was.
Mr. Ridgetop did his infamous raised eyebrows, as if I needed anything more to regret undertaking that conversation at that particular moment, and I stubbornly pressed on, asking if he would like some tea.
I had the sense from his response, albeit in the affirmative, that Mr. Ridgetop is not a tea-drinker. But he did seem all too apt an observer as I flailed about with my aching and wobbly head, struggling with the new stove and generally making a farce of the tea-brewing process, whilst simultaneously trying to hide my dirty dishes.
It was likely a relief to us both when I sat down, the teapot and two cups on the table. My discourse then was neither as orderly nor as convincing as I had planned, for I had forgotten all the fine wording that I had put into my report thus far. Perhaps in an effort to reacquire the knowledge by visual osmosis, my eyes kept straying to the bookshelf where I had last stuffed my papers in order to clear the table – to the point that Mr. Ridgetop asked me if there were something on his shoulder. However, I managed to communicate the main ideas, and I told Mr. Ridgetop that I had intended to raise both the development of the limestone deposits and the well-drilling regulations with the County Authority. As for the potash, I was not sure if there were sufficient local demand by crop farmers to warrant investment at the moment.
Mr. Ridgetop, who had been quiet during this time and had hardly drunk half his tea (in the meantime I had polished off most of the pot), finally spoke up.
“You have been busier than I knew, Ms. Walker. Afraid I’m not sure of the uses of this potash stuff, but when it comes to matters like a limestone quarry, and the number of wells we can drill hereabouts, I’m afraid there might be a spot of difficulty with the County. They’re apt to allow folks to raise only one issue per township at a time.”
“Do you mean I could not, after all, bring both matters before them at once? That seems rather inefficient, if I should have to go back a month later or some-such.”
“Well. More like a year later, Ms. Walker.”
“A whole year?” I was flabbergasted.
“Seems they feel they have more than enough business to deal with, and when it comes to major items like changes to County regulations, or development permits, as of a few years back the Councillors decided to limit deliberations to only one issue per township per year. Supposed to be fair for all. It’s an informal rule; you can submit as many things as you like for their consideration, only they won’t actually look at more than one.”
It was a sorry end to the airing of all my great ideas, Kate. I did not have much to say in the face of this bureaucratic reality. Mr. Ridgetop took his leave after I informed him, with a growling stomach, still-messy hair, and as much dignity as I could muster, that I would continue to work from my cabin that day, but that I would be back in the Office on Monday.
I am almost sorry to find him a more reasonable human being that I first thought. Makes me look very silly, I think. But I should not be choosy when I have gone and offended all the cattle ranchers around Kingstowne.
With all my love,
P.S. Hardly got any work done during the remainder of the day, with my rotten head and that letter to Edward hanging over me like the sword of Damocles. I feel positively sick.