The pastures are hushed, cold. Ice stalagmites balance on the ground below the flush valves that had drained and dripped out in the night and I hope their passages and the many small pipe fixtures aren’t blocked with ice chunks when I get to turn on the water. Mexican General Grasshoppers are still to be found motionless and stupefied on mesquite tips while the cold shadow remains thrown across to The River by the ridge to the east. Russett Harrier would find that huge grasshopper more than a morsel–it would be more like lobster tail–if the bird spies it. Many Vesper Sparrows tseep their little notes from the tangles of dried and drying amaranth, saltweed and other forbs, and Brewer’s Blackbirds alight, the females softly and subtly beautiful.
Life perks up, becomes more enthusiastic with the day, which by mid-afternoon registers above 80 degrees. The year’s last Turkey Vulture has apparently found the year’s last rising thermal wind current, and sails overhead, south … there’ll be no more of this, with that favorite avian mascot of ours. It wants to find a soft corpse for a morning meal, not something that needs to thaw. Brindle will be relieved. Adios, amigo Zopilote–saludos a Mexico! Kestrel, though, wants fresh and moving prey. He’s out hunting, and he dive-bombs a Meadowlark I guess just for the devil of it, the Meadowlark lets out panicked whistles, and alights on the tip of an electric line post with consummate grace and complains about the indignity of it all.
A lone Cassin’s Kingbird chatters farewell, the coming night that will be in the mid-20s will be too much for its temperate tastes and so no more will grace these fencelines. Every butterfly will probably be hard won from now, too, what ones the Kingbirds haven’t eaten; a Red Admiral races by, is nervous in that way of theirs.
The wide rings of Three Awn (Aristida) grass that edge the ant circles in #3 Pasture have taken on the rich colors of Autumn: within, the low walls of stems and leaves are rusty and green, and without are the palest of brown-yellow. Gazing into the depths of these wonderful natural circular sculptures is like gazing into the depths of a crystal.
Full Moon, already pendant in opalescent sky, balances within a cup in the mountain skyline when I top out on the ridge, almost “home”. The wild walls of the Galiuro, the Muleshoe, Sierra Blanca, the Mae West Peaks–all of them the color of the merlot I’m looking forward to pouring …
Although about to lose this home, still I am comfortable for some nights more, holding a glass of wine the color of those mountains, windows to shut and make cozy the room, but out there? Out there it is different, out across those bajadas marching endlessly to each horizon, on arroyo floors and in washes, the cold air will be flowing in the Sonoran Desert nights down mercilessly over beacon-drawn migrants paying a price for the starry tales they hold on to, migrants praying for a home, praying for roses to grow in a patio their own …