Solo Water and Earth

Dirt and water make good companions.

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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Water and Earth

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on July 27th, 2020, 2:05 pm

Fifteen of Summer, 520 AV (Day)


Robert ducked under an overhanging vine as he entered the Isuas Grove, Anastasia at his feet and tagging along eagerly. He nodded to himself - the previous days he spent searching hadn't gone to waste, and he had found the Grove with a minimum of fuss. Glancing about, Robert found no sight of the Drykas he had been told to meet by the Founder, and walked in further, before he noticed a small shed that had some odd sounds.

Deducing that Tony had to be in there - who else would be in such a place, barely a bell after sunrise? -, Robert strode over and knocked on the door, which opened after a few moments to reveal a grey-haired man, of average stature and already in his work costume, glove half-worn.

"Good morning, would you happen to be Tony?" Rober touched his finger to his forehead. "Name's Robert, I'm the new distiller in Syka; Captain Chaliva sent me here to see if you needed any help." Robert hesitantly held out his hand, before Tony took it and shook it firmly, belying a hidden strength.

"Aye, that'd be me, lad. Tony Swiftwater, Caretaker of the Isuas Grove." The gardener swung an arm across, gesturing at the neat lines of trees, and vine trellises, that marked his treasured domain.

"A distiller, eh? We'll have some good drink then, Stu'll be happy to have some company that knows what he's talking about for a change. James sent you? Good man. There's always something to be done here, so I hope you're prepared for a long day?"

Hefting his backpack off his back, Robert placed it to one side, nodding and grinning.

"May as well, sir - I'm all tuckered out from the searching, but I wouldn't be a Lhavit farmer if I couldn't stand a bit of hard labour. Oh," a thought struck him, and he reached down, tapping Anastasia, "and this is Anastasia, my cat." She yawned in lieu of a greeting, and stared at Tony.

"Ha! A mountain cat, trying to be a jungle cat?" Tony started chuckling at the absurdity. "Now I've seen it all. Come on, Robert, let's get you kitted out."

He retreated into the shed, before handing a few objects to Robert - a pair of work gloves, a bucket that contained a few tools, a shovel, and a battered watering can, made of metal.

"Now, you won't need to do anything about the Isuas Vines - I'll be handling them myself." He pointed out a small stream some distance away, where a clay basin and connected bamboo pipes had been constructed to hold a moderate amount of water, enough that it went up to the knees. "Any plant needs water, and it's been a hot summer, as you can probably tell. You'll begin by filling the can."

Robert lifted the can, and jogged over to the basin, pushing it into the water and letting it fill. Once it was full, he heaved the can and walked back to Tony, who was already examining the closest vines. The gardener nodded, and took it from him.

"Watch. First, the roots." Tony tilted it, and allowed a steady stream of water to flow out, dampening the soil at the base of the trellises from whence the vines emerged, moving forwards at a steady pace. "Not too much, not too little; distribute the water evenly. Too much and the roots'll rot."

Robert took over from Tony, and started watering a new row. Under the watchful eyes of the Drykas, he started off in jerky motions, water sploshing in the can, as he tried to get used to the rate of flow.

"Careful! Smooth, even strokes - no, that's not it." Tony sighed as Robert accidentally tilted the can too much, and let loose a deluge of water that made a sizeable divot in the soil. "Make sure the soil absorbs the water before pouring more."Taking a moment to adjust his grip, Robert continued at Tony's command, and took his time with it, finally achieving a steady flow of water.

"Excellent. Now, this summer hasn't been good for the vines -" Tony stared at the sun, shading his eyes and glaring at it, before returning to his lecture. "- and they'll burn if Syna decides to shine even brighter all day." He removed a ladle from the bucket, and dipped it into the can, before swiftly scattering the water all over the vines.

"Wet the leaves of the Isuas - this will cool them down as the water evaporates. The canopy above does protect them from direct sunlight, but there's still a few areas," Tony pointed them out, each easily visible as patches of sunlight, "that need water to cool down. You can tell that humidity's usually high in Syka, but even this little always helps."
Last edited by Robert Glenfeidh on July 27th, 2020, 2:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Robert Glenfeidh
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Water and Earth

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on July 27th, 2020, 2:41 pm

As Robert continued watering the rows of Isuas vines, he noted the aftereffects of the Storm that had swept Syka days ago. Several cracked trellises were braced with firm wooden stakes, lashed together by ropes. Some had collapsed entirely, and Tony was apparently still repairing them, as the Drykas had begun to remove the debris and pile it together while Robert watered the plants.

Pausing for a moment, the Lhavitian squatted, and picked up a vine from where it had fallen, sniffing at it.

Urgh... Bitter. A plant smell.

He rubbed it between his fingers, releasing more of the same odour, before dropping it, returning to his task.

