There is a middle aged woman who lives alone at the far end of town.
She stays mainly to herself and over the past eleven months she and I have exchanged barely a handful of waves and a handful of words.
I don't even know her name although I think somebody may have told it to me at some point.
She keeps a large pen on the side of her house that is surrounded by vinyl fencing, and which effectively obscures the view of whatever she keeps inside.
I had heard that she kept a pig, but in all this time had neither heard nor seen a pig.
Until one day last week.
Kory and I were walking together through town and when we turned the corner of a road close to the edge of town I stopped short, momentarily startled at the sight in front of me.
A large black pig was staring at us from the edge of the yard.
Well.........the rumors about the pig were apparently true.
Kory silently stretched her retractable leash to its full length, staring at the pig and wanting very much to get closer to it.
I pulled her closer to me (she's a strong dog when she's motivated, and on this day she was curious and very motivated to see what the big, round, black thing was that stood unmoving in the corner of the yard).
We just stood all three motionless.
A pig, a dog and a woman suddenly and unexpectedly engaged in a staring contest with each other.....
I don't know a whole lot about pigs.
Was this one of those cute, friendly pigs that follows you around like a puppy? Like the ones you see in cute Youtube videos that go viral?
Or was it a mean, human-eating pig like those I had seen eat somebodys' face off in one of those Hannibal Lecter movies?
I had no idea..........the face-eating pigs had tusks didn't they?
I couldn't remember but (although I had no intention of getting too close to him) this guy didn't seem aggressive.
After calling a draw on the staring competition, I pulled Kory a little closer to me and slowly walked past the pig.............
We were completely beyond his yard when I heard a noise behind me.
Turning, my dog and I watched in surprise as Porky left his yard, crossed over the road, and began wandering in the neighbors grass, following in our general direction.
We walked - he (or was it a she?) walked.
We stopped - he stopped.
My silent dog methodically walked in the pigs direction, and I worked hard to hold her back.
Half way down the road we stopped again.
The stupid pig was still following us, and at that point I was unsure whether to keep going in the direction we were already traveling, just stand there until the lady-with-no-name realized that she had a missing pig and came in search of it, or go back the way we had come..................
Eventually the pig veered away from the side of the road, lumbered across a large, dry, empty piece of property and through the open gate of a town resident the next street over.
Good. Porky could be somebody elses' problem.
Only.........the pig may have disappeared from sight but my dog knew exactly where he (or was it a she?) had gone, and did not want to leave it.
A lot of cajoling and leash pulling later, Kory and I finally continued on with our walk..................
There are flowers blooming in the tiny desert town of Atomic City.
Fragile and tiny whites spread through the fields and ditches in town, large clumps of beautiful blues and bright yellow rose bushes everywhere you look.
We arrived in AC in late July last year and there were few flowers.
A welcome surprise and I suspect that most will be gone within the next few weeks now that seemingly endless hot and dry has arrived in the Snake River Plain..............
This is the second snake skin that I have seen inside the city limits.
I haven't seen a snake in AC yet (although we did see a rattlesnake on the gravel road just outside of town).........
Our snowboard bench resting under the trees in the backyard (above) and Kory sitting in the yard (below).
When we first bought the house the yard was a complete mess.
Over the course of the previous 20 years the house had only been occupied sporadically for a couple of years in total.
They were renters who cared little about the house and nothing about the yard, and when we first moved in almost a year ago, the lawn hadn't been watered in more than two years.
We thought for sure that it was dead. All of it. Brown, irretrievable, dead.
After mowing and weed eating the entire lawn not long after we moved in we turned on the sprinklers, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
LC and I both assumed that it was a lost cause, but it came back.
And soon we had an actual lawn that was successfully struggling to find its way back to life......
Just before our neighbor moved out of her house a couple of months ago I went over and dug up some flowers.
Digging holes along the edge of the property we planted and watered them immediately, and then continued to water them regularly.
And they looked like hell.
For a while I thought that the shock of replanting had been too much for them. They looked dead for weeks on end but every day we continued to water them.
Recently they have begun to show signs of life again, and I do not think that they will be anything to brag about this year, but maybe next year they may turn into something worthy of all the effort.......
A few months ago we found an ad on a regional online classified site saying if someone would dig up their six foot pine tree they could have it for free.
In Blackfoot we found the tree and it was obvious that someone had tried to dig up the tree but had given up on the effort.
Within a few minutes of digging the hard and rock filled dirt surrounding the tree, it became very obvious to both of us why others had given up.
LC and I thought of it at the same time.
We ended up tying a rope around the trunk and yanking that sucker out of the ground.
"Dan Dan The Cedar Tree Man" is growing fine in a corner of the backyard.
LC named him that.
It must be a southern redneck thing.
Naming everything from trucks to campers to heavy duty tools to cedar trees.......
Finally, while I was at Wal-mart in Blackfoot the other day I found small evergreen trees discounted 50%.
Right now a handful of trees are sitting in pots in the greenhouse, waiting patiently to be planted.
The house was neglected for 20 years. The yard was neglected for 20 years.
And so the process of making this place a nice home continues.............
Throughout the fall and winter we had a large herd of deer that lived full time in town.
In the fall two bucks swaggered into town and they stayed with the 15 or so does for a while before eventually disappearing into the desert, their work apparently done.
