Thursday, August 2, 2012

To Sit With A Dog

This morning I woke up to temperatures that were cooler than they have been in what seemed like a very long time
My sweet puppy Jamie has been restless for the past few days.  Wanting to walk, wanting to go outside frequently, constantly whining like a spoiled young child and annoying those who care for her and love her.
I haven't run, I haven't biked, I haven't walked very far in what seems like a very long time, and so this morning, on this cool morning, I wandered through the house getting ready to head out.
As usual, as she always does, my dog sensed that I was going somewhere and (most importantly) that she was going as well.
Excitedly she followed me from the bathroom to the bedroom to the closet as I got cleaned up and dressed, and then followed me (excitedly getting underfoot by this time) as I walked to the refrigerator to grab a bottle of water for my dog and for me to share on our trip.
By the time I grabbed a water bowl for her and stashed it deeply into my pack my furball was nearly hysterical and was bouncing around the house like a young puppy instead of the old dog that she actually is.
A kiss goodbye for LC and we two restless souls headed down the rutted out dirt and gravel surface that Cody has the nerve to refer to as a road.
It was a good day.  A quiet day.  And I was glad for the opportunity to be alone with only my thoughts and my dog.
These are pictures that I took of the area around my house, during the 4 mile or so walk that we took this morning.
Heart Mountain, which is (even in this high desert community that is surrounded by mountains) the defining land feature of Cody.
You cannot go anywhere in the city without this mountain (and the Indian profile that is its peak) dominating the landscape.
It is a beautiful mountain from a distance.  I walked to the very top of it (to the tip of the  abundant nose) one day last summer during the annual community hike, and Heart is even more beautiful up close:
The irrigated pasture land that makes up the fields that belong to the neighbors is still very green even though the area has been in drought conditions (even by Wyoming standards) for most of the year.
Last summer was much cooler than this summer has been.
We have had more days than not over the past month that have been in the 90's (many times the upper 90's).
Last summer temperatures were still moderate until August.
Much hotter this summer.  Much less rain this summer. 
Most of the homes in the immediate area range from nice to very fancy, and all of them are located on land ranging between 5 and 10 acres each.
More homes than not also have horses.  I love to see them because they are beautiful, intelligent, curious and friendly creatures.
But I am also surprised how few riders there actually are in this area.  It is almost as though they are keeping them as pets.
Regardless, I spent some time watching this small group of horses quietly grazing in the pasture down the road from us, enjoying the quiet and peacefulness of their movements and the way that they silently communed with each other...................
Although the sign humbly reads "Almosta Ranch" this piece of ground is actually very lovely.
It contains a couple of log homes, small ponds, home made wooden benches placed near the ponds for quiet reflection, a very narrow bridge crossing a large pond before reaching the two homes, and pastureland for the grazing horses...................
Views of the fast moving canal on both sides of the road................
For the first time in a few days I looked down at my exploring puppy and realized that she was a happy camper.
I was happy that she was happy after being vaguely annoyed with her for a few days, and I stood watching her amused (as I always am) at her ability to endlessly sniff, and mark and stick her nose curiously into the middle of every single sage bush that we pass.
Which is a lot of sage bushes.
Thankfully we made sure when we moved back to Wyoming to get her rattlesnake shots updated............
While waiting for James to lose interest in whatever was keeping us temporarily in one place I looked down at this bush and realized that I had no idea what it was...................
I have always liked this home very much. 
It contains a home that is partially embedded into the ground (which makes sense in a Wyoming sort of way - easier to heat, easier to cool, and lots of protection from the wind which can range wildly from light gusts to speeds higher than gale force winds.
The home, unlike many in this immediate area, looks as though it has been here for a long time.
Old barn, large mature trees, old and smaller building hidden behind the trees.
The home is lovely, and the pastures that are included as part of the property are also beautiful and contain outstanding views of the mountains..
The pastures last year were always filled with deer either grazing on the wide variety of grasses, or sitting in the shade beside the trees.
We have seen almost no deer in these pastures since we arrived back here, and often wonder where they have gone.
Does it have anything to do with the coyotes that we hear howling on BLM land almost every night nowadays, and that we did not hear last year??............
At the end of our road Jamie and I turned left and began to walk down one more road, headed towards an entrance to BLM land.
Although I don't like to be on BLM land this time of year because of the abundance of rattlesnakes, I used to run this route last summer and knew that at the end of the road we were now on, the BLM entrance was simply a very long and wide open dirt road.
We could walk it easily without having to worry too much about snakes.
Within a few minutes of turning onto this second road I pulled Jamie into the shade of a long hedge row, sat down, pulled off my pack, and reached inside my pack for Jamie's bowl and water.
It was not overly hot, but it was very warm and I knew that pup would be thirsty.
Eagerly she drank a little but quickly lost interest, and seemed satisfied to sit beside me in the shade for a few minutes before we continued on.
These antlers were located near the mailbox to the same house, whose hedges we were using to rest and cool down.....................
Just to the right of the antlers was this well-known Wyoming icon..................
I remembered this guy from last year, because he is so Wyoming, so cute, so whimsical.
This very wonderful wooden cut-out was located on the side of a home-made camper that was sitting alongside the driveway of someone's home.
Too cute...............
Down at the opposite end of the road there are many new homes.
They are very large and expensive homes, but for my personal taste they are far too pretentious and far too busy - many with 10 or more gables in the front of the house.
Too many angles.  People trying just a little too hard.
This home, located at the end of the road and the last home before entering BLM land, is one of my favorites...............
This road is located on BLM land, and is wide enough to not be concerned about encountering rattle snakes during our walk in the middle of a hot and very dry summer.
Carter Mountain was located at my 2, Heart Mountain was behind me, and directly in front of me lay thousands and thousands of acres of empty public lands.
When I ran last year I ran on the BLM land behind the house, until my first unarmed encounter with a very large and coiled rattlesnake.
It was my first ever encounter with such a beast, and I resolved in that moment that I would stay on dirt roads close to the house until the weather cooled and the snakes disappeared to wherever snakes disappear to when it is cold.
I used to run down this road frequently last summer.
The last time I was here was late last August...............
As James and I slowly and leisurely walked down the middle of this traffic-less dirt road I looked to my left, wondering if I would run into the Spirit Horse.
Jamie and I had joyfully run into him both in the winter when we were last here, and then again early in the summer last year.
I searched the pastures and then scanned the hills on this side of the canal, looking for him this morning, but was disappointed to not find him.
Our encounters in the past with this one very lovely horse:
Endless rows of bright yellow flowers line country roads throughout the region right now.
My neighbor calls them weeds.
I call them beautiful................

