Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chaos And Silence

Life in the summer in the Snake River Plain continues to move along, with one hot and dry day quietly and seamlessly transitioning into the next.
It is an energy sucking season for both LC and I, and even our normally energetic and athletic young dog now spends a lot of time sleeping in the coolness of the puppy-bunker behind the wood stove in the living room.
Recently Kory has learned that if she jumps onto the kitchen table she can see the world that is outside our desert front door.
After scratching up our new wood table I put a table cloth on it hoping to protect it from further damage.
The table cloth slid off the table when Kory jumped onto it and so I tried a quilt, which now seems to be working.
Ever since she learned this wonderful new trick it has been a chore trying to first protect the table and chairs, and then protect the swan that sat in the center of the table, and then retrieve mail and sunglasses and cell phones from the floor that both LC and I were in the habit of carelessly tossing onto the table whenever we came in from outside.
So..........table and one chair are scratched up, but after trial and error the quilt is staying put.
The swan fell to the floor unscathed the first time, but when I found him laying upside down on the floor the second time I immediately knew that he was toast.  
A broken neck and a broken beak.
The swan traveled safely from Tennessee to Alaska to Wyoming to Tennessee to Wyoming to Idaho, and finally bit the dust a week ago at the hand (paw) of my dog.
Only..........LC successfully glued beak to head, and neck to body, and now my swan sits safely on the wood stove.  At least for now.  Until it gets cold again, and then I'll have to seek out another safe place from him, away from the frantic and frenetic and youthful energy of a dog who hates to be away from her two people.
We are also learning to stash mail, sunglasses, keys and phones in a different place, because now that our dog has learned to jump up onto the kitchen table she can't unlearn it.
That genie is already out of the bottle, and the old saying about dogs training US, and not the other way around, seems to be true at least in this house hold................
Just down the road from the house is an empty cinder block building that used to be the Twin Buttes Bar and Cafe.
In its previous life (when Atomic City was a booming desert town filled with hundreds of worker bees and secret squirrels who were employed by the Idaho National Laboratories) this bar-slash-cafe was the go-to social center of the town.
I am not certain when the Twin Buttes Bar actually closed but over the years (as INL downsized its operations and as the town saw the eventual and predictable decline in population) the building was eventually boarded up and the owners left town.
I cannot see inside the windows, but I have been curious about this building ever since we first moved here.
Supposedly there is a beautiful, long wooden counter inside.
There is a story floating through town that one of the long-time ladies of Atomic City was the object of deep affection by a couple of different men.
As the story goes, the county sheriff of the time was shot and killed when he and another would-be suitor got into a violent confrontation with each other.
By the time I met this woman she was very old, very fragile, but still had a sharp mind.
She died late last year and I barely knew her.
But whenever I talked briefly with this frail and grey haired old woman, I could visualize the beautiful and long-haired vixen of years ago.
The one men used to fight and die over.................
There are random structures throughout this strange little town, all of which have been empty since long before LC and I moved here.
Most of them are cinder block buildings.  As our house is a cinder block building.
Most are in need of repair.  Some are photogenic and some are nothing but ugly, and yet they all speak to me in some indescribable way that I neither understand nor dwell on.
They just sit silently in the desert year after year.  Silently watching.  Silently keeping secrets.  
Whenever I look at them closely I have to wonder what exactly they are watching and what exactly they are hiding.............
A couple of days ago I walked out into the back yard with Kory, so that I could move the sprinklers around.
She is beginning to understand (most of the time but not all of the time) that the yard is hers and she can roam at will, but we also want her to stay in the yard.
Within just a minute of walking outside my sweet dog was sitting in the shade under a tree and (seeming to be content with her "dark spot") I turned my back on her in order to move the sprinklers.
When I turned back to Kory I was surprised to see a deer standing only 15 feet behind her.
The deer was quietly grazing on our trees and bushes along the fence line, and Kory was not even aware of the fact that a deer had jumped the fence and was now - wonderfully - so close.
I slowly walked over to Kory and sat down beside her, quietly petting my dog and watching the doe.
Every minute or so the doe (who was beautiful but also very thin) glanced in our direction but was not scared of us.
Eventually Kory turned and noticed her, and I lay down beside my dog petting her and keeping her calm while we both continued to watch the deer graze.
She was starving.  She ate non-stop (alternating between the bushes and the grass) and Kory and I lay watching her for 20 minutes before finally heading back inside the house.
I thought that the deer might jump out of the yard when Kory and I both started moving.  She didn't.
I thought that Kory might chase after the doe once she noticed her.  Surprisingly SHE didn't.
And of course I did not have my camera.................

Kory running in dusty circles on BLM land a few evenings ago............
These pictures were taken on a walk in town with Kory early yesterday evening.
We live only five minutes walk from hundreds of thousands of wide open public lands.
Through the summer I proceed cautiously on BLM because of rattlesnakes, but through the other three seasons of the year she and I (and often LC) wander far and wander often.
Fences that separate town roads from state lands are as porous as our southern border, and even when Kory and I plan on staying within the city limits, we frequently and easily wander on and off BLM land, me following wherever my dog wants to take me.
The antenna is actually a NOAA weather station.
During long and hot summer days this antenna fades into the often hazy sky, but late into the evening it stands alone in the desert against a backdrop of mountains thirty miles to the north............
More pictures taken right outside the city limits...............
It was either the chaos of a crowd of thoughts or the silence of solitude... nothing in between...........Sanhita Baruah 

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