Wanders Far lived in dangerous times and was faced with one difficult challenge after another. He was a skinny, quiet boy who was raised on the banks of a tributary of New York State’s Mohawk River, hundreds of years before colonists arrived. One lifetime was not enough for Wanders Far’s old soul.
From a very young age, his wanderlust compelled him down one path after another. No village could contain him.
He was happy living a simple life in the physical world during challenging times. The spirit world had other plans.
A wise, enigmatic shaman mentored Wanders Far and helped him cultivate the supernatural visions that haunted him. His guide could only help him so far.
He set out to become a runner, carrying important messages across the lands of his people and their enemies. He ended up fulfilling a much greater destiny than he ever imagined.
This is the first installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.
You might like this book if you like historical novels, westerns, supernatural thrillers, or books featuring distance hikers. If you like all of those, hopefully this book will be one of your favorites.
Table of Contents
Grandfather Is Dead
A Good Place to Start a New Life
Too Many Trout to Count
The Fierce Scream of a Fisher Cat
Trading with the Narraganset
Choosing a New Chief
Attacked at Dawn
An Algonquin Captive
Stealing Souvenirs from a Camp of Giants
A Malevolent Presence
Great Roaring Waterfalls
He Who Follows the Stars
That Is How Your Story Should Be Told, My Friend
People of the Longhouse
The Great White Stag
The First Full Moon of Summer
A Young Man with an Old Soul
About David Fitz-Gerald:
David Fitz-Gerald is an author. Okay, make that amateur author. If you’re looking for the atheist activist author by the same name, keep looking—this book is DEFINITELY not for you! After a chaotic day as a business person, Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing. Wanders Far—An Unlikely Hero’s Journey is the first in a series of books in the Adirondack Spirit Series.
|Publisher:||Outskirts Press, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.45(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Grandfather Is Dead
A fly landed on her knee. She wondered how long she could tolerate its presence. How long could she keep her right leg from moving? It was such a tiny creature, yet the urge to flick it away consumed her thoughts. It took every ounce of fortitude she could muster. Why not shake it off and be done with it? There were far more important matters to tend to than playing a silly game with a tiny pest.
The fly had grown comfortable, and started rubbing his front legs together, like he was trying to keep his hands warm on a cold winter day, but it was only early autumn. It amazed her to think that such a tiny creature could tickle and distract her so completely.
From across the room her sister inquired, "Don't you agree, Bear Fat?"
Bear Fat's hand slapped her knee. Her hand moved with lightning speed, a skill perfected over the course of many years. The tiny red-eyed housefly landed dead on its back at Bear Fat's feet, instantly forgotten. The sudden smack of her hand on her bare knee was loud enough to jolt the gathering of women to attention. Their meeting had lasted for hours, and nobody had said anything new since the meeting began. Bear Fat couldn't recall when her sister had begun to speak.
At 34-years-old, she was a seasoned leader, great at listening to her people, and helping them participate in decisions that impacted them all. Ordinarily she had the capacity to sit for hours thinking through complex situations. She was patient when her people complained about little things or agonized over tough decisions. That particular afternoon her thoughts wandered.
Her people could easily overlook her distraction. Only weeks before, her youngest child had been snatched away. Bear Fat was busy collecting tubers, alone in the woods, and had left the baby safely in her papoose at the base of a tree a short distance from where she was digging. She saw it happen, but it happened so fast that she was powerless to stop the abduction. She ran in pursuit, and she screamed for her people's help but they were beyond the sound of her voice. She was the mother of six other children. Her sister told her she should take consolation in that. Bear Fat couldn't see how having six other children should diminish the loss of the baby she called Blackberry. The baby had a tiny birthmark on her left ankle that looked like a blackberry. Bear Fat told her sister, "It doesn't matter how many children she has, a baby needs its mother."
Bear Fat acknowledged that her sister was right to remind her of her responsibility to her people. Uniquely, the three clans of their people regarded their matriarch as their most important leader. She was even more important than the chief who was responsible for leading the men in defense of the village, and in their endeavors outside of the village. Her sister complimented her leadership, praising the fact that the people had never gone hungry during her many years as matriarch. As children they had known some very hungry years. The complimentary words of her sister sang in Bear Fat's ears, "Well fed, well led."
