During breaks in her determined building of shelves, Vivian Montgomery would relax with glass of white wine on her front deck. It was commonplace to see Jake fussing around his cabin across the valley. She didn’t know what he doing because it was too far away, she just knew that he was rarely doing nothing. The only thing that seems out of place was a visit one afternoon from a couple of guys on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Their black leather garb wore patches that Viv assumed were club identities. They skillfully managed the steep decent to Jake’s cabin, carefully set their kickstands and greeted Jake with swift man-hugs.
When the shelves were done and lacquered, Vivian immediately began work of a rather large shed. She intended for it to provide winter storage for the lawn tractor, the push mower, the generator, the motorcycle and sundry other parts and equipment. One day, as she was building the frame for the shed, she noticed Jake trudging down the dirt road around the lake edge, in the direction of Viv’s cabin. She continued to drive screws into the two-by-six frame members, and kept a surreptitious eye on the woodsman.
As Jake grew closer, she could see that he carried a large backpack, and from the way he walked, she guessed it was heavy. She began to plan a greeting for when he arrived, when he surprised her and stepped off the road long before he got close to her property. Vivian was puzzled. She’d never noticed a path through the forest there, and Jake had disappeared in just a few seconds, so dense was the foliage.
As work on the shed progressed over the next few weeks, she saw Jake every week, on random days, go into the forest with the burden on his back. One day, Vivian stood at her window sipping coffee because of the heavy rain that was pounding down. She thought it too peculiar when she saw Jake on the road with his backpack. The dirt road was a mass of deep mud, and the man was obviously uncomfortable, slogging with heavy, mud clung boots until he turned off into the forest.
Vivian decided that this was the time to find out what’s going on. She felt the need for a little diversion anyway, and hurriedly slipped into her camo-coloured coat. She half-ran, half-slid down the road to find Jake’s footprints where he stepped off the road before the rain obliterated them. When she found them, they were almost gone, but the big, muddy boot-prints on the matted foliage were clear.
The sound of the rain beating on the trees and foliage drowned out the sound of her clumsy footsteps, and the sound of Jake’s footsteps to her. When she estimated the time it took her to get on his trail, Vivian realized he was quite a distance ahead. She hurried along the barely visible trail. It was really only recognizable by the flattened undergrowth, surrounded as it was by thick, erect foliage.
In spite of the thickly overcast sky, as she scrambled along Jake’s trail Viv could see some areas ahead where more light shone through the treetops. Her flared nostrils caught the scent of wild marijuana. She crept closer, and saw Jake, his backpack on the ground, open as he took out plastic soda bottles filled with some liquid, and some packages of some dark material. He began to tend certain plants among the trees with the dark material and the liquid. The plants seemed to be all around, among the trees rather than grouped together.
Vivian lost sight of Jake after a few minutes, and wanted to get home fast. She was soaked through, her hair was strung down over her face, and she felt terrible. She made her way along the narrow trail between maple trees until her right arm was suddenly caught in a mighty grip.