Little Red Hills

IMG_2542.JPG

Little red hills startle a serpentine mountain,

burnish gold in twilight.

Ancient junipers grow crooked –

cry out to wind and rain to shape them.

Baby whip-tails streak over red skinned

dirt at high noon.

Silvery sages call to me through scent at dusk –

“pick a twig and let me heal you.”

 

Five petaled periwinkle flowers

have leaves like bristles,

birth stars under pinion pines.

Diminutive pin-cushions sprout

pink and magenta blossoms in dry washes,

(invisible to all but the discerning eye).

 

Cottontails feast on delicate gray green twigs;

Black tailed hares leap skywards over a waning moon.

The desert is alive with wonder –

Double rainbows arc from horizon to horizon

showering this patch of cracked earth with blessings,

Gifting Her with Rain.

 

8/29/16

IMG_2589

 

Postscript:

 

Living in the desert makes change seem irrelevant. Clouds cast shadows from mountain to mountain shifting the sky every second. Thundergods rumble fiercely in the distance. Nothing stays the same here – the light determines what I see or what I don’t as the star at the center of our solar system illuminates or blinds me during the daylight hours. Arcturus rises in the western sky at twilight bringing down a curtain of black velvet over a sky of red coals. In the early morning the Great Bear enters her cave in the west under earth made of sand and red dirt. The silence of the red hills and dry washes rings a bell in my heart.

Advertisements

Lizard Lamentation

IMG_2569.JPG

 

Ancient One:

Whiptail, sagebrush lizard –

gray striped and slender

you slipped through the screen

into my heart,

swiftly racing across the stone floor

climbing the wall

reaching the window ledge

you basked in the sun.

Peering curiously,

we, your new friends,

(my two dogs, Lily and I)

were delighted to meet you.

Your iridescent blue spotted belly

was barely discernible,

and I thought at first that I imagined a cerulean sky,

or sapphires in the sun…

I named you Shadow – because

you materialized out of a crack or portal

and streaked across the floor or wall

like lightening on the run.

A little girl in me prayed you’d stay.

I heard her say:

“You have plenty of small ants to eat!”

 

When I called your name you listened,

twisting your head in my direction,

silvery slanted eyes fastened on mine.

Was it really with rapt attention?

I can’t speak for you,

but it surely was for me.

I loved you instantly.

In that place between words

where bodies whisper

in what used to be a universal language

long forgotten by humans,

I felt loved by you too.

 

The little girl prayed you’d stay awhile

Perhaps join us for the next round…

The coming of the autumn harvest season…

 

For about a week you came and went

like the west wind

that rules these golden summer days.

In your absence I conjured up an image:

velvet scales shimmering in desert tones,

painted patches of indigo blue.

I respected your need not to be touched.

And after your first disappearance,

I believed you’d come again.

You didn’t disappoint me.

I want you to know that

every lizard we met in the dry cracked washes

I measured against you.

 

Some days you climbed translucent blinds

that protected Guadalupe’s stone house

from fierce white heat;

clinging to the fabric

with spidery fingers

you absorbed the sun

through your skin.

I can still see you…

Stretched out on the screen

a silhouette etched black ink.

Your tail curled itself into a spiral.

It is not an exaggeration to say that

you were a study in pure grace.

IMG_2567

“Do you see the lizard on the screen?”

I asked the woman,

to bring the reptile to her attention.

When she mindlessly slammed the door

I felt the blow, even before I

was blinded by truth.

 

“Oh no” I keened, over and over

as I picked up your lifeless body.

A crushed belly told the tale.

But when I turned you over

you looked so peaceful –

almost as if you were sleeping,

eyes closed for the last time, light gone dim.

Stunned, I carried you to the window and placed you on a flat oval stone

under a small standing goddess that frowned

with fierce anger and haunted eyes…

her mouth opened in a silent scream.

A dead hummingbird lying in the juniper bouquet

had broken it’s neck at the window

just the day before.

That’s when I remembered

the 13 crows I’d seen that morning…

the dead rabbit in the road.

Tonight the horned owl hoots three times under a waxing moon.

Death is stalking me.

 

These sacrifices of the innocent

for what?

To make it plain

that death is calling my name?

I am not that important.

I couldn’t weep then,

but writing these words,

tears slide down my face

blurring my vision and

the distance between now and then…

 

The vulture goddess wheels overhead.

 

How can it be that

whenever I look through a screen

I think you are still there hiding?

We knew each other for a moment…

How did Time stretch herself out

to bind us so intimately?

 

Love has no boundaries.

 

I can’t bear to part with your perfect body.

I have set a firm intention

to release you to Guadalupe

after the full moon.

Tomorrow.

Today I cling to you

like a child clasping a beloved animal

close to my beating heart.

 

Today I ask:

How can it be that every death

slams me back into the first one?

