I am exhausted. I don’t know if I’ve ever done so much physical work in my life. For too long I have sat at my desk studying, without ever testing my physical powers. Kattan asked me yesterday, if I would like to help with wood-gathering and I agreed, thinking it would give me further chance to study the forest and learn more of the Arrakeshi ways. Had I realised that the wood-gathering would go from dawn until dusk, I might have made an excuse. Yet the Arrakeshi men and boys involved didn’t seem troubled by the work. They dragged, chopped and stacked with energy, working together to get the job done without sign of tiring.
With winter only moons away, a stockpile of wood is needed close to the cottages. Gatherers went out of the village in all directions, collecting the wood into small handcarts and trundling it back to stack it in the pile on the east side. We had to walk quite a way before we found a fallen tree ready for gathering. The wood stack is far away enough from the village not to present a hazard should it catch alight, yet close enough to be easily reached for household use. So, much energy was spent in walking to and fro as well as chopping.
Something I have observed since I came is the use of metal axes, knives and, to a lesser extent, pots amongst these people, yet I have seen no sign of the working of metal anywhere in the village. Kattan tells me that these things are brought back as gifts by those taking their sharesh in Carlika and are highly valued. Knife and axe handles are carved with interesting designs, each unique to its owner, an Arrakeshi stamp on Carlikan metalwork.
I must sleep. Somewhere on the other side of the village, the sound of a wooden flute carries on the breeze. It’s a plaintive tune that seems to hold the forest within itself. A soothing background for my aching limbs. I wonder if I will be able to move at all at sunrise?