Silver lining (n.): A hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty
Brooke turned her John Deere green mustang through the gate and onto the narrow dirt road. Her GPS had lost her location ten miles ago, she was tired, hungry, had gotten two speeding tickets on the drive up, and she seriously hoped that she was in the right place, in more ways than one.
She had to give it to Claire, this place was definitely beautiful. Heart-shaped leaves of green fluttered in the breeze, suspended on the graceful branches of the aspen trees from which they hung. There were so many aspens that the white bark of the trunks with their darkened scars reminded Brooke of one of MC Escher’s tessellations. Each trunk forming a pattern with the next until she couldn’t tell where one ended and the next began. Above the trees the sky was cloudless and an unbelievable shade of blue. She rolled down the windows and let the brisk mountain air fill her lungs. Dart stuck his head out of the passenger window and took in deep breaths of the air, too, as if trying to take in every scent at once.
They drove for another quarter of a mile before the trees opened themselves to reveal a small dilapidated cabin set in a flat sea of grass.
“So this is The Silver Lining. Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
In the months since she’d left vet school Brooke had run an emotional gamut. She had gone from devastation to relief and back again. Now she was taking a gamble on a dream and she desperately hoped that the business venture she and Claire were about to embark on would not lead her to more disappointment. The way things had fallen into place for the purchase of the land was almost too good to be true and Claire claimed it could be nothing other than God’s plan. On what had seemed like a million bus rides that Claire had taken while coaching she had formed a friendship with the bus driver. Lewis was ex-Navy and had the faded tattoos to prove it. He had also grown up on a ranch in the mountains of New Mexico, near Cloudcroft, that his great-great granddaddy had homesteaded. He still owned the land and would go there when he got free time. Real estate developers had been bugging him for years to sell but sentimentality and stubbornness had kept him from making profit on his ancestral home by selling to “those money hungry leaches”. Instead, he had offered it to Claire for a pittance with the stipulation that he be able to come out whenever he wished. He seemed both pleased to help Claire with her dream and relieved to not have to fight with the developers personally anymore.
Now, here Brooke sat in front of a ramshackle cabin ten miles from a neighbor and twenty miles from the nearest town. Her future lay in The Silver Lining, a retreat consisting of five yet-to-be-built yurts that would be rented to vacationers looking for a rustic mountain escape, a lodge, and stables. Being the consummate pet lovers that they were, Brooke and Claire had decided to gear their retreat toward those that shared their love. Dogs and horses were welcome and even encouraged. Trails would be marked, and guided rides and hikes would be offered for those that didn’t care to venture out on their own. There were lots of wrinkles that needed to be ironed out, but for the first time in four years Brooke felt a tingle of excitement.
Excitement quickly turned to exasperation as Brooke struggled to set the cabin to rights. Not only had years of neglect taken its toll on the wooden structure, but Lewis had apparently been using the cabin as a catch-all. The living room, kitchen, bathroom, and single bedroom were packed wall to ceiling with any manner of junk. ‘One person’s trash may be another’s treasure’ and all that, but Brooke was thinking maybe the whole place should just be torched and save her the trouble of the treasure hunt. A full week of sorting, cleaning, and hauling had resulted in a spotless cabin, but all the junk from inside was now out, and the lovely meadow rivaled the yard in Sanford and Son. Hands on her hips and hair in her face, Brooke surveyed the mess before her.
“Well, Dart, do we take a break and wait on Claire to get here, or do we forge on?”
Head cocked to the side and tail wagging, Dart looked up at her with a doggy smile.
“Right, we forge on.”
With the decision made Brooke grabbed her purse and she and Dart headed into town to find someone who might be willing to haul off the refuse in The Silver Lining’s front yard.