My dog had been restless for a few days, and as I watched her all day wander around the house and wander to the door looking for excuses to be outside, I realized that I had not walked my sweet mutt for far too many days.
Jamie is about 12 1/2 years old now, but she is still a healthy and active pup.
Used to walking often and walking far with me, only now not so much.
Guiltily I watched her wander aimlessly from room to room for a while, and realized that most likely she was mirroring her momma. My sweet, loyal, loved, intuitive dog.
I realized that I owed her a walk.
On a windy early evening I laced up my shoes and saw that familiar, hopeful look begin to expand across her face.
By the time I grabbed my jacket out of the closet and bundled up against the cold wind she was standing right beside me, silently pleading in her special puppy-way for me to take her wherever I was going.
We headed away from the house and down the rutted out gravel surface that could only loosely be described as a road, with Jamie ecstatically surging ahead of me and pulling hard on her leash.
I struggled to keep up with her, knowing from years of experience that eventually she would slow down and settle down.
It was cold enough that the rattlesnakes would be wherever rattlesnakes slither to when it is cold, and would not be out on the single and double track dirt trails.
We could again walk on BLM land.
Together we walked a 1/4 mile down our gravel road and then turned left, finding our way to the trail that leads onto thousands and thousands of acres of isolated and (to some people) desolate public land.......................
At the end of the double track entry-way the trail leads both to the left and right, and I know these trails well because I ran and mountain biked them often the last time we were here in Cody.
There was a large loop that kept us mostly on flat ground and I decided to take it.
Jamie (as always) walked point for me - leading the way, stopping often to sniff or mark or investigate, but always quickly running to catch up and get back in front of me where she firmly believes she belongs.
As we turned left onto BLM land proper I looked back towards the house.
The small brown house that (as one friend in Tennessee aptly described it to me one day) is about the size of a lunch box.
In truth it is not quite that small and it actually looks bigger on the inside than it does on the outside, but it IS small.
Thankfully I like both my guy and my dog, which makes living in a small space all of cozy, comfortable and manageable.
As I stood looking across at the house I could see Heart Mountain in the background.
From the angle where I was, standing alone on dry and dusty public land, Heart Mountain looked as though it was very close.
In reality the base of Heart Mountain is 20 miles from us................
It was very windy and the wind was very cold, and as we slowly began to wander the loop it felt good to be out there.
Good to be alone with my dog for a while. Good to be alone with my thoughts. Good to be in a place as vast and wide open and silent and uncompromising as BLM land always is.
As Jamie stopped often, continually pushing her nose inquisitively into each sage bush that we passed, I looked around me.
Although it is where I would have much rather have been, it was too late in the evening to head up into the hills.
I wasn't carrying a gun with me and there were mountain lions and coyotes hidden deep in the hills.
Someone the other day told me that he had seen a mountain lion cross over Belfry Highway as he drove by. He was stunned to see it, and (as is usual with so many nature sightings) it was unexpected and brief, and the large cat quickly disappeared into the tall grass and weeds on the other side of the highway.
The encounter was over before the man even realized that it had happened.
He saw it around the area of Oregon Basin. The same place LC and James and I explored the other day when we found Wind Rock again.
Oregon Basin was on the other side of the hills. I had found the cat's killing fields last year - multiple long bones, rib cages, hides, bone fragments scattered over a large section of canyon between the hills.
The place where he takes his kills.
I had promised my Mountain Boy that I would stay in the flat lands closer to home and so we continued to wander.....................
An ant hill surrounded by cacti.....................
I became an American citizen this week.
The ceremony took place here in Cody which was a nice surprise, because LC and I have had to make two trips to Casper over the past couple of months for fingerprints and interviews, and I had assumed that we would have make that 5 hour trip one more time when the citizenship ceremony was scheduled.
When I found out that it would happen in Cody I made the assumption that there would be just me - possibly one or two others.
So I was surprised when I walked into the court room and found it filled with people.
It was then that I learned that these ceremonies are only held a few times each year, and that they are scheduled in different parts of the state. On this day there were people from all over Wyoming in attendance, along with their friends and family.
Some new Americans were deeply touched and they cried - they had moved here from places such as Mexico and Iraq and Russia, and I could only imagine what stories they had to tell and how arduous their journey to citizenship must have been.
When it was over I called Chris in Canada to let him know.
When it was over I sat on a bench in a park across the street from the courthouse while LC ran an errand,, knowing that I could not tell Sean. I don't believe in such things but I did it anyway.......Baby, I'm an American citizen. And then I cried because I still do that far too often.
Before I walked out of the courthouse I registered to vote.
I have been a political junkie for more years than I can remember, continually having to feed my unending hunger for news and analysis and statistics and polls.
This year I will vote....................
BLM land, to the average observer, looks flat and barren.
In actuality it is not.
It contains deer and antelope and mountain lions and coyotes and jack rabbits.
Cows and very big bulls and herds of very curious horses.
The remnants of dead animals.
Endless flat land and endless hills.
Irrigation canals, sage bushes, and (on top of the hills) many pine trees.
It contains rock. Endless rock in the hills and much of it is covered with blue and bright orange fungi that looks as though small children randomly scribbled their random pictures.
Gun ranges hidden in the canyons.
Small wild flowers hidden in the dust and sand.
Unfettered views of storms approaching from over the mountains and unspeakably beautiful sunrises and sunsets................
75 minutes after we had left the house Jamie and I made our way home.
By that time the sun was almost gone and it was freezing cold and LC had already poured me a cup of coffee in one of those ridulously large coffee cups that I have.
One last picture of the rapidly descending sun...................
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went..............Will Rogers