Friday, August 19, 2011

Princess

Even though it is only mid-August Fall is gradually and predictably and already making its way to Cody Wyoming.
The days are shorter and now by 9pm it is already pitch dark outside.
I have thought many times this past summer about the summer I spent up in Juneau.
It was very cold much of the time. 
And very wet much of the time. 
And the days were very long.
Before leaving Tennessee I wondered if I would have trouble sleeping in the almost 24 hour daylight of the Alaska summer.
When I could finally shove all-consuming thoughts of work out of my head I found that the daylight did not keep me awake.
But almost every day throughout the long summer up there I would wake up around 3am.
I would inevitably sit bolt upright and inevitably my first thought would be that the alarm had not gone off and that I had overslept.
I would look over at the digital clock and every night (morning actually) would be surprised when I saw that it was only 3 o'clock. 
Now here in Cody it is dark by 9pm and still dark at 5am and 24 hour days are a thing of the past.
When I hiked up Cedar Mountain with two local school teachers last month they told me that by mid-August everything in Cody would be brown again.
They were right.
Whatever colors we saw throughout June and July have now returned to beige and brown.
Leaves are still on the trees and pastures are still being irrigated so there is still much green remaining.
But every day Summer is leaving this place a little more.
LC and I watched from the front yard yesterday morning as three flocks of geese, one immediately after the other, flew overhead and traveling south.
Deer are roaming more and bucks are everywhere, staying close to the females.
Few and hardy wild flowers such as sunflowers are the last remaining flowers to bloom in the sandy and dusty and sage filled soil of public lands that surround the town.
Summer is beginning to leave................

I walked with Jamie briefly last night and to the south and west the sky was red.
After returning to the house I grabbed my camera and snapped the picture above.
It is a scene that plays out every night over Carter Mountain in the south and this picture was taken from our back yard.
Red sky at night sailors delight...............

This morning LC had errands to run and I had groceries to buy and so we traveled in separate trucks with me taking demanding Princess.
I have not walked with Jamie much over the past couple of days so decided on the spur of the moment to walk her on Colters Hell Trail located close to Wal-Mart on the outskirts of town.
A quick blurb about Colters Hell:

Lewis & Clark Expedition member John Colter returned to the mountains in 1807 with the Lisa-Drouillard fur-trading expedition. He discovered the bubbling mudpots and spewing geysers along the Shoshone River here in what later became Cody, but people didn't believe him at first, joking that it was "Colter's Hell." A walking trail with markers now memorializes Colter's discovery of the active geological activity here at the gateway to Yellowstone National Park.

After reading that, I suddenly realized that I may have found the answer to an unexpected find that I encountered while hiking Cedar Mountain last month.
From the highway you can't see them, but from atop Cedar Mountain huge holes in the ground can be seen in this same area.
A picture of the holes in the blog post about the hke:

Even though I thought I had found my answer I was also truthfully uninspired and unexcited to hike this little trail.
Flat, gravel filled, sage and cactus filled, treeless, close to town and civilization.
As I headed towards the trail head with James I decided that it would simply be a hike for my dog who greatly needed to walk and explore, and that was very OK.
The trail head was located just off the highway that led out of town, out to Wapiti and the North Fork and the Shoshone National Forest and ultimately out to Yellowstone.................
Within only a minute of arriving I saw a sign indicating that no dogs were allowed on the trail so realized that we would not be walking on Colters Hell Trail after all.
OK.
I saw the paved walkway leading towards the rodeo grounds and headed in that direction.
My dog was a very happy camper and enthusiastically set the pace as we set off on our grand adventure.
And because my dog was a very happy camper I was as well.............
The paved walkway lasted for only a couple of minutes and I unexpectedly found a gravel trail that cut directly in between two of Cody's biggest tourist landmarks - the rodeo grounds to my left and Trail Town to my right.
A link to the first part of a three part blog on our exciting journey through Trail Town not long before the tourists hit town:
The ever-present and always beautiful Heart Mountain............
The back side of Trail Town..........
The Cody Rodeo Grounds with Cedar Mountain on the left and Rattlesnake Mountain on the right side of the picture................
We wandered, I pictured, Jamie smelled and marked and satisfied her curious self about this new place.
There was nothing challenging about the walk but it WAS good to be outside on a cooler and very beautifully sunny day with my dog..............
As James and I headed back to the truck I stopped for a few minutes to read these signs that provided historical and geological information about the Colters Hell Trail area.
If you click once or twice on each picture they will enlarge............
For the Love of Princess by Tiffin Shewmake