A bell later, Robert finally finished his task, and returned to Tony, who was examining a strange bundle of what he assumed were roots, though unlike anything he had ever seen.

"Ah, right on schedule, Robert. I'm going to need your help with this one." Tony grimaced at the roots, turning them over and over before speaking again. "This is Isuas rootstock. We've had quite a few vines uprooted or outright destroyed by that blasted storm, and I've been replanting them." He handed the shovel to Robert, and grasped a fistful of soil before showing it to Robert.

"Have a look at that. The jungles of Falyndar have good soil here - the topsoil is deep, rich, and fertile from all the leaf litter that's fallen all these centuries. Good soil has this rich, earthy smell and a moist interior." An earthworm poked out halfway, dangling precariously before deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, and retreated within.

Robert closed his eyes, and breathed in the scent of the earth, smiling as it brought back fond memories of planting crops.

"The bounty of the plants, that Caiyha has so kindly granted us." He motioned for Robert to start digging, instructing him as he did so. "Dig that shovel in, yes, it's still damp from the storm, so it's easy to lift. Not too deep now, just slightly deeper than the length of this rootstock."

Once Robert had finished, the gardener inspected it carefully, before declaring his efforts 'passable'. He heaved a bucket and displayed its contents to Robert.

"My own personal mixture of good, tropical loam and compost. Do it right, and it smells just like dirt. If you're ever wanting to make a garden, or plant your own fruit or crops, I can always spare a few pounds!" Tony stuck a trowel inside, and started to place the mixture within the hole, before placing the rootstock in. Anastasia hovered nearby, curious enough about the strange process that she ignored the strange man and sat close to the cavity, watching every movement of his hands.

Robert paid careful attention as the caretaker held it in place, carefully placing soil and his own mixture around the rootstock and packing it in with a deft touch, taking care to not compress the soil too much. Once the rootstock was firmly in place, Tony got up with a slight groan, and brushed the dirt off his gloves before grinning at Robert.

"And we're good. Give it a few weeks of tender, loving care and it'll shoot right back up. Praise Caiyha, jungle plants always grow faster than almost anywhere else." He raised his eyebrows suddenly, the mention of other places having jogged his memory. "And where would you hail from, young lad? Not Riverfall or the Sea of Grass, I'd reckon. Hardly, Syliras, not with that accent."

"Lhavit, Tony. I'm a man of the mountains and rivers. Used to work in my family distillery and work our barley fields in the Sharai peak before I came here."

An odd expression came into Tony's face. "It must be hard for a young man like you to leave home and come so far. You must miss Lhavit. But I'm glad to have you here with us, Robert, I'm looking forward to tasting the fruit of your success." A warm grin spread across his wrinkled face, and Robert found the rest of his apprehension disappearing.

"Thank you, Tony. If..." Robert fumbled about his person. "Well, I don't seem to have it with me right now, but if you drop by Stu's place tonight - or any time, he'll have a few glasses of my family whiskey ready for you."

Tony's grin widened, and he started walking towards another fallen trellis without another word, trusting that Robert would follow.
Robert Glenfeidh
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Water and Earth

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on July 27th, 2020, 3:46 pm

As the two approached the fallen trellis, Tony's sharp eyes spotted an unwanted green plant that had started to sprout out of the ground, and he groaned internally, turning to Robert.

"Right. The storm's more than just blown my vines all the way to Riverfall, they've blown seeds and spores all around. Here, have a look." He uprooted the weed mercilessly, and handed it to Robert, who examined the grass, roots and all, feeling the toughness of its stem.

"Crabgrass. You get it all over Mizahar, but it grows fast after heavy rain here. Only a few days, and weeds are already shooting up. We're going to have to dig them up, roots, stems, and all, because these can regrow from just a single root. That's the problem with weeds - you leave them alone, and your garden - or grove, for that matter - becomes overgrown and the plants you've been cultivating get starved of nutrients and water. I hope you like blisters."

Robert grinned, and hefted his shovel. "I've spent a long time on the fields back home, Tony - I might have forgotten most everything, but I'm no tenderfoot either."

"Hah! We'll see about that then, Robert. If you see anything similar that isn't the Isuas vine, feel free to remove them from existence. Place them on that pile there -" he indicated a small pile of the trellis remnants, "- and we'll burn them at the end of the day. Go on then, lad - try to fill in the divots with the surrounding soil, and even it out with this." Tony handed another bucket of his mixture to Robert, who nodded and set off, keeping an eye on the base of the vine plants.

Upon encountering one, Robert placed the bucket next to the tree around which the Isuas vines wound, and squatted down. The weeds had already covered a small area, so he sank the blade of the shovel down into a corner of the clover patch, a tad sorry to see them go.

Ah, clovers. There was that small clover field back home we used to play in when we were just children. They must have been growing already before the storm.

