Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The World Offering Itself

It rained very hard and non-stop for one day, and LC, Kory and I hunkered down in the house, started a fire, took naps and contentedly watched movies under blankets on the couch.
By the second day I was ready to walk and so was my puppy.
By mid-morning I finally bundled up against the damp cold and headed out towards BLM land so that Kory could run off leash.
As we wandered down wet gravel road towards open public lands I looked at the buttes.
The day before they had been completely hidden in the clouds and rain, but on this day they finally began to make their reappearance.
It had been a long while since I had seen them look like this, and as I glanced over at first the Twin Buttes in one direction and then the Big Butte in another I realized that I was looking at the onset of the low cloud cover and inversions that will be a regular visitor to our landscape for many months to come.
The vegetation (both in town and on BLM land) was vivid with color from all the rain.
Well............as vivid as color gets in this desert.................
Still in town I debated briefly whether I should wander to the far left side of the back of town and pick up the trail there, or head to the far back right side of town and pick up THAT trail.
Reluctant to give that decision any more thought than it deserved, I headed to the back right.  
We would pick up the trail, walk out onto BLM land close to the large piece of green and yellow John Deere equipment that had been sitting silently in the middle of nowhere and nothing since mid spring, circle our way back to the far left side of town and pick up one more trail that would lead us back to the road and home.................
As we left the town road and hit the trail I did what I always do when I am walking off road with my dog.
I internally debated when the best time was to let her loose.
Not too close to town because I did not want her to turn and head back into town without me.
Kory running through town has become less of an issue over the past few weeks, but I still don't trust her yet.
We spent far too much time this spring and summer retrieving our dog, apologizing to neighbors, hoping that we would find HER before she found the chickens and the cats.  
So she has some trust to rebuild.
But I think there is progress that has been made, and I hope that my wayward mutt is learning that she can run all she wants inside our yard and out on BLM land.
Half way up the short trail I leaned down, unhooked Kory and pointed her straight ahead, encouraging her to go run and play.
She did....................
By the time I had wandered over to John Deere my feet were soaking wet.  I have rain boots, but in this place I never think to put them on.
No matter.  It was damp and it was cool but it was not freezing, and almost at the same moment that I recognized that my feet were wet was the moment I disregarded my wet feet.
I had raced all over the right side of the country for seven years with soaking wet feet.  Feet that were wet most of the time for days on end.   
A brief walk in a wet desert field filled with greens and yellows and burnt oranges was nothing but a thing...................
My speed demon dog blending almost seamlessly with the terrain...............
I walked.  She ran.  Eventually we turned away from John Deere and headed through the tall and wet grass, both of us enjoying the freedom and the silence of this wide open world we had ventured out into.
As I stood in the now drizzling rain I watched my sweet girl wandering.
They say that one of the great tragedies in life is that a dog does not live as long as a human.
In truth I did not know a whole lot about dogs when I brought Jamie into my home after my divorce.
I had certainly never LOVED a dog before.
But Jamie and I were devoted to each other.  She would have walked into a burning building if I was inside it.  I would have done the same for her.
And we hiked mountains together, crossed creeks together, investigated every nook and cranny on trails from Tennessee to Alaska together.  Shared meals together.  Shared bottles of water together.   Slept together.  
I miss her.
I never imagined that finding Kory so soon after Jamie died would be so cathartic.
I was uncertain and wary of bringing another dog into our lives so soon.
But Kory is the same sweet, loving, caring, adventurous spirit that Jamie was.
I'm glad that we have her.................. 
Later in the evening we walked again, this time in town.................
Now that the weather is beginning to cool down Kory and I are officially in Search For The Deer mode.
Turning onto a side road in the center of town I looked up and realized that there was a good size herd grazing in an open field next to a residents home.
I stopped walking and Kory immediately followed suit.
Slowly I pulled my pup closer to me and spoke softly to her, encouraging my sweet girl to stay calm.
I did not want to get too close or alarm the herd.
They are still wary and skittish and I knew that any sudden movements would send them into a run.
At this time of year I want them to conserve all the energy that they can.
Snapping a couple of quick pictures I knew immediately that I was too far away for my little digital camera to capture anything interesting.
Slowly Kory and I walked a few steps closer and stopped.  
They watched.
Another few slow steps.
They watched.
They slowly began to trot towards the road, and my silent and staring pup and I watched as they one by one crossed over and disappeared into the trees in a yard belonging to one more resident...............
After the last had disappeared, Kory and I began moving again, and we headed up the road to see if we could get some more pictures of our town deer.
By the time we reached the home I realized with delight that there was a herd of 12 all scattered in the grass and among the trees, all happily grazing.
I pulled Kory close to me again, not wanting to startle them.
And began snapping pictures.................
The deer up on its hind legs is a young buck.
This was the second time I had seen him standing on his hind legs in an attempt to reach the higher leaves on the trees.
The first time I saw him I did not get my camera up in time and missed the shot.
This time I caught the shot.
He was the only buck in this herd on this day, even though I saw three young bucks traveling through town together through the summer.
There was an older and larger buck in town last year but I have not seen him yet this year...................
After snapping many pictures I stashed my camera into one side pocket of my rain shell, released Korys' leash so that she could wander out from me and continued walking.
By the time I had reached the next home I was startled to see three more deer.
15 on this day in total.
The three deer were made up of one doe and two youngsters, and I smiled when I saw them...............
I have seen two sets of twins this year, and one single baby.
As I stood for a few moments and looked at the twins in this yard I wondered if they were the same ones that I had seen early in the spring.
It was early in the morning and still half asleep I wandered out into the back yard with Kory.
We walked over to the back fence and as I looked through the bushes into the alley I suddenly realized that there was a doe silently staring at me from the neighbors' back yard.
I did not have my camera with me.  I was still wearing pajamas.  Was still half asleep.  Was silently imploring my dog to just hurry up and go pee already so that I could head back into the house and blindly feel around the kitchen for my first cup of coffee.
And then I saw her face.
I stood looking at her.  Smiling inwardly at the sight of her.
She was standing beside a camper and sudden movement caught my attention.
One tiny little spotted baby deer crawled out from underneath the camper, unsteadily walked the 10 feet or so to her momma, and then plopped down at her mothers' feet exhausted.
A minute later a second baby crawled out from underneath the camper and repeated the same process, and I was instantly in love with these tiny, new, unsteady little things.
They could not have been more than a day or two old at that point.
I enjoyed them for another minute and then gently nudged my dog away from the fence.
All three of them needed quiet.  They did not need the presence of interloping dogs and half asleep women in their pajamas.
I don't know if THESE young deer were THOSE tiny deer or not.
But it pleased me at that moment to think that maybe they were...................
Continuing on, Kory and I walked around the large block and returned to the same place where we had first caught sight of the deer.
Maybe we could catch one more glimpse of them before heading back towards the house.................
By the time we had circled the block and returned to that first open field, our deer were crossing back over the road.
We watched as one by one they reappeared from the security of the treed yard, crossed over the road, and then trotted across another open yard before disappearing yet again...............
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things................Mary Oliver

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