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