Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Down The Rabbit Hole

This is our first winter in Idaho, and over the past few months we have learned that there are many different layers to the word "cold".
It was disgustingly hot when we first arrived here in late July, and even though the house is well insulated we spent the month of August constantly moving fans around the house in an attempt to stay comfortable.
Right after Labor Day in early September it was as though someone had flipped a switch.  
Days were still warm but not hot, and nights instantly began to dip south of 35.
One day it was the dead of summer.
The next day it....wasn't.
For weeks on end right after Kory came to live with us in early November (and while LC was still struggling to recover from a back injury) our new dog and I walked together endlessly in crisp and beautiful sunny weather.
Mornings that were covered with frozen mist that eventually burned away into sunshine.
The first two weeks in December it got as low as -29 at the house overnight.  
Unmanageably freezing during the day, and long walks turned into short walks.
While summer in the high desert plains of SE Idaho are endlessly hot and endlessly dry, and as one sunny day turns into the next and the next, winter is a whole 'nother story.
This winter we have had an eclectic and ever-changing combination of warm and cold and snowy and rainy and windy and calm.
I thought that it was cold yesterday and as I bundled up to walk with my girl I took one last look at the temperature gauge outside the mudroom window and shivered at the sight of 8 degrees.
This morning the same temperature gauge read 0, but as LC and I headed out with an eager-to-run dog we could instantly tell that yesterday was cold, but today was COLD.
-12 with the wind chill according to NOAA and I believe it, and after freezing our butts off for 20 minutes we called it a day and headed back to the very welcome warmth of the house.
I took all of these pictures on the same day, a few days ago before this latest cold snap settled into our world.
The morning pictures are filled with the ice crystals that regularly settle onto every surface overnight.
The late afternoon pictures are filled with the remnants of fading daylight after what turned out to be a mild and lovely day.................
We have had Kory in our lives for three months now, but it feels as though we have had her much longer.
Abut a week ago, late in the day, LC and I were walking in a field while Kory ran and played.
Typically she will run full speed in huge circles around the field, come back to us to grab a quick hot-dog-treat and then take off again.
Also typically, she will do that over and over until she winds herself down.
Until the boundless energy that she holds in her system has dissipated and she can bring herself to finally slow down and just......prowl.
As LC and I wandered around the field we watched as Kory headed for an open gate that leads to an adjoining field.
We stood watching her, enjoying the sight of this very sweet dog doing what she loves to do, and as she got closer to the gate we both looked over at her fully expecting that she would turn (as she has done a hundred times in the past) and circle back towards us.
She didn't.
We both looked at each other surprised and immediately headed in that direction, calling her name and again expecting her to head towards the hay bales that are piled there that she loves to climb and jump on.  
Again she didn't.
And then I saw the deer pop up from around the corner of one of the huge, round, long abandoned bales close to the road.
Oh hell.
A second later an entire herd of deer stood up and began to run, with Kory in full on chase mode.
The deer jumped the fence, ran across the road, picked up BLM land on the other side of the road, and disappeared over a low rise.
Kory jumped the fence, ran across the road, picked up BLM land on the other side of the road, and disappeared over a low rise.
I knew that we were both thinking the same things - that it was late in the day and would be dark within the hour, that if the deer turned on her in self-defense she could be injured.
With the deer and Kory long out of sight, LC and I reached the round hay bales, frustrated and worried.  
Immediately the plan was for me to stay in the area, keep calling for her and blowing the whistle in an effort to help her pinpoint us if and when she broke off the chase and began searching for her people, while LC headed back to the house to get the truck.
We were facing the possibility of looking for a dog in the dark, in winter, out on land that was covered up with coyotes.
LC and I had just finished developing the plan and heading in different directions when we saw an out-of-breath brown dog come trotting back over the rise.
She was pointed in the direction of home, but as soon as we called her name Kory turned towards us.
I think that all three of us were equally relieved to be reunited.
That escapade made both LC and I realize that letting her run by the hay bales and the silos late in the day was not a good idea.  
There are too many places for rabbits and deer to hide and if Kory sees either she will give chase.
Maybe she would break off the chase and head back to us.  Maybe she wouldn't.
Ever since that unexpected adventure, whenever she runs off leash late in the day now, she does so in endless, wide open BLM land far away from the road................
These pictures were all taken while alone with my dog, on the same day as the icy pictures.
After learning our lesson the hard way, I stayed in the wide-open where my sweet, inquisitive, active, adventurous dog couldn't get herself in trouble..............
By the time we headed home the world - in the midst of a setting sun - was orange.
The same icy trees and icy homes and icy fences that I had enjoyed earlier in the day now looked far and away different than they had hours before..............
Little Alice fell
the hole,
bumped her head
and bruised her soul” 
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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