By Gene Thompson

I sat in the open doorway looking out on the meadow and wondered what I had done. This was the first opportunity for me to take a break in months. I had been so absorbed in my goal of moving to the hills, so focused on the end result, that now that I had achieved it, there was a great sense of loss. A loss of direction and purpose.

The view before me was beautiful. It was a clear sunny day and the grass in the meadow was a golden tan. Around the valley were rocky hills capped with dark green from the tall ponderosa pines. Across the valley, a bare rocky peak stood majestically in the bright sunlight. On my left, next to the house, was a stand of white-barked aspens, whose leaves had turned yellow and were shimmering in the light breeze. A stream  worked its way down through the meadow and left through a steep canyon with precipitous rock walls.

The furniture had been moved in to the very rough and unfinished cabin and Salli was busy inside trying to put some order back into our lives. She came over and sat next to me and gave me a hug.  It made me feel better but I was still uneasy. She, however, seemed right at home and very happy.

It would be three days before I would adjust and learn to be contented with my new life. There was still plenty of work to be done before winter arrived, but we managed to find time to enjoy our  surroundings.  I took up trout fishing and could usually fill my basket with small brook trout in a couple of hours.

The nearest town was called Nemo and claimed a population of forty-eight. But the town was basically a dude ranch with a restaurant/bar, and a combination general store, Post Office, and gas  station.

We were in the general store one day soon after moving and the owner approached Salli and asked her if she wanted a job cleaning cabins. Deer hunting season was starting and she needed help. I  quickly said yes, and Salli had a job. I’m not sure she has ever completely forgiven me.

I have failed to mention the third member of our family, Christopher. He was a very old cat that Salli had had all her life. He and I had never gotten along very well, probably because we were  jealous of each other. The move and the harsher life style proved to be too much for him, and within a month he had become very sick. We made a very hard decision to put him to sleep.

Salli missed her old friend badly, and when her new boss offered us a puppy, we accepted. He was the only surviving pup from an inbred litter of St. Bernards, and having no value to the owners, they wanted to be rid of him, As he grew he became a close and trusted friend, and although he’s been gone for over 20 years, we still miss him badly. We felt this dog came into our lives to teach us about love. I believe it  can be said that if you “want to learn about unconditional love - get a dog" and if you “want to learn about people - get a goat”. But that is another story.