A view of the hills directly behind our house, from a different vantage point a couple of miles away................
As we approached the first of three cattle guards we would cross during our quiet walk I wondered briefly if Jamie would balk at the spaces between the rails.
If she did, there was a way for both of us to walk around the gate altogether and not have to deal with it, but when she approached it my dog simply stopped walking for a second to review the obstacle in front of her, and then quickly realized that she could walk along the edge of the rail................
We were both paralleling the irrigation canal that follows the dirt road for a couple of miles before coiling and winding its way through pastures in the valley.
BLM land is not as green as it was last year because of little rain we have had this year, but close to the channel there is much green.
I soon learned last year to identify where rivers and streams and ponds and the channel were.  If there are trees and grass and green there is water.  If there is nothing but brown and low, dry grasses there is no water.
I can still not get used to driving around the area and seeing green and lush on one side of the road and dry and dead on the other.  An irrigated pasture vs land that is not irrigated and not in use..................
As we continued further I was tempted a couple of times to veer off the wide open road so that we could head onto one single track trail or another that would take us further onto BLM land, but I quickly caught myself and remembered the snakes.
James and I stopped at this bridge before turning back and heading towards home again.
I stood on the bridge taking pictures of the canal and then looked at the mountains around me, liking what I saw.
The world was a quiet place and even though my head did not mirror that quiet, I was glad to be where I was anyway.
Standing in the middle of a bridge, in the middle of quiet public lands, surrounded by hills and mountains, with my dog..............
After crossing the bridge I pulled my sweet girl close to me, made her sit with me in the middle of the dirt trail, and she enthusiastically followed my movements as I pulled off my pack, pulled out her bowl, and poured water from my water bottle into her bowl.
We both drank water for a couple of minutes before packing everything back up and heading back the way we had come..................
As I stood up from the dirt trail I saw these flowers, had no idea what the heck they were, but instantly wondered if they were the same plant I had taken a picture of closer to the house earlier in our walk.
Similar leaves...........maybe.............
More pictures of the house I had photographed earlier - the one with the old barn, the house half buried in the ground, the trees, the beautiful pastures looking out over Carter Mountain....................
The back side of the barns on the property that we are renting, high on the hill................
Jamie had started our walk by pulling hard on her leash.
A dog with too much energy to burn, and too much excitement to contain in one little 48 pound hairy body.
By the time we had climbed back up the hill and were only a couple of minutes from the house she was walking beside me, tired out with tongue hanging from her mouth.
Momma had walked the puppy down.
Which had been the whole idea all along.
The horses that live at the end of the road, and as always when looking towards the south, Carter Mountain in the background...................
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace...............Milan Kundera

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