Archive | June 2012

Saturday Night

Am I ever glad I obsessively photographed the daylilies before the deer ate the blossoms. Poor deer, growing horns and babies, so little food left down here. They’re all over the yard if the dogs aren’t out. Ate most of the apples, and a hefty bunch of leaves, too, and the tiger lilies before they even had a chance to bud.

A bouquet from Stinky Blooms Farm in Paonia, where Ashley grows organic flowers for weddings and events. I just got lucky.


June 29, Friday, 8:53 p.m.

Sunset after dinner last night at John and Ellie’s. A God-sky with smoke small in the distance.

With corn chips con queso, a Manhattan at last on the patio, and my little grayling hoodie, it’s a cool 62, a lovely evening with a three-quarter moon. It’s been another long hot day, busy from sunup til now, one thing after another. Pent up Stellar is running around with my shoe in his mouth. He’s been wearing that cone another four hours. Nighthawks calling above in their hunt for insect prey. I’ve just come from Francisco yoga.

From the driveway looking north to Grand Mesa, smoke from the Pine Ridge fire blooms below storm clouds. The fire grew from 700 to 10,000 acres in two days.

Smoke stretches across the northern horizon the length of Grand Mesa from a third of the way down, where beyond the mesa, Grand Junction, the interstate, lies DeBeque, the Piceance Basin. I ask for peace and safety for this valley because we so recently faced such a threat. Our distress was palpable; anywhere you went it was the topic of conversation. The oil and gas industry had set their sights on our front yards, back yards, vistas and watersheds, our schools, our homes, our livelihoods, our valleys. We rallied together, across the spectra, political, cultural, geographical. Our collective hackles raised up, we had a falling out with the BLM. For the time being, they’ve seen our point of view, and backed off. A FOIA lawsuit may soon or one day reveal the names of the scoundrels who placed our lives at risk. This is not unduly alarmist. The potential for utter destruction as sure as any flood or fire exists in this manmade catastrophe, oil and gas extraction. Tonight in the Piceance basin, a wildfire; tomorrow, perhaps, an inferno. That rugged terrain is full of gas wells. What happens if one goes up in the growing blaze? A closer walk with thee.

I just want us all to have our moment, our sweet relief, our “one last summer.” Worst case scenario with the Industry, we had one last summer; nothing would have happened til next year at the soonest. Over fire, though, we have no control. May we have this one summer, to love our land, our home, our lives, the way they are, the way we’ve chosen. Let us celebrate every living moment of this summer, with fruits and vegetables, skinny dips in cold ponds, hammocks, novels, cookouts, family, children, friends, walks with dogs. Let us breathe freely this one summer. Let us rally, each of us, our individual strength, from this blessed respite.

It comes down, essentially, to compassion or greed.

June 27, Wednesday evening

This is exactly how much rain fell overnight, with lightning: the ground looked wet in the morning, the morning smelled sweet and fresh and cool, and a fast dog leaving the gate kicked up pure dust.

Driving home this evening, the smoke a stain of bruises, purple smudges like thumbprints, along the ridge. I give thanks today as everyday for where I live. Again I pray for the safety of our valley, knowing only by the grace of great good luck or some kind of divine intervention will we escape this summer’s blazes unscathed. One of the first most crucial natural history lessons to learn here is the difference between smoke and clouds: learn to know what each one looks like in the different lights of day and night.



Tuesday, Afternoon…

Last night’s sunset.

I came outside to… What? Pull weeds? Move water. Having moved water, I turn and look for the first time at this moment, in this bed, with these pink lilies in the pond. This exact angle, this particular wind, this singular day. One singular raindrop lands on my arm. Just the one.

Quite awhile after that one raindrop, a few more. This is exactly how much rain fell today: enough to spatter the dust on the lid of the ancestral Turkish grill.


Enough with the daylilies, alright? But I can’t help myself. Backlit with the setting sun it’s a different garden from the one it was at noon.

