Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Cloudless Sky

By the time we moved to Idaho last summer Atomic City was already deeply embedded in the oppressiveness of late summer.
The weather had been hot and dry for a couple of months by then and BLM land was a beige, crunchy, completely dried out desert environment.
There was little color.  
No more growth for the year.  
And we lived with the unending heat and dryness throughout the remainder of July and the entire month of August, before thankfully seeing a cooler and wetter change in the weather right after Labor Day.
This summer was completely different.
It started as predicted, but August was a surprisingly welcome cooler month with much rain.
All that rain did something different to BLM land.
It brought much growth throughout the month, and that growth in September has brought increasing color.
There is still green in the desert.  There are also reds and oranges and yellows.
All the fall colors that I miss so much from back east.
As I write this it is pouring with rain outside.
But a few days ago I walked with Kory on BLM land in back of the house.
I had planned on staying on trail, but 15 minutes after setting my pup free to run and roam, I impulsively stepped off the trail and followed in the direction of my dog.
I had walked this section of BLM land a hundred times.
It was close to the house and I always found this place uninspiring.
There were great views of the buttes and the mountains off in the distance, but the land was flat.
Still, my dog did not seem to care, and I was pleased to be outside on one of the last sunny days before the bottom dropped out and the forecasted rain descended on Atomic City................
Kory is in many of these pictures but disappears into the colors of the terrain.
Click on any picture and it will start a slide show of enlarged pictures.
Back in the spring we had a doggie-vest made for her by a woman in Blackfoot who makes those things.
We met her in a parking lot just inside the city limits, and as Kory happily stood on the tailgate of the truck this woman measured our dog for a vest.
It is bright hunters orange, and Kory will start wearing it now that the weather has begun to cool down.
Hunters are beginning to show up in town, and I know that they are beginning to show up out on BLM land.
From a distance I can see how she might (deliberately or accidentally) be mistaken for a coyote.
I remember reports last year of hunters in other parts of the SE (either using bows or long guns) injuring and killing domestic dogs that had been out with their owners during hunting season.
I am hoping that the orange will help prevent any such accidents from happening to our sweet dog...............
As my dog and I continued to walk and wander on BLM land I began to realize that the predominant green of town had given way to grasses in all manner of fall colors.
There was still large patches of green, but there were now also patches hundreds of acres wide that were filled with orange and brown and yellow and deep red.
I smiled at this realization because I had not expected it.
I didn't know that the desert - that THIS desert - could look like this...............
Kory happily running and jumping in the grass.................
For a few moments I stood in the many colors of knee-high grass, in complete wonderment of what I was seeing all around me.
It was so unexpected.
Thinking back to the electric colors of fall in Tennessee, this was not much to look at.
But compared to the crunchy dried land of a normal early fall in Atomic City, it was magic.
Turning away from the Twins I searched the landscape for my dog.  
And I smiled as I realized that she was frolicking her way back to me..................
Heading back towards town on trail....................
That same day we walked in town late in the evening.
As I approached the little beat up hotel and then walked beyond it, as I approached the little beat up bar and then walked beyond it, I looked past the outskirts of this little nothing town and saw that the sun was beginning to set in the mountains of the Big Lost River Valley 30 miles away.
I can hear it already.
I can hear the silence of this town beginning to settle in for the winter, one small inch at a time..................
Kory and I wandered slowly down each gravel road in town, me enjoying the sunset and looking for the deer.
She just being her simple and loving and curious puppy-self.
I miss Chris.
He graduated from the six month welding course that he was taking and immediately found a job that he seems to like.
Moving into a new place soon and sharing the rent with a guy that he works with.
Doing his thing, and he sounds happy and excited about his life and his future, and I am happy for him.
I miss him very much..................
The deer surprisingly were not in town.
There is still much to eat out on BLM land but I was still surprised to not see any deer at all.
With the realization that we would not see them on this evening walk, I gently pulled on Korys' leash and headed towards the back of town.
Drawn as I always am to the giant butte that towers over the town even though it is 18 miles away, and that silently watches over the desert.
The cloudless sky that had been impossibly blue earlier in the day was now a kaleidoscope of oranges and reds.
The increasing black of the desert floor lay in stark contrast and I realized that it was a beautiful night.
My daughter-in-law has stopped contacting me, and so I have not heard in quite a while how a little boy who I have never met, is actually doing...................
My father had cancer surgery a month or so ago.
They found not only the tumor that they knew about, but also two others that they did not know about.
He is on chemo for the next six months which is serious, but his condition is apparently not as dire as I was first led to believe.
I would have to think for a few minutes just how long it has been since I last spoke to him.
A long time ago.  
A very long time ago.
The boys were very young.....................
It was the farthest she had ever been from home, not only in miles but in feeling. The vastness of the desert frightened her. Everything looked too far away, even the cloudless sky. There was nowhere you could hide in such emptiness.............James Carlos Blake

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