Chapter 27 - "big gulps of life"
We set off down a remote road slinking along the base of the Rockies heading north. It looked as if no one had traversed on it for years, making it all the more exciting. It followed along side the man-made canal that stretched for countless miles carrying much needed water to the open plains for summer irrigation. It wasn’t as extraordinary as the Great Wall of China for sure, but it was a human feat, nonetheless, that moved you to pay homage to the years of dedicated and well-executed labor. Though the channels were dry, it wouldn’t be long before they would be filled with life-giving water for millions of acres of farmland. Without this critical commodity, farming would be limited to a small slice of land along the foothills of the fertile mountains.
As we slowly made our way down this gravel road, I kept my eyes peeled for any signs of wild sheep. As I’ve said before, deer were as bountiful as evergreens, so I was forming a familiarity that bred contempt for those creatures. But my heart was poised to catch a vision of those rare and glorious keepers of the crags. It wasn’t 15 minutes into our trip before Doug eyed a younger lamb balancing himself effortlessly on a thin ledge. We stopped and got out of the truck to take a picture. When we opened our doors, he hopped from one rock to another trying to distance himself from us. After several bounds, he came to a stop and stared at us as still as a statue. As I was taking several pictures, I noticed in my peripheral a bunch of white blotches off to my right. There was a moment of movement that caught my eye or I wouldn’t have detected them. It was a flock of them looking at us with the staid eyes of a watchmen warrior.
They were huge, much larger than I imagined them to be in real life. The males were sporting their ram horns with pride and poise. The females were much smaller and noticeably shyer than their virile counterparts. Everything inside of me wanted to count to 3 and then run toward them with shouts of barbarian aggression wondering what would happen. Part of me imagined them being quite timid, fleeing recklessly into the bush, while another part of me wondered if the unusually large ones would snicker and then charge me with a “sheepish” grin on there face reveling in the opportunity to “rock me like a hurricane”. It’s funny what you imagine inside your head as you’re taking in life with big gulps.
I decided to just stand there and leave them be. A good choice as I think back upon that memory. As we stared each other down, eventually the sheep began to graze and move about the rock face precipice with graceful equilibrium. It’s funny to think that the same God who put the instinct in me to push a diesel truck up a slight incline, put the innate capability in these sheep to scamper about on this rock face like it was community playground. Their death-defying movements almost made me nervous and yet they looked to be right at home being one misstep away from a broken neck. It’s awesome really.
As we continued north we spooked up an eagle perched upon the lip of it’s nest. As it flew away, its wingspan was that of a small prop plane catching wind right before lifting off the hardened clay runway. It only had to flap it’s wings a few times before it soared with the cross wind. Eagles don’t soar like any other bird I’ve ever seen. Turkey buzzards, vultures, and hawks are like farm team third stringers compared to the modish elegance and humble strength of the eagle in flight. I was hoping to see one up close and by the time I lifted off we were only 20 feet from it’s nest. Yet another ineffaceable moment etched into my heart’s journal. I was beginning to worry that I would become callused to the miraculous if I kept having these “pinch me” experiences without enough time passing between them.
After about a half and hour, we moved out of the foothills and into cattle country. I’ve never seen so many cows. Countless cattle on boundless land. We snaked our way around property lines until we finally made it to our destination. It took us a little over an hour, when if we would have taken the straight shot, we could have been there in 20 minutes. But the long way proved to be the best way, it typically is. As we pulled into the mechanic garage/airport hanger, I was looking forward to meeting some new characters in this story that was unfolding.
This day was only just beginning to get good.