Friday, April 17, 2015

Not Enough Desert Yet

The Twin Buttes, 20 miles away...............

Temperatures are all over the map these days, as is usual in Idaho at this time of year.
Today was endlessly sunny, still and over 60 degrees (which feels inexplicably warm after both of us having spent so much time in the south east).
A couple of days ago it was cold and very windy.
It was the second day in a row for cold and windy, but bored Kory needed to run, and bored Karin and LC needed to wander and explore.
And so we drove out to our new favorite place (for now - until the next "new favorite place" gets found), about 8 miles from Atomic City and close to Cedar Butte.
We had originally stopped in this place a few weeks ago in an attempt to feed my deep seated desire to be around trees.
This section of BLM land is expansive in that way that those who live in small and over-populated states such as Tennessee could never imagine.
It feels as though it goes on forever.
It feels as though humanity long abandoned it.
If, indeed, it had ever inhabited it.
It feels limitless and I can taste freedom when I am out there.
And because of all those things, we all three continue to explore "The Cedar Trees", in addition to other large swaths of endless land..................
After pulling off the gravel road and parking in amongst the dirt and sage brush, we climbed out of the Tahoe.  
Surprised by the strength of the wind, I held tight to the truck door, fighting to keep it under control.
Slamming the door hard I looked up to check on pup, and then headed to the back door of the Tahoe.
LC was already rummaging through an emergency gear box that we keep in back, looking for a hat for me.
I was wearing a light windbreaker, and instantly regretted not wearing a heavier jacket.
No matter.
With fleece hat pulled low, LC and I headed towards the cedar trees.
From where we were parked we crossed over a large and open section of BLM land filled with nothing but sage bushes and endless clumps of tiny and fragile white flowers.
Beyond the wide open was a huge clump of cedar trees.
Followed by more wide open, and then still more trees.
This was the third time that we had been to this place, and we had only just begun to scratch the surface.
There was much to see.......................
As we continued to head further away from the Tahoe I looked to my left.
The top of Big Butte dominated the landscape, and when I look at this picture it is hard to believe that there was 10 miles of distance between us and this behemoth in the desert..................
When we finally reached the safe haven of the trees, the world instantly became quiet.
The unexpected quiet of being hidden in this wind block was as shattering as the unexpected noise had been when we first stepped out of the Tahoe.
Kory was dancing in and through the trees, and I smiled as I caught a brief glimpse of her before she  disappeared again.
Glancing over at LC I could tell that he was loving this trip already.
It was nice to get out from the battering wind, and together we began to wander in and out of trees, ready to find whatever it was that we would find................. 
Looking north towards the Lost River Valley...............
As I was painting the house day after day through the month of March I kept my eyes focused on the prize.
Actually there were two prizes.
The first was a house exterior that was now adequately protected for a few years.
 A newly painted exterior that made the house look much nicer than the faded and peeling that we had reluctantly lived with for over a year and a half.
The second prize was going camping in April.
It does not look as though camping will happen now until May, which is disappointing but OK.
The weather has been too unpredictable.
It snowed overnight a couple of nights ago.  Enough to cover the ground but which quickly disappeared by mid-morning the next day.
 And I have been bogged down both in organizing a special event in Arco (scheduled in early May) and the knowledge that LC and I must attend a memorial next week for the elderly town resident who died of cancer a few months ago while wintering down in Arizona.
His wife grieves in ways that I do not understand.  Or maybe there is actually little grief.  Maybe.
Her husband knew many people and she is holding the memorial for the benefit of those people and we are helping with providing food and I want no part of it.
Yet I will be a part of it, because it is only polite.  
And to be respectful to a decent man.
I don't know.
I wasted a winter worrying about a little old lady down in Arizona who had just lost her husband and who would soon be returning alone to the huge house in town that she had shared with her husband.
I wasted a winter.
Wasted energy emotionally investing, when there is little energy to waste and I hate that I did that.
I don't know..................
Tiny and fragile yellow flowers hidden under the trees................
An endless expanse of desert between us and the mountains................
The previous blog entry I made told the story of how LC and I helped a baby sheep find his way home to the rest of the herd.
All of that happened about 10 miles away from where we stood on this day, and I am continually surprised and delighted about the diversity of terrain where we live..................
There are spring flowers all over the desert right now.
They are all small, fragile, found in clumps and hidden among the sage bushes and cedar trees...............
We wandered and walked, braved the wind and then retreated to the trees................
And Kory danced and pranced her way around this section of BLM land.
She loves to do this, and she is hard to nail down in pictures because she wanders so much.
She has figured us out when we are wandering in the wide open - we call her, she returns to touch base, and then she is off again, exploring her world in her Kory way...................
I look at him and realize that he and I have been together for just over eight years now.
His life has been hard.
My life has been hard.
After eight years this rough and tough man is still the only person who has the capacity to smooth out all of the rough edges that I have.
Rough edges that (through years of practice) are mostly invisible to most people.
Except him.
He knows them.
The only person who ever knew them.
 The only person who could ever keep up with me.
And every day I am still in awe of how lucky I am to have finally found such a good and decent man.................
Over the past few months we have found many of these, and have begun one more informal collection.
At the house we have a bowl full of seeds and nuts and pods we collected on walks in Tennessee, a bowl filled with blue shells that we collected on beach heads in Alaska, and one more bowl filled with tiny shells from the sandy beach at Mud Lake here in Idaho.
These small rocks are shiny and black, and lay seemingly at random on the desert floor among the cedar trees.
As we find them we collect them, and our bowl of shiny, black rocks is growing................
When we walked on trails while up in Juneau, it was very common to find soft ground underfoot.
Juneau received hundreds of inches of rain every year, and hundreds more inches of snow, and so a cushion soft ground filled with moss was very common.
When I found this same moss under a large clump of cedar trees in the Snake River Plain in Idaho, I was stunned.
It was the last thing I had ever expected...................
Shall I run back into the desert ... and stay there until the devil has passed out of me and I am fit to meet human kind again without driving it to despair at the first look? I haven't had enough desert yet..............Saul Bellow

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