|Once upon a time there was a crooked old man with gnarled fingers and old bony legs. Everyday he walked with his large brown dog, one mile down the steep hill from his house to the little store on the highway. He would buy groceries for supper and breakfast lunch the next day.
One day when he was half way down the hill it began to snow. By the time he reached the store his dog, Wolfen, began to whimper. The old man leaned over and scratched behind the dog's left ear. It was its favorite place to be scratched. He stopped whimpering.
When they reached the store the old man started to tie his dog outside to the newspaper rack.
"No need for that, Mo. There is no reason that he can't come inside with you."
In just a few minutes everything was covered with a thickening layer of snow.
Because of that,the old man was unsure just what to do. Until finally it became plain that walking up the hill would be an impossible feat for the old man. Falling
down would likely break his brittle bones.
Mathew, the proprietor and postmaster of the small post office attached to the store, said. "Mo sit down by the stove and stay warm while I get ready to close up before the snow gets so deep that even my jeep won't make it up to your house."
In a short time Matt had everything ready to close. The thick clouds overhead made it darker than normal for this time of year.
"I'll pull around front to pick up you and Wolfen." Matt went out the back door locking it with a loud snap as the bolt secured the door.
Mo stood by the door with his arms full of groceries. He had bought much more than usual because he knew it might be some time before he could come again.
"Are you sure you have enough to last several days, MO?"
"Yes" said Mo, knowing that the few coins in his pocket was all he had left until his social security check came next week.
Matt loaded the two bags of groceries into the back of the jeep Waggoneer.
"Mo," he said. "I know your check wont come till next week. I wouldn't feel right about you running out of supplies. Let's get you more groceries and a bag of dry and a few cans of food for Wolfen. I'll put you on the cuff till you get your check"
Mo stood with the cold wind hitting his face, his eyes filled with tears.
"I don't have any idea how to thank you," choking on the words.
Matt went inside and came out with two bags filled to the top with supplies.
"No thanks necessary, good neighbors take care of each other."
They got into the jeep. Wolfen had his head resting on Mo's knee.
"If the county hasn't plowed your road I'll have Jack Mueller plow it when he plows around the store."
They went up the very steep hill to the old log cabin that Mo lived in.
When they reached it Mo opened the door and both men carried groceries into the small kitchen.
"I'll put another log on the fire. Would you like a drink of home made whiskey? I make about three gallons a quarter. That way I stay legal and the Feds leave me alone."
Mo poured a generous shot into a jelly glass. "This is the fiftieth year I've been making my own liquor. Got it perfected now." He laughed.
"I thought you ate a lot of sugar," laughed Matt.
"I just make enough for my own use, and if a friend drops by I can give him a drink."
Matt raised the glass cautiously to his lips taking a small sip of the slightly amber liquid. "Wow, this is mild and very smooth."
"Mo chuckled, not too fast Matt, this is 180 proof, my grandfather's recipe."
They sat and talked for awhile. Finally Matt said, "Since you do not have a phone, I'll come by and check on you. Do you have enough wood?"
"Check out my woodpile beside the house. I work on building a good supply, a little at a time since I can't chop wood all day like I used to," Mo laughed.
"Really piling up fast, Mo. I need to get home and check on my wife and grand daughters."
Mo extended his gnarled hand, it was completely engulfed by big Matt's hand.
"Stay warm" they both said at once.
Wolfen followed Matt to the door but would not venture outside.
Soon the jeep left Mo's driveway. "Matt is a real friend," said Mo as he rubbed the dog's left ear.
The dog gave a little bark of agreement. Winter and silence descended on the ancient log cabin on the top of the hill.