A small herd of deer spent the entire winter living in Atomic City.
Living under the trees and the bushes in the yards of town residents.
Roaming easily and comfortably from one yard to the next, grazing on whatever they could find or dig up through the snow or on whatever a resident accidentally dropped to the ground (that's my story and I am sticking to it).
Living safely and securely in this tiny and isolated town in the middle of nowhere and nothing.
Kory and I walked every silent, wintery day in town, never knowing exactly where we would find them but always excited when we finally did.
We loved to see them, silently grieved when one of them died, simply enjoyed the presence of them in this months-long frozen world.
And then one day early in the spring they simply disappeared.
All of them heavily pregnant, the beautiful herd wandered back into the desert without announcement or fan fare and we did not see them for months.
Until the other day.............
About a week ago I woke up early and went through the same first-thing-in-the-morning routine that I have gone through ever since we moved to this place.
I stumbled into the living room, opened the curtains, checked the temperature, moved into the kitchen and open the curtains, and then turned to the coffee pot.
As I was waiting for coffee left over from the night before to heat in the microwave, I absently looked out the kitchen window.
At first I wasn't sure what I was looking at, but as I moved closer to the window I realized that yes............there were deer partially hidden among the trees across the road.
They were grazing on the lush green grass and they were bright red.
After the pregnant bellies, the thick grey/brown fur of winter, the months-long disappearance, it was startling to see them again.
As quietly as they had disappeared, they had just as quietly returned.
I could not tell through the trees how many there were, but certainly a few.
As I heard the beep of the microwave I realized that I was pleased to see them but not ecstatic.
All the work we had done in the yard - the iris', the rose bushes, the annuals and perennials, the flowering bushes, the tomato and pepper plants in pots.
The flowers whose name I didn't know and the little trees whose type I didn't know (but which we had been nurturing through spring and summer).
Suddenly all of that growth (and all of that work) was in jeopardy.
The deer were beautiful, gentle, wonderful creatures, but boy could they devastate a yard....................
That same day LC and I put fencing around the little trees and the growing vegetable plants.
The rest? We'd just have to cross fingers and hope for the best....................
I did not see them again for a couple of days.
And then I saw one running across yards in the back of town.
And then I saw three sitting in someone's yard.
And then I saw four in the same yard across the street from us.
How many are in town in total right now?
I have no idea.
No idea if I saw different deer or the same ones as they roamed from yard to yard.
It is what it is and they are beautiful, and we have fingers crossed that the lushness of town will keep them from devastating our yard for as long as possible....................
3 beautiful does................
And one shy little buck......................
A few days later (and with temperatures very hot and dry) I waited until late in the evening, loaded up my dog and drove only a mile into the desert before stopping in the middle of the trail and setting her free to roam.
She has two favorite places close to town that LC and I have nicknamed Rabbit Ridge and Bunny Holler.
With names like those it is not hard to understand why Kory loves these areas so much.
Oh my gosh it was hot.
We had retreated to the coolness of the house for most of the day.
By an hour before sunset I knew that it was time to wander just a little before it got dark.
After springing Kory from the back of the Suburban I turned and looked back towards town.
Absently I wondered what the sunset would look like on this night, and after turning west towards the mountains to see how high the sun was in the sky, I instantly made the decision that we would hang around in the desert for an hour or so.
She would run and occasionally chase rabbits, and I would slowly walk the trail.
It was a beautiful night..................
There are holes all over the desert.
Signs of critters large and small that have burrowed themselves a home in the now-bone-dry soil.
As I slowly walked the gravel trail (keeping one eye on Kory and one eye on the rapidly descending sun) I stopped for a moment, surprised, and studied this hole
It was huge. By far the biggest and deepest hole I had seen in the almost three years we have lived here.
What the heck would live in a hole this big?
A badger maybe?
I had no idea.
But I had intention of getting any closer.
Whatever lived there was welcome to live in peace, away from woman and hopefully away from dog...............
Over the next 30 minutes I watched as the sky slowly began to change - transforming from the deep blue of a hot summer day, into the subtle pinks and lilacs and yellows of a still-warm summer evening.
There were no clouds for the sun to reflect off, and so there would be no magnificent sunset on this day.
But it was a beautiful night none-the-less...............
It was getting dark very quickly.
Looking away from the setting sun, I scanned to darkening desert floor.
No sign of Kory.
I called to her and then called her again.
For the next five minutes I called continually to my dog and after straining my voice for a second time that day (the first time is another story for another day) instantly decided that I would not call her again.
When I reached the Suburban I beeped the horn continuously for a minute before climbing in and starting the engine.
A minute later my tired, overheated and thirsty pup came sprinting over the rise.
Hello Baby Girl. Where did you GO? Get in - it's time to go home
Kory happily jumped into the back of the Suburban.
After a few sips of water from my hand I climbed back into the vehicle, drove a big circle in the desert as I turned the Suburban around, and slowly drove back towards town.............................
Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under...........C. JoyBell C.