The last limousine (pickup truck) was leaving the country club (nine hole golf course on the edge of town with a pasture for a driving range) when I set out with Bear. She was insisting on a walk and I had been trying to avoid it all day to rest my Achilles tendon. OH WELL.
The last bit of sun hit the white peaks of the Sangre de Cristos in the distance and lightly touched the white bark of the aspen trees. Furtively we crossed the small fairway leading to the 8th and 9th holes. We dashed (limped a little faster) across the bridge and noted how deep and fast ran the river (irrigation canal). Soon we were in the wide area of three long fairways where in the glorious days of snow, before I hurt my tendon, we “ran” FREEEEEE!!!!
Bear caught scent after scent on the ground, golfers, certainly, who’d left their phantom vaporous residue on the grass along with a smashed cheese and cracker sandwich. My interests are often higher up than the ground (which, except for snake vigilance, I leave to Bear). I watched a night hawk fly over then take a position on the highest viable branches of a cottonwood tree above the river (irrigation canal). Gusts of cold wind came off the snowy San Juans from time to time, barely noticeable to one such as I who is inured to cold and wind by this point. Gusts of wind here can be very narrow, 10 feet wide or less, little lines of invisible force. Such a little blast came through and met the newly resilient branches of a teen age Blue Spruce. I stood wrapped in calm cold and listened to the “whispering pine.”
We reached the edge of “civilization” just as night met day. The Sangres looked as transparent as ghosts in the liminal light. Pink tinged the west facing ends of clouds. Bright orange/pink lingered then faded over the San Juans. Bear leaned against me, somehow understanding that I had to take in all this.
I thought about all our walks, Bear, a giant dog, who has to be a house pet. “It’s all I’ve known,” she seemed to say. “It’s fine by me.” Stopping and looking off at nothing has been part of her daily drill — but I think these dogs were bred for that, to sit on high hillsides and look off in the distance for creatures who might prey upon the flock they guard. Not me. I’m just looking. Sometimes, though, we see something, like last week we saw the fox.
To the casual observer, it might seem to be just a nine hole golf course in a small mountain town, but for us it’s a little wilderness of changing light, animal scents, the chance to see critters and our opening to the big empty that stretches forever.