Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cleaning Up Files - Part 1

The picture above was taken yesterday.
Our young herd of town deer keeping their distance from me and my dog while we were walking in town.
They don't know me well yet, but Kory has chased them out of our back yard many times over the past few months and they know HER very well...................

I have a ton of files that need cleaning up - mostly "desert files" - pictures from in and around town and out on BLM land in back of town.
 I thought I would post these before deleting them permanently from the ridiculously large number of picture files I have, that are taking up a ridiculous amount of space on my lap top.
These are all from this past summer..............

The deer were permanent residents in Atomic City all last winter.
And then one day in early spring they simply disappeared.
For the next few months (as the weather warmed up and as things began to grow again in the yard) I planted.
More perennials.
Some annuals.
Some vegetables.
Not a lot of any one thing.  Just more low key attempts at adding color and character to over 1/2 acre of land that had received so little consideration for so many years before it became ours.
The irises I had planted over the previous couple of summers began to grow and spread.
The wild rose plants that we unexpectedly found growing along the front fence continued to grow and spread, as did the tiny bushes whose name I did not know.
Lilac bushes that had been decimated by deer from years past were finally beginning to recover.
We planted a couple of tiny evergreen trees and a couple of azaleas.
All were doing well.
And then one day in June I looked out the front window and saw a couple of deer happily grazing in the yard of our neighbor across the street.
In truth, I wasn't entirely ecstatic to see them.
Within a couple of days we had all of our small perennials and small bushes and trees (that still needed uninterrupted time to take hold) protected by chicken wire.
The deer didn't like rose bushes and they didn't like irises so I knew they were safe.
We did not protect our annuals and within only a few days of their return to town the annuals were toast.
Every purple and orange and yellow flower gone and only the green stalks remaining.
Within a few more weeks the lilac bushes were toast as well.
Every single leaf eaten by ravenous deer...............

Next spring we'll fence off the lilac bushes and see if we can get them to grow again.
Existing chicken wire fences are still up around the other growth that needs to be protected.
Part of me was incredibly frustrated to watch the devastation occur, but part of me.............well..........we always made sure through the summer that Korys' wading pool was kept filled with water to the top, so that both the birds and the deer had a water source.
Which goes a long way in explaining the love-hate relationship that I (and mostly every other resident who lives in this tiny town) have with our deer...................

Now that it is November and everything has stopped growing, I can simply enjoy the sight of them.  The sheer existence and proximity I have to them.
I'll worry about growing things again in six months................. 
A couple of miles outside of town, just off a dirt trail that winds its way out into the middle of the desert, is a huge pit.
Locals good naturedly call it the Mini Grand Canyon.
It is a huge gravel pit filled with brown, red and black rock that the county uses to gravel the roads.
Although we have very occasionally found heavy equipment left standing in the pit (a sign that workers have been actively retrieving rock for the roads), most of the time this has been a silent place for LC and I to wander, and for Kory to explore.
I took some pictures just recently when I was alone with Kory (pictures for another day), but also took these in the dead of summer, when the world was an unendingly hot and dry place...................
One more of our favorite places to wander that is within a couple of miles of town.
This place used to be used for animal farming.
There are old water tanks, signs of power and water, old fences and gates to corral animals, and old seemingly abandoned (and expensive) farm equipment.
We have never seen anyone out here.
Everything simply sits silently in the middle of flat and wide open land.
A farm that used to be.
A farm that apparently no longer is.
Now simply a place for Kory to run and jump and chase rabbits.
In short, a place of adventure for a dog who loves adventures.................
The Snake River Plain is filled with a huge variety of wild flowers in the spring, but once summer hits in earnest it truly does feel like "the desert".
The day I took these pictures it was late August and had not rained in a few months.
I had long stopped looking for wild flowers, but on this particular day I looked down at the ground and then looked around me.
Clumps of these light purple flowers were everywhere.............
Kory had disappeared into the chest high weeds and every once in a while we'd catch a glimpse of her excitedly jumping high into the air as she happily chased bunnies...................
Making her way back to us...............
Instead of driving on the dirt trails back to town, we picked up Big Butte Rd.
As LC slowly drove the Suburban back towards Atomic City I looked over to my right.
Out on wide open and very dry BLM land I saw something very large standing tall among the pale green sage bushes.
It had straight sides, and from this distance it looked like a huge box - maybe an old refrigerator or stand up freezer.
I was curious because I had never noticed it before, and resolved to figure out what it was at a later date.
That later date came a couple of weeks later.
Oh boy it was hot.  
But Kory had guilted me into taking her out onto BLM land.
It was hot and dry and I hated this kind of weather, but my dog was bored and needed to move, and so we moved.
I had forgotten about the large object with the straight sides by then, and forgotten about my resolution to check it out.
My eager pup and I drove together down to Big Butte Rd, turned and drove for another five minutes before pulling off the road and onto one more random desert trail.
Instead of navigating the Suburban over a wide rocky area, I parked the Suburban right in the middle of the trail, climbed out, opened the back door and then moved out of the way as my eager puppy all but knocked me over while leaping down to the ground.
She was already in a run, and I slowly walked up the trail with no real goal or destination in mind.
It was too damned hot for goals or destinations.
I would let Kory set the pace and the direction.
These pictures tell the tale of this day.
Green anything was simply a distant memory by this time.
So was rain.
The heat was almost overpowering and the world was filled with the smoky haze of endless western wild fires...................
Wandering off trail and across country by this time, still following Kory.
If you click on this picture it will enlarge.
If you look closely you can see town to the left, the Suburban parked in the middle of the desert, and the Twin Buttes in the background.
An endless world of emptiness.................
As Kory bounced happily from one sage bush to another I climbed up and over a shallow rocky rise, heading in the general direction of Cedar Butte that was about five miles away.
As I cleared the rise I looked up and stopped for a moment.
In the middle of.........nothing...........was the unknown square object.
The one with the straight sides that could not possibly be anything natural.
The one that had captivated me for a few moments while driving home late one afternoon a few weeks previously.
Well OK.
Let's go see what we've got..................
A target.
Somebody had set up a shooting target.
We did our shooting in the dirt hills surrounding the Mini Grand Canyon, but this worked too.
Mystery solved..............
Taken at the Mini Grand Canyon, late in the spring.
Last winter we had plenty of snow.
So much that it eventually became impossible to drive out onto BLM land.
So much that for the first time I was sorry we did not own snow mobiles.
The past spring was unusually rainy, and as a result of all the winter and spring precipitation, the world around us was green well into June.
It was beautiful here in the spring.
BLM was filled with growth and was green and was very beautiful...............
LC standing on top of one of the dirt hills that leads down into the rock pit.
We have climbed these hills often, shoot into them during target practice, and Kory has run up and down them endlessly over the past three years..............
The desert could not be claimed or owned–it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names... Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape............Michael Ondaatie, The English Patient

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