The fall rains began yesterday. I stand astride the seasons, looking back at summer…
To the days when summer heat drives our quail back into the yard now that their chicks are finally larger than bumblebees. They eat bugs and drink from my flowerpot liners. They take dust baths in the flowerbeds, scratch in the garden and cool in the shade. They have found a corner of the lawn where the moss is thicker than I would like and the chicks rest there every afternoon. I convince myself that the moss is for their “naptime”.
I say “our quail”, because we feed them black oiled sunflower seeds all winter and keep the ice off their water. They hang around. In fact they head for us, expecting seeds every time we step out the door. There is usually a flock of thirty or so by the time we stop feeding in late spring.
I miss the covey when they pair up and leave the yard to nest in the spring. They disperse and lay eggs in the cover on the hillsides. And I worry. Too much rain and the chicks won’t make it. Too many hawks, too many foxes, skunks and raccoons and they won’t make it. Problem is, I love that we have all of these animals and more in our life, but I want those tiny birds to make it.
The rains began yesterday and the temperature is cooling. The quail are gathering in flocks again. As the drizzle turns into a steady pour, the guard quail gets a bit of rest. His flock has scattered into the safety of the hedge. It marks another year.
A sultry wind circles the Anatolian plain. It rushes along the Melindiz River and slides down the Ihlara Canyon stirring the dust of Hittites and Medes. Wind gusts scour cave cathedrals, rustle parched prayers petitioned down centuries by now muted tongues.
Gods erase Gods in long-defaced naves guarded by martyrs blinded by fear of the Evil Eye.
Vandalism scrawled in Greek across the Annunciation, the Transfiguration and the Crucifixion.
Christ and Mary signed by warriors and lovers and by tourists descending from diesel-powered buses…Chinese, Malaysians, Scots and Brazilians…all of them speaking in modern tongues. They form new tableaus frozen in snapshots against peeling friezes of the Holy Ghost
A woman bent in a furrowed field, turns the soil with a heavy spade and pauses to draw her hijab tighter against the gust of coiling air. Her gods hold dominion over this land where a man lays down a pruning hook under the crooked apricot tree and faces Mecca and the second call to prayer
Just over false borders, Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and Americans war across a land where sinew and gristle grind teeth and bone. Kings battle generals and so many Holy Words become ash on hot summer winds.
There are times in life when you need help… and it was especially welcome when offered by guys named Grub and Cuddles.
We were eager to get out of Boise’s hot smoky summer and to escape to spring in Australia. The southern part of Australia is flooded this year, with many crops lost and much water damage to low-lying areas. The roads are covered with water.
The Aussies have few bridges and build fords instead. We had 4-wheel drive and are experienced, but weren’t ready for this. This road required something we have never needed in Owyhee County…a snorkel!
We were told that the road we were on would be no problem. We had crossed other flooded areas all day and this looked like the rest…a wide expanse of water. We should have waded it on foot; checked it out. Next time….
Then the hood plunged and water washed up to the windshield washers.
The water washed in and the engine stalled. There was no starting it. As we pondered this, water began coming in through the doors.
We were in a rather remote area, 30 km to the nearest settlement and nearly two hours from our B&B. Nothing to do, but walk. Before we got out of the car, water was ankle deep inside and we were on the alarmed side of the panic meter. I stepped out into water over my knees. And we began wading.
We walked about a mile to the main road as the sun set. There was no cell coverage and it looked like a very long night. A few drops of rain splatted down and we stepped up the pace.
Before pitch dark, a ranch hand and his buddy, Grub and Cuddles, “rescued” us. They worked to pull the car out with their Ute and advised us to watch for poisonous snakes that lurked in the water. Oh joy! Three hours later, Grub’s wife, Jay, had us safely back in town.
In the morning, more good deeds followed. The owner of our B&B, Mitch, drove back and dried out the engine. Happily, after drying out the car, we were off on our next adventure.
The lovely part of this story is that everyone expects to pitch in when there is a problem. We learned that there is no formal rescue unit, no police coverage without a real problem, only volunteer ambulance and volunteer fire coverage…in short you do it for yourself and you do it for your neighbor. In this land it is just a fact of life.
There are days…rare days, that our senses fully awaken to fields. Some are simple fields of grass sparkling with a million globes of rain. Others are riotous fields of flowers. Orange, blue, white, yellow, all ephemeral jewels in shades just rare enough to arrest us. Flowers are color with stopping power.
Fields grow for no one and for everyone. They cycle spring through dandelion, arrow leaf, clover, Queen Anne’s lace, vetch, wild sweet pea, camas, penstemon, Wyethia, prickly pear and poppy. It depends on where the awakening happens. It depends on the moisture. It depends on the light. It depends on the exposure. And so often it just depends on our willingness to see.