He used to own the coolie and ridge that ran past the creek that flowed into the lake. The property stopped before the graveyard. He planted it in vegetables and sold them at the road. He had turkeys and cows. It wasn’t much, I guess.
My father sold most of it for next to nothing. It was land that required hard work to be worth a damn. They kept the irrigation ditches clean to keep the garden going. They dug graves, always a couple extra in November before the ground froze. The family rode the wagon to Brown’s Beach for a picnic. Times were different back then.
In the late fall the Whitetail and Mulies used to come down to the shore. The bush was thick this side of high water. Willows and cigarette grass formed a wall before hills covered in bunch grass and lightning struck firs. The whitetail took cover in the tangle. Making them hard to see. Each year in late November, around the time the lake froze over, he would shoot one. Just to make sure.
When Heather died the hole was already dug. It was oversized but no one noticed. Handling the shovel I saw the veins on the back of my fathers hands. The creeks were clear and I remember a storm in the air. They were old hands. I used to think they looked strong.