Full Moon is lowering itself towards the crest of the Rincon when I leave in the “dark” and thread the ridge above Pool Wash and slowly lower myself towards the canyon bottom and out on the Cascabel Road. The grand, bare cliffs are all in a glowing mist, a world that in this moonlight is there and is not there. Nighthawks are purring loudly and then softly, and from every knoll and canyon bottom rings out Whit-will-do! Whit-will-do! of Brown-crested Flycatchers … the early bird catches the cicada. On the road drive to the pastures the air is sweet and cool on my face. Owl is going home, Poorwills fly up from the gravel or flicker into my headlights, kangaroo rats bounce and jackrabbits try my patience when they decide that safety lies under turning truck wheels and not in the creosote flats they could peel off to instead.
My chest aches in the cold air, but then again it has done since I got knocked face-down flat to the ground yesterday afternoon by the electric fence when after crawling under and to the other side of it, I lost balance while I was getting to my feet and leaned back enough to lay the wire across the nape of my neck … bang! I long to direct the herd grazing these bottomland pastures from horseback alone, abandon the wires and the batteries and the electricity. The temperature and Moon are dropping, and I get the impossible pleasure of seeing four moonsets in succession, over this ridge or that, or when Moon snuggles himself into one gap in the mountains or other while I myself swing around north and south to drop cowboy gates and open hydrants out on the pastures …
Bright his smile may be, but his night at The Stockpond is far from a silent one. The dark of the mesquite bosque is all sound and singing–Cardinal, Yellow Warbler, Bewick’s Wren, Lucy’s Warbler, chats (lots of chats), tanagers, grosbeaks, Mourning Doves, Bell’s Vireos, kingbirds, House Finches, and a Vermillion Flycatcher that’s dancing mid-air. While singing out, he slowly crosses high over the pond, demanding of the avian world, “Oh, am I a stud, or what? Dig me!!” The fiery red little bird likely had done that through the whole night, dancing in Moon’s follow spot. The pair of Mexican Mallard swim around each other, painting yin-yang symbols with silvery water.
Later in the bright morning sky three Purple Martins, two males and a female, are sewing patterns on the blue, letting out far-carrying notes, twings and plangs in a courtship danse apache among two rivals and their would-be mate. Below in the mesquite edges and the weeds growing ever taller fledgling Lesser Goldfinches are complaining to their parents that not enough bacon has been brought home lately, “you don’t expect us to go out and get it ourselves … do you?” My life as ranch hand with its shocks by electric fences and lightning seems as tenuous as that of the baby bird whom I’d just saved from a pool of irrigation water in which it had wet its feathers thoroughly. I can decide to rescue it if I can as validly decide to leave it to drown, though all I probably did was save it as a fresh meal for a coyote. So be it. I put it way off into the grass, where it will stay hidden at least for a while, could dry out after all and end up changing the entire course of Evolution.