Hiking in the Heat


For several weeks I noticed big bright white blossoms on tall stalks as I looked across the canyon in the evenings just before dusk. While it was still hot even at 8 during this latest heat wave, I hiked across the canyon for a look, taking various photos as I strolled along.

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When it rains, water drains into this arroyo and crashes over the cliff near my bedroom.

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Never bulldozed or cleared, this land allows ancient junipers to continue to thrive.

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No water dropping off the cliff on these hot, dry days.

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The flowers I could see from my house across the canyon.  My wildflower book tells me these are a type of Stickleaf. To take a photo of the other flower, I had to climb up an incline covered with gypsum.

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My dog, Athena, and I continued our hike along the canyon edge.

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It was beginning to get dark as we headed back to the house.

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I can also see this bush from across the canyon.  I see no others like it and do not know what it is.

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Headed back home along the canyon’s rocky edge.

 

More Student Poems–Two More Dogs


With my students, it seems dogs are a rather poplar subject when assigned a poem to write about a pet.

 

Hondo

Hondo is special,

in his own unique way.

He loves his home,

but never seems to stay.

 

His best friend is Scrappy,

and together they roam.

They chase wild bunnies

far, far from home.

 

Yes, Hondo is special,

in his own unique way.

A pain in the butt,

And in my heart he will stay.

Author:  Taylor Shugart

 

 

Cricket

Cricket, a dog of 13.

She was a tiny little one,

Getting older.

She was losing control,

Now in diapers, and

moving slowly.

She begins to fade.

Cricket is gone.

After school, tears fall,

my best friend was in the pasture.

Author:  Skylee Isham

 

 

 

Gifts–Isabella and Roses


For the last month DJ Knopick-Barrett, the Production Manager for Amarillo Opera, has stayed with me–her third time to do so.  When she was last here, in early summer, she took hikes with my dog Isabella.  I had no idea she had also photographed her. Isabella died not long before DJ arrived this time.

DJ said her goodbyes this morning and I left for work.  She had a late morning flight.  When I returned home from work today, I was touched nearly to the point of tears.  DJ not only had photographed Isabella, she had enlarged the photo and framed it.

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Isabella–En Memorium


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The crematorium handed me the 6″ by 4 ” dark brown wooden box.  I knew it would be heavy; Isabella was an eighty pound wolf dog. I thought I was prepared.

Driving home, memories:

March 2006, daughter calls; two year old grandson wants a beta. I drive to PetSmart.  Daughter tells me I must see these unusual, incredible seven-week-old puppies.  Alert brown eyes look at me.  Too big, black ears wiggle.  The label says wolf, German Shepard, Blue Heeler.  The two remaining puppies look like light colored German Shepherds or Belgium Malinois.  I had not planned to get a dog, not yet.

Two years later I move into my new house:  canyon edge, horses, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, road runners, mockingbirds, rattlesnakes.  Isabella guards her property, sits on the patio where she can check for invaders.  She rarely barks, growls.  When she does, high alert–I check.  Neighbor dogs, coyotes, foxes, chased off–not bobcats.  She watches them.

I remember the day she dismembered a skunk, drug the carcass everywhere.  After eleven baths at PetSmart, the skunk smell remained.  The one day she growled, I shocked, investigated–a man walking down the arroyo toward the house.  Growls became increasingly loud.  Out on the patio, she stands, the man sees her, turns and runs.  I feel safe, Isabella guarding, telling me if something unusual occurs.  She’s mixed breed; I think she’ll live long.

Every morning, evening, she completes horse chores with me, chases bunnies, roadrunners.  Two months ago, I, mesmerized, watch her catch, gobble two half-grown bunnies in less than one minute–nothing left.  Mixed breed; I think she’ll live long.

Friday morning she helps me with chores, chases bunnies.  Friday afternoon she can hardly move.  At the vet, blood work like a four year old; x-ray shows a little something wrong.  They give her two shots, schedule an ultra-sound for Saturday morning at another vet’s.  Meds working, Saturday morning she’s her usual lively self, eager to travel in the truck, nose wet and cold.

Ultrasound vet tells me there’s little hope.  Shocked, I stand there.  “If she were your dog, what would you do?”

“Put her to sleep.  She’s not in pain.  She has a tumor the size of your small fist on her intestines–might be cancer, hard to operate.”

I look at the vet, frozen.

At 8:00 Wednesday evening, I open the box, take out the bag of Isabella’s steel grey ashes, walk out to her patio spot, the place where she guarded her kingdom, toss a handful of ashes into the wind, watch them float and scatter down into the canyon, tears tracking down my face.  I close the bag, walk to the place where our long yearling colt, Star, is buried, dig an eight inch hole, bury another handful of ashes.  I take the one tablespoon of ashes left back to the house, put them back in the black velvet bag and into the box with the card with her paw print, the crematorium certificate, the sympathy card signed by all the employees where they euthanized her, place it on top of a stack of old magazines in the Chinese cabinet.

At bedtime, I forget, go to call her in.  This morning I find her hairs–she shed so much, wolf undercoat.  Evidence of her presence permeates.

It will never end.

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