My Golf Course

Seven pm the golf course closes, though now it has a lot of rules and to stay open, people have to follow them. No carts other than personal carts. People have to sign in. People have to wear masks. Only a certain number of people are allowed on the (9 hole) course at a time, and they must leave by 7:00.

I know this virus is a terrible thing and a pain in the butt for people eager to return to their normal lives, but like the mountain goats in Spain, the mountain lions in Boulder, the elk, well, everywhere, Bear and I are jazzed to have the people under control for once..

We went for our first evening ramble of the summer once it got cool. To me this is MORE than a golf course. It’s a haven. It’s where I learned to walk again after moving here and again after my hip surgery. It’s where Dusty T. Dog learned to actually BE free and trust people.

Bear, me and Dusty on the driving range

It’s where I got to know this world when I first moved here six years ago. It’s where I met Mr. Martinez and heard his sad story, then watched him make friends with Dusty T. Dog and tell me I could walk on his private road. It’s where Fred (the other golf course walker and voluble, hilarious Italian) and I stood in knee deep snow discussing whether Mr. Martinez should trap the beavers in his ditch. “Big as bears!!!!” said Fred. “I saw one, good god!”

And then, last year, one late summer evening, a guy taking care of the golf course, out mowing the driving range (pasture) said, “I made you a hiking trail there by the pond, and I set up a hammock, too, down at that end.”

It’s where I was followed by a small herd of mule deer. It’s where I saw the fox in the mist. I’ve enjoyed the flights of bald eagles, golden eagles, red tail hawks. The dogs have been captivated by the smells of nocturnal mammals as I’ve tracked their foot prints and been a little surprised by bear scat. I’ve read the tragedy in the broken form of a fox-downed red-tail. I’ve watched the sudden uprush of hundreds of geese and listened to the sweet, soothing sound of a thousand cranes. And then there’s “my” horse and the kids who live across the street from the 8th hole.

It’s where I discovered I can still X-country ski.

The golf course has been there for nearly 100 years as all of this — not to mention golf — has transpired across it, year after year after year. A golf course that has — among its written rules, “No livestock” and “Clean up after your dogs.” Seriously, how many golf courses have rules like that? ❤

The golf course (which backs onto The Big Empty) was my primer to the San Luis Valley. Just a golf course in a little town, but to me and Bear? It’s the natural world, and it’s only a block from my house. Not black and white, and not abstract, but if you think about it, nature’s performance art happens in time.

And seriously, isn’t it beautiful? I know it’s not the Tetons or the Eiger or something, but still. 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/ragtag-daily-prompt-thursday-abstract-in-black-and-white/

Not Really Fun, but…

Teddy and I headed out to the Big Empty hoping that today it would indeed BE empty. Yesterday Bear and I went and found PEOPLE! And one small group and an OFF LEASH yellow lab! and THEN, hoping to have a chance in another spot, two farm dogs out having an adventure. They were incredibly cute, but Bear went apeshit IN the car. So…

We returned to the abandoned golf course, the road to which is barricaded, and parked beside the tennis court which has caution tape across the gates.

Bear LOVES the golf course, as do I, but after a month or more in the Big Empty, it seemed a little, uh, small and urban. And wrong. Much as I like having access to it, the place should have golfers on it. The sprinklers were going, the greens were beautiful, everything was saying, “Golf on me!” 😦

We headed out past the driving range (pasture) to the dirt road and farms. At the end of this dirt road is a farm and this farm has a very large mare, dark brown with a star on her forehead. She’s beautiful and she loves me and Bear. I don’t know why. I’ve never been within touching range of her though dozens of times I’ve wanted to be. I’ve even carried apples in my pocket for her, but I hesitated. Then the owner of the farm put a gate up to close the road. It’s often left open (it was yesterday) but still. For all I know it’s because people were bothering the horse.

Whenever the horse sees us she runs to the very edge of her “yard” — something more than a paddock, something less than a pasture. Her “run” is actually a beautiful dance. She runs all around her yard, tossing her head and bucking, then, she comes to the edge of the fence closest to Bear and me. We are probably 100 yards away. I have told her that I love her and Bear loves to see her, too.

Yesterday, however, she got out of her yard and into the pasture. I never even investigated it before to see it if were fenced. It was clear to me what she was doing. She was trying to get to us. She’s not quite a Percheron but definitely not a quarter horse. She’s not built like a thoroughbred. I have NO idea what she is except very large. As she ran, she tossed her head. I thought, “That horse wants to follow me home.”

