A year ago we said our final goodbye to Angus, stroking him as the pentobarbital dimmed his eyes, sweet boy reposed in the back of the Jeep now owned by the man and woman who bred him. A few weeks ago, on our final day as residents of chukar country, knowing later that evening we’d be mired in the chaos of packing a 26-foot moving van and saying goodbye to people and landmarks ethereal, we rose early and took one last drive along 71 to Brownlee Summit and up our favorite road leading to the ridge we’d spent a decade marveling at Angus’s prowess as our partridge partner. With Peat scampering across biscuitroot and the 9-week-old Bloom, Angus’s great nephew, romping obliviously through greenup that — long before the season opens without us in a few months — will shine gold, we released Angus’s ashes into the biting southeast wind.
I still haven’t cried. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
Now, when it’s almost dark I look twelve miles across the Strait at a lighthouse whose beacon seems on a 4-second circuit. I need to learn about lighthouses. In addition to the beach, we’ve been walking on logging roads behind our house, seemingly endless miles of meandering, extremely well-maintained gravel corridors mostly through dense stands of alder, fir, hemlock, and cedar. Steep mostly, and the occasional clearcut. In places ferns. Salmonberries about to form. Occasionally a spot looks briefly walkable off-road, but mostly it’s either impenetrable vegetation or the nuclear winter of stumps, dirt, roots, rocks, and slash that define a clearcut long after the blinds go up.
The other day some big birds flapped a startled retreat near Peat, who got electric. I saw one land in a tree, and it acted like — and was big enough to be — a blue grouse. Without binoculars, though, I couldn’t positively ID it, and it bugged me for the rest of our walk that it might only have been a giant pigeon. I need to learn the birds here.
So yes, you could say I’m missing some things about the high desert. I feel for the dogs, but today — finally — we finally fenced (mostly) our yard so we can all sigh relief to forego the dozen daily team roping outings with tangled leashes in a vain effort to monitor Bloom’s bladder. I think he’s pissed inside more than 50 times. Just now he puddled his crate, again. Follows my slow learning.
Adjustment. It will take time. And patience. We feel blessed but need a little reminding which isn’t hard when we look up. And I’m thinking about Angus more these days for some reason.