She couldn't do anything about her lost baby. She didn't even get a good enough look at the abductor to identify him or his people. She could grieve the loss of her baby and yet fully perform her job. It was particularly helpful to be needed at that moment. Bear Fat sighed, and responded, "I don't know." She paused momentarily, then continued, "I just know we can't stay here any longer. It is time to move on. We have been happy here and moving is a chore, but resources are beginning to grow sparse. There are fewer fish in the river, fewer deer in our meadows, and we must travel ever farther to find wood for our fires and rabbits for our cookpots. We must find a new home. We will not go hungry again. Not while I have anything to say about it! Let's vote."
Bear Fat would have preferred to achieve unanimity. They would have to proceed without the consent of Bear Fat's sister. Her sister wasn't really opposed, she just had a difficult time committing to one alternative at the exclusion of another.
Just as Bear Fat closed the matter and prepared to adjourn the meeting, her 10-yearold son, Fisher, ran breathlessly through the doorway, skidding to a halt, and scaring up a cloud of light brown dust in front of his mother.
"Grandfather is dead," the boy shouted. "Come quick." He turned and ran back out through the doorway. Everyone followed. It was hard to keep up with him. Bear Fat shrieked and ran quickly behind Fisher.
About half a mile from the village, on the top of a small hill, a 50-year-old man lay crumpled on the ground. The old man's head was painted red, down to just beneath his nose. Beneath a line that extended from ear to ear, his face was painted pitch black. Near the line that separated the red and black, a row of tiny black dots had been painted over the red. Five evenly distributed, neatly braided lengths of freshly greased hair adorned his head. The braids sprouted from a spot on the top of his head near the back, and two small feathers from the wing of his namesake, the red-winged blackbird, had been carefully woven into the braids. That morning, his grandson had asked him to demonstrate how a warrior prepared for battle.
Fisher stood by his dead grandfather, pointing at the body, as if his mother and the others who had followed required such guidance. Everyone could plainly see that the man had died. Bear Fat dropped to the ground, cradled her father's head in the crook of her elbow, and with eyes full of tears she looked up and asked her son what happened.
Fisher said, "I don't know. We were just standing there on top of the hill, looking for rabbits, pheasants, or turkeys, anything worth notching an arrow for. Then he just dropped to the ground and was dead. So I started running and didn't stop until I got to the village." The boy tried hard not to cry. His mother's tears made it more difficult. He was getting to the age where he tried harder and harder to be like the men. Then he thought of his grandfather, and it occurred to Fisher that he would never see him again. He stood silently, tears streaming down his cheeks. He tucked his chin to his chest and stared at his toes.
Bear Fat asked Fisher, "Can you run and get your father? Tell him what has happened and tell him we need to bring Grandfather back to the village." The boy nodded and started running, happy to be on the move. Bear Fat and her sister straightened out their father's body to achieve a more dignified pose. Bear Fat closed her father's eyes, kissed his forehead, and then kissed each cheek. She touched the tip of her nose to the tip of his nose. Then she buried her face in her strong hands. She kneeled in the dirt by her father for a long time, until she became aware of her screaming mother running quickly up the hill. Bear Fat collected herself. Her mother, Gentle Breeze, and the rest of the village needed her to be strong. She cleared the tears from her eyes as best she could, her dusty hands leaving a coat of mud on her cheeks.
Bear Fat's husband, Big Canoe, arrived quickly with three other men and a wooden stretcher. Bear Fat and Big Canoe shared a quick embrace, and Big Canoe whispered condolences into her ear.
Bear Fat and her mother followed the men carrying Red-Winged Blackbird back to the village. Bear Fat held her sobbing mother's hand on the way back home. For her mother's sake, Bear Fat blinked back her own tears.
Red-Winged Blackbird had been a dutiful husband, father, and grandfather, and everyone in the village enjoyed his company. He was dependable, and he could be counted on in any situation. His unique talent was wood carving. As they passed through the wooden fences that surrounded and protected the village, Bear Fat blew a kiss at the sign that towered over the gate, as if the sign had suddenly come to possess the spirit of her father.
The village was a Bear Clan village, one of three prominent clans that made up their tribe. At the village entrance was a large round sign with a fierce depiction of a bear, standing upright, fangs bared, and claws ready to disembowel any unwelcome intruders. Each of the longhouses had a smaller sign of the totem animal, each in different settings.
