journal . stories . life

15 ~ April 2023

We did an overnight backpack trip during unseasonably warm weather last week. At 8,000 feet I was able to leave the wind and rain fly off my tent and the dogs and I slept all night long, without getting out once. A couple of times I noticed little Jess sit up and look through the mesh all around at the silence and the pines in the moonlight, then lie back down to sleep.

It was so warm that it felt almost like a preview on summer camping. We stayed late the next day, enjoying the mountain we had all to ourselves. When we finally did the hike down and back to the truck after noon, it was downright hot. That wore us all out. I do much better in the cold than the heat. In the summer time I will camp at a trailhead, or start my trip in the evening, just to be hiking when it is cooler.

Once again I truly enjoyed seeing my little Jess take the experience of the backcountry to heart, seeing the freedom and wildness mold the kind of dog she is becoming. I have taught her to come back quickly when I blow a whistle, but most of the time I let her roam. The only time she is hesitant to return is when she is out somewhere with Beau. It seems like her devotion to her pack leader tops knowing she is supposed to return on my command. Then I get her back by calling Beau in.

(click on photos below for larger image . . . - Esc or clicking outside of image will close it)

more journal notes: April 2023

I realize how lucky I am to live in a place where after an hour or so studying maps, I can hike up to a beautiful and secluded spot that I had never visited before. Quiet and solitude in nature with my border collies is what I am after.

Yesterday at mid morning I was sitting on a rock on a boulder strewn ridge, after exploring with the dogs. Little Jess came up from behind and put both her legs around my shoulders and proceeded to give me puppy kisses. Both Beau and Hayley then walked over to also give some nuzzles. It was a simple moment that warmed my heart. They clearly were grateful for taking them up to a place like that.

I see the photos I take up there. There is no mistaking that I am a very old man. I am just glad that I can still shoulder a backpack and climb a ridge to a hidden campsite.

Being there through dusk, night, and dawn is the best part, so very peaceful. I sleep almost as well as I do at home. Me and the dogs didn’t get out of the tent once all night. I left the rain and wind fly off, and little Jess sat up a few times at night and looked all around at the trees and the silence. Being out in a place so wild overnight creates a big impression on a young dog. Starting them so young off leash in the backcountry is no doubt the reason they become such passionate mountain dogs./p>

I try to keep a journal regularly, but often give up for nothing to say. My muses are backcountry and mountains and the sea, and once in a while the satisfaction I get from dancing on Saturday Night and storytelling in the schools.

I am doing some real work this week, preparing my garden for planting; piling all of last year’s wood from pruning on the vegetable beds, then adding leaves my neighbors saved for me in October. On top of that I am adding compost from digging out what is compacted in the chicken run. The final step will be shoveling soil the hens scratched down to the garden paths over the top of my layers of organics. Then my permaculture bed will be ready for irrigation and seeds. It is satisfying to do this, a spring time ritual, moving soil with a shovel. But I also hurry to be done, so I can head up to camp on some isolated ridgetop with the border collies, and sit with them while night overtakes the mountains.

I went to collect eggs just now, and found the hens laid 38 today! And there were still a few hens in the nextboxes preparing to lay. So I am flush with eggs probably until fall. Sunday is the day I distribute eggs, so after giving them to all the neighbors who normally want eggs, I still had six dozen left over! (and this is with me and the dogs eating five a day! (but only 1 egg yolk for me because of heart issues)). I emailed a friend who is happy to take most of the rest, and I am going to boil up the remainder and feed them back to the chickens.

I have not raised my price for a dozen ($3) because of the connection I get with the neighbors by sharing eggs. That is no small thing for an old man who spends most of his week talking to border collies and chickens!

The key having good Saturday Nights, especially early in the evening, is to get out of your comfort zone, and ask ladies to dance you have never seen before. It is even better if they say they don't know how. I just say I can show you, it's easy. Holding their hand on the way to the dance floor I tell them to rock left and right to the beat, and look at my feet. It works out if they have even the slightest bit of rhythm, and when it does they are usually happy and grateful. I don't care in the least how I look while showing them the steps, because Saturday night is about joy and celebration, the power of live music and acknowledging life is short, so enjoy it.

What hooked me long ago about dancing with a partner on Saturday night is the centered feeling you get when it all goes right - the rhythmic steps, the touch and embrace, the energy from the band and crowd. It is life affirming and joyous and ageless.

Lately though, I have been getting tired with how busy the Rose gets on Saturday Nights, and for three Saturdays in a row have decided I would rather stay home with my new puppy and Beau and Hayley and read then watch a movie. But I never miss Wednesday night, when the dance floor is more open and on most nights there are plenty of ladies to dance with. (and still a live band) It often takes only two or three good dances to a fast song to make the night more than worth showing up. I also having been going more to the swing dances on Friday Nights at the Turnverein, to make up for skipping the Rose on Saturday.

But I will sure be there on the 29th, when the Lendon James and the Highway 34 Band from Greeley plays. They are carrying on the tradition of Chris Ledoux who always played at the Greeley Stampede. (I saw him there and also his son Ned). I will dance early and be ready to take a break if the dance floor gets too crowded. It will be worth it - Last time they played the Rose the Highway 34 band played a scorching version of Chris Ledoux's 8 second ride late in the night. I had a skilled partner and it was a memorable time.

facebook link for Lendon James and the Highway 34 Band

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"