“You are going too fast,” Mrs. Leach said, tapping the back of the cab’s seat with her umbrella.
The cab driver looked at his passenger in the mirror, she scowled back with a look as heavy as her dark wool suit. He should have recognized that she would be trouble and ignored her raised arm. Old bag, he thought but kept quiet since any answer he gave would be wrong.
“What’s happening?” Mrs. Leach demanded when the cab slowed several minutes later, blocked by one of the few horse drawn milk wagons that still delivered in New York City. “We will never get anywhere at this pace, go around.”
When the driver ignored her command, Mrs. Leach thrust her umbrella over the seat and attempted to blow the horn with the sharp tip. The maneuver caused the cab to swerve up on the sidewalk, over a graying pile of snow, and around the wagon.
“You do that again, and I will put you out,” the driver said. Mrs. Leach, magnanimous in her victory, did not reply but sat back with a satisfied smile on her face.
The rest of the ride passed unpleasantly as Mrs. Leach kept up a stream of comments “too fast, too slow, watch that ice, that street would have been faster.” With relief, the driver finally pulled over to a shabby undistinguished brownstone in a tired-looking neighborhood. As Mrs. Leach stepped out cabby said, “That will be two dollars.”
Mrs. Leach stared. “Surely, you don’t expect payment. That ride took twice as long as necessary; I know when I am being cheated.”
Furious, the driver jumped out onto the sidewalk. He was a small man, Mrs. Leach was a head taller but without hesitation he grabbed her arm and demanded his money. His voice, shrill with anger, attracted the attention of passersby, some of whom stopped to watch.
The door of the brownstone opened a crack and a man about the size of the driver peered out. A large German Shepherd suddenly pushed him and ran out the door. “Princess,” the man said softly. “You come back here, come back?”
Princess ignored the man. She raced in front of Mrs. Leach and snarled at the driver, her hackles raised.
“Oh Princess,” sighed Mrs. Leach, reaching out to the dog. Princess looked up. Her snarl gone, ears flattened lovingly, and tail wagging slightly. Mrs. Leach’s mouth softened as she stroked Princess’ head and murmured softly into the dog’s ear.
“All I want is what is rightfully mine!” the driver said loudly as he stood up, having noticed a policeman coming down the block. “And you sic this vicious dog on me.” Mrs. Leach and Princess glared at the driver. “You shut up or Princess will tear your head off,” she said, just as the policeman arrived.
Officer Dillon ignored Mrs. Leach except to tell her to be quiet and asked the driver to explain what was going on. He listened carefully to the driver’s story, nodding in agreement, and looking coldly at Mrs. Leach as the driver described her use of the umbrella in the cab.
When it was Mrs. Leach’s turn to explain, she accused the cab driver of numerous wrongs, and the patrolman of favoritism and incompetence. To emphasize her final point that the cabby’s license should be revoked, Mrs. Leach, who had been gesturing in the Patrolman’s face, pushed him on the shoulder. This action caused Princess to bark and show her teeth.
Fortunately for Officer Dillon, another policeman soon arrived, because it took the two of them to convince Mrs. Leach that since she was being arrested for disorderly conduct, she had no choice but to come with them. The Bergen Street Station was only a few blocks away, so the police decided to walk her down. Mr. Leach watched the episode from the brownstone’s doorway and declined to accompany them to the station, saying that he might come down later. Princess ignored his call and followed the group down the street, keeping a safe distance from the police.
Lieutenant John Lonergan was on duty that day, sitting at the large oak desk that dominated the main room of the station. The desk was positioned in the middle of the room on a raised platform, giving the Lieutenant a clear view of the front door.
Officer Dillon had to simultaneously hold the door open, shove Mrs. Leach in and block Princess with his leg. Finally he managed to pull the door closed in the dog’s face and stumble into the station behind Mrs. Leach. He was furious at her for making him look like a fool in front of the Lieutenant.
“What have we here?” the Lieutenant asked in a harsh tone. Dillon looked forward to seeing him deal with Mrs. Leach. The Lieutenant seemed to enjoy the discomfort of women when they were charged and often went out of his way to make them miserable.
But Mrs. Leach did not appear to be suffering. She stood straight before the Lieutenant. “Tell your filthy little patrolmen to get his hands off of me and to arrest the right person, that wretched cab driver. And furthermore,” she said, pointing at Dillon, “he is incompetent. And he laid his hand on me and on my dog. I want to press charges against him.”
It was clear that the Lieutenant was not going to have the pleasure of watching Mrs. Leach squirm. If a woman was scared enough, like the lady who actually wet herself, he sometimes let them go. But Mrs. Leach attitude ensured that she would be fully prosecuted. The Lieutenant booked her, making a careful note that she was carrying 26 dollars when she refused to pay the driver and had not restrained her dog. He ordered her held until her husband picked her up.
