Sunday, December 20, 2015

Colder And Clearer

The day after our first big snow storm of the year I wandered onto BLM land in back of town with Kory.
Unlike the previous day, this one was both colder and clearer.
The sky was indescribably blue, I was bundled against the cold, and the combination of blue sky and a region suddenly filled with snow, meant that the world looked beautiful.
There are two trail heads that I walk very often - one to the far left of town and one to the far right.  
On this day my enthusiastic puppy and I walked the roads, trudging through the snow, to the back right of this tiny community.
As soon as we arrived at the edge of the trail I pulled Kory closer to me, and she patiently stood waiting for me to fumble as I unclipped her from the leash.
With a familiar "Go Baby!" my energetic dog immediately began to run, eager to explore even though she had explored this same place hundreds of times before...................
As I noisily trudged through the snow on the trail I glanced to my right.
I stopped for a moment, greatly enjoying the sight of the mountains
 The optical illusion of the mountains in winter always takes me off guard.
The wall of mountains extends for a hundred miles, but in the summer the mountains blend seamlessly with the desert.
In winter, suddenly (and every year unexpectedly) they seem to grow in height  
They dominate the landscape to the north of us, and endless mountain ranges stop blending with the monochromatic terrain and suddenly demand your attention.
They are beautiful.
In fact, this entire region looks beautiful at this time of year.
In the summer I never forget that I live on the Snake River Plain (the desert).  
In the winter I live in remote and extraordinarily beautiful emptiness....................
Trudging through snow again I searched for Kory and found her eagerly sniffing a snow covered sage bush in the middle of the field.
Satisfied that she was close I looked down at the trail.
No vehicle tracks and no human footprints.
But the ever predictable line of multiple coyote tracks.
The coyotes are with us all year long, but aside from the occasional howling and barking I give them little thought during the summer.
In winter they are impossible to ignore.  Their tracks are everywhere.
All over trails.  All across empty BLM land.  All through town.....................
At the end of the first short trail I looked down at the tracks.
They veered in multiple directions and I visually followed them in each direction, following the tracks until they disappeared from sight.
Glancing across the field I again searched for my dog.
She had moved on to another sage bush, hoping to find a rabbit to chase.
All year she has happily chased rabbits, and my dog now has bunnies on the brain.
In and out of the house, over and over again all the time, simply hoping to find one more bunny to chase out of the yard.
Hopefully sniffing one sage bush after another, certain from experience that one will dart out from beneath the sage so that she can give chase.
The simple life of a dog..................
I turned left and picked up one more trail, walking the three quarters of a mile or so through the snow on trail that parallelled the back road of Atomic City.
By the time I reached the end of that trail I called to my dog one more time, and she ran through the snow to catch up with me.
We had played out the same routine more times than I could count over the past two years through both winter and summer.
I have no idea how many times I have watched her chase a rabbit until she (and bunny) were out of sight this past summer.
One time LC was with me, and we watched as our squealing dog took chase.  It was stunning just how much distance they could both cover in such a short period of time.
A minute after she had begun running she was almost out of sight.
And then suddenly we saw the rabbit move it into overdrive.
Literally saw the rabbit running fast and then stunningly he threw in the afterburners and was...........gone.
Neither of us ever knew that rabbits could do that and we turned to each other in surprise.
Who knew?.....................
The day was unbelievably beautiful.
I would take puppy home and go snow shoeing.
Walk across the road from the house, pick up a power line trail that heads down towards the highway, pick up a trail that circled all the way around to the opposite side of town.
In the days since it has snowed I've had a few chances to both snow shoe and cross country ski.
Thank goodness for the first snow, it was a reminder--no matter how old you became and how much you'd seen, things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered..............Candace Bushnell

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