Red-Winged Blackbird had been a gifted artisan. His work was everywhere in the village. In addition to the signs, he made more practical objects, such as wooden bowls, tools, and weapons. He was happiest making the decorative objects.
Ten days later, they buried Bear Fat's father beside the People's River. The grieving period was officially over. On the way back to the village, Bear Fat informed the chief that the Women's Council had decided to move the village. Twenty years in the same location was enough. The chief nodded, affirming that he had heard. Slowly he said, "We will begin making plans right away. Next spring, we will move. I will tell everyone in the morning."CHAPTER 2
A Good Place to Start a New Life
The location they chose for the new village was almost ten miles up a tiny tributary of the People's River. It was a nice spot at the top of a hill. At the bottom of the hill, the tiny creek looped around, forming a large curve that almost doubled back on itself.
Winter came late, and it gave the men time to clear the trees and brush along the banks of the creek and the hillside above. It would take many trees to build a new village. Branches were trimmed from the fallen trees. Then the logs were cut to size. By spring they would be dry and ready to work with.
While the men worked on the trees, many children worked together to build a dam in the creek, a couple hundred yards north of the riverbend. It was the perfect spot for a dam. Behind the dam, they created a small pond, big enough to fit everyone, but just barely.
It was a long winter. People were hungry for something other than corn. There was much to do. A small group of hunters worked long days to feed the village, while everyone else labored at the new village site. The men and boys worked from dawn to dark building twelve new longhouses. The women and girls worked all day clearing the fields and preparing the soil by the creek for new garden plots. To assure the people would be fed the following winter, they also seeded the gardens in the old village, just in case the new garden plots failed to yield bumper crops.
Bear Fat's husband, Big Canoe, was an able builder. His strengths included crafting canoes, hunting bears, and constructing buildings. In addition to directing the husbands of Bear Fat's sisters, aunts, and cousins, Big Canoe had an army of boys to supervise as well.
Bear Fat and Big Canoe had six living children, three daughters and three sons. Their son Fisher was 11 that spring and worked with the men on building the walls and framing the roof. Their 9-year-old son worked on cutting long strips of bark from trees, which would be woven into the roof frame. Their 7-year-old son worked on collecting stones from the garden and dragging them up the hill to be used in the fireplace hearths in the new longhouses. Everyone had a role to play.
In the garden, Bear Fat and her daughters worked with the other women to prepare for planting. Bear Fat named her girls Corn, Bean, and Squash. It was her way of showing appreciation to the Great Spirit for the three crops that sustained the people. It was rare for names given at birth to continue into adulthood, but all three girls retained their original names. The girls were born one after the other. That spring, they were 19, 18, and 17-years-old. All three were married, and all were pregnant that spring. None were as far along as Bear Fat herself, who was pregnant again at 35-years-old.
Bear Fat's longhouse was the largest of the village's twelve longhouses. At 140 feet long, sixteen feet wide, and fifteen feet high, the new building would become home to fourteen families, seven on one side and seven on the other. Each family, regardless of size, occupied a length of twenty feet, and shared a fire in the middle with a related family on the other side.
After a couple weeks of building, Big Canoe was pleased with the progress. The building was going up quickly. The walls were nearly complete, and the roof was completely framed. He stood a short distance from the structure, hands on his hips. He enjoyed a brief rest and noticed the pleasant warm sunshine on his back as he thought about the work yet to be done. His crew was working hard and needed surprisingly little supervision.
Big Canoe watched as his second son bounded up a ladder to the top of the longhouse. He noticed the boy's agility. There was much work yet to do on the roof. Most of the men and boys moved slowly and carefully on the top of the building. Big Canoe chuckled as the thought came to him that his boy reminded him of a chipmunk. It struck him that he had never seen his son so happy as he looked scampering around on top of the longhouse.
When work paused at midday for a brief lunch break, Big Canoe talked to his son about the roof of the longhouse. The boy told his father that he wished he could sleep on the roof instead of in the longhouse.
