Three years after his passing Gary is still a big part of my everyday life, my inner world. Since then, changes in my world and in the world generally make those three years seem long. On one hand I half expect to find Gary next to me when my morning eyes open, so well do I remember his scent, the rough of his red beard, his laugh of delight, his teasing, warming presence. Yet some days I ask myself, has it been three years or four? So much has happened.

Gary and I meet Konall, April 2013

When I do awaken, it’s little Sundog’s scent, her fur and warmth I’ve been nestled up to; Ella warms my feet. Gary helped me start looking for “the second best pup in the world” in his last weeks (Ella is, as Gary often reminded her, the bestest pup in the widest world); Sunny joined us in October that year. Ella is still my guardian and constant companion; Sunny is our comic relief, but she’s also smart and sensitive, with great empathy.

Ella checks out Sundog’s potential as a playmate.

I now share Blue Moon Stead with Laura and Brian. It was Gary’s idea to seek out a couple to live here, and it has made my life better. Good friends and neighbors, they help me immensely. Another of Gary’s dreams has come true with Laura’s multi-species grazing – it’s a joy to see her sheep and bunnies, chickens and ducks, all eating the grass and weeds while laying down fertilizer.

That last spring we had together, Gary held the fort while I went through the Master Gardener program. I thought I would learn about plants, and I did. But I also made great good friends (including a whole contingent from Kodiak Island, AK), and through them other friends, and now feel very much part of the community here in the Columbia Gorge.

When I walk through the woods or sit by the pond, turn compost or pull weeds or plant crops in the high tunnel he almost finished, when I cook in the kitchen he designed, when I stop to watch the lambs romping and playing at sunset, find a new orchid or spectacular mushroom in the woods, or just hang laundry in the sun, my mind turns to Gary, my aunt Vee, my mom and dad, and others gone from me who made it possible for me to find myself, to find myself here.

Cabin amidst the trees from the paddle boat on Blue Moon Pond.