I’ve slept out the past ten nights now and I now have three new stories.

1

Camp was under the largest pinyon pine I’ve found. Its canopy sheltered a deep bed of soft needles. Stars were up and away somewhere.

As I sat out into the night doing paper work a sound moved through: whirring like a rope spun above the head. Accompanied by squeaking. I scanned into the twisted branches with my head lamp but the sound had stopped.

Fifteen minutes later it came back. With pen paused between my fingers I looked straight up. An owl, about seven inches tall, stood on a branch with a mouse in its talons. Its head craned forward, face slashed in a dark V like eyebrows glaring, the owl stared directly and a chill washed over me.

The next night I saw the owl, eyes furiously large, staring out from a hole in the trunk. I went to bed. And as I laid there eerie calls like cat cries erupted from first one direction then the other. I thought about what things I’ve done wrong.

2

The Price River is older than the Book Cliffs. That is why it can, after flowing down a long valley, turn ninety and cut directly into the mountains not the other way around. I like to camp where it enters the cliffs and cottonwoods grow.

A shooting star caught my eye there so bright above my head I jerked my neck, to tail red and gold, shot star so far I stood up to see if it would hit the horizon but it vanished just in time.

3

I slept out in a field where I watched a fox pass earlier in the day. Around 2 AM I woke to a swishing sound. Eight deer grazed not far from my sleeping bag chewing loudly. I watched their silhouettes black against the starry sky.

I hardly got back to sleep before coyotes howled and yipped for me. After they finished, more stars to look at.

Dawn was songbirds. I finished my book in the first light before jumping up to put my pants on before the chill. This morning.

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