(Continued from yesterday.)
Shepherd sat a table and heated the sauerkraut with bits of squirrel sausage and hot dogs on a propane heated stove. They rolled the kraut and hot dogs in homemade bread and washed it down with coffee.
“This is good,” Daniel said.
“I’ll start a hot dog stand on the road to Ruby,” Shepherd said.
“I’ll be your first customer,” Daniel said.
Shepherd smiled. “You’ll be one of my only.” He sipped his coffee.
“Do you have a snow machine?” Daniel said.
“Yes,” Shepherd said. “Do you?”
“I have one for everybody in family,” Daniel said.
“When will the snow come?” Shepherd said.
“It is already deep in the mountains,” Daniel paused and thought. “This weekend, big snow.”
“This will be my first big snow up here,” Shepherd said. “Last spring there was some snow but it was a spring snow.”
“I worry for you, Shepherd,” Daniel said.
“I will be fine,” Shepherd said.
“Many men have come here and said that,” Daniel said.
“I am prepared for the winter,” Shepherd said. “I have a tight cabin, plenty of wood, and enough food for three winters.”
“That is good,” Daniel said. “You prepared well; I can see that, but did you prepare for loneliness?”
“That’s why I came here,” Shepherd said, “to get away from people.”
“Certain people?” Daniel said. “You left friends behind?”
“Sure,” Shepherd said. “I have friends.”
“To bad,” Daniel said, “you will miss them.”
Shepherd’s eyes fell to his empty plate. His thoughts became forlorn and dark.
“I will help you unload your provisions, Shepherd,” Daniel said. “I must make it home before night fall.”
After Shepherd’s winter provisions were moved from the jeep and stacked in the dinning room and kitchen Daniel left. Shepherd started stacking canned food items in the cabinets and stopped. He walked to the front porch and watched Daniel walk to the stream in the distance. Daniel walked along the stream heading toward the river.
Shepherd looked at the mountains to the west; they were caked in snow and it spread to the foot hills. Shepherd thought deeply for a moment. “I have prepared for everything except my mind.”
Shepherd looked toward the stream. Daniel stood on a rock. He waved. He knew Shepherd would be watching. Shepherd waved big and friendly, but his heart was sad and already longing.
Shepherd watched Daniel until the stream disappeared into a gully.