Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Tropical Heat Wave

When I woke up this morning I looked out of my kitchen window while at the same time pouring water into the coffee maker.
The sky was overcast but clearing and the temperature gauge read minus 2 degrees.
A couple of hours later I again looked at the gauge and it read a balmy 14 degrees.
It's funny how your brain works sometimes - the first thing I thought of when I saw 14 degrees was that song from the movie Grumpy Old Men "We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave".
The first time I saw that movie was with my youngest son Chris when he was about 13 years old.
It was during the year that I had taken him out of public school and was home schooling him.
I had put him under house arrest for the duration of that entire school year and tightly controlled both what he listened to in the way of music and also what he watched on TV.
One day we were at the library doing research for a project that I had assigned him and after browsing through the video section we picked up the movie.
Chris had never seen the movie before and neither had I, and he began to watch it with little enthusiasm.
How good could a movie about old people really be?
He ended up loving that movie.  I loved it as well.  And I watched it again for the 20th time with LC this morning, before finally getting dressed close to lunch time and taking Jamie for a walk.
By noon the sky was completely, cloudlessly blue and the heat wave had increased to 20 degrees.
A picture looking back down the road we live on..................
Three sets of footprints in the snow - mine, Jamie's and the prints of some unknown small animal...............
This old piece of farming equipment (that is now simply a piece of interesting and rustic yard art) resides at the bend in the road.
This bend leads down a steep hill before again flattening out for another mile.
It sits silently on the lawn (and now in the snow) as testament to a bygone era.
It is wonderfully artistic in a functional kind of way.
The sight of it always pleases me................
Also located in the same yard................
As Jamie and I turned the bend and began to walk down the slippery, ice filled and snowy gravel road I looked up and realized that someone was watching us.
Actually two someones.
These two beautiful horses live on the same property as the two decorative items above.
As with all horses that live in the area they are friendly, sweet and curious animals, and they watched us closely (but without alarm) as we wandered our way towards them.
They were separated for a week this past summer, with one of them staying on this property while the second horse was moved to a pasture close by.
I watched them both a few times during that week.  The horse in the pasture appeared to be content with this new but temporary home.
But the horse that stayed back was not a happy horse.
I watched as this animal paced back and forth and cried and whined and raised and lowered his head, and while he walked continually to the edge of the fence and searched plaintively in the direction of his friend.
I don't know why they were separated and why only for a week, but I do know that the horse that was left behind was inconsolable.
It was good to see them reunited again.  They belong together..................
Looking back the way we had come, with our observant horses still watching us until we disappeared from sight...........
A small study in ice..................
As I write this the wind is howling outside, howling through the barely cracked kitchen window, and our small house is shaking ever so slightly.
With the strong winds it feels colder outside than my kitchen window temperature gauge tells me it is.
But at lunch time this day was completely perfect.
The snow covered every surface in pure white goodness.
The sky was completely blue.
The sun shone brightly and even though it gave off no heat what-so-ever the wind was calm. 
My glove less hands were a little cold, but otherwise I was not cold at all.
Always my favorite time of year.
I love winter..................
The Indian is covered in snow..............
Almosta Ranch..............
A small natural spring that contains water all year long.
It weaves it's way from origins unknown, through Almosta Ranch property, and then continues through the back of other ranches in the area..................
This place is far and away my favorite on the street where we live.
It contains features that are prized in Wyoming - the natural spring, trees, a home partially buried in the berm (making the home easier to heat and cool, and protecting it from much of the wind that batters the house in which LC and I live).
The owner grows and sells hay, and his many flat acres of pasture land are home to small herds of (for-all-intents-and-purposes) domestic deer.  Plenty to eat, plenty of water, plenty of shade.
With all of that, I also love the huge old barn and the enviable views of Carter, Cedar, Rattlesnake and Heart Mountains.
I love this place.
Much more than the fancy-schmancy, multi-gabled, California-moneyed homes that have recently sprung up like weeds on overpriced pieces of raw land, only a couple of miles from where I was standing when I took this picture..............
I also love this old hound dog that is always tied in back of his house.
He barks.  He barks a LOT.  He barks non-stop.
He has barked so much that his little barker is just about shot, and he now always sounds very hoarse.
We had three dogs when I was married in Tennessee.
The first was Roxy - a dog we had adopted from the Humane Society when we first moved from Canada to Tennessee.  I did not want a dog but had promised my dog-loving youngest son that when we moved to Tennessee we would get a puppy.
The second was Jamie - who showed up on our doorstep in the dead of winter about a year after we moved into the country, just outside of Lynchburg.
And finally Casey.
She was a red bone coonhound - huge, dark red, and awesomely beautiful.
It was in the middle of summer and I was working out in the yard.  I looked up when I heard a noise and saw this animal slowly limping up our long driveway.
I stood watching her for a few moments, mesmerized by this animal that was so obviously in great pain.
My yard chores completely forgotten I lay my rake down on the ground, all the while watching this dog.
I slowly walked up to her, bent down to gently stroke her head, and looked her over.
She was near starvation - every bone in her body was visible and stretched tightly over her skin.
She had open sores on her knees and on her back just above her tail.
I picked this still-heavy dog up, carried her to the back of the house and tried to sit her down on our covered porch.
The porch had a concrete pad and as I tried to sit her down her reaction told me that I was hurting her.
My heart broke for this unknown animal. 
Leaving her on the porch I went into the house, dug out some old blankets and hurried back outside again so that I could help this animal.
She wasn't on the porch.
Looking around me I saw her walking across the grass and heading towards the next property.  I called out to her to get her attention and she actually turned to look at me before continuing to limp away.
Running after her I easily caught up with this dog, and again picked up her and brought her back to the house.
She couldn't leave.  She wouldn't make it if she left.
For the next week I nurtured this hurting animal, and when I thought that she was healthy enough to drive to town, I took her to the vet.
The sores would heal.  She needed lots of food and water.  Most pressing, she had heart worms.
We paid the money to get her the medications she needed, and for the next couple of months we had to keep her tied up so that she could not run and stress her heart.
In the meantime she continued to heal and gain weight.
About two months after Casey first found her way to our house she pulled out of her collar and ran free.
We didn't see her again for 48 hours and when she found her way home Casey had cut herself on barbed wire and had a long L-shaped cut on her hip that completely exposed the muscles underneath.
The flap of skin needed to be sewed up, so off to the vet we went again.
From that point on Casey only continued to grow into a strong, healthy, wonderfully beautiful hound dog.
Years later (after the boys had left home and after I had gotten divorced) I moved into a house I bought in Tullahoma.
As a single woman working a full-time job and training for adventure races I could only take one dog with me.
I actually wanted to take Roxy with me because she was Chris' dog and because she was the oldest and most docile of the three we owned.
My husband refused to give her to me, and since he had never liked Jamie I took Jamie.
Roxy was dead within a year. 
I don't know what happened to Casey but would like to think that she still roams the fields around the farm house in Lynchburg where I used to live.
I would like to think that..................
Sheep beginning to wander into one of the pastures close to home.
The snow-covered Indian profile of Heart Mountain in the background..............
These two horses in still one more pasture watched us as we walked down the road, and then watched us as we walked back, enthralled with our presence.
I like the intelligence and natural curiosity of horses.
IThey make me smile in an uncomplicated way............
My favorite picture from our walk today.
We were only 1/4 mile from the house.
The world was absolutely gleaming -  a shimmering winter world.............

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