# Chapter 1
I wake up and everything smells like woodsmoke. My hair, the bedding, my fingertips. It's acridly sweet, as we're burning last year's pine at the moment. Soon we will be at the end of our dry stock and will be forced to use even smokier substitutes. We didn't prepare well enough for this winter, but all calculations suggest we will still survive by some margin, even if we stink of sap laden smoke for the rest of our days.
My body feels heavy and hard this morning. Last night's rain and wind kept me awake enough to ensure every limb is tired out from twisting and turning. Nonetheless the noises from outside firmly mark daybreak and the start of this day. I inch stiffly down the ladder from my bed, which is raised safely above the floor on a double mattress sized platform. Mat built this early on to keep us away from rats, bodies aloft in the rising warm air.
The noises are getting louder, muffled scraping and shuffling with the occasional squark. My fingers are slow to respond as a I pull on the mud encrusted boots by the door, perhaps indicating the first signs of arthritis. There's nothing to be done about this though, I push the thought out of my mind and focus on the task at hand.
Stiff again, the damn door pushes back against me. Warped through moisture and sticking tightly to its frame. Again, nothing to be done here and now, I resign myself to fighting against it until the spring. Perhaps the boys will be back to help out. Perhaps I won't even be here. It's hard to know anything for certain, especially as the news from the South rarely reaches our hidden valley at the moment.
A short sharp shove and the cool air floods in, wrapping itself around every corner of my body, jolting me fully into the waking world. I can hear the movements outside clearly now, it sounds like they are fighting, again. I walk out onto the wooden platform which juts abruptly over the water.
Home is behind me, an unusual structure that only just now finally looks part of my landscape, blended in by years of moss growth and hard weather. The lake stretches out to the front beyond. Our position here is a blessing, Mat used to remind me daily. Especially during the really bad years when trade had ceased and we were fully self reliant.
I try not to think about the past as the spectre of hunger creeps nauseatingly into my stomach, as it does most Winter mornings.
The chickens have reached a fever pitch by now. I'm slightly late, which has prompted a round of in-fighting and squabbling over the pecking order. I can already see Jeremy standing on the raised bar in the middle of the cage, keeping her mild and meek followers in their place as she strides above them, every so often dishing out a well placed jab. I admire and hate this particular animal in equal measure. Violence is the only thing that seems to keep her peace.
This is my sixteenth post in my attempt to write something on this blog everyday in October. Find my previous post from the 15th here.