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in the desert, under the sun

October 20, 2009

For some reason, I’m really tired this morning.  I didn’t do anything particularly strenuous, but I’m tired.  Go figure.  In conjunction with being tired I remember how it “used to be.”   I used to keep house in a huge farm house and hustle up and down stairs and do all the things associated with housework and never think a thing of it.  Now, I’m fortunate to stand up long enough to fix Michael’s lunch or throw together an easy meal.  Not that I’m lazy, but my knees just don’t last long enough.

I remember once when I was living on the mission, my dog got loose dragging a ten foot chain.  I had once let him run free like every other dog in Rock Springs, but someone accused him of killing a sheep.  I still don’t believe he killed the sheep because he wasn’t really big enough to pull down a sheep, but I paid for the sheep and tied my dog up.  Because he had been used to a lot of exercise, I made it a point to take him for a long walk every morning–accompanied by two other mission dogs.

One morning I went out for his walk to find him gone, along with his entire chain… I still wonder how the chain got unhooked without human help, but as soon as my morning duties with the school children were finished I started out tracking him.  I was worried about that ten feet of chain. 

He was easy to follow because of the plain dragmark of the chain.  I began wallking, but a soon as I got away from the packed dirt of the community the marks were so clear that I started running beside them.  I ran from the mission grounds back across Bobcat Wilson’s ranch.  It was hilly and full of sagebrush and rabbit bush as well as tufts of grass.  I expected every minute to find him tangled up somewhere.   I didn’t find him, but the track went on and on.

I have to laugh at the way some hikers look when they start a hike.  Heavy hiking boots, walking shorts or jeans, bandanas, water bottles all kinds of paraphernalia.  I started running in a skirt and mocassins.  I ran along side the chain mark for the better part of two hours.  There was one rest period when I  had to sit down and pull three prickly pear thorns from my foot.  They had gone through the moccassin and well into my foot.  There was no use moaning.  They had to come out.   So I sat down and pulled them out.  Okay, it hurt, but never mind.  There were no alternatives. I washed th eholes when I got home but they never gave me a problem.  (Some time I’ll write about my philosophy on ‘clean dirt’ and ‘dirty dirt’   )

Once the thorns were out I started running again.  It amazes me now that I could run that long, but at the time I was in great shape and just jogged along without even considering it.  I crossed Bobcat’s road and went over on the other side of the ranch.  John-dog made a long loop and headed back to the road.  And I lost him!

Panic.  

I made a big swing to see where I lost him, but couldn’t find it.  The area was covered with cow tracks and hoof prints.  Somebody had evidently driven a small group of cows across the area after he had been there.  I couldn’t find the chain mark or dog tracks anywhere.  I made a wide zig zag back and forth all the way back to the road because that was the direction he had been going in when I lost the tracks.  Keep in mind I was pretty desert wise, but I was by no means a master tracker.

I crossed the road and looked around, but still couldn’t find any tracks.  I decided to parallel the road and see if I could find a place where he had crossed it.  I hadn’t gone far at all when I saw Ray James and another kid.   They laughed at me.  Navajos always thought it was crazy to walk in the desert for  no good reason unless you were drunk.  Of course they wanted to know what I was doing wandering around on the ranch.  They were out working cattle for Bobcat.   When I told them what I was doing they were all happy to be helpful.  They had seen the dog dragging the chain and Charles Lee had looped it up around his neck and tied it  so he couldn’t get it caught!  What a sensible thing to do!  I’d had occasion to want to wring those guys’ necks, but at that moment I loved them!

I started walking back home, but got bored with that and went ahead and ran back to the mission.  And it was just the logical thing to do.  John-dog was at home stretched out in the shade of our house when I got home. 

I’ve wondered since just how far I ran…in the desert… under the sun.

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