He had not been thinking of death that morning when he came out of the woods and into the higher meadow, stopping to rest on a rough boulder. Out of the trees, the snow and the light were set to bake him, so he had stowed his parka and mittens in his pack and then stripped down to his shirtsleeves, wrapping his woolen sweater around his waist. Already two hours from home, he was making good time. He had kept the pack light. Two new wolf traps, some files and tools, a knife, a length of chain, cord, a bottle of whiskey.

There was enough snow that he could have run the dogs, but he was not sure he would have the opportunity to do the line on foot again before spring; more snow was coming soon, and Patrick was glad for it. He was in love with the snow, even on a day like this, when the weather was not fully ready to give in to winter, when the branches hung heavy with a steady drip, drip, drip of melt. The wind had started to turn, though, and he knew that by nightfall the temperature would drop.

People on couch
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