Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cleanest Dog In Atomic City

Summer is here.
More or less.
Two weeks ago temperatures rose to 90 degrees, and I was quickly reminded that we live in the desert.
Hot.  Dry.  Dusty.  
For a week we did whatever we needed to do outside early in the morning, retreated to the coolness of the house throughout the day, and made our reappearance again outside only late in the day.
Living as vampires.
It was too hot to be outside for long.
Too hot even to go to the lake since most of the lakes in the area have few trees along the shore and therefore little shade.
Too hot to bike.  Too hot to hike.  Too hot to mess with sprinklers for very long before blindly heading for the door leading back into the house.
So a week of heat.
And then a week of cold.
And now a week of searing and unrelenting heat again.
My least favorite time of year.........................

On one early evening day I gathered up my restless puppy, and restless puppy and restless momma headed out to Cedar Butte.
it was still hot even though it was almost 8pm and even though I was restless I knew as soon as I climbed out of the Suburban that I was bored and physically unambitious.
Restless but restless in that emotional way that I have far too often these days - that vague and ill-defined feeling of being lost.  The incongruent feeling that lazily drifts in the air like random circles of cigarette smoke in a tightly closed room.
It goes nowhere.  It never succeeds in fully morphing into recognizable form.  It just exists without really existing.
I watched as Kory leaped from the back seat immediately after I opened the truck door, and then smiled as my puppy gleefully took off in a fast run to nowhere.
After a couple of years of traveling through life together I knew that Kory would quickly slow down.
Right after the initial joy of freedom and acknowledgement of the ability to run anywhere she wanted to had run its course.
Kory still loves to run.
But she is a little slower this year than she was last year. 
Not much.  Just a little.
But after watching the speed and agility and boundless energy of the past couple of summers, even the slightest of slow down in her is jolting to me.   
As I watched her move from sprinting to investigating I looked beyond the huge open parking area and watched the cows grazing for a few moments on the opposite side of the dirt road.
As she headed in their direction I called to her, and Kory quickly turned and jogged back in my direction.
We would wander the trail for a while.....................      
As Kory ran up ahead of me I slowly walked the trail continuing to feel lost.
Roaming in search of..........what?
Before I had time to contemplate the introspective question that is always without answer I looked to my right and saw the large, bowed and buckled lava rock.
It was about 10ft x 6 ft and mostly flat except for the ripples that scrolled across the surface of it.
I had walked in this place many times over the past coupe of years and had never noticed it before.
Quickly I snapped this picture and then studied the unexpected rock for a moment, as always instantly transported back in my mind to a time when this desert was a hot, churning, violent, explosive place.
To the left of the trail were 100s of acres of lave rock fields, only some of which I had explored.
To the right of the trail this lava rock lay alone among the sage brush, the wild flowers, and the trees and hills of Cedar Butte.....................
By the time I reached Kory she was happily sitting in the grass chewing on something disgusting to me but wonderful to her, that she had found in her brief travels in the desert.
As I stood beside my pup I looked down at what she was carefully holding in her paws trying to figure out what she had found.
No idea.
Along her shoulder blade I saw that she had rolled in something.
One more disgusting thing that gave Kory so much pleasure and I continued walking, knowing that she was a happy puppy right now and would catch up with me quickly......................
A pair of very dusty boots that are quickly becoming more holes than boots.
They'll last me for the summer.
It was still too hot for my Norwegian blood and as I turned in search of my cowpile rolling-dead-critter-eating dog I looked towards the mountains of the Lost River Valley to the north.
The sky was watery and this late in the day the world was beginning to look faded.
But I had been housebound too much during this hot week so I was glad to be outside and alone with my dog.
On the spur of the moment I walked off trail and began to climb a low hill.
I don't go off trail too much this time of year because there are rattle snakes out in the desert.
But there were plenty of wide open areas to walk while climbing the hill and I wanted to take some pictures of wild flowers.
There were decorating the desert in large and small patches, as they had been for weeks now.....................
Every moment of running free, every critter to chase or chew on, every rock to explore, every sage bush to pee on is an adventure to this dog.
I like her very much.
The loving, giving, adventurous spirit of this dog pleases me very much..................
After carefully picking my way to the top of the low rise, taking pictures of wild flowers, looking over at Cedar Butte and the Lost River Range and the Twin Buttes, I circled around the small hill and made my way back down to the trail.
At this time of year I felt more comfortable on dirt trail.
Looking around I realized that Kory had disappeared.
For five minutes I called her name and then finally I could see her in the distance, trotting back in my direction.
As I stood watching her my distractable dog wandered off trail and I watched with dismay as she rolled in........something.........I had no idea what but hoped that it wasn't anything TOO disgusting.
A few minutes later she again picked up the trail and headed in my direction.
It was getting late.
Time to begin wandering back towards the Suburban...............
I had waited for her and as Kory finally reached me I looked down at her with instant dismay.
From the back of her head to her back legs she was completely covered in cow manure.
Well, now I knew what she had been rolling in back there.
I looked down at my beautiful dog with complete disgust, and she stood in front of me looking out over the world and obviously feeling very proud of herself.
We would walk slowly back to the Suburban.
Hopefully a lot of it would dry on her fur by then.
We kept the back seat down all the time so Kory had run of the entire back of the vehicle, and I already knew that she would stand up the entire trip home, wandering continually from one side of the back to the other - looking first out of one rolled down window and then the other.
It was what it was.
Kory was likely the cleanest dog in Atomic City with all the baths she had had recently.
On this night she would be having one more.........................
The desert takes our dreams away from us, and they don't always return.... Those who don't return become a part of the clouds, a part of the animals that hide in the ravines and of the water that comes from the earth. They become part of everything … They become the Soul of the World................PAULO COELHO, The Alchemist

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