Knowledge, the various ways the Planners pass it down
Adeline stood in the kitchen, surrounded by children of a certain age – old enough to learn, and not so old as to feel the need to pretend boredom. Today, she was teaching them how to bake a loaf of bread.
“…and that’s how we grind the wheat. Now, we will do a little more in the manual grinder, there, Penelope, take your turn, but we have the electric grinder available here, too, for when there’s power.”
“There’s power today.” Darren might end up being a problem-child, but right now he was just a child.
“There is.” Adeline kept her voice calm and level. “And when we’ve each practiced with the manual grinder, we’ll do the rest in the electric grinder.”
“Some people buy flour in the store.” Hilary was already on her way to being more than just a problem.
“And so do we. But today, we are baking bread from scratch Carl-Sagan style.”
“‘If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.'” Several of the kids quoted it at Adeline, and she smiled. They might not care to learn how to grind wheat, but they learned nonetheless.
“What are you doing, Adeline?”
Elder Brice was bored, and a bored elder is never a helpful elder.
“I’m taking inventory.” They were down in the sub-basement, the LED lights burning eerily over their shelves of supplies.
“Don’t you note everything down as it comes out of storage?” He picked up a can and put it back in what Adeline was going to assume he believed was the right spot. “Why would you need to waste time on an inventory?”
She took three deep breaths. “First, my time is not subject to audit, Elder Brice.”
“I’m not being formal here! I’m just asking questions.”
“Second, there is always human error involved in everything.” She very carefully put the can he’d moved back where it belonged. “I am not always the person taking things out of storage. Products get moves. Things do, sometimes, go bad.” She shifted a bin of grain.
“Hey, what’s this?” The old man took the bin of grain and read the careful notes and diagrams written on the side. “‘Carl Sagan bread recipe. First, plant the grain…’ What, you forget?”
He was sneering. She hated it more than most things when her grandfather sneered.
“I am not always going to be the person pulling grain out of this storage facility, Elder Brice.” She took the bin back from him and put it on the shelf where it belonged. “And if I am not, someone else may need a refresher.”
“‘First, grow the grain?'”
“A very thorough refresher.”
“What are you doing, Aunt Adeline?” Penelope crawled up on the stool to watch her aunt. “I thought we sealed up all the dried fruit last week.”
“We did. One moment.” The vacuum-sealer ran with a sucking whirr noise for a moment, and then stopped. Adeline trimmed the package and put it next to several others that looked similar. “I’m storing books.”
“Books?” Penelope peered through the plastic packaging. “‘Good to the Grain,’ that’s funny. Tas…'”
“Tassajara Bread Book. That’s the one we used last week. A different copy, of course.”
“But your copy has all the notes you and everyone else made.”
“And I copied every single one of those notes. One moment.” The machine whirred and stopped again.
“‘Flour Power: A Guide To Modern Home Grain Milling.’ These all have funny names.”
“They do.” She added the last book to the stack.
“Why didn’t you just seal up.., oh, then you wouldn’t have it.”
“And the grease stains and such in the book might damage its longevity.”
“Longevity. Long life.”
“So… these are for me, when I’m a grown-up?”
“Or your children, or their children, or so on. Yes. They’re for someone I can’t hand my grandmother’s books to myself.”
“And you’re sealing them to preserve them from moisture and air? Just like the apples?”
“Just like the apples, very good.” She patted Penelope’s shoulder. “That way, if there’s ever any question about anything in the storage vaults, there will be books there to explain everything.”
“Just don’t forget scissors to open the package.” Penelope grinned. “Like the can openers.”
“Exactly.” Adeline added a freshly-oiled pair of stainless steel scissors to the pile, finding herself smiling. Penelope may never need these books, but if she was quoting the unofficial house motto – <i>never forget a spare can opener</i> – she would do well in any crisis.