The girls (happily) stayed, and there was never a walk through town, throughout those seasons, when Kory and I did not see and greatly enjoy the sight of them.
I love having them here, and although some residents get aggravated with them when they eat the bushes and trees and flowers and vegetables, most people here love having them as well.
In spring the girls abruptly disappeared and for a few months the town seemed empty.
This Tiny Town has a booming population of 28 people, but through the winter that number dwindles down to 15 or so.
Atomic City did not feel empty through the winter when the people disappeared.
But it did feel empty when the deer disappeared....
And then one day a couple of weeks ago I took Kory out into the back yard first thing in the morning.
Still wearing pajamas and thinking only of coffee, we wandered over to the back fence and that is when I saw her.
She was already stone still and staring at us, so had scoped us out long before we had even seen her.
Pulling Kory close to me so that my pup would not scare her away, we slowly walked closer to the fence.
She continued to stare at us, watchful for any movement that could potentially cause her harm, and that is when I saw her. A tiny baby deer still with spots.
Baby deer wandered unevenly up to her mother and promptly sat down underneath her mothers' legs.
A moment later I saw another tiny face and spotted body toddle out from underneath the camper that is parked on the property.
We were separated by two fences and an alleyway but they were all only 20 feet from us
Twins. Two beautiful, unsteady, spotted babies.
For the next couple of weeks I watched for the doe and her twins whenever Kory and I walked and did not see them again.
One of the neighbors reported to me that she had seen a mother with one baby and I feared that one of the babies had been killed by coyotes, but tonight I saw her and the twins.
The babies still have spots, but are now steady on their feet and wonderfully healthy looking.................
One day last week Kory and I were walking again in town.
When we came to one of the alleys Kory unexpectedly pulled hard on the leash and I realized that she was going after a kitten, that must have been only a few weeks old.
Young cat quickly ran and dived into the adjoining property through a small hole in the fence.
Momma cat stood her ground for a few moments, arched her back and angrily hissed at Kory, before turning and promptly jumping through the same hole in the fence that her baby had found sanctuary in.
Only instead of disappearing into the vegetation in the yard as I had expected, the momma cat was not yet finished with my dog.
Sticking her face up to the hole in the fence she hissed one more time at Kory before finally moving on.
I smiled at the entire encounter. My stupid dog. Fast kitty. Angry, hissing mother.
If Kory had actually been able to catch that feline mother I think she may have lost the battle.....
After the entire dog-kitten-cat episode was complete I turned back to the alley, with full intentions of us continuing with our walk.
I immediately stopped dead in my tracks, surprised that we were not alone.
A young deer was standing in the middle of the alley staring at us.
She was young - perhaps a few months old - so not one of my spotted newbies, but she was incredibly incredibly cute.
Kory was still busy sniffing the fence, frantically trying to process all the odors from the cat interlude, and I held her leash tightly as I stood motionless while watching the young deer and while she watched me.
Kory turned in her direction and made one lunge toward her.
Young deer immediately turned around and hopped on all four feet away from us and around the corner.
By the time we reached the corner she was gone...............
I was helping LC with something in the yard this afternoon.
As I struggled with the heat I stood up and looked across the road from the house.
I saw first one, then two, and then a third one.
Three young bucks (perhaps a couple of years old) with their young horns and their beautiful fawn color, all traveling together.
I have been lazy recently when it comes to carrying my camera in town. The deer have begun to reappear in town and sightings are becoming more and more frequent.
I need to start carrying my camera with me again because these beautiful creatures are finally returning..................
When Kory and I walked around the corner and realized that bouncy young deer had disappeared, we walked back to a break in the fence to see if little-thing had bounced into the tree covered yard.
She hadn't, but unexpectedly we did see one more deer watching us watching her.............
One more deer in one more yard.
By late last summer there were two obvious herds of deer that easily and comfortably roamed through town.
By fall (when the two bucks came into town) the girls had all been rounded up to make a herd of about 15 or 16, and they stayed that way long after the bucks had left town.
They stayed that way throughout the entire long, and cold, winter.
Since their return, deer sightings are unpredictable. Three young bucks roaming together. A momma with her twins. One deer here, three deer there.
I'm seeing them much more often now. Still alone or in pairs or in threes. Still sporadically and unpredictably.
So nice to have them back.................
Enlarge to see the deer watching us beside one of the many empty buildings in town.............
The sun does not begin setting until after 9pm right now, and although I have thought a number of times about heading out towards BLM land to capture the setting sun I haven't made it out in time for quite a while.
Last night LC, Kory and I on the spur-of-the-moment, decided to load up in the Tahoe and drive the five minutes it would take to get to the far end of town, so that I could take pictures of the sky.
We turned off the main road in town and LC immediately pulled the truck onto the shoulder.
We had almost left it too late. Another few minutes and the sun would be down below the mountains that were 30 miles to our north........................
It wasn't until I climbed back into the truck that LC pointed down the road ahead of us.
It was now dark enough that at first I wasn't sure what he was drawing my attention to.
As we slowly drove the gravel road I saw them. Two spotted babies nursing on the mother close to the road.
Momma quickly became alert and then quickly ran into the safety of the sage bushes, with two little now-steady-legged fawns walk-running after her.
I snapped a couple of pictures in the quickly fading daylight, all the while fairly certain that the deer would not show up in the pictures.
They didn't, but I hope that there will be more opportunities soon.............
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.............Wallace Stevens