Thursday, July 12, 2012

A World On Fire

Last year when we were in Cody, spring came very late and so did summer.
June and July were warm and sunny, but really hot weather did not happen until August and by the time we left in early September temperatures were already starting to cool.
This summer is different. 
Much much hotter, just as summer has been for most of the country.
For the first week we were here (only a few weeks ago even though it seems much longer) temperatures were in the mid-60's to low 70's.
Sunny, with clear skies, and perfect temperatures.
And then summer hit Cody hard - 90's reaching close to 100 degrees for days on end.
We again live in high desert plains, and the terrain that surrounds us clearly demonstrates that fact, with rainfall that is more often than not hard to come by.
Even by those drought-as-normal conditions, Cody has had almost record low rainfall.
BLM land immediately behind the house (and actually surrounding us in all directions) is dry, beige, desolate.
My proverbial Afghan-Pakistani border region......................

On one more very sunny, very hot and very dry early evening not long ago I took Jamie for a walk on the roads by the house.
No wandering on BLM land just yet because of the rattle snakes (LC shot one while we were four wheeling the other night).
So the roads will have to do until the nasties slither back into their holes once the weather finally cools down.
The picture above was taken right behind the house while looking out over Cedar Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain.
It was hard to find clear and unobscured views of the sunset when we lived in Tennessee because of the abundance of trees, but on top of a hill four miles outside the desolate town of Cody Wyoming, there are beautiful sunsets almost every night..............

I remember these from last summer.
Our neighbor calls them weeds and I suppose they are, but the dirt road on which we live is now bordered from one end to the other with small sunflowers.
They may be weeds but I like them.  As I write this I have a fistful of them sitting in a glass of water on top of the wood stove.....................
Turning left out of the driveway my dog peed and marked and sniffed her way to the end of the road.
This gravel and rutted out road where we live is flat close to the house, but at the end of the road it curves sharply and then drops down a steep hill before flattening out again..
At the top of the curve I stood looking out over the small valley that we now live in - that is surrounded by BLM land, irrigated pastures, homes, and Cedar, Rattlesnake, Carter and Heart Mountains - and ignored Jamie's impatient yanking of her leash.
She wanted to GO and I wanted to stop for a few moments to take in the scene around me.
I bent down and kissed her on top of her furry head and told her to "wait".
Finally and reluctantly, my sweet and beautiful old pup resigned herself to staying in one place for a few minutes, and patiently wandered as far as her leash would allow.
I looked out over Heart Mountain.  Looked at the "nose" and remembered the hike I had taken to the summit of Heart last summer.  I have actually stood on the Indian's nose:
I smiled inwardly for a moment, fondly remembering the hike I had taken, and the new hiking friend I had met on that day...................
Pictures of irrigated horse pastures close to the house...............
I heard voices and turned, curious to find the source of the unexpected noise that had pierced my quiet introspection.
I was surprised to see my Mountain Boy and my old neighbor walking down the road.
Smiling as they approached I realized that they had come to retrieve both woman and dog.
They wanted to go see Petey in his summer pasture and wanted to know if I wanted to see him as well.
I had not seen our resident foal since late last August.
I had watched him being born last April and now was eager to see just much he had grown....................
I do not know why, but the owner of the property that we are renting has horses scattered in three or four different summer pastures this year.
Petey and Smokey are located only a few minutes drive from the house.
They are both very friendly and immediately walked over to the fence to greet us (and to eat the horse treats we had brought with us).
Petey has grown so much since we left for Tennessee in early September last year, and from the small scars he has on his face and legs he obviously got into something (likely barbed wire) that he should not have.
Our neighbor told us that he became very difficult to handle once he got close to a year old, but has since been gelded and is much calmer now.
I guess getting his nuts cut off will do that to a horse.
A link to our foal's birth in late April last year.  Another one of those things that I had never seen before:

A few days later LC could not sleep one night, and took this picture of a red moon in a black sky.
Red from the smoke that has occasionally filled the sky over the past few weeks.
Colorado is on fire.
But fires have also consumed parts of other western states during this hot and very dry summer, including Wyoming.
In actuality we have been surrounded by fire ever since we arrived in Cody, and as I write this I believe that there are still six separate fires burning in this parched state.
I had never seen a red moon before.
Another first.................
The afternoon after LC took the picture of the red moon on a sleepless night I walked outside, looked up into the sky and was astonished to see the sun.
This picture is not a true representation of what I saw.
The sun was bright red behind a thick white and grey blanket of smoke.
Too many firsts in such a small period of time.
I grabbed my camera, grabbed my dog, and walked down the road to take some pictures of the plume of heavy smoke that was slowly making its way over Carter Mountain in the south and heading in our direction....................
Jamie was more interested in exploring the bushes than in the rapidly expanding band of smoke that was beginning to take over the entire sky above us....................
There are barn swallows that live in and around the house and that frequently nest in a corner of the roof of one of the barns on the property.
They are little dive bombers, and they zoom in and out of the small trees around the house, speeding past our heads and flying compulsively in and out of their nest.
One day last summer we unexpectedly found a baby bird on the hood of our truck, moved it eventually onto a pile of lumber, and I proceeded to fret over this little thing for hours while he sat silently in the hot sun and while I willed his mother to come retrieve him.
Another year, another summer, another nest..................
A couple more pictures of one fierce and beautiful sunset.
This picture was taken of a window of a storage building close to the house.
A reflection of Heart Mountain and a reflection of the sunset that was behind me in that moment....................
One final picture of Petey.................

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