I don’t know all that much about horses, but I do know two things. One, they like to be with other animals. Brownie, the horse that lived next door to me in Descanso, CA, made a herd for himself out of Dusty, Lily and, of course, me. I know a horse’s herd doesn’t have to be another horse. Second, I know that horses are incredibly empathetic, and I believe they read minds. I’m SURE that horse knows I like her A LOT and would love to make a herd with her. She’s always alone. I’ve only seen her with a person once. She also recognizes that Bear is a chill dog who’d get along with her fine.

Anyway, I could see she could get out. I turned and walked away resolutely and fast. No other way to communicate with her, really. I didn’t turn around, but I kept listening for hooves on the dirt road.

Today at the Big Empty there was nary a soul for a good reason. It’s a very chilly day (snowing in northern parts of the state) and the wind is blowing like a MF. Teddy and I took off and enjoyed ourselves anyway, though, between us, I’ve had more fun. When you’re walking against the wind, your dog insists on hiding behind you (smart dog), and you have 3/4 of a mile to go, well, it’s almost like walking uphill both ways to school, barefoot, in the snow.

Winter Gets Legit, and Bear and I are So Happy

Bear and I have waited a LOOONNNGGGG time for what we like most: being outside in the snow. Not that any snow has fallen for about a month but it doesn’t matter as long as the temperatures never go above freezing, and they haven’t. It doesn’t look like they will, either.

Teddy — with whom I’ve decided to share my birthday because he was 6 months old when I got him last June — and I took off on Tuesday to celebrate and evaluate the packed trails. They were (and still are) beautiful

The nordic club grooms trails for walkers and skiers ❤

I finally skied (Langlaufed) the groomed trails yesterday and today Bear and I took a long snow ramble. The snow is at least 8 inches deep — fluffy, light, crystalline old snow. Perfect beautiful soft sweet I love it so much. Skiing yesterday was great except the stupid snow baskets came off my poles and weren’t cool about me putting them back. I dunno…

Finally, Martha.
I know, Bear.”

So today out there in boots with my best snow pal, I was able to evaluate the entire groomed course that I didn’t ski yesterday (having had to go back twice to retrieve snow baskets, grrr…) and make plans for tomorrow. My poles and their cheesy baskets will get a stern talking to in the morning, because I must seize the day. ❤

Roald Amundsen had nothing on me.



“Won’t you try a little bit harder, couldn’t you try just a little bit more”

Canine Crisis and Foot Injury Update

Today I took both dogs on a fool’s errand. Teddy hasn’t been on a walk in two months; Bear got a little something Wednesday. I didn’t want to take them both, but they were so EXCITED this afternoon. I think Bear told Teddy, “She took me. I’m sure she’ll take us both next time.” When I brought Bear home Wednesday, it was clear she’d missed Teddy. I felt kind of bad.

So, today, hoping to find a solitary trail somewhere, I put both dogs in Bella. I thought first of the golf course. Because I still can’t walk far, Wednesday I drove to the club house (yeah, I know it’s a block and a half away) from which Bear and I could go straight out to the good stuff, the Big Empty beyond the driving range.

If you’re not familiar with this blog, you might have a different picture of my golf course than the reality. One of the rules of the course is “Don’t let your livestock loose on the greens.” It opens onto a small slough and miles of fields and emptiness, cattle, foxes, deer, elk, moose and an elusive (thank goodness) black bear (who’s brown…) Bobcats and mountain lions also appear from time to time on the cameras people have in their back yards that face the golf course. Late fall is the transition time when the animals and I reclaim the golf course, though, in fact, the golfers don’t mind me at all. We’ve been sharing those acres for five years now. I just make it my rule not to take my dogs if it will interfere with their fun. They’ve been known to let us “play through” so to speak, on our way out to the fields.

But, I could see there were several guys playing golf today (58 F/13 C). No one cares about winter grass and autumn leaves. They’ll play in an inch or two of snow (I love them for that). I drove out of town to the wildlife areas and found fishermen and hunters at Shriver/Wright. It’s hunting season. Bear will wear her hunting vest out there anyway. A dad and his son waved and said “Hi!’ to me. I’ve really missed the little neighborhood of people who hang around out there. Across the street, there were cattle all over Rio Grande Wildlife area which meant Teddy (Australian Shepherd) was NOT going there. Bear is calm and we walk past the herds in vigilant tranquility. The Park and Rec guys put electric fences where they DON’T want the cattle to be, so people have the trails, for the most part. But Teddy has a very powerful herding instinct, so all that remained was the lake and YAY! NO ONE WAS THERE!!! I parked where I would get a mile RT. That’s my walking limit right now.

Cattle trimming the grass in the Rio Grande Wildlife Area. Sandhill cranes calling out from the sky. BEAUTIFUL afternoon.

