Celeste could sleep for only a while, throughout the night, she heard Jack’s atrocious snoring. Instead of fighting to sleep, she just put several logs on the fire. Sitting quietly with her trusty companion. She caress the wolf’s neck, while her thoughts went haywire. “Can you believe it Wolf, he’s from Alaska. What made him come to these valleys in the Sangre de Cristo, and I do believe Wolf, he lives here alone? He has to be about in his early 80’s? There is something about him, but I can’t put my finger on it? Besides, I have to watch out for him. I think he’s got my number, and he freakin’ entered my thoughts so easily.” Celeste spoke lightly to her friend. Wolf just looked at her, then decided to lick her hand to comfort her.
“Could him and I, be kindred spirits, my wolf? Is this my next task Mother Earth?” Celeste pondered into the heated fire for a while, until Jack kicked up his snoring another notch. “Jimmy crickets, Wolf, he puts you and my husband to shame!” Wolf lowered his head to the ground like he was guilty, while batting his puppy dog eyes at her. She smiled and gently patted his head. “No worries my man, I still love you.” Wolf wagged his tail.
“Well, since I can’t sleep, and it’s almost morning, how about we find something for breakfast? Humm…maybe fish for breakfast, since Jack made us a bear dinner. I think I also saw some mushrooms and raspberries over the ridge there. Since my leg feels awesome, I think I can manage riding on Quad. Besides, I don’t think Jack is going to miss us.”
Wolf got up when she tried to stand on her leg, still tender, but workable. She gathered her collapsible fishing pole silently heading for the little pond, wolf followed. The moonlit water hole was breathtaking. Celeste could see clearly, even if it was a half of moon. She dug around the earth to find some worms. In no time at all, she baited her hook, and dropped the line into the pond.
As she waited patiently for a bite on her line, many thoughts started to swim inside her head. “My husband, what I am going to do with our life together? It’s been six days, I wonder if you miss me? Maybe I should go on my way. There is nothing holding me back now to venture out on my own. But damn it, I married for better and worse.” Not paying attention to her fishing pole bending, she was in deep thought when her pole was being dragged into the pond. Quickly, she grabbed a hold of the pole before it went into the water, and started to reel her catch in. “Nice, ooo…it’s a good one!” Celeste remarked when she pulled the 15 inch rainbow trout out of the water. She threw it on the ground, then baited her hook again. When finished she went to clean the fish, but it was gone. “Dang it Wolf, how could you.” She looked around to see where he went, but he was not insight.
“Dang it Wah-ya, eating what you are not suppose to eat…Damn men!.” Celeste’s mood quickly changed. She started to cuss out anyone and everyone she thought about. Until she heard a cracking sound, then a light clicking sound. She got her pole and wedged it in between two large rocks. Then took off lightly towards the sounds.
Even though she could not see that well, she was skilled enough to know where the sounds came from. She limped softly, then she heard her pole move. Quickly trying to move not too fast, she headed back to her pole, and pulled out another good size trout. This time she did not throw it on the ground. She took it back to the fire pit and skinned it. Then hung it from a branch. Jack was still snoring soundly, when she added another log on the fire.
She whistled softly, Quad didn’t take no time to represent himself. “Take me over there, boy. Let’s go pick some mushrooms before dawn shows herself. She pointed into the direction she wanted to go, to Quad. She hopped on his bare back, while winching in pain. Softly, in the last of the moonlight, horse and rider left the cozy meadow. In less than a half an hour, they returned with a mega load of juicy mushrooms and raspberries.
Celeste slid off her horse by the pond, and washed the food clean. Then hobbled back to the warm fire to make breakfast. When she unloaded her bounty, she put a pan on the fire and headed for the hanging fish. Stopping in her tracks, the fish was gone. Only the string hung on the branch without the fish. “I know Wolf, could not have gotten that fish, high on that branch? What the hey?” Celeste looked around, while scratching her messy hair. She walked up to the pine tree, and started to look around for tracks.
“It wasn’t Wolf,” said Celeste in a confused tone. When she saw the faint track, she busted into a smile. The only thing that came into her mind about who’s tracks she saw, was a mischievous raccoon. So without due, she turned around back to the fire. When she got the mushrooms into the skillet, she grabbed her pole again, and headed for the water hole.
Morning was breaking upon the mountains when Celeste caught another fish. She hobbled back to the fire and skinned the fish. The delicious aroma of fresh mushrooms cooking, made her mouth water. She opened the lid then added the fish, just in time. Jack came out of the tent stretching and yawning. Celeste watched him breath in deeply, and then made a comment to her with a smile.
“Is that fish I smell woman, maybe some mushrooms too?” Celeste smiled. “Indeed it is Jack, I hope you are not too hungry. I only have one, considering my fish end up missing.” Jack walked slowly over to the fire and sat down. “I brewed some tea, it’s chamomile, would you like some?” Celeste offered. Jack went over to his backpack, and got out his own mug. Celeste filled it to the brim, then poured herself one. “Taste good, Hialeah. It’s been a long time since I have had tea or coffee.”
Celeste didn’t say anything, she busied herself making breakfast. “Trout smells good girl, you seem to be home outdoors. Do you hunt alone all the time by yourself?” Jack asked. Celeste gave him a soft look with a smile. “I grew up in the woods, sir. It’s like my second skin. My grandfather helped me out a lot. He taught me everything I know in hunting; however, I do not use a gun. Only a bow an arrow, slingshot, and my knife.” “That is a good knife, where did you get it?” Jack inquired.
Celeste picked up the knife and smiled tenderly at it. “It’s my grandfather’s, it’s the only thing I own, that is his. In fact, I would move earth, to keep this knife…and yes, it’s gotten me in pickles, and out of them.” Jack watched her treasured the knife with love. That would explain the name he saw on the blade…above the stag horn. “You ready for breakfast sir…I think the fish is ready?” He smiled his toothless smile while taking a few more sips of the tea.
Celeste opened the lid to the pan, cut the fish in half and spooned out some mushrooms. Placing them on top of the his half portion of fish, then sprinkled a few berries on top of it. She handed the plate to Jack. “Beautiful, Hialeah! Smells good.” The old man started to gulp down the soft food. He was finished with his meal before Celeste ate a few bites of hers.
“Dude, why you wolfin down that food so fast? Your going to get a tummy ache, or catch a fish bone in your throat?” The man put down his plate not saying anything, and left her sitting on the ground, while he went to take a leak in the woods. When he returned to the fire, Celeste had to take a double look at the critter that followed Jack. Sure enough, she was right. It was a raccoon. She smiled at Jack while she watched the raccoon make tons of excited noise, while following him. When Jack sat back down, the coon jumped on his lap and curled up falling fast to asleep. She watched Jack pet the animal with love. “Boy if this isn’t a picture made in heaven. I would never think that you own a pet!”
“I don’t own nothing, he is free to come and go as he pleases. He keeps good company in the winter nights. But he is a rascal too, and I have to hide everything from him. I think he was the one who ate your fish.” Jack tickled the coons nose, then looked at the smiling Celeste who was in her own little world.
She remembered a time long ago as a little girl, her only friend was a raccoon, and a horse named Ghost. Such a long time ago, she thought…”I see an interesting story little one, would you care to share it?” Jack softly spoke out. Celeste nodded as a tear ran down her cheek. She began her story in a daze voice. A childhood tale, she never has shared with anyone, until now!
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