I arrive at the Stockpond and scare off a put-out, cranky Green Heron, have a glimpse of it for only a few seconds–well I’m grumbling too over a temperature that hovers at freezing. This, too, is Sonoran spring. A front came over us in the night, blue sky gone, but not exactly cloudy either: all is silver and glowing, the light, the air itself, it is stunning, like being in the Waiting Room for Eternity. The birds trickle north in ones and rarely twos, their kinds arriving today for the first time, and maybe regretting their haste as a little drift of sleet begins to pelt the brim of my Stetson … a lone Barn Swallow (“about time, friend Swallow!” I send thought to it on what wings I have, the species is so late this year); a lone Swainson’s Hawk has arrived and with a flourish of masterful flying, dips, parries, folded wings and mournful whistle, he escapes the harassment of a Redtail and is then gone into that silver air above me. A lone Cassin’s Kingbird, gorgeous in this strangest of light around me, whurp-whurpping from a fencepost where he might stay for the rest of the summer once he stops regretting leaving Old Mexico. The sleet sets in, the mid-seventies of yesterday too long gone and it will be a mercy if I forget them. The ice balls bounce off my shoulders as I open an irrigation hydrant and have water shoot up through the frigid air and into my face out of the tottering equipment. Oh my yes! … the vida vaquero loco, romantica, libre.
As the irrigation water rolls from my face after hitting me squarely in both eyes, I hear my father telling that poem of an April bedtime more than fifty years ago, hear him quivering out the “poor thing” part to add just that extra fear, pathos and doubt, and hear myself crying back, “No Daddy–no! … will he make it to spring??” I wonder if I will. I hope that Cassin’s Kingbird sticks it out.