We walked, slowly, and I used my cane. Teddy was attached to the waist belt by his bungee leash. Bear was on her usual leash and head harness. All went well until, as we were returning to Bella (my Jeep), a lady with a little terrier approached from the rear. Teddy barked at the terrier, the terrier barked back. All hell broke loose. I tried to hold onto Bear but she’s 75 pounds of livestock guardian dog, and I ended up being pulled down and dragged across the dirt road until I let go. Bear, of course, went for the terrier who was barking menacingly (naturally). For Bear, it was only three long steps. She didn’t even hurry. The owner was yelling “No! No!” terrified for her dog whom, it looked like, Bear was trying to kill. I was glad Teddy was fastened to me. I apologized and apologized from my position on the ground and wondered how I could get up.

But I did.

When Bear was finished disciplining the terrier, she wanted to meet the lady and be nice to the dog (who was in the lady’s arms). There were no injuries, of course. But the lady wasn’t having it (nor would I). Bear just stood calmly, smelling the ground by the lake, and, to my immense relief, she waited for me to come and get her. I was — and am — so sorry. I’m sure the lady was terrified.

I need a sign on Bear that says, “If your dog barks, Bear will attack your dog.” I just try to avoid people. I don’t think Bear would hurt any dog unless the dog hurt me (or her), but I can’t say that to anyone because I don’t really know. I certainly can’t answer for anyone else’s dog. The times Bear was attacked really changed her attitude about dogs when she’s leashed and with me. 

Finally the lady said, “I’ll go the other way.” I would have, but it would have meant another mile around the lake on uneven ground. I would never have made it.

BUT the foot wasn’t re-injured, though it is a little more sore than it has been, and all seems to be well.

I just have two dogs who are instinct driven. When Teddy caught sight (or whiff?) of the cattle, he was all about it, standing on two legs to see them over the weeds and the irrigation canal. Then a car went by way too fast and Teddy was ready to chase it. No one ever said an Australian shepherd, like Teddy, is an easy dog to live with especially in the first two years of their lives.

Teddy sees cattle…

Bear is a livestock guardian dog. Normally, they’re not house dogs or pets at all. They’re out there in the back of beyond working in complete independence caring for numerous goats or sheep, sometimes cattle, as have their forefathers and mothers for millennia. She might sit, stay, down, come under normal circumstances, but not when she believes she’s working.

How could this angelic beast do ANYTHING wrong???

So, will have to walk them one at a time for a while unless we’re alone at the golf course, I guess. I was stupid to take them both out.

Good News!!!

In Good News: The kids and their family are still there! They kids and everyone else is fine. They were worried because they hadn’t seen me out walking the dogs. And I haven’t been out walking the dogs because of the foot injury so…

In other good news, Bear and I walked a mile at the golf course and had a wonderful time.

Angels in the Outfield

Sometimes you have a bad(ish) day and you’re down in the dumps. You wait until 7 when the golf course is closed and you head out with your dogs through the miracle that is your town, destination the golf course and the big empty beyond. The Big Empty is the best doctor you know.

In the bad(ish) day you’ve forgotten the depth of that miracle or you haven’t put all the pieces together.

There on last two holes (at the end of your alley) are four young people playing golf and having the BEST time. They’re wearing cowboy hats and boots and whooping at their bad hits. The grass has just been mowed and it’s a little lumpy here and there from all the recent rain. A couple of women with a golden retriever approach and your dogs bark. You turn to walk around the high school because of the cars around the club house. You think, “There must be a lot of people playing.” Then you look into the course from behind the high school and you see no one is there.

You take Bear and Teddy through the “secret” way into the course, a shady part you don’t see much in summer but love in winter. You make the loop, walk past Mr. Martinez’ house, under the big trees and you hear a motor coming from the driving range which, this year, they’ve been watering and mowing. A guy on the mower comes toward you and the dogs and turns off the engine. You say, by way of staving off whatever might come out about dogs and all that, “It’s beautiful. You’ve done an amazing job.”

And then the guy tells you…

“Have you seen the nature trail I made over there by the ponds? It goes right along the water so you can see the ducks and geese.”

You’d seen it but you didn’t know it was part of the course.

“You can take your dogs there. There’s even a little dog park where they can run. Have you seen it? I put a ball throwing machine there so if your dogs fetch you don’t have to throw all the time.”

You point at Teddy, “He fetches. She doesn’t.”

“And you can go way out there. I made trails all over that field. Did you see the hammock I hung from Annie’s tree? I call it Annie’s tree.” (I later learn that’s his wife’s name) “You’re welcome to use the hammock.”

