ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was inspired by the "biology" square of the Science Bingo fest public card 10-31-14. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.

"A Gathering Ground"

The first market day in September
brought Victor and Igor into the village
with Adam crowing over the colorful harvest.

Victor himself delighted in exploring
all the local offerings, even though
he did not know as much about plants
as Igor did -- they were still beautiful.

Dénes the brewer drifted over
and made oblique remarks about
what might be found where in the wild,
rather than just what came out of gardens.

"I've a bit of land myself, of course, but
not so much up the slopes," Dénes said wistfully.
"There's more that grows out of my reach."

"Plenty on the castle grounds -- more than
Igor and I could get to," Victor said.
"Have it if you want it, so long as you
share a part with our family for courtesy."

"And if a fellow just ... happened across ...
some game meat, more than he needed?"
Dénes hinted delicately. Some lords were
more sensitive about poaching than others.

"I'm partial to venison," Victor said.
"I don't hunt, never had the taste for it,
but I'll take game on the table if I can get it."

"Game birds," Igor added. "Pheasant, quail,
turkey, duck, I like them all. Oh, small game too --
rabbits and squirrels are just lovely."

"Don't bother the wild boars,"
Victor said seriously. "I've no mind
to try putting a man's innards back inside
after a mad pig has flung them all over the forest."

Dénes looked appalled. "What ...?"

Maybe he shouldn't have told that story after all.

"Just leave the swine alone," Igor said
in a gentler tone, "and take sensible precautions
with any other activities in the forest."

"I'll have no harassment out of season," Victor warned.
"No taking pregnant or nursing animals of any kind,
nor birds in their nesting time. It upsets the balance --
oh, we're in want of a groundskeeper, aren't we,
if the castle land is to serve as a gathering ground
for the village as well as a household."

"You could ask around, I suppose,
but I don't know anyone who does
that kind of work," Dénes said.

"If you're going out for mushrooms or herbs,
take care to leave enough that they can regrow,"
Igor said. "The biology is complicated for some of them ..."

"Perhaps we could go foraging together some time?"
Dénes said on a hopeful note. "You know more than I do."

"About the science of it, but you're the one
who knows the land," Igor said. "Agreed."

Later that day they met Lóránt the woodcutter,
busy with his new assistant Clyde, who broached
the idea of harvesting wood from the castle forest.
Shortly they had an agreement that he could take some
to sell, in exchange for keeping their woodpile stocked.

Victor had never had much heart for lady's work, but
he thought that a lord's part might suit him very well indeed.

* * *


"The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift."
-- Laurie Colwin

Foraging has an optimum mode defined by biology and ecology. This type of food acquisition has supported historic and contemporary humans. There are tips on how to forage.

The management of animals for hunting also relies on principles of biology and ecology. In a feudal system, just a few people control most or all the land, and it's considered poaching for anyone else to eat off it. Sensible lords don't want their people to starve, so they're more inclined to share, but law and custom make for some very delicate negotiations. Hunting seasons typically span autumn and winter for various species of game. Enjoy some hunting tips, many of which work for observing wildlife as well as eating it.

A groundskeeper looks after the plants and animals within a given territory. This is vitally important in a place shared by many people for hunting and gathering: somebody needs to keep an eye on the balance of resources available, to indicate what needs to be culled out more, and what needs to be left alone for a while, as the populations fluctuate over time.

Growing firewood also used to be the norm. Here folks are basically exchanging raw materials and labor; everyone wins. Read about how to manage a woodlot for craft and firewood.

Courtesy repaid

Date: 2014-11-23 01:06 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
The spring seedlings and help planting lead very obviously to this, as Victor does control some of the least-traveled, probably most thickly forested, land in the area. I love how circumspectly the topic begins, and can just picture the surprise on everyone else's faces when Victor says he doesn't like hunting! Technically, they could claim to be /working/ for him if stopped by a sheriff (in the old sense).

I'm supposed to be writing, and on top of the beautiful story there are a pile of links all beckoning like bits of treasure... SIGH. Willpower. I has it.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-23 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
Oh, I like both of these -- relationships, and synergy, and doing the right things for the right reasons, and treating people decently, and all sorts of other happy-making things.


Date: 2014-11-23 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad it's all working for you.

One thing I wanted to explore in this series is how different a story would be if characters did sensible things instead of running around like idiots. Uneducated people on short resources can quickly strip a forest. Snobs in a castle do no damn good at all. But put a couple of genteel scientists in charge, and sooner or later they'll figure out ways of getting more goodies for everyone.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-23 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Lovely, I particularly like how Igor's scientific knowledge gets to be used and the general feeling of collaboration and cooperation.


Thank you!

Date: 2014-11-23 06:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
The science is part of the bingo fest -- we wanted to encourage stories that had more actual science in them. Sometimes it's fancy lab stuff. But a lot of times science just pops up in everyday life where it's useful to know how things work. I use it to manage my yard!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-22 04:54 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
This is how feudalism is supposed to work. The lord taking care of his people, and the people taking care of him right back.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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