Until a few days ago winter was a hit and miss affair in Atomic City.
Unlike last year where winter came early and stayed late, for the past couple of months we have had an eclectic mixture of cold nights and warm days interspersed with periods of snow that quickly melted away.
As I walked with Kory out on BLM land a few days before Christmas I looked around me.
There was much snow in the mountains all around us, but BLM land was filled only with the dried beige grasses and sage bushes that typically dominate the terrain in fall.
NOAA promised snow the day before Christmas and so I had hope that maybe the day would be white after all.
By mid-day on Christmas Eve the skies finally opened and finally dropped their promised snow.
It snowed heavily throughout the rest of the day and then throughout the night, and by Christmas morning Atomic City was covered not with an inch or two of snow, but by at least six inches with drifts that were well over a foot deep.
Like a little kid I constantly looked out the front room window, excited at what was happening outside, while the big wood stove in the living room worked over time trying to keep the house warm.
By late on Christmas Eve night LC, Kory and I ventured out into the freezing darkness of the back yard.
By that time the half torn down greenhouse was buried under fallen and drifting snow, and we had to push the back door open to get outside..............
Christmas is a troublesome time of year for both of us now.
Filled with the comfort of each other but also silently filled with those who are away from us.
Filled with pain that both of us try to pretend is not there but its there anyway.
Silently and invisibly swirling around us, like the fall of silent and swirling snow on a cold winter night.
Christmas morning we again ventured outside with our sweet dog to see what the world looked like in its new, white reality................
The wood that we cut during multiple trips to Aberdeen in the spring.
That sat in a huge pile throughout the summer, silently beckoning us to split it and stack it and get it out of the middle of the yard.
The wood that we could not even face for so many months after working so hard to get it all, but which was finally split and stacked in the fall.
It will sit where it is for a year or two and then it will be ready for our wood stoves...............
Wearing pajamas, a winter coat and insulated boots, I wandered through shin deep snow while watching my dog relish in the wonderment of this new world.
As I watched her dance in the snow, then bury her face in it, then sprint ecstatically backwards and forwards from one end of the yard to the other over and over again, I remembered the first time she saw snow.
We had only had our Florida dog for a month or so, and as we were working to establish a relationship with each other I walked to the front door in preparation for a morning walk.
Kory looked out the front door, barked, backed up, walked in circles.
She did this over and over again as I pulled my boots and coat and hat and gloves on, and I watched her surprised - wondering what was wrong with this dog that we had only known for a short time.
Finally it dawned on me.
Kory had never seen snow before.
And she had no idea why her new world - that she was still getting to know - had suddenly turned white.
It did not take her very long to learn that she loved snow as much as I did..................
The old school house.
Long since closed, I was always curious to know what this building looked like on the inside.
I had heard that the teacher of this small school (that serviced the children of this small town back in the 50's) actually lived in the back of the building.
Armed with that limited knowledge (and having walked around the property one day and enjoyed the many trees that the land possessed) I imagined a wonderful old building that was frozen in time on the inside.
Maybe there was an old blackboard, old desks, old wooden desk chairs, perhaps a toy or some aged reminders of a teachers living quarters.
Instead, there was simply a moldy cinder block building that possessed no light, many dark corners, no finished walls.
It could be something if anyone cared about it. But right now it is simply an old cinder block building. One of many empty cinder block buildings in town.
A town resident bought the building a few months ago, cleaned up the yard and performed some perfunctory external painting before leaving town again for the winter.
It is again up for sale....................
Just last weekend we bought a new fishing boat.
We had been working on the little fiberglass boat that I found in Atomic City a few months ago, and that I negotiated for in exchange for four hours of sorting and moving nasty, mildewy boxes for an elderly lady here in town.
One day about six weeks ago LC saw a local Facebook post. A couple were desperately searching for a small row boat for their three fishing-loving boys,
LC followed their search and then finally asked me one day if I would mind if he sold our boat to them.
He really wanted the boys to have a boat, and it was becoming obvious that their parents were having no luck in their search.
Smiling at my Mountain Boy (who served in the military and who served in law enforcement and who is one of hardest and toughest men I have ever met, but who is also much more tender hearted than I will ever be) I told him no. I didn't mind. Sell it to them if they want it.
As long as you promise to put the money towards another fishing boat.
A few days later the parents came out to the house. They excitedly said that they would take it. LC dropped the price so that they could use some of their boat money to buy paddles. The parents asked if we could store the boat for them, until the day before Christmas. LC said no problem.
With the boat sold we quickly sold our beat up trailer(that had fit our little row boat perfectly) to a friend in Challis.
Armed with old row boat and old trailer money, we began a search for a new fishing boat.
For a few weeks we both looked non-stop on local classified sites for a boat. It was the wrong time of year to be shopping for fishing boats but we looked anyway.
And we traveled to see a couple of boats that turned out to be overpriced pieces of junk.
A surprising number of people treat their recreational equipment (campers, boats, snow mobiles, four wheelers) very badly it seems............
Although LC was hoping for a metal boat, we kept coming back to a fiberglass boat that was sitting in the backyard of a home three hours from us.
In the meantime, LC decided that he wanted a Russian SKS.
If we got the SKS we would have to save more money before we got another boat.
LC wanted that SKS and so we got an SKS..............
And then two weeks ago the parents of the boys unexpectedly called us.
They had found a boat that they liked better and had bought it.
Could they get their money back?
After a month, they wanted their money back? Really??
A man who is much more tender hearted than I am said yes of course.
So now we had less money that we thought we had, a small fiberglass row boat that we thought we had sold, and no trailer..............
After all of these weeks of selling boats and not selling boats and selling trailers and seeing boats that looked promising but eventually weren't - and buying SKS's and thinking we had a certain amount of money and then didn't - things happened very quickly.
We quickly sold a large chain saw for a decent amount of money.
At the same time, we found a fishing boat in Moore (just seven miles north of Arco), quickly went to see it, and quickly negotiated a very good price for it.
After six weeks of expected and unexpected boat and trailer and gun and money adventures, we now own a great 14 foot deep V bottom fishing boat and trailer...................
Covered just in time before the snow hit.
And a picture of the day we brought it to the house...............
I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it...............Rosalia de Castro