“I saw it. It’s beautiful. I took a picture of it. It just looked like summer to me.”

“Yeah, there are trails all along out here. You can go along the ditch, and meet up another trail I made out there so you don’t have to go on the road.”

I know all these trails. For the most part (since they involved walking through the golf course) they’re my winter trails.

“I walk a lot of places around here, but this is my favorite.”

“The views are incredible,” he said. “Anyway, this is all here now. You just go through right there.” He pointed to a small gap in the bushes. “You can get there from here.”

“I’ll try it tomorrow!”

It’s fast getting dark. “I’d better finish this,” he says, turning on the mower.

“Yeah, you’re losing your light.”

“Have a good night.”

“You too,” I say, and, “Thank you.”

I am talking to my angel. His name is Jeremy.

Last winter, when there was a mild brouhaha over dogs on the golf course, I never imagined a resolution like this. All this summer of exile from the golf course my angel has been setting it up for me, Bear and Teddy.

Where the new trails are ❤

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I think there might be guitars in this song which fits my story perfectly.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/rdp-tuesday-guitar/

Quotidian Update 19.2.a.iv

Yesterday, I didn’t get to the dermatologist because I got a stomach bug night before last and got no sleep, so, wasn’t really prepared for three hours on the road.

In spite of all that, yesterday ended beautifully in a long long long walk in a place we usually don’t get to visit except in the cold season. When I headed out with Bear in a chill, blustery, thundery wind, I saw there was no one at the golf course. Nary a car. Not a single golf cart. Nothing. No one. This meant we could walk through it out to the Big Empty. True, the Big Empty is never far, but it’s nice when we don’t have to drive AT ALL. Bear was happy and so was I. She signifies happiness by stopping for no reason and leaning against me and walking beside me so my hand rests on her back.

I came home, put Teddy into his fancy harness, and took him on a different golf course walk. It was his first time. I can’t imagine him in deep snow, but I suspect he can imagine himself there. He’s an undaunted little guy.

So, you are asking, why was no one on the golf course? Was it the thunder storm? What’s the story?

I learned that the country singer who’s headlining the Ski Hi Stampede, Randy Houser, had played golf there that morning. I guess everyone figured that was as good as it was going to get and left.

I slept in this morning dreaming about a wedding to a great love of my life (GLOML) that nearly happened. You know you’re tired when your brain sends you amazing dreams of impossible outcomes to keep you in bed. Had we moved forward with the GLOML’s idea that we have a family, it would have led (in his father’s actual words) to “A crucifixion.” But, dreams are something else entirely, and though I kept suggesting (in the dream) that it wasn’t such a great idea, his family and mine (and he and I) moved forward. At some point we were dressed as clowns. Fate’s marionettes, maybe. Most of the time we were in a labyrinthine European city (Genova, I think). I stayed asleep until 8:30 to see what would happen.

It’s cool when you have a dream that keeps you hooked, waiting for the ending, even when you know you’re just going to wake up.

Here’s the guy who gave me the golf course yesterday. Not my kind of music, even for country, but it’s still pretty good.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/rdp-friday-prepare/

Bear and I Attend Winter’s Goodbye Party

“See, Human? It’s not over.”

“Bear, don’t be fooled. It’s just a spring snow.”

“But it’s been falling all day!”

“It will be gone tomorrow.”

My dog is suddenly on high alert, looking ahead at something that moved on the snow-covered dirt road. I look.

It’s a robin. I think the scene is a perfect metaphor for this moment of the year when winter drags its feet on the way out.

“That’s what I mean, Bear. It’s spring.”

“THAT’S spring?”

“No, that’s a robin, but there are more of them, see?”

“I can catch them all.”

“It won’t help. There are millions of them all over the place. I think one is even building a nest at our house.”

“OUR house?”

“Every year, Bear.”

When we return to the golf course after our long ramble in the fields, the groundskeeper/superintendent has just arrived. He hops out of his truck.

“I see you found your dog.” When Bear ran away, I alerted him.

“Yeah. Thank goodness.”

“Does she run away a lot?”

“No. That was the first time.” In fact, Bear has gotten loose a couple of other times, but she never ran away. She ran TOWARD. It’s very different.

We talk for a bit, he relates a saga of a woman who came that morning, let her dogs out of her truck, how they pooped right by Mark’s workshop and then the woman and the dogs went on a walk around the golf course.

“I put a note on her windshield,” he said. “I was nice, but I asked her to clean up after her dogs. She did.”

“I think we need more trash cans.” There are none.

Mark threw his cigarette on the snowy parking lot and smashed it with his foot. “Maybe. I’m not worried about you. You and your dogs are all right with me.”