“I want my dog with me,” Mrs. Leach demanded.
“It’s against the rules,” the Lieutenant replied. “Besides, you’re lucky I don’t order that dog taken away for viciousness.”
As Mrs. Leach was led to the holding cell, a low moaning began outside the station. The moaning stopped and then howling started.
“What’s going on out there?” the Lieutenant asked.
“It’s the lady’s dog,” Officer Dillon explained. “The one that tried to get in here.”
“Get rid of it. Take it to the shelter,” the Lieutenant commanded.
Officer Dillon cautiously approached Princess, repeating “nice doggie” in what he hoped was a coaxing voice. Princess stood her ground and snarled slightly. When he was an arm’s length away, Dillon lunged for Princess’ collar. She jumped, and the Patrolman, off balance from of his protruding beer gut, landed on his face. Princess resumed howling.
Officer Dillon called for help and two other cops joined in the effort. Princess stood her ground until the three were almost on top of her and then jumped gracefully over a patch of ice on the sidewalk. Two cops went down. The third, a large slow moving man, managed to stop just before the ice. Princess ran past the Lieutenant, who was watching from the doorway, and into the station, disappearing into the Captain’s office.
Princess was now in a position of strength. Her back was protected and anyone trying to grab her had to get down at her level, eye to eye with her teeth. The cops milled around the desk after their first attempt to pull her out was met with snarling, lunging, and growling. “The Captain will be back at any moment,” someone said. Princess started howling again. “Get that woman in here,” the Lieutenant commanded.
Patrolmen Dillon came back alone from the holding cell, “She won’t help unless the dog can go in the cell with her,” he said. At that moment, a policeman yelled from out front, “The Captain’s coming.” The Lieutenant quickly decided that, rules or no rules, the dog could go in the cell.
With a single command, Princess ran happily to Mrs. Leach and they walked proudly back to the cell.
Late that afternoon Mr. Leach arrived and paid the bail.
Mrs. Leach strode out of the cell, Princess by her side. In the squad room, she jerked her arm away from the policeman who was guiding her. “Get your nasty hands off of me,” she said. “Lieutenant, keep your men away from us, or I will file a complaint.”
The Lieutenant was tempted to add charges to the complaint against Mrs. Leach but decided not to keep her in the station any longer than necessary. “You are scheduled to appear at the Gates Avenue Court this Friday at 10 am. If you do not appear or are late, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. Do you understand?” the Lieutenant said.
“I’ll come to your stupid little court,” Mrs. Leach replied as she left, “and Princess will be with me.”
Judge Canfield was proud of his reputation as a hard judge and his sentences were often the maximum. But at least he was fair, and unlike many New York judges, especially older ones, he still listened to the evidence in each case and tried to put his personal feelings aside. Still, defense attorneys avoided his court because, as one had joked, “you really had to be innocent to get off in Canfield’s court.”
The Judge ran his court on a tight schedule and tolerated no outbursts. That Friday had started badly when a drunk, not even sobered by a night in jail, fell in the courtroom and cut his head. The cut was shallow but bled copiously and cleaning up had delayed the docket. This irritated the Judge and his temper worsened when the defendant for the next case did not appear.
“Mrs. Leach,” the clerk called out again. “Mrs. Elizabeth Leach.”
“Are you set to go, Mr. Montrose?” the Judge asked the Prosecutor, a young man who could have passed for a high school student.
“Yes, I am your honor,” he replied.
“And is the defendant’s attorney here?” the Judge asked.
“No your honor, it appears that the defendant is representing herself.” The Prosecutor answered.
How unfortunate, the Judge thought. Defendants who represented themselves were usually impossibly arrogant or crazy but either way, they interfered with the process. The Judge started to issue a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Leach but paused when he heard yelling outside the courtroom. Then the door flung open, and in strode Mrs. Leach, Princess by her side, just as she had said. Trailing Mrs. Leach and Princess were several uniformed security guards, still shouting, “you can’t bring a dog in here.”
Mrs. Leach turned around, put a white gloved hand on the guard’s shoulder and gave him a light push, “Shut up.”
The Judge slammed down his gavel. Everyone turned, eager to see how the Judge would bring this woman to order.
The Judge paused, gavel in the air. If that dog wasn’t a spitting image of Jessie. Jessie, dead now for five years, the only creature that had ever loved him. Certainly he had not received love from his distant parents. He supposed that his wife Hattie had loved him at one time, or thought that she did, but she was so vague about life it was hard to tell. She had run off with a car salesman, and although he didn’t particularly miss her, the abandonment had caused him deep personal and professional humiliation. Not from his children, who had never liked him because he acted like a judge at home. They rarely visited. But Jessie had lived to be by his side.
