Thursday, September 09, 2010

An Evening Walk

While we are eating an early supper, the honeyed light shifts to apricot, drawing me outside into the remains of the late-summer day. The restless wind has stilled; the sage and rabbit brush bathe in the last warmth.

Outside the farm gate I turn towards the lowering sun on what passes for a road, packed adobe, ankle deep in dust in some places. It rulers east-west through rangeland as far as the eye can see, saluted by a regiment of old-fashioned telephone poles, favored perches for hawks and eagles.

The only sound is electricity in the transformers: it mimics the rush of water pouring through a large pipe underground. The static fades between them except for one stretch of chittering wires: I look for a flock of small birds before I realise my mistake.

As I walk into the sun my shadow becomes longer and thinner; by the time the ball of fire reaches the basin's rim, it has stretched to an impossible length.

In the distance cranes rasp as they settle into someone's alfalfa. They and the geese are gathering in their thousands for the long journey south, waiting for flying weather.

The fiery disk settles behind earth's edge and I turn back; darkness falls quickly in the high desert. I untie the light turquoise windbreaker from around my waist; it was too hot when I began my walk, now I pull it on against the chill.

While the western sky blazes, the eastern horizon is banded with rose. Underneath, earth's shadow rises, dark and darkening blue. Between the two extremes of fire and rose the sky seems almost colorless. Suddenly, silently, wave after wave of migrating ducks in V formation appear from the northwest heading southeast along the transparent pathway: small ducks, large ducks, some of them flying so low they are disrupted by the electric wires. It is almost impossible to see them coming, and as soon as they've flown by they vanish into nothingness.

I stop and turn: two families of coyotes are singing to one another, one southwest, one northwest. A jackrabbit crosses in front of me as I continue again towards the house; the last of the light reveals the myriad tracks of a wildlife crossing: cottontail and coyote, antelope and deer, bobcat and cougar.

Night is already seeping into the crannies as I reach the gate. I turn one last time to the west: the rimrock is utterly black, a jagged line limned with the faintest vermillion. Overhead, Venus welcomes the dark. One by one the cold fire of stars pierces the milky atmosphere. It is cold, but I am reluctant to go inside. Shivering, I put my hand to the screen door, promising myself a late-night sojourn under the star-slashed canopy.


Blogger fs said...

Reading this is like being there. It is just beautiful. Thank you, Maggie.

6:15 am, September 13, 2010  

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