Pre-SHTF, I loved the fall: the hint of sadness in the shortening days, the flame of the trees as they begin their down cycle and the good food of the season.
I just recently realized, however, that Winter is now my favorite. That recognition had an odd trigger: My daughter caught me wearing ear muffs and called me out on my proscription against wearing head phones. I had a simple answer: any zombies in the area will be frozen solid. That, however, does not also apply to the greatest threat: uninfected humans with ill intent.
While I now enjoy the winter, the first one post-SHTF was the worst time during this era. The immobilization of the undead allowed folks to let down their guard while at the same time freeing up organized groups to wreak more havoc than usual. Even if you were careful, the trampled snow around your hide out was as good as a neon sign pointing people your way.
I spent most of that winter alone. While I had opportunities to join up with others, I was emotionally burned out from my experiences during the outbreak and immediate aftermath. I didn't have the patience needed to deal with others. While I didn't realize it at the time, it also helped me survive that period.
Two attributes describe the groups of uninfected humans that coalesced during this winter:
|Organized||These groups were not unlike the hunter/gatherers of pre-history. They moved to areas with resources, carefully extracting what they needed. The intent, it seemed, was to find an area to settle down before the thaw.||These were the groups who had the best chance for survival. They limited membership to levels could be supported by the area's resources. They worked feverishly to fortify against the renewed war with the zombies.|
|Benevolent groups would be open to trade and might even tempt you to join them.||Even the good folks would be touchy to deal with. They worried that you wouldn't be a valuable member of the group, that you would be a resource suck or otherwise negatively impact their ability to resist the zombie tide.|
|The malevolent groups of both types shared many traits of their better counterparts, but also include you on their list of desired resources, as a slave of one sort or another.|
|Dis-organized||These were the most dangerous groups to deal with. They had no clue what they were doing, just living day to day.||You could smell these groups from a mile way. Usually, they would end up burning through all of the area's resources and had to hit the road, looking for a new location.|
|It was hard to tell who were the good guys. In their desperation, they were capable of anything. Best case scenario would be that they'd jump at your suggestion that there was a cornucopia just over the next hill.||These groups did not last long. They lacked the foresight to plan, but also the balls to due what it takes to survive.|
|These were not unlike the reavers of old: evil creatures who did not think twice about violating and killing you for joy as much as for your resources.||When these groups finally moved on, nothing, and I mean nothing was left. Vegetation, structure, any sign of civilization were consumed in their effort to survive.|
Since it was difficult, in many cases, to tell the good from the bad without revealing yourself, I avoided most interactions. I didn't think about the snow revealing my tracks until it was too late. Thankfully, the group that found me was small and kind hearted. I was able to help them and even guided them to a destination far enough away. From then on, I only moved during storms. This occasionally made for some very hungry times.
By the end of that winter, I, almost, was looking forward to the zombies.
Now that the war is over and civilization has returned, I quite enjoy the cold, crisp air of winter.