This dog had the same head as Jessie, erect ears, bright intelligent eyes and the same attractive pattern of black and tan. And it was clear, that like Jessie, this dog was completely devoted to her owner. He thought back to Jessie. He had walked Jessie every morning and evening, and was acquainted with a half dozen other dog owners, the lady with the ill-mannered Airedale, the gentleman with two Dachshunds, and the old lady with the look alike hairy mutt, whose beard was stained and matted. At home, he and Hattie barely spoke, not from anger but because they had nothing to say to each other. But outside he chatted with the other dog owners about dogs, the weather, and bits and pieces of their lives. Then, like now, his life was devoted to the courtroom and the law. But then, Jessie had been a source of warmth in his life. Now he lived alone, dined alone and spent his evenings alone. He had always thought that Jessie could never be replaced and had never looked for another dog.
“The dog can stay,” the Judge ordered. “Be seated and let’s start.” Mrs. Leach sat down at the defendant’s table. Princess sat in the middle of the aisle where she could see the Judge. She sat very straight and after giving the prosecutor a hard look, focused on the Judge.
“Mrs. Leach, are you sure that you do not want an attorney?” the Judge asked, hoping she would change her mind.
“Bloodsuckers,” she mumbled. “No I don’t need any attorney. I . . .” She paused, and looked expectantly at the Judge as if waiting to be silenced. But his attention was on Princess and the way she wagged her tail every time Mrs. Leach spoke.
So Mrs. Leach continued her abuse, “they are bigger crooks than the clients, just like these slimy police, why. . . “
“Enough,” the Judge said, “A simple yes or no is sufficient, and any more name calling and I will find you in contempt of court.”
Mrs. Leach made an irritable “Humph” that caused Princess to slide closer. She reached over and gently licked Mrs. Leach’s hand.
Such a devoted dog, the Judge thought. Princess deserved a nicer owner. Not that Mrs. Leach didn’t care for the dog; clearly she was devoted to Princess. But her unpleasant nature would wear away at the best tempered of dogs. He had seen many “Mrs. Leaches” in his time on the bench. He had never been able to figure out why some people became so mean but they often ended up in front of a Judge. Princess was still a nice dog but Mrs. Leach would turn her into a mean one. The Judge decided that this should not happen.
Mrs. Leach pled not guilty to the charges and because this was a preliminary hearing, the only other step was to set a trial date. But the Judge had other plans.
“Mrs. Leach,” the Judge ordered. “Please approach the bench.”
“What do you want? She asked suspiciously.
“Just come here.”
“Mrs. Leach,” the Judge said, holding up a folder. “I see that you have a number of arrests and convictions. Let’s see, disorderly conduct, misdemeanor assault, eating on the subway, and striking an officer. Because of these multiple convictions, the punishment for this current incident may be quite severe.”
“None of those are my fault,” Mrs. Leach explained. “New York is full of rude, dishonest people. I just try to get along but when someone like that cab driver tries to cheat me, well I stand up for myself.”
“Quiet,” the Judge ordered. “Hear me out. If you insist that you are not guilty, you will have a trial and it will be before me. And make no mistake, you will be found guilty. At that time, you will receive the maximum sentence, which is a $500 fine and six months in jail. Furthermore, Princess will be taken away as a vicious animal, she has threatened several people. Vicious animals are not adopted, it will be the end of Princess.”
Mrs. Leach paled, she clutched Princess and whispered “No, not my Baby.”
“But there is an alternative,” the Judge continued. “If you plead guilty, I doubt that you will serve any time and you will have the opportunity to keep Princess. However, you must follow the sentence I give you to the letter.”
Mrs. Leach didn’t look happy but now her scowl was touched with fear. She clutched at Princess’ collar, as she changed her plea to guilty.
“Ah,” said the Judge happily, noticing how Princess’ alert expression was just like Jessie’s had been. “Listen carefully because if you do not abide by all of the terms of this sentence, you will get the full fine, jail time, and Princess’ removal. Do you understand?”
Mrs. Leach’s face darkened but she managed to choke out “yes.”
“For the next year, you must have no more incidents or arrests. Second, you must visit the court everyday for a short but pleasant chat with me and my staff. You may bring Princess. Third, you must apologize to the police at the Bergen Street Station, and bring a cake and greetings to each patrolman on his birthday. I suggest that you do not bring Princess. Finally, every month, you must write a letter to me telling me how you made someone else happy. This can be from a smile, a pleasant conversation, or a bit of help. If you fail in any of these measures, the full sentence will be imposed and Princess taken away. Do you understand?”
Mrs. Leach looked beaten, and her shoulders slumped as she left the courtroom, Princess at her side. The Judge cheerily called out, “See you tomorrow” and thought with pleasure of Princess’ visit the next day.

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