Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Mountains Are Calling

The past week and a half have been incredibly busy for both me and for LC.
A few days after Christmas LC received a Facebook notification that January 9 was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
A day dedicated to thanking law enforcement officers for the difficult job that they do.
A day for communities across the country to let their law enforcement officers know that they support them.
And with all the negative publicity that law enforcement has received over the past few months across the country, we both felt that letting police know that we support them and have THEIR backs was an important goal.
Looking on line we did not see any organized events scheduled in Idaho.
And so we organized an event.
With nine days to put it together we secured a venue, found speakers, got businesses on board who supplied refreshments, contacted media and spread the word through social media.
And then we crossed our fingers and hoped that both regional law enforcement agencies and the public would support the event.
They did.
It was an outstanding evening and I was very humbled by the experience.
It was a great night filled with good will, and although I am glad that I spear-headed the event it was also exhausting.
It had been a long time since I had organized such things.
A long time since I had spoken publicly, worked the media, contacted organizations, worked to generate enthusiasm in the community around specific events.
A good event at the time and now it feels very good to retreat back to the silence of my small community in the desert again.............

These pictures were all taken a day or so after Christmas, when the world was still filled with heavy snow and when I wandered on BLM land with my dog.
We wandered to a field that was located just on the outskirts of town, where the snow had blown into deep drifts, and where my pup could run and play and fall through the snow to her excited hearts content..............
We do not have mountains close to the home.
We have buttes close by - the Twin Buttes 12 miles from the house, Rattlesnake butte two miles away, Cedar Butte about 8 miles away and Big Southern Butte that is 18 miles from Atomic City and that dominates the landscape in the desert.
But we are surrounded by mountains on all sides.
During the rest of the year they blend seamlessly with the typically beige terrain of the Snake River Plain.
Sometimes they get lost in the haze of hot summer weather.
Sometimes they disappear due to the smoke haze of wildfires that can be located anywhere on the western side of the country in summer.
But in the winter, when the air is cold and crisp and clear, and when the mountains are covered with snow, they tower over the landscape, even though the closest mountains are a little more than 30 miles away.
One more reason that I love this time of year so much...............
I cannot even imagine how much energy it takes for Kory to run in the snow.
She loves it.
She loves to play in it - to bite at it and eat snow like it is her own personal puppy-sno-cone - to bury her face in it - and to run in it.
I smiled as I watched her gleefully running in circles in the field, and smiled again as she constantly post holed down into softening snow.
Breaking through the snowbanks barely even slowed her down..............
About a month ago I wrote of an elderly man and his wife who live in town, who I had gotten to know well over the summer, and who I found myself becoming increasingly fond of.
The man had cancer a couple of years ago (before we even knew the couple), and he had battled and won the fight against his cancer.
They left town just as the temperature was starting to move from cool to cold, as they always do (and as other residents do), and planned on spending the winter (as they always do) with friends and family in Arizona.
Not long after their commute to warmer climes I received a call from the woman saying that her husbands' cancer had returned and that it looked serious.
I wondered at the time how much I would be able to help and support both of them when they returned to Atomic City in the spring.
I received a phone call yesterday from the wife.
He is gravely ill now, and has very little time left.
She is a tiny woman.  Barely five feet tall.
A little grey haired spit fire of a woman, and when I speak to her I am in awe of her strength and grace.............
Coyote tracks that are so abundant and so visible during the winter.
Last winter our herd of 15 or 16 deer lived full time in town.
This year it has been a few weeks since I last saw them, and I wonder where they have disappeared to..............
The same day that the pictures above were taken, I walked with Kory for a second time early in the evening, this time through town.
The bright blue of mid-day had given away to varying shades of darkening blue and purple.
As always through the winter, there was no-one around and the town was completely silent.
The few residents who remain in town at this time of year were safely tucked away inside their warm houses and (although we had a warm fire burning in the living room) I was pleased to escape the bondage of the indoors for a second time, and pleased to enjoy the fading daylight with my joyful dog...............
I quietly laughed at my dog as I watched her.
There was a drainage ditch buried somewhere underneath all of that snow.
The same drainage ditch that she had chased a rabbit into last fall.
The same drainage ditch that we now stop at every single time we walk by this place, just in case that bunny is still there.
I always give Kory time to stop, to smell, to investigate, because it is something important to my dog.
And because it always amuses the hell out of me....................
The early evening on this cold day after a snowstorm was calm and quiet and stunningly beautiful in the fading light of day.
As we walked up and down one little town street after another, I found myself continually looking out over the mountains to our north and west.
They looked beautiful.
As always they called my name.  They were calling to me - silently beckoning me to do...........what?
To explore them?  To walk TO them?  To walk THROUGH them?
LC and I talk about it often.  About moving further up into the Big Lost River Valley, closer to the mountains and the river and the mountain lakes that we know exist but which we have not seen yet (aside from Williams Lake just outside of Salmon).
By the end of this coming year we will have most of our home improvements done.
We love having the endless desert to wander in, and love the silent freedom that both we and Kory enjoy so much.
And truthfully, I like this house very much.
But "the mountains are calling".
Whether or not we need to go is still an unanswered question...............

Dear Sister Sarah:
I have just returned from the longest and hardest trip I have ever made in the mountains, having been gone over five weeks. I am weary, but resting fast; sleepy, but sleeping deep and fast; hungry, but eating much. For two weeks I explored the glaciers of the summits east of here, sleeping among the snowy mountains without blankets and with but little to eat on account of its being so inaccessible. After my icy experiences it seems strange to be down here in so warm and flowery a climate.

I will soon be off again, determined to use all the season in prosecuting my researches–will go next to Kings River a hundred miles south, then to Lake Tahoe and adjacent mountains, and in winter work in Oakland with my pen.

The Scotch are slow, but some day I will have the results of my mount mountain studies in a form in which you all will be able to read and judge of them. In the mean time I write occasionally for the Overland Monthly, but neither these magazine articles nor my first book will form any finished part of the scientific contribution that I hope to make. . . . The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.

My love to you all, David and the children and Mrs. Galloway who though shut out from sunshine yet dwells in Light. I will write again when I return from Kings River Canyon. The leaf sent me from China is for Cecelia.

Farewell, with love everlasting............John Muir  

An hour after I posted this blog I received a phone call from Arizona.  The man died this morning...............

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