 

8/16/16

Postscript:

After burying Shadow under his favorite spot I came into the house looked out the same window and  there was another sagebrush lizard draped over the stone with his head pointed down to the place where Shadow was buried.

The next morning I saw movement at the window and once again a sagebrush lizard was there in exactly the same place peering in at me. Was it the same one? Astonished I stood there attempting to comprehend what I saw – a sagebrush lizard making eye contact with me in exactly the same way that Shadow had. Then before my eyes this lizard bobbed up and down gesturing to me with his whole body. He repeated this behavior three or four times before disappearing. I had never witnessed behavior like that in any lizard. I know enough of Nature’s ways to accept this acknowledgement as Something  – reminding me that my little friend’s life mattered and that my actions did too…

The following day I dug up some sage to plant below the window over Shadow’s grave while another sagebrush lizard watched me? After watering the plant I stood there quietly as this lizard approached the wet ground. I looked for the blue markings that would indicate that the lizard was a male and couldn’t find them. This lizard was a female. Suddenly she disappeared into the foliage next to the sage. I named her Lightening. She has been sunning herself on the outside of the window ever since!

Do lizards make friends and share territories I wondered? I thought they might do both.

 

Abiquiu 1

IMG_2530.JPG

We have been living here  in Guadalupe’s little round stone house for about two weeks making the acquaintance of many rabbits and hares, three kinds of hummingbirds (ruby, black chinned, rufous) and the canyon towhee, a rose colored house finch, flycatchers, and a multitude of gorgeous desert lizards – the stunning blue green collared lizard, a yellow and red striped fellow that I think is the chihuahuan whiptail, and my favorite, the sagebrush lizard who seems to like hanging around the house. These friendly little lizards like the stone ledges to  bask in the sun. The desert cottontails come in for seed in the early morning and evenings. Black tailed jackrabbits (hares) meet and greet one another, leap around the scrub, fragrant sage and rabbit brush at the edges of each day. They too feast on sunflower seeds. Yesterday a juniper titmouse called out to me from its tree in the wash. Juniper and pinion pines seem to dominate the landscape but there is one juniper or cedar (cypress family) that reminds me of the northern white cedars of Maine that I can’t identify. Wildflowers are abundant and the wild mounds of Datura with their violet tipped trumpets are sweetly fragrant in the early mornings and are humming with bees. I have huge clumps Datura everywhere outside my door and will sow seeds around Guadalupe’s house as soon as the thorny pods are dry and brown to usher in the coming of autumn. I also have diminutive clumps of sky blue blossoms with a yellow beak, bushy mounds of delicate yellow star-like flowers and masses of Russian sage.  I also discovered a barrel cactus under its nurse tree, a helpful Juniper. I dug this up and planted it in a pot. The washes are full of little mounds of magenta flowers. Tiny plump bushes of asters dot the landscape. Yesterday while watering my small juniper I saw an emerald green praying mantis amidst the thorny leaves and the broad winged katydids bring in the night with sounds so soothing they put one to sleep. Ravens squawk from the highest buttes. I have seen night – hawks soaring, scissor -like at dusk and heard the hooting of the great horned owl on the full moon. Huge puffed up cumulus clouds rise up in the afternoons; every day the desert folk, animals, plants and people pray that rain, carried by shark gray clouds and flashes of lightning will come to sooth the parched cracked earth. Abiquiu, like much of the rest of the country is suffering from drought. The mountain ranges and little red hills are astonishing in their beauty – peppered in subtle sagebrush grays and greens –  sunsets catch the sky on fire.

 

We have a community dog named Snoopy that belongs to this cluster of houses. Mine is set off from the others and has it’s own long winding road. This is probably a good thing because Snoopy has not been welcomed by one of my Chihuahuas, who, because of her behavior has been named the “Barracuda” by one of my closest neighbors! Wild dogs are a nuisance and bark at night while coyotes sing up the stars.

 

I have met two wonderful people who have helped me in so many ways already that I feel that I will be indebted to them forever! It is such a gift to have so much in common with these kind generous hearted folks. And for me, having people I depend upon for help finding my way by car has become necessity because of my severe directional dyslexia. I was told by someone who knows me and lives in Abiquiu that I would have no trouble negotiating the driving to get groceries and other necessities. That assessment was incorrect. I am so used to fending for myself that it is hard to depend so much on others for such basic help, but I have no choice. Thus, I feel doubly blessed by these neighbors and their offers of  assistance…

 

What follows is a list of the birds that I have seen and I think I know by name:

mountain blue bird

pinon jay

mourning dove

raven

crow

turkey vulture

scrub jay

great horned owl

black chinned hummingbird

ruby throated hummingbird

black chinned hummingbird

flycatcher

nighthawk

canyon towhee

house finch

coopers hawk  (landed on Lily B’s outdoor cage terrorizing him)

juniper titmouse

 

August 19th

IMG_2537.jpg