Monday, May 19, 2014

Primeval Desert

About a month ago I was walking on trails close to town with Kory and was surprised to see farming equipment hard at work out on BLM land immediately in back of town.
Hundreds of acres of what appeared to be now-leased land was being leveled.
Within days every blade of grass, every rock, every sage bush, every tumbleweed was.........gone.
And in its wake was an endless, naked expanse of dirt.
When I realized that a new local resident was working out there I asked him what was going on, found out that the land had been leased by BLM and that the farmer was going to plant........something........I can't even remember what.
The details of the what didn't matter at the time.  
All I cared about was how this new development would affect me and affect Kory.
Yes.......we're spoiled.  
We are both used to having this world around us all to ourselves.  
Places for me to walk and for my dog to run.  Places of undiluted, silent solitude.  
Places to (as the quote goes) play in and places to pray in.
And now some unknown schmuck was screwing with that.
My one curiosity was how the crop he would be growing would be watered.  There is no irrigation equipment in this place.  Rain throughout the summer almost unfailingly circles around us.
According to the resident who was helping with the sage and grass pulling, and with the ground leveling, the farmer felt that there was enough moisture already in the ground to sustain the crops.
I will be curious to watch and see if he is correct or not, but I am doubtful.
We'll see.
In the meantime I am learning that Atomic City is a VERY windy desert place during the spring, and with no growth to hold the ground together we have been greeted with dust storms of epic proportions.
These pictures were taken one day last week.
Apparently there are no tortoises to save in this desert.................
In my previous blog entry I posted many pictures of a large herd of sheep that are grazing their way around Atomic City throughout this summer.
As we were on trail about a mile outside of town (also one day last week) I saw the fleece scattered throughout a 100 square foot area on both sides of the trail, before I saw the carcass.
Unsure at first of what I was looking at I finally saw the remains and realized sadly that one of the flock had gotten separated from the others.
Alone and obviously unmissed by both the dogs and the sheep herders, this sheep - in this environment - didn't stand a chance.
Without water, without protection, and in an environment that is rife with coyotes, this sheep fell victim to the desert...............

Hot and tired I stop in the shade of an overhanging ledge and take a drink from my canteen. Resting, I listen to the deep dead stillness of the canyon. No wind or breeze, no birds, no running water, no sound of any kind but the stir of my own breathing.
       “Alone in the silence, I understand for a moment the dread which many feel in the presence of primeval desert, the unconscious fear which compels them to tame, alter or destroy what they cannot understand, to reduce the wild and prehuman to human dimensions. Anything rather than confront directly the antehuman, that other world which frightens not through danger or hostility but in something far worse—its implacable indifference..................Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey

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