When I first walked outside this morning I did the same thing that I do every single morning - I looked out over the mountains to see if they were "out".
Last year when we were here the mountains were out almost every day during the spring and summer.
This past summer that was not always the case, and the sky was very often filled with smoke from the wild fires that were all the around us and throughout the entire western part of the United States.
We were blanketed by smoke from Wyoming fires, as well as fires from Montana, Idaho, Colorado, even as far west as California., and often the mountains were obscured in the smoky haze that dominated our skies this year.
And now in winter we never know from one day to the next.
This morning they were all covered by heavy.........what? smoke? fog? rain or snow?
After clicking on NOAA online, the atmospheric agency told me that Cody had a 20% chance of rain.
Weather is a funny thing and so is the interpretation of it.
When we lived in Juneau if the weather report anticipated a 20% chance of rain Juneauites interpreted that to mean "sunny".
Until this morning I interpreted 20% chance of rain to mean that likely it would not rain.
But there was definitely something ominous looking coming across the mountains and working its way through the gap between Cedar and Rattlensnake Mountains.
Leaving partially cloudy and partially sunny and unusually mild weather at the house I drove towards Walmart.
I had put it off for far too long and could not put it off any longer.
I had to face buying baby gifts for a new child who brings me both extreme joy and extreme heartache.
A tiny miracle child, and it has taken me a long time to summon the courage to shop for him.
On the way to the store it began to rain.
Two hours later, and while I was still running errands in town the snow began to fall.
I looked up into the sky, and then looked around me, enthralled by this heavy and wet snow that was completely unscheduled and completely unexpected.
It was beautiful. Heavy and wet and completely beautiful.
When I arrived back at the house I quickly transferred my bags from the truck to the house.
Shoving some of the bags into the waiting hands of my Mountain Boy and dumping the rest onto the floor in the kitchen, I grabbed a hat, grabbed my camera and rushed out the door.
Horses had been playing in the snow across the road from the house, and I wanted to take pictures of them.
As I trudged through the wet snow and made my way to the edge of the driveway I searched the field across the road and was disappointed to realize that in only a few minutes they had all disappeared.
Headed (I assumed) to the barn in back of their house.
I stood in the still heavy snowfall and the world was (as it always is when it snows) completely silent.
A white world silently and wonderfully buffered from the harshness of the rest of the world..............
As I continued to slowly wander along a gravel road that was now buried in five inches of snow I looked over to my left and realized that our neighbors horse was closely watching me.
I smiled and quietly said hello to this horse who is a sweet girl, but who also seems to be a lonely animal.
Without companionship. Without purpose. Without direction.
She is jumpy and skittish, but my voice does not seem to displease or upset her.
Maybe she remembers all of the grass and weeds I pulled by hand and then fed her by hand throughout the summer.
In the suddenly muffled world of this unexpected snowfall I stood quietly talking to her for a few minutes......................
A couple of days ago I drove out of the driveway, drove down the rutted out gravel road cursing it for the thousandth time, drove down the hill and saw him.
At first I was not certain of what I had seen.
He flew directly in front of me and quickly disappeared over a small hill before I could really get a good look at him.
I did not see his head, but I did see his tail and it was pure white.
A bald eagle?
Even though they are supposed to live in the Shoshone National Forest and in Yellowstone National Park, I have not seen even one bald eagle since we left Alaska.
This place, so close to the house, wasn't the forest or the park. This was high desert plains.
Later that same day LC excitedly called me, telling me that he had been walking Jamie close to the house, and they had seen a bald eagle.
So it was true. I smiled at this new knowledge, at this new reality, and was pleased that we had a bald eagle near the house.
After realizing today that I would not get pictures of horses playing in the snow, and after talking briefly with Dixie, I again looked across the road and quickly snapped a picture of two bare trees outlined in the grey world of clouds and continual snowfall.
And that is when I saw him. Sitting alone, quietly and high in the skeleton of a hibernating tree.
Our new neighbor...................
Our road looking in both directions................
Weather conditions were just too bad, he was too far away, the light was not good.
But he was there, perched high in the tree and quietly watching over his new world.
I like him very much. And very much hope that he stays..................
I have always loved this old wooden wagon, that sits near the entrance to our driveway.
It hasn't moved since we were here last year. Likely it has not been moved in years, and gradually sun and wind are beginning to wear on it.
The wagon is filled with antlers - deer, elk, big horn sheep - as well as a few animal skulls.
They are all wonderful but also slowly beginning to irrevocably decay.
Slowly (ever so slowly) beginning to turn to dust..................
Antlers, skulls and a couple of small and old wooden wheels...............
Our lunch box sized rental home.
We are located at the top of a hill and are constantly battered by sometimes hurricane force winds.
But it is five minutes from BLM land, provides endless views of endless mountain ranges, is away from people, is reasonably priced and has a wood stove that we love.
I wish it were bigger but it is alright enough for us.................
This little turtle has traveled from Tennessee to Alaska to Wyoming to Tennessee to Wyoming.
Right now he sits on top of a milk can, which in turn sits on the porch.
I have NO idea why this little guy has not blown away in the wind, but every day I see that he is still with us.
Silently watching over us and his changing world, from the safety of the milk can on top of the porch.................
Blow, blow, thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude..........William Shakespeare