Friday, December 12, 2014

Where Coyotes Howl and Deer Retreat

Days continue to be quiet, the ground continues to be snow-less, life continues to move along in silence, and I continue to spend much time out on empty land with my joyous dog..............
I always smile when I see these pieces of equipment.
City Hall in Atomic City consists of a drafty mobile home.
And city equipment consists of stacked and old, metal picnic tables that never move from their home in back of City Hall, an old tractor, a couple of old fire trucks and some old piece of equipment that keep the grass mowed and the ditches cleared of sage brush.
Most of the equipment was donated from other towns when they upgraded their own equipment.
The fire trucks never move because we have a BLM fire station at the edge of town from May through October and the Secret Squirrel Lab just down the road.
The mower is used very much and care is taken to keep fire breaks and ditches open, as a way to combat the high risk of wild fires throughout the summer.
And the good ole tractor seems to randomly and mysteriously move from one location in town to another every few months or so.
Old and mostly silent equipment in the tiniest of Tiny Towns..............
A few days ago and late in the day I left the house with my dog.
Originally I had intended to walk her on leash over to the far right edge of town, set her free, and let her run on BLM land as we followed trails that circled all the way around Atomic City in back.
Within only a few minutes of walking with my dog though I realized that that was not going to happen.
I could hear them.  And so could Kory.
Many coyotes were barking and yapping and crying out in that way coyotes have, and they were exactly where I had planned to go with Kory.
Instead, we stayed on the roads, cut back to our left and headed towards the Hay Bale Field and the silos.
If the coyotes were to the right of town we would head to the left of town.
It was slow going because Kory was obviously confused and upset by the constant yapping of animals that (I could tell by her body language) she considered to be unfriendly and potentially dangerous.
The sun was rapidly descending, the sky was changing color ever moment, and even at 5pm the temperature was beginning to drop like a rock.
As we approached the Hay Bale Field in the rapidly fading daylight I looked up and was surprised to see a set of ears poking out from in front of one of the silos.
And then another set and then one more.
Kory and I were still walking on the road, and they were difficult to see in the fading light, but after one long look I realized that there were in fact many deer close to the silos.
Just as WE had, the town deer had retreated to the relative safety of the silos when they heard the pack of howling coyotes...............
I had planned on walking the road all the way to the trail entrance, but once I realized that the deer were all clustered together I veered off trail, pulled gently on Korys leash and encouraged her to follow me.
Pleased to see them, I also realized that Kory was not going to be running off leash on this excursion.
Deer to the left of me - coyotes to the right - here I am - stuck in the middle with you.............
By the time Kory and I were slowly and cautiously walking through an open field, the entire herd of 15 or so deer were all fully aware of our presence.
My curious dog stared at the deer, mesmerized by them.  Shhhhhh Baby.  I whispered
She shushed.
They were already scared and I did not want to scare them any more.
Although temperatures are unseasonably warm again, we live in the high desert of Idaho and eventually winter would settle into the bone structure of the land.
These beautiful things had an entire winter to get through, and I did not want to stress them any more than they already were.
There was a fence that separated the field Kory and I were in from the field where the deer were, and Kory and I slowly.......ever so slowly......made our way towards the fence hoping to get a closer look at them.
Click on the pictures to enlarge............
There were a handful of deer grouped close to the silos, and the remainder were all strung out in a makeshift line from the silos to long-abandoned hay bales perhaps 50 feet away.
As Kory and I slowly made our way closer to the fence line, the deer beside the silos became unsettled and scurried closer to the rest of the herd.
I stopped moving and Kory stopped with me, and we both stood staring at the deer who were silently staring back at us................
A few more steps and I decided that was close enough.
Zooming my little digital camera in as far as i could, I slowly raised it and began furiously snapping pictures, knowing that the deer could turn and run at any time, and knowing that in only a few more minutes it would be too dark to capture anything at all.
They were wary and watchful and after a few minutes I turned away from them, pulled on Korys leash again and slowly headed away from them.
It was time to leave them be..................
My pup did not get to run on this night.
Instead, we watched deer and then wandered up and down empty gravel roads in town before eventually meandering our way back to the house.
An impulsive snapshot of a jet in the dark sky..................

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls............Edward Abbey

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