"What are you, some kind of chipmunk?" his father joked. The boy smiled, pulled his hands up to his chest, extended his two front teeth over his lower lip, bent his waist, and stuck his butt out to represent a long, fluffy tail. From that moment on he was called Chipmunk. "I don't know about sleeping on the roof, but how about if we make you a place to sit up there? You can climb up and watch over the village and warn our people of any danger you might see approaching."
Instead of one chair, Big Canoe built four chairs and secured them on the roof. The four chairs were positioned so that Chipmunk could face whichever direction he pleased. It took the better part of two days for Big Canoe to add the perch to the longhouse. It was unlike any house the people had ever seen. Initially Chipmunk had to share the chairs with others, until the novelty wore off.
One after the other, as each longhouse was completed, the rest of the crew moved to assist with the remaining work. Bear Fat and Big Canoe's longhouse was the second-to-last house to be finished. When the longhouses were finished, work began on building the palace walls, just like at the old village, they built an outer ring first, then they built an inner ring five feet away. Bear Fat stood proudly as the sign from the old village was mounted above the gate to the new village. The men looked to Bear Fat when the installation was complete. Bear Fat nodded her approval, then she blew a kiss at the sign, a practice that was quickly becoming a habit. Every time she did that, she thought of her father.
It was about a month before the spring solstice. The new village was finished. All that was left to do was move everything that remained in the old village.
It was a lot of work. The trail between the old village and the new village became very well worn. A few of the older people had remained behind while the new village was being built. Bear Fat's mother was one of them. Gentle Breeze was a happy, healthy, 51-year-old great-grandmother. She still mourned the loss of her husband who had died the previous fall and being alone in the longhouse at the old village had left her feeling lonely. She had been accustomed to tending the hearth and preparing meals for Bear Fat and her large family. Gentle Breeze dedicated her time to keeping the old village spotlessly clean while her people spent two months building the new village. Bear Fat knew better than to ask her mother why she would devote so much time to keeping a place clean that no one would occupy again.
Bear Fat's eyes met her mother's. She smiled warmly, and softly said, "Mother, it is time to go." The final parade from the old village began. Their chief ceremonially led the way. Gentle Breeze and Bear Fat brought up the rear. Bear Fat's position as matriarch was even more important to the people than the chief's role, and it was fitting that the entire tribe marched between their chief and their matriarch.
Bear Fat kept up with her people. She had made the ten mile walk many times over the previous couple of months as they prepared to move. That final walk was a lot more challenging. She hadn't mentioned it to anyone. About half way to the new village, it became clear to Bear Fat that her baby was on the way. For weeks she had wondered, would the baby be born in the old village or the new village? She hadn't thought to wonder whether the baby would be born on the path between villages, but that was exactly what happened. She believed everything in life had meaning. Bear Fat wondered what it meant that her baby would be born along the trail. One day she would come to know.
Seven miles down the path, Bear Fat told her mother the baby was coming. Another mile down the path, she stopped in a small clearing in the woods where the ferns gave way to moss and grass. She thought it looked like a good place to start a new life. With her mother's help, Bear Fat gave birth to another son. There was no such thing as an effortless labor, but that boy came fast. So that's what she called him: Fast. Bear Fat liked one-word names for her babies. Her new boy was a strong, healthy, good-looking baby. Bear Fat and Gentle Breeze shared a warm glance. Bear Fat sent her thoughts to the Great Spirit: "May he serve our people well."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero's Journey"
Copyright © 2019 David Fitz-Gerald.
Excerpted by permission of David Fitz-Gerald.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Editorial Preface by Lindsay Fitzgerald,
Preface and Dedication,
1. Grandfather Is Dead,
2. A Good Place to Start a New Life,
3. Runaway Toddler,
4. Too Many Trout to Count,
6. Swamp Creature,
7. The Fierce Scream of a Fisher Cat,
8. Trading with the Narraganset,
9. Choosing a New Chief,
10. Attacked at Dawn,
11. An Algonquin Captive,
13. Magic Crystal,
14. Stealing Souvenirs from a Camp of Giants,
15. A Malevolent Presence,
16. Great Roaring Waterfalls,
17. He Who Follows the Stars,
18. That Is How Your Story Should Be Told, My Friend,
19. People of the Longhouse,
20. The Great White Stag,
22. The First Full Moon of Summer,
23. A Young Man with an Old Soul,