The late afternoon shadows were growing longer and the nights were a little cooler, clear evidence that autumn was just around the corner. Clinton wasn’t looking forward to winter weather again, though it did come with the implied luxury of refrigeration. He hadn’t taken any venison since he moved into the cabin because he wasn’t confident about how to preserve meat. The last thing he needed was food poisoning while alone in the wilderness. In better times he would have tethered his laptop to his phone and let Google show him how to safely dry deer meat for storage. His plan was to hunt deer once the temperature was low enough for the meat to be stored outdoors. Until then, it was small game only, rabbits and squirrels, with that meat being consumed in a day.

He also wished he could can food as the fruit trees were offering a surprising variety of tasty treats that had to be eaten or lost. Clinton was paying closer attention to the variety of foods he was consuming as he could only guess about the balance of his nutrition. Two bottles of daily vitamins were among the cabin supplies when he arrived, but these were beginning to dwindle and he was fairly certain a steady diet of meat, even if it was field fresh and just taken, wasn’t a path to good health. So far as he was concerned, his best chance for long survival was avoiding accidents and injuries, and steering clear of illness.

If only he had a printed copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica at the cabin. These were common in homes just thirty years ago, but given the extent of the collected knowledge on the internet and at his fingertips, why waste the money, not to mention the physical space? The same was true for books. He had a large library of e-books in his Kindle online library in the Cloud, and he had his Kindle with him and kept it charged. But to conserve storage on the device he only downloaded a dozen books to the Kindle and these were all he could access now that he was permanently offline. He swore if he ever got access to the internet again the first thing he would do was fill his Kindle to overflowing.

The lazy days of summer were being replaced by busier days with fewer leisure hours. Extra time was now being spent collecting and preparing firewood and his radio time had grown to three hours a day. Most of it in receive mode, though he was permitting himself casual conversations almost every day when it could be found as the loneliness was beginning to gnaw at his soul. Rag chewing helped, a lot. He noted in his journal, “next time someone says ham radio was replaced by cell phones ask them when was the last time they found camaraderie and fellowship on the telephone by dialing up random strangers”.

A couple of domestic shortwave stations had popped up on the 41 meter band in the last week. Not surprisingly, both were of the Christian nationalist variety with their odd messages for all the world to ridicule, if they paid attention to it at all. The shortwaves had long ago become desolate bands of religious propaganda as regular broadcasters, like the BBC, had fled the medium in favor of the internet. The thought of the internet displacing radio, broadcasters trading transmitters and antennas for server farms was reason to chuckle given the current situation.

At the end of another long week, while in bed listening to the sound of wood in the stove offering up its dying embers, and with sleep eluding him, Clinton made a decision. It was time to break this isolation and venture into town. He had been imagining this visit for weeks and had become exhausted from thinking about it. Tomorrow morning he would walk down the mountain and into Boone, North Carolina to view the New World with his own eyes as opposed to the aural “view” he had been getting via radio. Best for him to do this now, before any snow fell this season he thought.

With that decision made, sleep came quickly.