An unnamed rural highway, Union County, Oregon

Last night lying cocooned in down, I fell asleep to the sounds of rain drumming across the fiberglass truck topper and gunshots. The rain quit a few hours later, but the shots rang through the night. Some times they sounded deep like the huge drum carried by the skinny kid in high school marching band, or like the cannon fire from a war long lost. Other times they were more like a POP! A tire blowing out at 60 miles an hour on the highway, a firecracker pulled as the sky darkens on the Fourth of July. They came in intervals; ringing one or two every few hours. At 11pm, midnight, 1:30, 1:46, 3 am. Then just before dawn, before the water had boiled for coffee, I heard the howls. Bouncing and echoing along forested hills and across valley pasture, they were less a chorus than a distortion of individual notes. Once again came gun fire.

These are not redneck kids playing with dangerous toys, not devil dogs running feral. Far from the state capitol, far from the lawmakers, the activists and lobbyists, the long nights have everyone tired, and all sides are suffering losses. They are hardworking men and women trying to maintain their livelihood. They are wild animals acting from instinct and experience.

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