Chapter 3: Genesis of a Wulf
“Grandmother” Gott, aged 71, had never thought of herself as a grandmother. In fact, she never saw herself as a mother, either, although she had been a one, from when she was 18 years of age. She had the child, back in her hometown, and left the little girl with her parents there. For it was one of “Grandma’s” secrets that she was, indeed, from a small, conservative town out of state. A rural town, in fact, and this one thing was something she kept as secret as the fact of her own motherhood from her professorial peers in the University. It just would not do to have it be known that the Gender Studies professor at the University of Chicago had once had a (fleeting) interest in men- (the oppressors for God’s sake!)- and had even cohabited long enough with one to have had a child!
The little girl, who later became Wulf’s mother, was a dainty little waif named Noel by her grandmother. The old grandmother, her farmer husband, and little Noel lived very happily in their little town on the edge of a river, and most thought they had just had a child late in life. Noel was never seen by her real mother, although occasionally a card would come to the family, with clippings from the Chicago Tribune and The Sun Times telling of various marches and protests, and once a photo of Nora holding aloft a sign saying “Black Power!”.
Although the little old couple had used their life savings to get their daughter Nora through college in far away Chicago, what these marches meant to them was very obscure. They had never even seen a black person, except sometimes on television, and certainly had never hurt or oppressed anyone of any color!
“Nora is just really, really bright,” said her mother one day, “and she understands things that we could never even comprehend- like outer space and trigonometry!” She looked at her husband, who was smoking his pipe on the porch next to her.
“Maybe,” he said. But his tone was doubtful. He looked off across the yard, where little Noel was playing with her doll, and smiled. “But I think we can appreciate what’s really important!” And he gestured with his pipe towards the laughing little girl.
Noel had always been a free spirit, the delight of her grandparents, who thought of themselves as her mother and father. She delighted in the surrounding woods, and played on the banks of Plum creek that ran right behind the house. She was very unlike her mother Nora, who had never enjoyed the outdoors, and was only happy inside, reading news of far away places like New York City, London, or Chicago. Where Noel was carefree, living in the present and delighting both herself and others in it, her mother had been serious, even as a child. Noel was really a perpetual child, and her mother was born old! Complete opposites, really.
As time went on, little Noel grew into quite a beautiful young woman, and her loving “parents” grew quite old, and eventually first her grandfather, and then her grandmother died. She lived on in the old farmhouse which her mother never visited, and met a man whom she eventually married. He was a large, powerful man, and very decisive about everything. At first, she had loved someone who made all the decisions, and entrusted everything to him.
Eventually, he sold the farm, and took Noel away with him to an isolated place in the far north of the country. And for several years, they were happy there, as Noel spent her time painting her beloved watercolors, and wandering like a delighted nymph through the sylvan, wooded glades of the forest surrounding the cabin that her husband had built. He would hunt, fish, and ride away on his motorcycle for days at a time.
When Noel realized that she was going to be a mother, she was overjoyed! Her husband, Gunnar, was not so much at all. Always a moody, silent sort, he now became morose, hardly speaking for days at a time. And, after the little babe they named Wulf was born, one day he just got on his motorcycle and was gone, never to return.
Those were tough times for young Noel and her little baby, and they probably wouldn’t have made it without the help of the Indian folks nearby on the reservation. One “brave” had been good friends with Gunnar, and he pretty much adopted the two, Noel and Wulf into his family. His wife was already good friends with Noel, and often accompanied her on her long walks, and would sit sewing leather garments as Noel would paint. Her baby was born the same year, and he was Nikan- they grew up together in the woods, playing and then hunting over fields, hills and streams throughout their youth. They both grew fast, but Wulf was already doing the tasks of a man by his 12th year, and then equalling any man a few years later. There was always ample wood, meat, and other necessities once these two had reached young manhood, not only for their own families, but for the whole tribe!
Wulf and Nikan went through the manhood ceremonies together, and were inducted as warriors into the tribe by their 15th year. Wulf was happy in Nature and the reservation, but he was white, and so after his mother passed away, he was ordered to leave his beloved wilderness to satisfy the white man’s law.
As he drove his old jeep down the back roads to Chicago (Wulf had heard of the horrendous toll roads in Illinois), the youth was not really thinking all that much about his grandmother, but he did muse on how much different their life experiences and viewpoints must be. Wulf was pretty much self-reliant to a fault- he rarely asked anything of anyone, and just innately assumed that that is how most folks were. It was just fair, that no man should make himself the burden of another.
So, he fully planned to pay his own way for the year he must live with his grandmother, and also planned to help her out as much as he could. He didn’t know a lot about city ways, but he would like to get to know his only living blood relative, and protect her from the hazards of her own world, which he was well aware were somehow much different from those he was accustomed to! He had brought his life’s savings, which was not all that much, although he did have some gold coins his mother had gradually amassed over the years for him and herself, since she did not trust banks. And of course, he had brought his firearms- a pump action shotgun, a couple of big bore pistols, a lever action rifle, and plenty of ammunition. Perhaps there was some good hunting down there, in the green parks he had seen in maps along the lake? Of course, he also had his hunting knives and his longbow that he had made himself, along with his homemade arrows.
He finally hit highway 45, an old two lane “blue highway”, so named for the color it had commanded on maps for many decades. This venerable road bisects the states of Wisconsin and Illinois, and predates that national highway system, and the onerous toll roads of Illinois. Just to traverse its length was an education for Wulf, since he had rarely seen towns or villages, much less cities. The small towns he passed through in Wisconsin were interesting to him, and he sometimes detoured to see the places, with their small churches and schools, and slow paced way of life. These folks he understood, but as to why they would want to live in town, even a small town surrounded with woods and farm fields, he could not fathom.
But as he continued down towards Illinois, and finally into the beginning of the megalopolis of Chicagoland itself, with it’s endless concrete and blacktop suburbs, snarled traffic, and blaring horns, he became more and more bewildered- Who would choose to live here, when there was wilderness and green, running waters and wildlife aplenty elsewhere? He shook his head, and it was then that he started to feel the beginnings of foreboding, since what good could there be in a land such as this?