Placing a boot on the top of the blade, Robert let his weight do the work, pushing it slowly into the soil, and with a tensing of his muscles, lifted the shovel diagonally upwards and removed a sizeable chunk of soil. Placing both hands on the shovel, Robert slowly lifted it out and dumped it onto one side, before looking into the hole with satisfaction.

Now that's a good weeding done - petch!

He stared at the hole. Brown, encrusted roots were just poking out on the side closest to the row of Isuas, and he wasn't sure if he'd damaged its roots.

"Tony! Have a look here, I think I did something wrong." The Head Gardener strode quickly to Robert, and peered into the hollow, frowning momentarily before relaxing.

"I don't think I need to tell you where you went wrong here, Robert - but in the future, try to dig shallow holes instead of going big. Thankfully, the roots seem undamaged, so just fill it in." Nodding in thanks, Robert picked up a trowel, adjusting his grip here and there until he imitated Tony's way of holding the unfamiliar instrument, and dug into the bucket, removing a generous heap of dirt-compost mixture and planting it into the hole.

After spreading it about, Robert tamped it gently down, looking every now and then at Tony for his approval. "Gently, gently! We don't want a path to walk on, the roots need air like we do, so don't push it down too hard." After he had more or less evened out the depression, the Drykas used his own trowel and tested the firmness, before standing up.

"Not too bad for your first try. You'll get the hang of it, but just go about things slowly. We'll do the next ten rows, and you can come back and collect all the weeds you've dug up after you've dampened these spots with a bit of water. But first..."

Tony handed Robert a bundle of slim rope, while removing a roll of rough cloth from one of his pockets.

"A little lesson in bracing. That young 'un there..." He pointed to a small tree. "Limb's cracked, but there's a good chance we can save it if we make a splint." Leaning down, Tony sorted through a selection of sticks and branches, before selecting a particularly sturdy length of wood, passing it to Robert again.

"Look at the area where it's cracked." Tony gently rubbed the fragmented end, and let Robert have his turn. "If it's all dried up, there's no saving it, and we'll have to cut it down. That's the cambium, the living part of the bark. The outside, rough, tough layers? Dead bark, protecting the tree from all manner of parasites, diseases, and even the elements. But the cambium? That's the good stuff. If you're in a fix, you can strip it from a tree and eat it. Not filling, and it'll upset your stomach if you have too much, but there's nutrients in there that will keep you going for a while longer."

He nodded to himself.

"Fried in a pan, or dried and crushed into a makeshift flour. If you're lazy, chew it. But don't go stripping a tree of everything - cut wisely, and take it from several trees. And you'd best ask me or Uta before you start eating trees!" He gave a short bark of laughter. "Falyndar has poisons everywhere, unlike Kalea. Higher volume of poison per square foot than a poisoner's laboratory, some say." Tony started to slowly ease the two parts of the limb together, fitting together the fragmented ends.

Guessing Tony's intentions, Robert waited until the two had been manually joined together, neat as you please, and held the stick flush against the limb, its approximate centre aligning with the split. Nodding in approval, Tony adjusted its position to keep it as close to the limb as possible, and started winding the cloth around the twain.

"Other gardeners - or arborists - might have different techniques, but for small limbs like this, I prefer to tie a few loops 'round each end first, then work my way inwards." The Drykas expounded. "It's always best to wrap slowly, and tightly, at these ends to see if the stick you chose actually works." Keeping the cloth tense, Tony finished wrapping the splint, and stood back, motioning for Robert to finish the job by securing it with rope.

"A few rounds should do it, but tie the knot over the loose end of the cloth." Robert followed his instructions obediently, coiling the rope tightly around the clothed limb and terminating with a simple knot, slotting the two ends under the rope. He'd been privy to the myriad ways the Svefra tied the ropes and rigging on their ships, but as he was still a landlubber (albeit mildly salted) at heart, he didn't pay too much attention to handling a ship.

Tony tugged at the knot until he was sure that it would hold.

"Nicely done, lad. Off with you then, we've a grove of weeds that need your personal attention."

WC: 2771
Robert Glenfeidh
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Posts: 46
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Water and Earth

Postby Reed on July 31st, 2020, 6:27 am

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Robert Glenfeidh

Skills
  • Gardening: 3
  • Observation: 3
  • Socialization: 3

Lores
  • Tony Swiftwater: Caretaker of the Isuas Grove
  • Gardening: Watering an Isuas vine
  • Gardening: Using a watering pail
  • Gardening: Re-planting Isuas rootstock
  • Gardening: Removing crabgrass with a trowel
  • Lore - Cambium harvesting and usage
  • Gardening: Splinting a tree limb
  • Lore - Tying a simple knot

Awards & Retribution


Notes

A lovely read Robert. I really enjoyed reading about his experience in the Isuas Grove.
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