Of all the problems with the Fall, the one Thag found most annoying was Onga’s mania for keeping the cave clear of fallen leaves.
Some years they would all come down in a rush, as though the trees were dropping their furs before “making unkies”. Other years, they would trickle off the trees, letting one or two drops a day, the way Old Man Glunk made water. This year was a Glunk year.
And when wind blew from the south-east, bringing the occasional spat of rain and slightly warmer temperatures, the leaves would blow in the cave. While not out hunting, most of the men-folk had few chores, and one of them was clearing leaves.
They made a game of it, splitting the hunting party into two groups — one who were designated “gatherers” and one who were “hunters”. The gatherers were meant to collect as many leaves in their hands as they could, and take them outside to a designated spot where they would not blow back into the cave. The hunters were allowed to prevent them from doing so, but they could only use one hand — their left — to grab them.
This made for good sport, as most of the hunters were strongly right-handed (as were most in the Thunka Grunka Clan). In fact, left-handedness was seen as a gift from the Beyond; most shaman were lefties, as was Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother, who held up that particular limb and bade them stop.
“The women are unable to accomplish their daily work with you tearing around like this,” he explained to Thag.
“We try keep fit for next hunt,” Thag explained. “And we get leaves out.”