Saturday, November 16, 2013

Unblemished Souls

Weather is all over the map these days.
For the past almost-week we have enjoyed unseasonably warm weather during the day.
LC and I have come to understand that the heavy mist we ran into on the way out to Big Butte (on the morning we hiked to the top), was not an anomaly but rather a promise of things to come.
The promise of months of deep cold, that will settle in during all of the endless overnights that lay between now and next May.
Even though the days have been warm, the early mornings have been filled with freezing cold temperatures, very still air, and frozen mist so thick that you could almost (as the saying goes) cut it with a knife.
My poor Mountain Boy is still struggling with back issues that alternate between feeling better and feeling worse.  It is difficult for him to stop with all the painting and constructing and renovating we have been doing almost since the day we arrived in Atomic City (now a little over three months ago).
There are projects calling his name and he is not one to ignore the ever-present call.  
But finally LC is resigned to the fact that he must.............

We had one of our neighbors over to the house from breakfast this morning and greatly enjoyed the visit.
But I missed taking pictures of snow in Atomic City.
It was less than an inch, but it covered a good part of the ground, and it was the first snow that Kory had ever seen.
She woke me up at 7am, barking and insistent that she had to go out NOW!
Quickly and sleepily and begrudgingly pulling on slippers I headed for the front door.
As she always does, Kory danced around the mud room barely able to contain the eagerness she feels when she knows that she is heading outside, while I crankily struggled with my jacket.
And that is when I heard the loud bark.
This was a different bark from the eager and happy one I was already becoming used to hearing from Kory when she knows she will be outside, and I looked out the screen door instantly concerned.
Was there something out there?
Coyotes?  Maybe the wolf that I had heard about but not yet seen?
Still trying to wake up I alternated looking outside and then looking back at my dog.
And that is when it hit me.
There was a thin cover of snow on the ground.
And my dog was scared.
This new Idaho world was only just beginning to become familiar to her, and suddenly and unexpectedly it had changed.
As I buttoned my jacket I watched Kory closely.  
She was clearly scared.
She pressed her nose up against the window of the door, quickly backed away from the door and loudly barked in alarm.
She turned very much wanting to go back inside the house, but the door was heavy and barely ajar and she could not.
Very upset she repeated this same sequence a number of times in quick succession.  
The world suddenly made no sense to her again.
Bending down, I stroked the top of her head and reassured her that everything was OK, hooked up her leash and we headed outside.
Kory took two steps into the snow and stopped, looked down at her feet and then jumped back with a yelp.
A few more steps, another jump back, a lick of the snow.
By the time we had made it across the road from the house she had settled down.  Kory still did not know what this white stuff on the ground was but by this time she had already figured out that it wasn't going to hurt her.
She wandered, she tasted, she looked - trying to process this new development in her life, and within another five minutes was dancing in circles and loving the snow.
The morning ended up being a very raw and windy morning, but temperatures hovered slightly above freezing and by the time we walked together in late morning, a lot of the snow had already melted.
Apparently over the past couple of winters Atomic City had received only light snow, but had very and consistent snows in the years before that.
I am crossing fingers for a lot of snow this winter....................

As mentioned in my previous blog post, life is very quiet right now.
Back injuries, new dog, winter settling into the desert.
With the exception of a brief trip to town to run errands, we have not left Atomic City over the past week.
There is no more gardening for residents to do.  No more mowing.  No more race way.  No more hunting.  No more warmth.  
Nobody here ever walks.  Not even in the summer.  Not even a block to the mail box.
A good number of residents have blown out of town and headed south for the winter, and so our tiny-tune-town is now tinier and tunier.
Our quiet town is now truly a silent town.
Kory and I have walked a LOT.
So much in fact, that I have hundreds of pictures of random sights in and around town, and when I sit at the computer and go back to look at them I realize just how much uninterrupted time she and I have had together.
The neighbor that we invited for breakfast this morning had suggested to us right after Jamie died, that we get another dog sooner rather than later.
She told us of her first experience losing a dog.  Her husband at the time did not want to get another dog, and our neighbor grieved over the death of her beloved pup every day for two years.
The second time she lost a dog she got another one right away.  
As she put it "That way you still have the good memories of the dog, but not the pain of the loss".
Kory has helped a great deal.  She is a wonderful, sweet, active, energetic, loving, curious, accepting dog.
That doesn't take away the pain of losing Jamie.  
But it helps.  A lot.
Random pictures taken over the course of a couple of walks and over the course of a couple of days.................
On a very beautiful evening a couple of days ago Kory and I wandered around town.
Mentally I was bored.
Physically I was in no mood for a long or challenging walk, even though I was acutely aware of the fact that the weather was going to bottom out and turn from sunny and mild to windy and cold any day now.
Didn't care.
Uninspired and bored anyway...................
We were only a couple of minutes from the house, and as we reached the first open field I snapped this quick picture of Big Butte and then looked around me, searching for something (anything) to photograph that was different from fields, sage brush, buttes and distant mountains.
Something glistened in a tree in my neighbors' yard, and I pulled Kory in that direction, instantly curious to see what it was.
Atomic City is an eclectic and random mix of homes ranging from very large and upper middle class all the way down to the ratiest of mobile homes.
And so it goes with people's yards.
Some residents meticulously maintain their yards and those places are filled with lush green lawn, beautiful shade trees, flowers, lawn art.  
Others...........not so much.
LC and I would fall somewhere in the middle of those two spectrums.  We like green and mowed lawn and we like trees.  
We like flowers but the deer eat them and there is not point in fighting that fact.
The owners of this particular property fall into the first group, and I cannot even begin to guess just how much time they spend each summer working on their beautiful yard.
As Kory and I got closer to the mysterious, sparkling thing I realized that it was a copper and glass sun catcher..............
When Atomic City really came into its own (in the anything-is-possible 1950's), the population of the town swelled into the hundreds.
Atomic City has been losing people ever since then, and there is evidence all over town (from the remains of foundations to the still-standing buildings that have been empty for decades) of what this place used to be at one time and in another life.............
Upside down picnic tables stacked against the back wall of City Hall............
A small and entirely functional greenhouse in the back yard of yet one more resident............
Later in the day...........walking again.
I want Kory to bond tightly with LC and with me.  I want her to know this town inside and out.  I want her to know the feel and taste and smell of the outskirts of town and the BLM land surrounding it.
Every single time we go into Blackfoot or Pocatello I see signs in stores.  
They are all the same.
Cute picture.  
Lost Dog.  Last seen.  Wearing a.  If found call.
We live so far away from civilization, in a place where water and shelter are hard to come by and where coyotes roam.
If she ever gets lost I want to give her the best chance to find her way back to us.  
Bonding will help.  Tags and updated microchips will help.  Helping her to get to know the area will help...............

As the sun was slowly beginning to settle onto the horizon I looked over to my right and realized that we were being watched.
If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you will see the deer silently and unmovingly watching us............
At the end of the road we turned right and then right again, and when Kory stopped I scanned the area searching for the object of her attention.
A deer stared back at me from on top of the small rise in the yard.............
Staring intently.  Not moving or barking or making a dash for it.
Just silently staring.
She can smell the deer all over town, and is still enamored by them.............
As I took a few more steps I quickly realized that there was more than one............
No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown...........Dean Koontz

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