I find myself praying please, give us this year, let this one mesa, this place, this valley, be safe, for one year, from all that could befall it. Please let us have this one summer free from all the natural and manmade disasters that may befall us, that may befall each of us, any time, any moment, any day. And please let me be safe from my pride and my folly. Everything is quiet out here, as it should be, the tortoise in his yard, the car, the yurt, closed up. I’m all set to make the most of this breezy, cloudy day, without a host of worries.

Look what I caught today! Bug on a weed.

I have a pretty high threshold of tolerance with insects, and I don’t pretend to think they’re vicious, or assign them motivation, they’re just feeding or defending; nevertheless, I take care of me and mine, and when I have to I will kill them. When I don’t, I will free them, celebrate them, photograph them, leave them on their way. But when they cause me pain, I’ll kill them, to prevent it happening again. The irony, I am reading “The Voice of the Infinite in the Small,” at last, pulled from the wall of books last night, from the meaning to read pile. All about changing our relationship with insects from one of aversion and control to one of compassion and wonder. And then I am stung by a wasp. But not a bee.

Oldbee, with tattered wings. And Newbee, on the left.


Life is so short. I feel the soft warm tongue licking salt off my fingers from potato chips in fish dip. Who feels that? Dog tongues lapping water from a pond, who sees this with quite the poignancy I do? I suppose it’s true: prayer is simply being uniquely you.

At the exact time when the outside temperature is just cooler than the in, I open doors and windows, no sooner.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Haze from a new fire in the San Juan Mountains to the south gave a somber glow to morning.

… while last night, the first sweep of smoke lent sunset a lovely, alarming tint. Irrigation wheel lines on Fruitland Mesa are dry now, after only five weeks of water. With six big fires in Colorado and more in surrounding states, everyone is getting a little on edge.

Nevertheless, there was a great turnout yesterday for the dedication of the Jacob Hoover Cowen Herbarium at the museum in Hotchkiss. A remarkable resource for our small town, making “the extraordinarily diverse world of Delta County wild plants available to the widest range of people possible.” Carolyn Sue Savage Hall spent years collecting and preserving specimens, including the rare Thelypodiopsis juniperorum from the forest under my stewardship. Instead of a ribbon cutting, she released a hatbox full of painted ladies to mark the opening. One landed in the white hair of an elderly lady, one stayed on the spray on our table.

NEW LENS! My lovely bees have persuaded me that it’s time for a serious macro lens for their individual portraits, and this has taken my garden photography to a deeper level. The key to anything is the right tool for the job. The bees are clearly foraging somewhere else, though; all yesterday morning I only saw them at the hive, but my hunt for them disclosed plenty of other insect treasures.

Yucca bugs, crawling like clowns from a desiccated bloom.

The tomato starts from Suzi are thriving despite daily hot dry wind. Violet Jaspers will ripen first.

Thursday June 21st, two thousand and twelve, six forty-five p.m.

Delicious Orchard trees dripping with cherries.

Jojo picking cherries at Delicious Orchard

News is over, nothing much about the High Park fire. Jo’s here from Gold Hill; her house was surrounded by the Four Mile fire and survived. Half her garden burned and half withered. This High Park fire has her empathy stirred up.

Starting with the bees, they seem pleased, as usual. Long hot days let them play out late. Five to one coming in, I’d guess. Daylilies glow in late sun. It is the next longest day in the year. Darkness creeps incrementally into our lives. Dogs howl the announcement, someone is haying; there is an unknown grumbling  in the field southwest of the trees. The tractor mows concentric squares.

From the front gate, after ascertaining the noise was no threat, we all three walk north toward the plum bed at the head of the berm, which has evolved itself nicely after an initial planting years ago. Salvia, ricegrass, lavender cotton thrive, blue fescue, perennial sunflower with enough water doesn’t look so ratty, rogue russian sage sprigs spring up in a wide random spread.

Ganesha greets guests in the spring bed.

The spring bed has lasted well into summer, unto solstice, with plenty of  supplemental snowmelt. Colors and textures expand and interweave.

Garter snake and goldfish in the north pond.

The Ancient One on a dusk walk to the rim.