Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Wonderful Silence

The past few days have been mired in a combination of blast-furnace-like heat, and the collection of wood and metal.
Our neighbor moved out of the home she had lived in for over 30 years recently.  
She has the home up for sale and (as she was beginning the long process of cleaning out her home) she asked if we wanted a lot of the metal and wood that had been stored in her old shed ever since her husband had died a few years ago.
There was a lot there.  Chain link fence, rebar, fence posts, plywood, lumber, tractor parts and endless metal......things.....that all look like junk to me but which LC either wants or wants to sell for scrap.
It is too hot to do too much outside these days, so what we are succeeding in doing right now is stacking future projects.
Enough plywood for build a shed in the corner of the yard to store lawn mowers and weed eaters and manual yard tools.
Rebar and posts and chain link enough to line the yard along one side of the property.
Bricks still stacked against the indoor wood shed patiently waiting to be layed as a floor for an outdoor patio.
A badly constructed green house that is attached to the house and that is waiting to be torn down (to be replaced with the outdoor patio).
A carefully constructed and smaller green house waiting to be built behind the indoor wood shed.
A pile of logs still waiting to be split and stacked so that it can dry for a year or two.
A 5 x 5 window waiting to be installed in what will eventually be the sun room.
4 poplar trees that need to be planted after the worst of the summer heat is over
A home exterior still badly in need of painting.
And likely more, but that seems like more than enough projects to think about for now, and we knew that updating and upgrading this home would be a project that took a couple of years to complete.
That prediction still holds true today so I try not to think about those projects in their totality, but rather try to think of them individually.
We have done a lot over this past year, but there is still much to do before this house is what we envisioned that it would be.......................

