Nov 28, 2009 | Sisters, OR
Nov 28, 2009

The skies were clear today, so after lunch I climbed up the crunchy snowy hillside and found a bare patch of ground up on the ridge, exposed to the sun and next to a tree stump. The plants up there are like the plants you see atop east coast mountains — short and tough, battered by weather, and take years to grow. I lay down beside some of these plants, and stretched my fingers out into one, letting it cradle my hand as I closed my eyes and fell asleep with the sun on my face. Total exhaustion overtakes me every day after lunch, and without a nap I'm useless all afternoon. My siestas usually last about an hour, and I don't dream. My body doesn't move at all. It's a dead sleep — deep, short, and still. Today on the hillside, I woke up suddenly to a giant boom, which sounded like a dynamite blast. I sat up and looked around, but couldn't see what it was. Then about 20 seconds later, another huge BOOM! I stood up, walked to the bluff, and looked over the edge. I saw a cloud of smoke rising from behind the neighbor's house. Then another BOOM, this one just massive, with a high-pitched wheezing noise before the loudest part. This time I felt the actual sonic wave travel up the hillside and push me back, and I staggered, losing my balance. Another one about 30 seconds later, producing another giant cloud of smoke, and another palpable sound wave. Then a series of 9 gunshots in rapid succession. Then a pause, and another series of gunshots. I've heard stories about the neighbor here, who used to own the land before he sold it to Caldera. Jim, the caretaker, was telling me how the neighbor used to have an old Winnebago parked out back of his house, and how one day, for one reason or another, he walked into the trailer and started blasting it to bits with a semi-automatic weapon. I've never actually met the neighbor, but I see him whizzing past in his truck every few days. Today I thought he might have finally lost it, and was hunting down everyone he could find. I crouched behind a log, tried not to move, and thought about the Second Amendment. The munitions barrage continued for another 20 minutes, mixing up different kinds of gunshots with big blasts and other assorted explosions. It was unclear when it would stop, and the sun was getting low in the sky, so I decided to creep down the hillside, back to my cabin. As I came down off the bluff, I peered into the woods behind the neighbor's house, and there were two men standing there, in mustard-colored Carhart overalls, with a big cloud of smoke behind them, apparently testing out weapons. As I passed, a few hundred yards from where they stood, they looked over at me, out through the trees, and as one of them stared, I heard another set of gunshots. I guess I'm still learning what passes for weekend recreation out here in central Oregon.