The glisten and novelty of living in this new place is officially off and over. I no longer skate above the surface of a beautiful, iced-over pond. I’m swimming in it. (And, yes, I’m cold. With dastardly electric heat, I’m heating the house as conservatively as possible. Sixty degrees is the new warm.)
— I met an older gentleman who owns a great deal of land (nearly 1,000 acres) in the canyon south of our place. Apparently, I was trespassing. But, jeepers, in my defense: you need a GPS device with public/private boundary indicators (and cell service), or an old-timer escort (like this fellow) to know one way or t’other. Land may or may not be fenced. Neither public nor private land is marked. From the Internet map, the county assessor’s plots, and the BLM map, I know that land around here is a crazy hopscotch of public and private acreage, but the learning curve is decidedly steep.
He indicated that while he was fine with my riding there, others would probably shoot my dogs. The man told me about timber rattlers, too – another possible avenue of untimely death for the dogs.
He was negative but nice, and promised to chat with the neighbors about letting me ride through occasionally.
— We had our first snow. I’m learning that weather seems to be more highly specific and fickle than anywhere I’ve lived. It snowed up on the ridge, but not so much here. On the trip to Durango (about 25 miles, going from 7,400 feet elevation to 8,500, down to 6.500 in the Big City), the road conditions varied every few miles.
However, the scariest moment came on foot. I headed up our gravel road for a late night walk as snow began to fall again. I hadn’t realized that I was walking with the wind and that it was ramping up, along with the snowfall. Turned around after a mile to face snow and wind so forceful in my face that, combined with the darkness, I could hardly see. Goggles would have been nice. I walked backwards, trusting the feel of gravel under my feet as my sole compass. The dogs soundlessly disappeared and reappeared and, finally, they stopped at our driveway, giving me a turn signal.
That night stands in contrast to the usual starlit show here. The Milky Way is clear and shooting stars seem closer and brighter than anywhere else. One night, I kid you not, I saw a shooting star so bright and close that I mistook it for a crashing plane.
Being alone in the relative wilderness and knowing not everyone is kind and well-meaning is a thought I return to occasionally. I’m learning to relax, to learn, and to keep my senses and mind keen. It’s a mental juggle.