These are totally random pictures that were taken during walks with Kory around Atomic City over the past few days.
After the deer disappeared from town for a few months in the spring I worried that they may be gone for good.
They provided me with quiet and sweet sightings throughout the fall and winter, and I enjoyed their presence more than I expected that I would.
With the first sign of their return a couple of months ago, I realize now that I am again looking forward to constant visits with large herds come fall.
In the meantime, in-town deer sightings are hit and miss.
They are still traveling through town alone or with one or two others, and Kory and I have no idea where or when we will bump into them.
Often we will be at one end of town and I will see them bouncing across a yard at the other end of town.
Many times I will turn a corner and unexpectedly see a deer frozen under a tree, watching us closely.
The mother with twins now lives in town full time and we see them often.  Momma keeps her young safely away from all humans so getting pictures of them is hit and miss.  
The little guys are still bouncing around like Tiggers from Winnie-the-Pooh but are growing fast.  
They are very cute but (as my son used to tell me with good-natured cynicism) all baby mammals are cute...............
A few days ago I walked with Kory over to the "hay bay field" that is located just on the outskirts of town.
 She needed to run and explore and do all the joyful things that young and energetic pups need to do.
In front of the long wall of hay bales are four silos, and behind the silos (about 12 miles away) are the Twin Buttes.
I have no idea who owns the silos or the land that they sit on, but we have never seen what looks like an owner visiting this property.
The silos are beginning to falter in their sturdiness.  The desert environment is kind to them but they are slowly beginning to show the inevitable signs of both age and neglect.
I love these silos.  
They provide a sense of geometry and architecture to a town that has very little of either.
They stand silently watching over the vast and empty Snake River Plain.
Soldiers never standing at ease.  
Silent guardians of the desert...............
The silos are only a few minutes walk from the house.
Kory knows every square inch of this field (as do I) and I watched her dancing and prancing around the field, enjoying the sight of her.
Enjoying the sheer athleticism of my dog.  Loving the sight of her enjoying herself so much.
She felt free when she was running.
I could see it on her face and see it in her body language.
And I could remember that feeling..............
The BLM fire station, with the Twins in the background.
The fire station is manned throughout the dangerous Idaho wild fire season, which runs from the end of May through the end of September.............
On this particular day I watched Kory as she ecstatically ran in circles and then eagerly returned to me for a small hot dog treat.
As we wandered from one large field to the field containing the silos, my dog suddenly began to sprint towards the gravel road a football field length away from where I stood.
I called to her and she ignored me.
Still sprinting, she ran beyond the silos and beyond the hay bales close to the gravel road.
I watched as she easily cleared the fence, ran across the road and disappeared over a rise on BLM land without missing a beat.
She had played out this scenario 20 times before over the past months only............this time was different.
Something has clicked in my dogs' head recently.
She now predictably stays in the yard instead of bolting for the road and immediately disappearing from view.  She has cut off chases with a bunny or bird and returned to us when we have called to her while she is on the run.  
We can wander close to town and when she takes off she quickly returns to the house.
It's not a perfect system, but it's becoming an increasingly predictable system.
Somehow (as though someone had flipped a switch in her cute little furry head) she has begun to figure out that we will give her more freedom if she wanders within sight and ear shot of her people.
And nowadays we don't panic if she does wander because it is not for long and we know that she will return to us.
Something is beginning to work, she loves the additional freedom that we can now give her, and we love to see her free................
Kory had disappeared over the rise across the road from me and I stood in the silo field wondering briefly what I should do.
I turned back to the silos, snapped a few more pictures of them, and then looked for a low spot along the fence line to climb through so that I could take a direct line to the road.
A switch has been flipped in our dog but when she still disappears outside the city limits I want to find her.
Climbing through the fence I began to cross through an empty field and that is when I heard her.
Turning I saw my beautiful dog.  
Just like the Queen of the Castle she was balancing easily on top of the roof of the last silo.
I called to her and she ran down the side of the silo, sprinted across the field and greeted me with dancing, prancing, puppy energy and enthusiasm.
She wandered, but not far and not for long.
Then she came back to look for me. 
And that's a good thing...............
Sunset picture taken from the side of our neighbors' home................
The sun now sets around 9:30 and I know that I have missed many beautiful pictures over these past months because of my inability to be outside at that time of night.
But on this particular evening I was sitting at our ski picnic table with LC and Kory and realized that the sun was setting over BLM land.
Impulsively grabbing for Korys leash, we walked late in the evening, hoping to see both the setting sun and the deer wandering through town.................
After the endless, energy draining heat of the day, the night was cool and the sky was alive with color.
We wandered slowly through the back section of town and then slowly meandered our way through the few side streets that are in Atomic City, working our way towards the front end of our little, quiet, desolate desert town.
As it always does, the sky was changing in front of my eyes, and the muted and faded yellows and purples and pinks were outstanding in that subtle way that is so quietly beautiful.
And suddenly I was very glad that my dog and I were walking late in the evening..........
Close to the "main" road in town (that is actually just as quiet as every other road in town) something caught my attention.
Standing frozen beside a huge house at the edge of town was a doe.
Unmoving, she watched Kory and I slowly walk in her direction.
Kory had seen her and began to pull on the leash.
I pulled my dog closer to me and slowed our walking down even more.  Kory recognized my quiet tone of voice - I did not want to scare the deer.  
I did not want her to feel threatened.  I did not want to disturb her any more than she was already disturbed by our unexpected presence.
We walked closer and she remained unmoving.
As we passed by the bushes in the yard she moved her head so that she could keep us in view.
We continued slowly walking, and when we were standing directly in front of her we finally stopped for a moment.
Kory was silent and so was I, and when we had all cautiously stared at each other for another minute I gently pulled on Korys leash so that we could move on and leave her alone
Inwardly I smiled at one more quiet interaction with our city deer.............
You may have to enlarge this picture to see the deer..............
These pictures were all taken during a walk last night, and the story behind these pictures is the astonishing light.
The world looked so different because the light looked so different.  
I spent the entire, quiet walk through town looking around me in complete awe of the yellows and blues and greens that were so brilliant and that seemed to have magically brought this sleepy little desert community to life.
Every once in a great while I will see somebody riding on their four wheeler, but nobody ever walks in this town.  
Not in the winter.  Not in the summer.  Not ever.
Occasionally I run into someone working in their yard and we stop and chat for a few minutes.
But in truth, because I run in to so few people I actually give the residents of this town very little thought.
What I DO give a lot of thought to are the buttes, the sky, the trees and flowers and birds in summer, the icy mist and snow and continual ice crystals that cover every surface during the winter, the desert, the mountains, the deer, my quiet and very sweet interactions with my dog.
It is a quiet life that suits my overburdened psyche.  
It is the quiet life I need.
It works.............
Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully........Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

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