Maybe because I take time to talk to him? Maybe because I’m truly sympathetic to his situation? Maybe because my dogs are leashed so I know if and where they poop? Maybe because, for me, the golf course is a way out to the fields and dirt roads, not my real destination? I thought about that and I think it’s the first. His job is pretty lonely and most of what he hears are complaints. Or maybe because my dogs and I are just all right with him.

Winter’s goodbye party ended with a nice gift for Dusty, Bear and me. We get to “keep” “our” golf course.

_____________________________________

Meanwhile, I’ve deleted more than a thousand posts from this overgrown blog. I’ve reposted several and found a few good short stories. I’m clearly not writing stuff equal to the stuff I was writing a couple of years ago which is mildly discouraging. Maybe I’m done or maybe I’m done for now, I don’t know. Time will tell. OH should you decide to do the same with your blog, I found the easiest way is to go into WP Admin and use the old blog list and old “Classic” editor both for eliminating posts and images which is a separate chore.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/rdp-monday-fool/

First Snow — Report

 

Knowing perfectly well that March or April could arrive and I could, by then, be thoroughly sick of this stuff (doubtful but possible) here are some photos of our first snow of the winter. Last year we had ONE good snow storm on October 9 and that was it. Drought, no snow pack in the mountains, bad news for both of the “industries” in my valley — farming and tourism.

This year the local ski area, Wolf Creek, was the first in Colorado to open on weekends — two weeks ago with a foot of snow. Since then they’ve had (now) two more storms so it has to be pretty decent up there.

As for my big white dog and I? I was so excited at the prospect of snow I could hardly sleep. Lucky for Bear, she had no idea — or every idea through her nose that it was happening. It was wonderful to wake up to the miracle of a world transformed and quieted by snow.

 

IMG_8650

Not a lot of danger on the golf course today…but something smells good.

 

We were out by 8:00 to catch the snow before the day warmed up, and the snow stopped falling.

I love the feeling of cold air on my face and the vision of trees covered in hoarfrost and snow. I knew it would fade fast, and I didn’t want to miss it.

IMG_8648

Some of the trees still have leaves. I guess they just aren’t ready to move on. Snow on still golden branches of aspen trees is very lovely.

 

IMG_E8651

Snow on Narrow-leafed Cottonwood

 

After about an hour, we came home and shoveled the sidewalk. The snow was like concrete at that point as the temperature had reached 32 (0 C). I shoveled my walk and my nextdoor neighbor’s because they’re out of town. There was no real need. I knew it was going to melt before night, but I like to shovel. My neighbor came across the street and helped me finish up and we visited for a while.

Bear and I just got back from the second walk. She checked her messages and then we went back to the golf course to see if we could find any tracks. Elk, I think, much to Bear’s delight, and pee on the side of a cottonwood.

There’s a lot of drama in my world during the hours from dusk to daylight, but I don’t interfere with it. I like seeing animls, but I think, even more, I like it when animals are free from me looking at them. I love the accidental meetings, though, during what I call “human” hours. We’re both surprised at the sight of each other. No sightings today.

My dog is tired, I’m tired, but we’re both very, very happy. We’ve waited a long time for this and it’s absolutely wonderful to be able to walk through the deep snow without even thinking about it. I’m looking forward to the coming months and maybe the chance to Cross-country Ski.

When ON the Course of Human Events…

 

Yesterday I got a canister of bear spray — it’s pepper spray. The canister is a lot larger than I expected — between 10 inches and a foot — and it has a holster. I don’t see me strapping that on and going to walk the dogs at the slough. I was hoping it was a simple four-inch can of spray with a holster I could clip to my pocket or pack strap in front, but this… I don’t need it for a bear. I need for a grubby man who makes me nervous and scares Dusty.

So, last evening, as I took Dusty T. Dog and Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog for our usual walk around the hood and high school, I noticed the golf course was empty. Really empty. Two cars in front of the club house. A familiar high school golfer walking around with his bag to the holes that challenge him.

image_558628573525324

They close next month, but right now the course is beautiful. In the beginning of the summer — May, June, most of July — it was aching from the drought like everything else was, but six weeks or so of regular rain and careful tending…

Why was it empty?

“Don’t look a gift course in the mouth,” I said to myself.

It was really good to be back. I’m pretty sure “Grizzly Man” won’t take daily walks there and as much as I love the slough, the views from it don’t compare to those from the open plain of the pasture, I mean driving range. As for animals, I’ve seen more at the golf course than at the wildlife refuge. This isn’t cold comfort at all.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/friday-rdp-grubby/