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After dinner, we went outside, to the dirt filled area at the center of the houses. Sometimes we had our school lessons here, but tonight it would be used for the Community Council meeting. The Community Council met every week, and every other meeting was mandatory for the rest of Blue Creek Swamp to attend. Most people tried to attend them all anyway, as they were open to the public, but tonight was one of the forced ones. It was clear every single person who lived in our many acre territory attended.
The councilmen started a bonfire at the center of the circle, which was symbolically calling all of the residents of Blue Creek Swamp to come. Because the circle was at the center of the 45 houses in Blue Creek Swamp, everyone could see it clearly. In ten more minutes, when the fire roared with greater strength, the smell of smoke had begun to fill the area near the town’s center, and the sun started to set over the horizon of little homes and tall trees, the chair of the council for this year, Aunt Zoe, called the meeting to order. She banged the traditional gavel on a smooth black river stone.
“The Community Council meeting will now come to order. Is there any new business to be properly presented?”
Uncle Coby raised his hand.
“Mr. Coby, to what do you rise?”
“I move to discuss the process for metalworks.”
“All in favor,” Aunt Zoe prompted.
“Aye!” Came the resounding response.
And so the meeting dragged on, talking about the canning of summer fruits, the spinning of wool and the herding of cattle through our swamplands. I sat behind my parents, and drew a bunch of houses with my finger in the dirt. I was just beginning to make up stories for the people who lived in these houses when I saw my mother raise her hand in a powerful, pointed manner. I was instantly captivated.
“Ms. Candace, to what do you rise?”
“Honorable Chair, I move we discuss expeditions from Blue Creek Swamp.”
The majority of the townspeople sucked in their breath in shock. My father patted her on the back, and Uncle Coby and Aunt Zoe gave her a knowing look.
Like everyone else watching the meeting, I was sitting there, wide-eyed, on the edge of my seat, wondering how everyone would respond to this. It was an unimaginable idea, and I couldn’t fathom the adult’s reactions.
With a half smile, Aunt Zoe continued the meeting. “Thanks Candace. To those of you who do not know, many community members have been planning such a trip for a year. Tonight’s meeting seemed like a great time to announce our work. We would like to have the support of every townsperson for this exploration. It would commence in a year from now, would journey out into Blue Creek Proper, and from there, head to find the end of the Hillsborough River, which we already know lets out into Tampa Bay. We would document all we find on the sojourn there, and try to establish relationships with people we meet. Our isolation can only protect us for so long. We must go out and meet with world before they come and find a utopia ripe for the taking. I hope you all can agree. “
There was a lot of shouting until Aunt Zoe banged her gavel repeatedly. “Decorum,” she yelled, cutting through the noise like a sickle in a wheat field. “Alright, Mr. Robby, what is your concern.”
“How will we finance it?”
“We will handle that by preparing for this coming year, setting aside some of everything we make to help this trip go smoothly. A year will give us enough time to prepare for the trip without causing Blue Creek Swamp to collapse, or for the mission to quickly fail .”
“How will we function with some community members missing? Blue Creek Swamp was designed for each person to play a specific role. With people not here to fulfill their goal how on Earth do you expect us not to collapse?”
“We will function just as we do when they are sick, hurt, pregnant or otherwise unable to tend to their daily tasks.”
“Who gets to go?”
“Well, we figured about 10 people in total would go. We were hoping for six adults and four children!”