September 1, 2013

Before the first sun lights silver the granite crowns of the Rincon, those broad peaks hover high in cool purple, across the fresh dawn air filling that vast gulf between the truck and them, as I chug and slide down the ridge to the arroyo bottom. The Great Cliffs on the River that frame my workaday world by the time I get to the Pastures are so dazzling in their alabaster that I must squint if I look over that way before the sun has got high enough to put shadows on them. Early September only hints Fall here, but whispers there are, of a change from the comfortable lullaby of Summer on The River. Towards noon the air is 100 degrees–and then on a Mallow as I make the rounds I see some species of caterpillar that looks like a Wooly Bear, mostly orange, but with a long black stripe running its length. Surely this is some kind of Tiger Moth and maybe special to Southeast Arizona, but on seeing it I am standing again outside grade school of fifty years ago in Pennsylvania, full of regret over the loss of vacation freedom but taking solace in that bit of wild that was a Wooly Bear crawling over my shoe. (I remember too another little boy who had noticed the delighted attention I was fixing on the caterpillar, and who raised the toe of his shoe and brought it down in a way he knew would display to me with stabbing effect the squishing out of bug guts to either side–he hoped to keep the world safe from the scourge of future masculine sensitivity that he must’ve divined was on the increase.) This Wooly Bear today is awfully hairy, no way would I think of touching it.

At workday’s end (does a work day end?) I finish those rounds turning off water, come to the darkling Stockpond, from the unending work take solace in the myriad bats and the many Nighthawks coming to drink. I scare up a sunset Great Horned Owl at the Green Gate as I leave, and further on see another in silhouette in a mesquite on The Lane. Poorwills flutter up, and call in the warmth of dusk.