Each morning I awaken to the soothing sound of water flowing over stone and remind myself that this is July in Maine, definitely the hottest month, and usually the driest at least before climate change began to create havoc with our weather.
By this time of the year, my brook is usually barely audible, but this year with the increased rainfall it is still running, has a large pool with iridescent rainbow brook trout swimming happily, and the mink leave teeny little prints in the mud after finishing their morning ablutions.
Fat tadpoles are swimming about in the “almost vernal pool” I dug for them next to the brook and yellow swamp iris were still in bloom on my return from Abiquiu.
Best of all, the scent of water is overpowering and whenever I walk down the mossy hill that meets tall mint spires, round pincushion moss and sage green sphagnum mounds I am overcome with gratitude for this precious gift because water is life.
I am glad that both my brother and my father’s ashes are buried there.
Kingfisher’s family rattles up and down the winding brook hunting for food; last year the terrible drought left him without adequate fishing territory.
When I have the courage to listen to local news the low water table that I witness uneasily as I scan the edge of the brook translates into the drought that is still with us.
As of June Maine is at least three plus inches below “normal” rainfall for this time of year. It is easy to be lulled into believing that the drought is over, but of course, as the trees will tell you, it is not. The white pines have new shoots growing as if their lives depended on it and they do. All the grasses are seeding up and my very wild flower jungle is a visual feast with deep crimson fiery orange, lemon yellow, and delphinium blue… Tiny toads and garter snakes abound and the thick fog laden air is so sweet I can hardly bare it.
I feel as if I have acquired two “home places” or more accurately, they have acquired me. This one in Maine has been my sanctuary for thirty years. Abiquiu has been a dream that finally came to fruition last summer, when I fled to a mountainous New Mexican desert from a blistering world of withering flowers, falling leaves, and crumpled dead grasses that left me wondering if life would continue here in Maine. There, I discovered people with oh such generous hearts who literally took me in.
I came to live on Red Willow river and fell in love with elephant armed cottonwoods, lizards and snakes and the wildflowers that adorned the high desert scrub. Each day as I walked down the river path, I would stop a moment to give thanks for the gift of that torrent that would bring the farmers the precious water they needed to grow their crops. I watched the sun rise over a fog bound serpent who rushed to the sea. In my mind, the two places have become two pieces of one whole in my life. I belong to both.
Here I cannot rest in the dappled light, so golden at the edges of the day, under trees with emerald leaves so heavy with fruit, without thinking of that other home to the south of me…
That home where water is too scarce and thunderheads do not bring the rains the people must have to live. When I left there in June, temperatures skirted 100 degrees – a great wall of heat that literally took my breath away. By then the birds had raised at least one clutch and hummingbirds buzzed like bees around feeders that I filled twice a day. The magenta cholla were in bloom as were the crimson and yellow roses that my neighbor tends to with such love.
I confess, my body cannot take the heat of summer in Abiquiu, though the other three seasons work well for me. It occurs to me that perhaps this is how it is supposed to be. I am meant to return in the spring to this piece of land, my own lilacs, fruit trees and wildflower gardens, and hopefully to the sound of a healthy brook that still runs clear.
For the moment, I am at peace, though I miss my Abiquiu friends – people who have stolen my heart much like the sage gray green high desert has.
Every day I call out to the frog gods to bring the rain to this high desert with its reptilian mountains that is also my home. Never mind that it took 72 years to find it.
Every day I give thanks for the precious gift of water that brings all of us life.
Every day I wonder when people will see the gift of this water, and once again honor it as Indigenous peoples have done since he beginning of time…