August 8, 2013

I hear on the radio that this dawn slugs at Phoenix with 82 degrees already in place; here it is “only” 64. My Thursday segundo, Ellison from the Froggy Farm, and I find a huge, oh-so-evil looking insect with striped legs that has climbed to the top of the reeds on the north shore of The Stockpond. Ellison says, “I’m sure that thing wants to stab some tadpole with that beak it’s got, and suck out its life.” We slip away from it, glad we’re the size we are, go off to take care of the tractors on their wheel lines and we trudge across #3 Pasture to change the oil on that one, and oil its drive chains.

Two days after I saw those disembodied brilliantly colored wings of that Red-winged Grasshopper, we come across an entire section of that pasture jumping and pulsing with them, and now we know that earth is turning away from the hemisphere’s Summer even though by this hour the heat approaches 100 degrees (which will make that engine oil particularly slippery and easy to drain …) We’re not scaring them up, or driving them in front of us to settle and then rise again as grasshoppers do–these very beautiful insects are obviously in full advertisement to females, or maybe in full territorial declaration. They rise, circle, vault, arc, come to the ground again where they immediately stop their clicking. Always some are lifting off or in mid-flight or landing, showing off their colors, all of them letting out a wing song that for the world sounds like Sandhill Cranes calling out from some great height and indeed there is something crane-like about this display dance. Both bird and bug are “doing” the same thing, after all … And that’s why birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it, let’s do it–let’s fall in love.

A Swainson’s Hawk whistles down to unfortunate earth-bound creatures from its own great height, but even seen from our distance away from it the grace of its flight makes me stop to admire, and to wonder what it is he takes in with those raptor eyes from one desert horizon to the other.