Chapter 3        
     

            For a few weeks, Unless and Until occupied themselves with the early summer chores in the back garden. Once this was in hand, both began to feel the lack of a project and to look around for something new. Any had come and taken away the box of painting supplies, but promised to let Unless and Until use it in the future if either wanted to make another painting. Any even made copies of the two new paintings to take home to show When, which pleased Until very much.
            At last, one hot afternoon, a deliveryman came to the front door while Unless and Until were having tea. Until greeted him and accepted the bulky parcel he carried. It was wrapped in brown paper and twine. Unless took the tea things back to the kitchen and out of the way. Until put the parcel down on the low table. Unless hurried back and undid the twine wrapping. When the box inside was opened, they found a new picture, which they placed on the easel that had been standing empty in the front room all this time.
            “What a curious picture,” said Until.
            “Look what else is here,” said Unless, holding up a black block, “It is another message device. There is a letter, too, and a box of candy with trees on the label.”
            “The message device must be from Carl, but what about the letter?”
            Unless had put the message device down to unfold and read the letter, “It is from Perdita! She doesn’t tell much in her letter though: ‘Dear Unless and Until, I met Carl and now we’re traveling together. How about that? Good thing I asked about his picture in your hallway. Funny how you can recognize people just from descriptions. Well, we met, I told him I knew who he was from you two, and now here we are. I made you a picture of where we’re staying now. We might stay for I long time. Maybe. But, I am doing well and I hope you two are doing well also. Best regards, Perdita.’”
            “She doesn’t explain very fully, does she? It is interesting that they have found each other. I would never have expected it” said Until, “Let’s sit down and play the message. Carl will tell us more, hopefully.”
            Unless and Until sat down on the loveseat together. Until pressed the PLAY button on the message device. As before, Carl’s voice emerged.
            “Hello, 'Less and 'Til. As you have read in Perd’s letter, we’ve met up and are travelling and staying together. You could have knocked me over when this nice lady I’ve never seen before says, ‘You must be Carl, Unless and Until’s friend who used to be a sailor.’ Well, I said, yes I must be, at that, because I am. Who are you? She tells me her name and we spent the whole day talking about you two and how we were both set on travelling around and seeing what there is out in the world. I was glad to find out that you two were doing well and that you received my parcel. I was also glad just to sit and talk with Perd here. We spent another whole day and a good bit of a night just talking and getting to know one another. So it seemed like a good thing we could travel the two of us together. It’s been like that for a little while now and we’re both getting along just fine. This place we’re staying now, that Perd made you the painting of it, is pretty nice and, like she says, maybe so we’ll settle in and stay here for a while. I’m not sure. That candy we sent you is from around here. The folks around here get the sap out of these big trees and boil it down to make a nice sweet syrup. They even make sugar and candy out of the sap and that’s what we sent you. I noticed you two don’t keep much in the way of sweets around your house and thought you might enjoy a taste. If you want more, or just want to write, you can try writing us here. If we are still here, we’ll send you more, and either way it would be good to hear from you. Thanks again for your hospitality when I came through. I still think about those breakfast potatoes sometimes and it always makes my belly rumble. I’m glad to send you a treat I am pretty sure you will remember once it is gone. All the best, Carl. Oh, and we have a song for you:

            A life of wandering is fine
            if there’s nothing else to do with your time
            No chores to tend to or people to meet
            The road just keeps going there under your feet.

            Try settling down some, time to time,
            You might well consider it just as fine
            So much you can do, the things you can know
            when time finally stops being time to go



            *** click here for Carl and Perdita's Song ***  

        

            There, that’s a toast from us two to you two, who travelled for a while and went back home when it was time to.  Write us, will you?”
            Unless and Until were very pleased with the more detailed information and the song. They listened to the whole message again.
            Until said, “Who would ever think to make sweet syrup out of tree sap. That sounds very strange.”
            Unless nodded, but said, “There are trees on the label.”
            Until decided to be satisfied with that, and began to wonder where the picture should be hung. Unless began to wonder what was for dinner. After some discussion, Unless took the picture up to the top of the stairs, where they would see the picture every morning and think of their friends.
            Until prepared a basket of cold meats and bread for a picnic down by the lake. After dinner, Unless and Until took turns eating syrup candies until they were all gone. Carl was right. They enjoyed every bite, and Unless put a note in the needs reply pile to write Carl and Perdita and ask for more.
            The easel stood empty again in the front room, but neither Unless nor Until made any comment or move to put it away.




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Image: Julie Püttgen, Cloudmapping: Maybe So. Gouache, watercolor, and pencil, 12x16", 2008.
Text & Lyrics: JS van Buskirk
Music: James R. Carlson
Animation: Matt Gilbert

 
 
 
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