In the woods up in SW Colorado, the sky is still pretty dark at night. But we have high speed internet now and that deer over there is wearing a radio collar. I can hear the wind in the pines and the river in the little valley below, along with that ambulance siren headed up to the RV park for another heart attack.
The four-corners coal burning and the natural gas and oil pumping has affected everything. Most notably it has screwed up the air quality but grown the local service and retail economy. It just isn't that remote up here anymore. Those gas wells, and the roads to them, are everywhere. And I understand there are a lot more coming.
Perhaps its inevitable if you've lived long enough, and long enough in one place, you'll end up playing old biddy - lamenting change and describing a long ago walk to school in the snow. But compared to when we were kids, everything has changed. No less in the foothills of the San Juans.
For one thing, there seems to be a lot more wildlife - Canadian geese and osprey. Bears, lions, deer and turkey. Fewer people are hunting or maybe habitat loss in the growing lower valleys of Durango, Bayfield, Pagosa is pushing animal populations higher. I have quit taking the old dog up after being stalked by a group of
coyotes last year. At her age she's no match for their plotting. Me
either. I carry a golf club around now. And I don't go outside at night.
After raking and burning brush all afternoon last weekend I was prepared to stay out late by the fire to watch the stars. Big dog was with me. I felt safe. The weather was perfect and I was listening to radio and sipping something. It was just-dark and I was noting how the lights in the window of the neighboring cabin seemed closer now than when we were kids. Then I heard them. Between here and that cabin. Coyotes yippity yip yip yipping. Yipping to lure curious innocent dogs into their hungry trap. They sounded like puppies. Evil puppies.
Electric chill down my spine and hairs on end, I told myself: Just coyotes. Myself said back: How do you know what's out there? Anything could come up over that hillside right there. Lion. Bear. I turned off the radio, look back at the hulk of the dog nervously. We used to say, if you listen hard enough to the river you can hear voices of the Utes. More yipping. And they're saying, get inside. Suddenly motivated, I kicked out the fire, grabbed my beverage and radio, called the dog and headed in. Dog was reluctant - staring off into the night. Grabbed collar, bolted door.
Coyotes may just have collective recollection of my family's murderous boyscout trapping escapades long ago. Or perhaps I'm scapegoating for things I fear more - like changes wrought by the oil and gas industry and all that dirty air.
Sips beverage. Shakes seven iron at the sky.