The clearest sky before dawn I have seen in I don’t know how long–been two weeks since stars were out at all. The madrugada shines with stars, a quarter Moon hangs in a sweep of constellations. Poorwills call from all the little valleys, their numbers must be added to now by many others steering their way to Mexico … an owl hoots down in the River bosque. Coyotes all give out together in pep talk and howls, and yips. Cool–65 degrees.
In the River bottom as I arrive to look over the cattle herd, I pass the Swainson’s Hawk that is there most mornings in the topmost branch of a large, dead mesquite tree at the roadside edge of #4 Pasture.
Snakes have a reputation for being more on the hook come this time of year, the way young ones are out exploring and learning through trial-and-error how not to waste venom on a human blundering through their haunt of the day. I nearly leave my boots below me on the ground when the grass moves next to my ankles, but it turns out only to be one of those huge Sonoran Desert Toads pushing its way through the stalks.
The end of this month always stirs a question: how many more temporales, chubascos, “male rains”, will Monsoon bring? One more flash flood to humble us, that will give us no choice but to stop and smell the desert? Is it over, so fast?
Chilly and cold Autumn winds do not sweep into this blessedly mild Land Below the Rim until the year itself drifts towards its time to die, after our delightful second Spring comes to a close. Our love for this place–this San Pedro, this gravel road, these quirky inhabitants human and winged and pad-footed, this Monsoon beautiful and frightening and thrilling and–is ever new, cannot grow old so long as there is a sense of wonder