April 28, 2013

There are no wrens taking wing before wheel line irrigators as I move them across the pasture–they are gone! No Western Meadowlarks–have they gone too? In their place a dazzling and minute Azure butterfly has scattered itself, searching out small flowers that are struggling back from the cold.

The “regular” Mallards are gone, too, their place taken by a “Mexican” Mallard pair–appropriate to a day that will reach well above 90 degrees, and appropriate to that romantic Sonoran AM-radio station that I tune in again this Sunday after the early irrigation chores are taken care of. A pair of Yellow-breasted Chats come down to the Stockpond shore and drink; we have I think the most brilliantly colored of any subspecies of this bird that ranges over most of the country. The usual many hummingbirds are sipping or sparring for king-of-the-pond, the White-winged Doves cooing and calling in even greater numbers than before, in the bosque all around and the mesquites overhanging the water. Although I’ve read that it has spread through the South, the White-wing is still to me the embodiment of Sonora and these Spanish Borderlands we it must seem beyond reason love so passionately. The sound of them as winter ends immediately puts me at ease, assures me the valley of the Rio San Pedro is still a wondrous and different place. One hears their voice in the background of Tom Sheridan’s delightful book of the Sonoran village of Cucurpe, that place “Where the Dove Calls”, and I expect their sound inspired the huapango, “Cucurrucucu Paloma”. Joan Baez does a more than fair imitation:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xl84wjM8z8

Songs about Mexico, and Mexican music, avian and human, are whether or not Manifest Destiny wishes to face it a part of this very landscape stretching out beyond the Stockpond through monte and matorral to the Rincon and the Catalina and the Galiuro, and south to the Sierra Madre … […]

Me he de comer esa tuna, aunque me espine la manoNo matter the hand be pierced by spines, I can’t other than eat of that prickly pear. This is always sung with the exquisite pain of romance in mind, but it well sums up cowboy life as at least I have known it and still know it here, sums up the relationship those who make their living by ranching have with what is just another painful romance, one that in the end leaves you stove-up if not physically broken, likely penniless–but satisfied …[…]