December 16th, 2008


Quick Notes: The Day Iku Flew

As dawn broke over the Western Hills, Iku grabbed her pack and slipped out of the airlock. She had been watching the florets starting to slip from the highest Dandiepine within sight and she wanted to get to the stalk before anyone could stop her.

Over the two generations that the colony had been on Daedalus, everyone had avoided the dandiepines when their florets began to release. Ten feet long, with a pointed seedpod on one end and feathery leaves on the other, the florets sailed in the higher winds, then plummeted to the ground, burying themselves and taking root.

The Old Man on the hill was well over 100 feet high, a single stalk covered with scaly bark which culminated in a large "cone". The dandiepines were actually a type of palm, or as close as anything on Daedalus was to anything from Earth, but anyone seeing it in bloom, with its giant white "clock" of florets whispering in the wind, could only think of a dandelion as tall as a loblolly.

And Iku was going to climb one.

Tossing a rope around the stalk, she knotted it behind her waist, leaned back against the loop, and started to walk upward. Every couple of feet she rocked forward and swung the rope higher. Fortunately, the bark of the tree was rough enough to find easy toeholds.

Iku could see people starting to stir around the colony as she ascended. Soon her father would be looking for her, wanting her to clear another row in the garden.

Once she reached the cone, Iku pushed against the nearest florets, trying to rock them from their sockets. She selected the loosest and tied herself to it, a few feet about the pod.

Taking a sandwich from her pack, she waited. As the sun rose, the heat on the plain caused the winds to increase. The dandiepine swayed gently.

Iku saw her friend Sati exit the colony gate and start waving her arms. She couldn't hear anything, but knew Sati has spotted her red jacket against the green and white of the cone. A crowd started gathering around Sati.

The winds grew. The dandiepine rocked. Other florets broke loose and blew away.

Iku finished her breakfast and let the paper wrapping fly. It swiftly vanished from sight to the west. The crowd was rushing from the gates, heading towards the Old Man.

But they were too late. The sun was high and the winds gusted. The Old Man bucked and tossed off several florets, and Ikurasu flew!