The world looks beautiful.
Achingly, outstandingly, silently beautiful.
On an icy and cold but calm Christmas Day, I walked with my puppy through what feels like an abandoned desert community in the dead of winter.
I read something a while back. It was a short blog post by some unknown and random person, and I happened to find his blog while doing research on Atomic City.
Jokingly the poster allowed his imagination to run wild as he slowly drove through this Tiny Toon Town in the middle of the desert, and he spoke in amused tones of imagining nuclear ravaged zombies peaking out from behind tattered curtains.
There appeared to him that there was nobody living in this quiet place. Only.......as he slowly drove down one empty gravel road after another he could almost FEEL the eyes watching him.
To the outsiders who unexpectedly find themselves slowly driving through town, I suppose that it DOES seem like a strange little place.
Actually........to a woman who LIVES here, it sometimes seems like a strange little place.
But having gotten to know the few residents who call Atomic City home (complete with all their sometimes charming and sometimes not, desert-rat quirks) its just business as usual.
We mow our lawns, take out the garbage, change the oil in our trucks, occasionally visit with each other, bar-b-q in the yard. All the same things that people do in other towns that do not seem quite so..........well..........weird.
On this cold and still day the zombies watched silently from behind their curtains as I walked down the middle of the icy road with my dog................
It was Christmas morning.
The single main road through town had (surprisingly) already been ploughed by the state even on this major holiday, but once we veered onto side roads walking became more of a challenge.
Snow was ankle deep on the roads, but knee deep at each intersection - a function of blowing snow that had piled up overnight.
The most challenging though were the ditches and an energetic dog who eagerly pulled me off road whenever something wholly interesting captured her attention.
With so much snow ditches were almost completely filled and were difficult to see, and I smiled in amusement while watching my dog sink over and over again almost up to her neck..............
Something magical happens to this town after a snow.
Roads and ditches and yards and driveways and wide open space in between sparse homes all blend into one beautiful and white and frozen still life.
All of a sudden a desert town doesn't feel like a desert town anymore.
The snow smooths out the rough edges of both the town and the desert that surrounds it, and the world is at its most beautiful.
As I awkwardly lumbered through snow I looked around me, enamored with this place that I call home.
And then I thought of all the people who live here for six months of the year, before retreating to the warmth of places such as Arizona and southern Texas.
They completely miss the most beautiful season of the year................
There were coyote tracks everywhere we looked.
The rest of the year I could persuade myself that they only wander around BLM land in back of town.
But in the winter the signs are all there.
They wander every street in Atomic City.................
My sweet dog and I walked in town for a long time, wandering up and down every street and I greatly enjoyed the way the world looked in this new, frozen reality.
There are different levels of quiet in Atomic City.
There is the perpetual quiet that we experience most of the year.
A quiet that is broken occasionally by the sounds of a truck driving through town towing a trailer complete with four-wheeler, as it speeds towards great adventures out on BLM land.
Or the quiet that is broken by the sounds of chirping birds during the day or howling coyotes during the night.
The quiet that is temporarily broken by a lawn mower or a chain saw as one local resident or another works out in their yard.
Even the quiet that is broken as Secret Squirrel Lab employees stop at the bar to pick up beer for the drive home after work.
But in winter - when the entire world feels as though it is hibernating - there is a deep and uninterrupted silence. No birds. No chain saws. No four wheelers. Fewer drinking drivers. Fewer planes overhead. Fewer residents.
Just a sleepy and sleeping town that is warmly and securely covered by a blanket of snow that buffers the noise of the world and keeps it all away for many months...............
What a severe yet master artist old Winter is.... No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel................John Burroughs