Thirty five year old Ann was a lovely slender brunette with shoulder length hair. She had been working at the University library in the city but took a summer job watching sheep in a mountain valley. She loved the mountains and hated the city. Ann did not fit in with city life, at least with the city crowd her age. She would love to find a job in the mountains so she could live there year around.
She lived in a camp trailer at the end of what was often referred to as "Hidden Valley". The valley was once the home to a small community of miners, loggers and farmers. Everyone eventually moved out of the valley and into one of the larger mountain communities where they could have electricity and access to better highways, jobs and shopping. The abandoned valley was eventually bought by a wealthy sheep rancher down in the valley to use as a summer grazing pasture for his sheep. It had lush green pastures, surrounded by steep pine covered hillsides. A flowing stream ran through the valley year around.
It was about a half hour drive down dirt roads to town and Ann would make the trip about once a week for supplies. She soon discovered the solitude turned into loneliness. The sheep offered some companionship but she longed to be able to hold a real conversation with an adult.
On her first trip to town she spotted a harmonica in the general store. She decided to buy it and see if she could learn to play it during the long empty days in the valley. Her little trailer was parked beneath a grove of oak trees at the far end of the valley. A small stream ran nearby in which she would bathe. She spent most of her days outside reading while keeping a watchful eye and ear on the flock of sheep. There was always the danger of a mountain lion and she kept a loaded rifle nearby.
As far as Ann knew no one was aware of her presence in the valley. The nearest house was several miles away. Occasionally she could hear a logging crew off in the distance. Still, Ann felt a sense of comfort having the rifle nearby just in case some scoundrel discovered her presence and meant to harm her.
While Ann loved the mountains and the solitude, the double facts of loneliness and fear made her wish to have someone around, preferably a man. Ann had plenty of offers for dates when she lived in the city but she never found anyone with whom she felt comfortable developing a long-term relationship. Nor did her love for books make her a fun date. While her dates preferred the party life, Ann preferred to stay-at-home and read.
Ann loved music, especially the old folk songs. She was able to pick up some of the stronger radio stations down in the valley but the music they played was not her favorite style. Therefore the harmonica appealed to Ann because she could try to play her style of music. She did not find it as easy as she thought to be able to learn to play her new instrument. It would have been better if she had some instruction book.
Ann noticed there were numbers engraved on the cover plates over the holes. She had no idea what they were for. She could blow and draw into several holes at once but could not get a clear single note. She noticed that when she blew into two or three holes down on the low-end of the harmonica she would play a series of pleasant sounding notes. They were all in harmony. Then when she sucked in the same holes the notes changed to a higher pitch. Yet she noticed that when she played a few holes on the upper end of the harmonica the pattern was reversed. The blow notes were higher than the draw notes. She had no idea why this was so and she suspected that she probably would never know.
Ann played around with her harmonica for about an hour each day. She tried to play tunes with which she was familiar and sometimes she put together a few notes that sounded like they might be a real song. Most of the time Ann was making up tunes. It would have been more rewarding if she were able to play some of the songs she knew, but for now she was just getting the feel for her harmonica.
Much of Ann's time was spent fixing her meals. The trailer had a propane stove and refrigerator. She had two small propane tanks and when one would run out she would take it with her into town on her weekly shopping trip and have it filled. She had always cooked her own meals in the city but usually in a rush because of her work schedule. Now she had more time and used a cookbook to create some interesting dishes. The problem was that most of the recipes were for 2 to 4 people which meant that she had to eat her creations for several meals regardless of how they turned out. Again, Ann wished for someone to share her meals and beautiful life in the mountains.
Ann spent several days wandering around Hidden Valley exploring old abandoned buildings. There were no buildings that looked like they could have been stores. However, there was one building that she was certain to be a church, possibly used for community meetings and maybe even a school. Ann found some old hymnals in a bookshelf and some newspapers dated 1939.
Most of the buildings were abandoned houses or barns. Doors were missing, windows were broken, cobwebs were everywhere. Fences were laying over on the ground. Windmills had long since become useless. Trees and brush had begun to reclaim the once lush pasture of the valley.
The new owner of the valley had started restoring the valley by putting up a fence at the far end of the valley for his sheep. He had not yet begun to tear down the existing buildings. He would probably wait for winter so he could burn them down. Ann hated to see what remained of this community go up in flames. But she couldn't blame the owner. He needed to make it suitable for his sheep. Until then Ann wanted to find out as much about the history of this community before it was lost forever.