Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Shady, Cool, Private Place

Somebody flipped a switch.
At least.........it feels that way.
One day it was 94 degrees and the next it was 78.
One night it was 56 degrees and the next it was 44.
For the rest of the year it feels as though we just live in an isolated small town. 
 In the summer it feels as though we well and truly live in "the desert".
A desert filled with grasses and sage brush and lava rock, but a desert none-the-less.
I don't know if this current dry, sunny and cooler weather will prevail through the rest of the month, but for however long it lasts, I'll take it.
For a while after Kory and I were attacked by a vicious dog, I did not walk with her in town.  
Instead, we wandered in the desert.
And then I began to walk with her around our own end of town.
Now I have begun to wander through town again because...............because I can.
But I now stay armed at all times when I am out..................

A few evenings ago I walked with Kory in town.
It was late and the sun was beginning to set, and the cooler temperatures had not yet set in and so we made the walk a short one......................
One day last week I was standing outside in the back yard when a young fawn appeared from around the side of the building next door.
She was beautiful and old enough for spots to have disappeared and I stood very still so I could watch her without scaring her.
And then another fawn appeared.
And then the mother and they all lifted their heads to study me for a moment, before searching for something to graze on.
And then I smiled in surprise as one more fawn sprung from the side of the building.
I did not have my camera with me (I need to stop wandering anywhere without my camera) and instantly regretted it, as I have a few other times over the past months.
The momma deer and her three happy, healthy, dancing and prancing offspring grazed their way down the side of the road before disappearing around another corner.
I haven't seen them since, and hope that they wander across my path again soon.......................
A day later I wandered with Kory on BLM land not far from town.
Uninspired, overheated, being on BLM land simply out of a sense of obligation because I knew that my puppy wanted to wander, I abstractly watched as Kory happily chased a rabbit across the gravel trail.
Bunny dove under an old water tank.
I have no idea how long these huge tanks have silently rested in their current home.
Certainly more than three years.  
Unmoving day after week after month after year, through searing heat and feet of snow. 
But as I watched my dog run time and again around the old water tanks, I felt the sense of worry that I have felt a few times recently.
If the bunny could hide underneath the tank, and if Kory could shove her nose far into a space under the tank in search of her prey, just how stable were these tanks?
Could they move?  Could they roll?
I didn't know.
But after watching her for a few more moments I called to my dog, at first in an easy tone of voice and then quickly into a stern "I mean business" tone of voice.
Reluctantly she broke off the hunt and galloped in my direction.
I wanted her away from those tanks. If they rolled I could do nothing to help her..................
If Kory and I had stayed on this double track power-line trail it would have eventually ended at Big Butte Rd.
Still continuing to feel lost and uninspired, I slowly walked the trail.
All around me was the brown and dried grasses of a thirsty desert, and off in the distance were the mountains that had been mostly obscured by the smoke of wildfires for endless weeks..
Turning, I automatically searched for Kory.
In the whiteness of winter she had been easy to see.
Same with the lush green of spring.
Now?  Brown dog blended well with brown world.
After a few minutes I caught sight of her.  Nose stuck in a sage bush as usual.  Located in a direction different from where I had expected to find her.  Also as usual..................
Together we wandered about a mile until we reached a cross trail.
One more power line trail that headed out into the desert until it ended who-knows-where.
Continuing to be bored and restless and uninspired I stopped, turn to locate my dog, found her and then turned back towards the second power line trail.
It was early in the evening, very hot and the sun was still extremely bright.
As I looked to the west I absently moved to the right of one telephone pole and then to the left, watching the sun and trying to decide on which side of the pole to take a picture.
Who freakin' cared?
It didn't really matter, did it Karin?
No it didn't.
Without one moment more of consideration I lifted my camera and snapped this picture.
To the left..................
Stepping off the trail I had been following for a mile, I headed towards the next power pole.
Behind me was  the intersecting trail, but ahead of me was simply poles-in-the-desert....................
Picking my way through random desert I stepped carefully - mindful of the possibility of rattle snakes.
I had seen only one snake all summer and Sammy had not been a rattler.
What were the odds of us not running into a rattlesnake all summer, after spending so much time in the desert?
I had spoken to the Fish and Game kids, who had spent a couple of months in town continuing with a Sage Grouse study that began LAST summer.
These young college kids spent all day every day of their tenure in Atomic City wandering out on BLM land, and they reported seeing many rattle snakes during their travels.
I had only seen one snake the entire season and it was out in my driveway........................

As I was continuing towards the second power pole I surprisingly heard a howl to my left.
Immediately I stopped and turned in the direction of the howl.
There was a low rise to my left, I could see nothing on this side of the rise, and could not see what was on the back side of the rise.
For a minute I did not hear anything.
When I heard the howl again I was surprised at how loud it sounded.
It sounded much closer and again I scanned the area to my left trying to figure out exactly how many coyotes were out there and how close they were to me.
Again I could see nothing.
Turning I searched for Kory and when I saw her I realized that she was at a stand still hearing the same noise that I was hearing.
I was armed, which at that moment felt very comforting.
We were also a mile from the Suburban, which at that moment felt very disconcerting.
Calling to Kory she immediately came to me, and I felt gratified that the obvious fear she had displayed for coyotes last year was still in place.
She wanted nothing to do with them.
I straight lined back to the gravel double track trail and made haste back to the vehicle.
Thankfully my dog stayed close and followed me closely.
A good hike that was cut short by the sound of four legged desert dwellers....................
We've learned over the past couple of years that this breed of dogs loves to dig holes.
Kory loves to dig holes.
I stopped a few hole digging attempts early in the summer, but let her pick two places in the yard to freely dig.
One place is in the shade along the tree lined fenced in back of the yard behind the shed.
She can hide underneath the low hanging branches of an olive thorn tree, dig a little more dirt out of the hole each visit and hide in the shade of the trees, and she likes to do that.
 The other is her favorite, and our dog has effectively dug a small crater underneath the camper.
Every time she crawls under the camper dust flies and we know that she is digging a little more out of her hole so  that she has a cool place to lay.
This picture was taken this afternoon under the camper.
She loves it under there.
A shady, cool, private place for our dog.
There will be more warm days to come, but summer is close to being done..................

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer................George R.R. Martin

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