BUILDING THE GOOD ROAD
Illustration by Lawrence Tate
Sharon pulled the lever and the bow of the boat sank to the ground, becoming an open ramp. “It you’re staying here, take all your stuff,” said Sharon. “The River Queen and the carts are going to Evansville.”
“Yeah, we’re going to sell the new vegetables at the college market,” Sara told Abby.
“Everybody over here in the shade,” called Sharon. “Come in close.” The group gathered round. “Thanks for the best ride ever! And one more thing,” Sharon added in a low tone. “This thing.” She touched Abby’s bundle. “Let’s all forget we ever saw it, unless you’re privately with each other. Got that?”
“I understand,” said Junior. “Of course.” All agreed, looking at each other and nodding. Lluvia came up close to Diego and mouthed a few words, totally in silence. Abby could read her lips saying “The Ghost Girl is the Keeper.”
“Okay,” said Sharon. “We’re off. On to Half Moon and Evansville.”
Sara called to Abby, “See you tomorrow at 5:30!” Abby waved, and then followed Junior around the garden center to a side door. He led her to Alison’s personal office and herb storage room. The shelves on three walls were full of glass jars of different sizes and shapes, containing leaves and powders and oils. A side table held a butcher block with knives and small utensils. Books and a window took up the fourth wall. A desk, computer and filing cabinets cluttered the central area. Abby set the mapstick carefully on the floor and took a seat. Wasting no time, Junior launched into a torrent of words: “I’ve only got about 45 minutes. We need to talk in a hurry. My Dad filled me in a little bit, and now I’m all yours.” Junior was restless, and paced around as he spoke.
“Nice job at the Open Gate,” began Abby. “I see you have a plan, like a military campaign. Suddenly I’m a part of it, but I don’t see all the pieces. Sonny acts like I’m supposed to know everything but I don’t. I’m having trouble with the big picture. How would you describe our major goal? How does it all fit together?”
“As you know,” Junior replied, “this is a long story. But I’m going to keep it brief. It’s obvious that Rivergate and Hidden Valley have in many ways a different way of life than the wide world around us. It almost seems like a freakish accident, but there it is. Undeniable. Now, it seemed for… maybe two hundred years or more, that the larger world of getting rich, with powerful organizations gathering the earth’s resources to amass huge fortunes, was the way of the future. We appeared to be a relic of the past. But as time went on the picture changed. And now… with every passing year we are more convinced we have a gift that the world needs, a bridge over the raging sea. The dark side of the pillaging of the earth has come to haunt us all, rich and poor, in every part of the world.” Abby was about to speak, but Junior raised his hand. “Okay, you know all that. But you aren’t thinking about the implications of it. Let me spell them out. You know the legend of the Good Road and the Bad Road. The Good Road was neglected, and has to be re-discovered and built again. Much of the world is on the Bad Road, and people are starting to panic. But they are unsure what to do, and tend to deny the problem, which only makes them more frightened and desperate. Our job is to expand the Good Road, build it up so that other people can join in. And many others – all over the world – are also struggling to build the Good Road, but we haven’t reached any critical mass yet. That’s because those who profit from the Bad Road have enormous power, and try to hide and destroy the Good Road. And if we show ourselves too openly, we risk getting stepped on, getting wiped out. So we have to grow quietly. We have to establish ourselves in a strong way before we get too much attention.”
“Okay,” said Abby. “I follow you. That’s one of my problems, understanding what has to be expanded and what has to be hidden.”
“Right. You will be in touch with many people, and will have a more central role as events start moving. So I’m going to outline what I call the package, with the key building blocks. The first key you already understand as well as I: widespread local agriculture using the art of seed saving, developing varieties of trees and plants adapted to the local climate that grow in harmony together and not only feed people, but provide energy and other materials throughout each particular area. We’ve made fabulous progress here, becoming stewards of the forest and thriving on it’s benefits, drawing in the local farms, spreading the best varieties of seed, teaching methods tested over hundreds, maybe thousands of years. And we’ve done this while eliminating fossil fuel completely. An essential part of our way is the art of composting. No long-term agriculture or renewable natural gas is possible without it. You are familiar with all this, but now we need to spread the knowledge, join with others to make this a global trend.”