Thursday, September 8, 2016

Autumn Arrived Suddenly

And just like that.
I went to bed in summer and woke up in fall.
One day it was 93 degrees, the next day it was the start of the Labor Day Weekend, and it was just as though someone had flipped a switch.
The weather turned cold.
Or at least cooler.
In truth, it was cold for most of the long weekend, but the weather (in typical Idaho fashion) is all over the map.
One day it is 72 and the next day it is barely 60.
One night it is 45 and the next it is 35.
There was snow up in the mountains over the long weekend, but we are still a long way from snow.
Or not.
Regardless, the coming week promises to be sunny and ranging from 66 to 72 so fall (in fits and starts) is well on its way, and hit us unexpectedly fast as it does every year...............

On the Friday before the long weekend I drove a few miles across BLM land with Kory late one evening, as both woman and dog (as usual) were restless and needing to move.
We did not go far.
Three miles maybe.
But far enough away from the civilization of our Tiny Toon Town and far enough onto the vast emptiness of public lands to feel as they we were away.
From every body and every thing.
As I slowly drove the very dusty and very bumpy double track dirt trail with my dog I watched with amusement as she constantly wandered from one open window to the next, crossing the breadth of our old BLM-Beast behind me, eager and over-eager to see everything that lay before her, taking it all in.
In the almost three years that Kory has lived with us, she has become a valuable and valued member of our small family.
An unspeaking member that has the innate ability to communicate effectively with her people anyway.
She is loved.
And it took a long while, but after all this time I think she has finally realized that she has a permanent family.
People who care about her, and that she is finally and forever home..............

Within a few minutes of hitting BLM land I looked over to my left and off in the distance I could see the coyote.
Almost every single time recently that I have been out around this time of day, I have seen this single coyote.
Always alone. 
Always running.  
Always running in the same direction.
The animal has always been too far away for me to be able to take a picture, but every single time I see her - him - it - I have to wonder what the deal is.
Where's it going in such a hurry?
What are the odds of it always running and always running in the same direction?
Such a strange and intriguing happenstance.
A few minutes later I looked to the right, and standing alone in the middle of vast nothingness, was the antelope.
He also was too far away for me to take a picture and I glanced over at him frequently, wishing that he was closer.
As with the coyote, I have seen this lone antelope frequently recently.
He would be searching for females soon, so that was likely why he had suddenly showed up in our area.
These two have become regular sights over the past few weeks, and I hope that one day soon they're close.
I snapped this picture while I was still driving.
If you click on it and enlarge you "may" see a tiny speck in the middle of the desert.
My beautiful (and elusive) antelope....................
Much to the concern of my now hysterically barking dog, I drove by the first water tank and continued driving on the dirt track.
The dirt on the double track trail was getting deeper the further we traveled, and when I looked behind me all I could see was a huge dust cloud that the Suburban had created as we continued creeping along.
10 minutes later I stopped our dust covered vehicle in the middle of the trail, climbed out, opened the back door of the Suburban and quickly jumped out of the way before I got knocked down by my excited puppy.
She ran across the trail, and up the short rise to the water tank on the hill, instantly in search of bunnies.
I was still standing by the door of the Suburban, and as I slammed the door shut I looked around me.
I could see the antelope off in the distance, alternating between looking over at me and slowly walking across the thirsty terrain.
It finally did rain overnight one night during the long weekend.  But on this day it had not rained in a long time.
Not since sometime in May, and the ground was parched.
So parched that I could almost hear the ground groaning.
Begging for water.
There WAS no water.  Not on this day or seemingly endless days before it.
Looking back in the direction we had come...................
This was the same place I had wandered with LC a month or so ago - the place where large pieces of farming equipment have laid quiet and forgotten for at least the three years that we have now been here.
On this day I randomly and without much thought or care, snapped pictures as Kory ecstatically ran quickly from place to place in search of elusive rabbits.
Occasionally I heard a squeal of delight and turned in time to see a rabbit on the run with a very fast dog following closely behind.
Thankfully on this day at least, the rabbits were both craftier and faster, and I watched with satisfaction as each safely dove into and under places that my 65 pound dog could not reach.................
Slowly wandering, I continued to the back side of this small and seemingly abandoned compound.
Most of the area was fenced - even divided into a couple of different feeding lots that were long overgrown.
There was the huge water tank and water troughs, abandoned farm equipment and seed containers, a long corral that led animals into the feed lots and other signs that told me that at one time this had been an active area.
There were power poles and meters.
There had been power and water in this place.
I was absently curious about the whole thing, as I always am whenever I stop here.
As I continued walking I found myself sinking into the very soft soil.
When I looked down I was surprised to see a cluster of delicate purple wild flowers by my feet.
Looking around me I realized that there were many clusters of these same flowers.
So small and fragile that it would have been easy to miss them.
I almost did.......................
By the time I had completely circumnavigated the compound I looked towards Big Butte and realized that the shadows were getting long.
It was late in the day and the sun was quickly beginning to descend.
Even though I hadn't seen her in a while I knew where Kory was.
I could hear her barking, her running, her tags, her sniffing as she pushed her nose into every crevice she could reach, hoping to flush a rabbit out of its hiding place.
I wandered up to her, snapped a quick picture of the butte and the huge, empty, plastic and metal containers and then watched Kory for a few minutes.
She was taking such great joy from such a simple activity and I smiled inwardly at my happy dog.....................
I had left Kory to continue circling the huge containers while I wandered back towards the Suburban, snapping pictures as I went.
Climbing to the top of the hill that supported Korys bunny-harboring water tank, I looked out into the emptiness in search of my antelope.
He was gone.
Now the emptiness truly was completely empty.
Still standing at the top of the hill I looked down at my shadow.
Instantly I went back in my mind to a picture that Chris had sent to me when he was in Iraq the first time.
It was a picture of HIS shadow.
Standing on a Humvee with one of his friends.
In the shadow-picture I could see his bald head.
The head that he had been shaving ever since he played football in high school.
I could see the outline of his tall, muscular body, and the desert combat pants he was wearing that were tucked into his boots.
Could see the outline of the AR he was holding.
This picture was nothing like that picture, and yet it reminded me very much of that picture...................
Climbing down from the small rise I began to head back to the Suburban.
I called to Kory, knowing from almost three years of experience that it would take her a few minutes to break off her search for rabbits, and then she would wander and meander and mark and sniff and take her time as she headed back to the truck.
 I would reach the Suburban before her, and then would still have to call her a number of times before she finally got back to me.
Not because she was ignoring me (although she was good at that as well), but because she needed time to move from chase mode to riding in the Suburban again mode.......................
Out of breathe, she quickly gulped water first standing and then sitting.
My Florida dog didn't do well in the heat any more than I did and I patiently let her drink between breaths until she had cooled down a little and recovered a little.
It was time to drive through the desert and head back towards the house.
Maybe we'd see the antelope again on the trip home...................

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple... ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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