They’re about a month late, but we finally spotted prairie crocuses yesterday. This week has also featured a sprinkling of fresh green leaves, and a large number of runaway grass fires. It’s a very dry spring.
New this week: A previously published short story of mine, The Significance of Snowflakes, is now available for free in your choice of e-reader formats. If you’d like to read it, click here and scroll down to the download links.
So we drive north from Sedona and we decide to take the 89A. It’s longer, but if time and weather permit, the idea is to try for a glimpse of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. Which doesn’t work out, because the rain of the lowlands is a blizzard up top.
But it doesn’t matter, because sometimes the journey is the arrival. The 89A takes us across the Colorado River southwest of Powell Lake, on the flats near the Vermilion Cliffs. After winding our way through clefts in the rock, we come to Navajo Bridge.
And that’s when my husband yells, “Buzzard!”
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce #73 and #54, two of the ugliest birds ever to avoid extinction. As we learned at the South Rim interpretive presentation, all condors are numbered. While they’re called the California Condor, they were brought to Arizona for an important reason: There are so few left in the world that it was decided to establish isolated populations, in case one population got wiped out by disease or disaster.
Condors need high verticals with strong updrafts and cliffs for nesting. Thus, the Canyon was chosen. But when the introduced birds began to nest, the rangers discovered they’d chosen cliffside holes with ancient bones in them. No one had reason to find them before. They were the ancient skeletons of condors past.
When they took off, we breathed a sigh of disappointment and went out on the walk bridge to watch them disappear downriver. But they didn’t. They can’t smell and they can’t hunt, so they scavenge by sight. Which means that, while they attract people attention, people also attract their attention. If they see a lot of movement on the ground, they come sailing by to find out what’s on the roadkill grill. (No wonder they were perched beside the highway.) Continue reading
Well, we finally did it: A full week away, just the two of us, in the Montana mountains. Conclusion: Yes, it’s more fun when you’re not a silly nineteen-year-old anymore.
Also, I still don’t understand love. I just know it works…so what else is there to understand?
Dave: “Wow, there’s a lot of nothing in North Dakota, look at that. Hey, a train! These people own a lot of Subarus. Are you seriously going to start this trip with a nap? We just got up two hours ago.”
Cat: “Are you done talking yet? Let me know.”
Dave: “Nope! Come on, we’re finally on a real honeymoon. We’ve been waiting seventeen years for this. We can actually have an uninterrupted conversation!”
Cat: “About inane things?”
Dave: “It’s stuff!“
Cat (leaning seat back, closing eyes): “Alright then…have at ye.”
Dave: “You’re an ass. Don’t ever let your friends convince you otherwise.” Continue reading
I came home the other night to a fleeting drift of clouds and a half-moon rising through them. This time of year, all is silent. No birds sing in the cold. My world is a wasteland, having drawn its shutters and burnt out its hearth.
The wind shudders and heaves like the spasm of drowning lungs, but there is no water. Nothing resembling life. This realm is no longer Earth, no longer even Mars. It has achieved Io’s frigid orbit. If we step outside the fragile hulls built to take us through this trackless void, we risk the loss of skin, fingers, toes, a gradual blackening as the abyss gapes hungrily to meet us and make us its embodiment.
Yet it is the time of the Hunter and the moon. The dark is slow to lift her veil, though she comes later and later, a little less adamant each day. Six o’clock, and within our shell of refuge, golden warmth glows. It’s Eliot’s prelude hour of poetry and drabbery; the time when light pricks the darkness as if to say that nothing, even the wasteland, is as absolute as life after death.
Looking at it now, that thing is not photogenic. In real life, though, it was pretty cool. We were just leaving Red Rock State Park when we saw a critter perambulating across the road in front of our van. It was this large and hairy specimen of ickiness, clearly visible from 20 feet away. We pulled over and took photos, which was also interesting: One of the kids used a flash, and the spider froze and arched its rear up. Apparently they shoot web as a defensive strategy. To my disappointment, none of the kids got the Spiderman treatment, though. That would have been cool.
Our oldest went on an early morning bird-watching/nature hike at the park another day. Way less cool was the ranger’s story of a tarantula that got in his house. When he went to catch it, apparently it decided on the full-speed escape approach instead of the sit-there-and-prepare-to-fire approach.
Which is why I will never live in the south.