August 24, 2013

Dawn raindrops are falling on The Stockpond, 68 degrees feels cool, Killdeer call out mournfully from the native grass planting beyond the pond fence and the circle of mesquite trees is full of the music of young Yellow Warblers trying out their repertoire. The pasture itself is dark still, the sun not having got high enough above the ridge to shine down onto the grass, but the cottonwoods in their line along The River are dazzling and quivering in those first rays that also make the cliffs glow startlingly white, while all this brightly lit landscape is backdropped by the black sky of a very promising temporal.

Chris E. and James C. in their digging the endlessly thorny mesquititos from the bermudagrass in #1 Pasture come upon one of the showiest lepidoptera larvae any of us have seen, apparently feeding on mesquite leaves. It is green (of course) and looks to be some extreme hornworm with not just the one horn on its posterior but also with horns in clusters and singly along its length but especially on the head. It is like something from “Where the Wild Things Are” … the hornworm horn, not quite at the end of the critter, is curved, purple with a yellow tip … a bunch of such horns on the head … and most amazingly, rows of glittering silver-foil decorations all down its sides, as if inset by a Navajo jeweller. We suspect this is the larva of some moth, and can only wonder over what the adult could look like, and suspect that it will be just as magnificent a creature as its younger self had been.

Rain is never assured no matter how dark and promising the sky (we almost never use the word “threatening”, not out loud anyway, afraid as we are of offending the powers that bring us this life), and though it may come down hard in a real chubasco later today or tonight, that is not assured and the pastures are irrigated anyway. If the promise of those clouds does hold true, waterings after this will be decreased proportionate to the amount of rain that falls by the end of the rain wetting. Kingbirds, mostly Westerns, are having their mad fun on all the barbed wire fences, and Rough-winged Swallows in a flock are low over the pasture. Under the swallows I push through the waist-deep Barnyard Grass, out to a nozzle that’s jammed itself stationary on one of the tall grass inflorescences. The whole pasture is a waving sea of these pale seed heads caught in the sun, just below this glowing blanket is an under-wave of bright green leaves, themselves glittering with the morning rain that has passed. We don’t have to have a Monet on our walls, because we live in one.

I read the sky later, know I must flee if I am not to risk being swept away by a flash flood coming down an arroyo that crosses the gravel road, or just as irritatingly, having to watch a flood’s lapping edges for hours as the calculation is made that it is safe enough to enter and cross and then get home. In the next twenty four hours another wild storm leaves us with almost another inch of moisture. Our offerings must have been found acceptable.