All the unexpected color that we had in the desert through a rainy August and through a mild and warm early fall are now gone, only to be replaced with the familiar brown and beige.
The sky is becoming increasingly angry and I am becoming increasingly impatient for snow.
By tomorrow night the bottom is supposed to drop out.
Not in the way that the bottom drops out in early fall when day time temperatures suddenly change from 80 to 50.
The kind of bottoming out that takes night time temperatures from 32 to 0.
Small chances of snow are in the forecast every day, so I guess we'll see.
And in the meantime, regardless of whether the sun is shining or the snow is falling, and regardless of whether the temperature is 52 or 22, I will walk with my girl.
In the quiet of a quiet town in the middle of the desert, the quiet seems to be cathartic for both of us.
Kory doesn't like Blackfoot.
It is a small, farming town of only 10,000 people, that is located 30 miles to our south.
The place where we bank, and shop, and do all the other types of business that people need to do in order to keep their lives together.
Usually our trips to Blackfoot are busy and entail multiple stops.
Throughout Blackfoot there are garages that use noisy air compressors and other car-repair-things that make loud noises and that scare our dog.
On our approach to town Kory inevitably retreats to the safety of the bunker on the floorboard, and she stays there until we are ready to leave town again.
LC, after watching her hunker down on the floor of the truck for the first time, made a joke about the unexpected noise and our new dogs' response to it.
Blackfoot is now unofficially known at the Puppy Killing Place.
After negotiating too much traffic and inevitably spending too much money, we are always pleased and over eager to finally blow out of town.
Within five minutes of leaving Blackfoot we have the highway to ourselves, Kory finally makes her reappearance, and both of those are good things................
Although we still do not have snow in Atomic City, we are surrounded by snow.
This morning there was light snow covering Big Butte.
There was also light snow covering one of the Twin Buttes, but interestingly only one.
In the mountain ranges to our north though, there is increasing amounts of snow, which began almost a month ago and which has only increased from that time to this.
Late a few evenings ago I walked with Kory.
It was almost dark and I had planned on staying in town.
On the spur of the moment, and instead of turning left at the end of the main road and picking up one of the town side roads, Kory and I continued walking straight, impulsively heading out of town.
Turning onto the first trail outside of town we wandered together around the outskirts of the raceway, that is now dormant to the next six months.
Absently walking, taking turns wandering on trail and wandering through open fields filled with knee high sage bushes.
It had been raining most of the day, but this late in the afternoon I looked to the north and could see that the skies were beginning to clear.
It was supposed to be cool and sunny the next day.
What I was seeing in front of me told me that the forecast would hold true.
The mountains close to Howe (about 20 miles from Atomic City) were filled with snow and the pink clouds of a setting sun..................
In the northwest the mountains that had been hidden all day were beginning to make their reappearance.............
And looking back the way we had come, Atomic City was bathed in a pink sky.
I could see the lights of the bar, Big Butte behind town, and the red sky that was battling with the heavy cloud cover that had dominated the town all day.
It really was going to be a nice day tomorrow!
I had planned on walking a little further on the trail, picking up another trail and then one more on the far left side of town, that would eventually circle me back to the house.
My main concern at the time was getting back to the house before it got too dark, but instead my concern quickly turned to coyotes.
I could not see them but I could hear them to the north of me.
There were a few of them.
Standing for a few moments listening to the coyotes and watching Kory intently sniffing a sage bush, I briefly debated what I should do.
I could hear LC's voice in my head. Take your gun. No, I'm just staying in town.
So much for just staying in town........
Here I was standing in the middle of a trail, close to dark, listening to coyotes off in the not-too-far distance.
After a brief internal conversation I decided to take Kory back the way I had come. It was the quickest way to get back into the city limits...............
Walking the next morning in bright sunshine...............
After a couple of frustrating weeks trying to get in touch with Chris, I finally talked to him last night.
He has moved yet again, and this time is sharing a house with two other people.
One guy and one woman and the woman is apparently more than a room-mate but less than a significant relationship.
He seems happy with the move, happy with the room-mates, happy with the woman, and it sounds like it is a good living situation all around.
It is good to hear that he is with a woman in some capacity because I think that it has been a long time for him.
I am happy to hear that he is living with people that he likes.
If I think about it all too much, I know how much I worry about him.
He has been alone up there all this time.
And it pleases me if I know that he is a little less alone........
Two and a half years ago Chris moved to Calgary and for a few days he was unemployed, homeless and living out of his car.
Thankfully only for a few days on all counts.
In these past couple of years my son has moved countless times, had countless different jobs, finally decided on a career path, and finally gone to school to get the training he needed.
He got a job in his field right out of school and this week his probationary period is over.
After many stops and starts my child is finally pulling all the pieces together and building himself a life.
When he talks to me I can still hear the scattered thoughts and the what-ifs - his mind moving at warp speed and even through the phone I can hear the hamster wheel in his head spinning wildly.
But that's just Chris.
Always working the angles. Always seeking and striving and struggling to find his place in the world.
When he called me last night he had just finished shoveling snow and wanted to talk for a long time.
I still remember the first time that he was in Iraq.
I never knew when my son would call me, and more often than not he would wake me in the middle of the night.
In the middle of the night my Air Force son would talk to me for well over an hour at a time, talking in that free wheeling and random way he has when he just wants to connect and reconnect with me.
I would sit in my pajamas with my feet up on the desk in the home office, listening to Chris babble on.
I think he liked the calls because he called me often that first time. The second time he was over there we got cut off frequently and with no warning.
I know that I liked the calls.
He was OK. He was safe. He was fine.
He was OK.
More calls than not over the past couple of years have been sporadic and brief. But recently they have been longer.
I will take that as a good sign.................
My dog happily chewing on a rawhide bone in the living room..............
There is more to a boy than what his mother sees. There is more to a boy then what his father dreams. Inside every boy lies a heart that beats. And sometimes it screams, refusing to take defeat. And sometimes his father's dreams aren't big enough, and sometimes his mother's vision isn't long enough. And sometimes the boy has to dream his own dreams and break through the clouds with his own sunbeams...........Ben Behunin