Late June 2019
The cicada are busy. They are an odd bug with a short bulbous body and longer cellophane wings. The winter rains, or the seven year itch, have brought them on in force. I’m not sure why it is that they are so active. Perhaps I tune them out during their seasonal comings and try to forget the chatter of their wings, but I’m also seeing more of them.
Today I’ll sit on the porch and listen. It will be one-hundred-something Fahrenheit by afternoon. The sun is already warm this morning, as I step out the front door. I wince at the glare from the east. It’s kind of bright when seen through sleepy morning eyes that are used to being closed.
There is the warmth all down my right side as I face north and listen. The cicada chatter. Like crickets they tend to ebb and flow. When it dies down, there is a calm.
I turn to make my way to the shady porch around the corner. I proceed along the walkway with two empty chairs and a table with a collection of ancient pottery shards. The sun feels good, as if a god is giving me a pat on the back. As I cross, the sun’s blessing becomes a massage. I enjoy the touch, but there has been plenty of heat during the last couple of weeks. This morning, for now, I’d like some cool.
The porch has its couch facing west. It presents a view into the lush desert. I sit down in its charming cradle of fluff. I cross my legs Indian fashion, I sit up comfortably, the mind stays stilled, not yet out of sleep.
The cicadas persist, more ebb and flow, more chatter to calmness.
This calm mind relaxes and just takes existence in. For example, the saguaro isn’t so much a saguaro, or green, no label, just what it is, an object in the proximity of eyesight. The other plants are perceived the same. There is awareness, but for the most part just a sensation. There is no conception of a thing called a body, but only what it is at the moment, another part of the oneness of it all.
As I sit in this place of only just being, the mind kicks in here and there. Nothing completely turns it off, but it does have ebb and flow like the sound of the cicadas. In and out, letting go.
The cicadas take a break.
There is activity out here. The various sounds of bird expressions pop out of the silence. Usually they take turns. Most feel familiar, old friends, a part of life’s surroundings in the desert.
There is abundance in their winged lives. This is the golden time. Things have grown dry, grasses, bushes, even many rocks seem to have taken on the golden tints and the morning light augments it all. Here and there a green florescence breaks up the consistency. This is a time of drought and heat. Much of plant life is dormant, much of it waiting monsoon rains. There are seeds, beans and fruit everywhere. This is why the birds are so alive celebrating abundance this morning.
The other critters are out, too. They are living at night and out of the heat. The dirt trails, which run about my home, are carpeted with tracks each morning , all new. My own path’s tracks from the previous day all but disappear. I know who is in the neighborhood, even though they are resting in shelters during the day.
I watch with no agenda.
I see a white hawk in the distance soaring high in the turquoise sky above the hills. There is a smaller bird fluttering around it. My first thought is that I’m watching something to eat, dodging around a bird of prey. What evasive tactics is this brave little being using to get inside the glide of the larger raptor. As I watch, I learn that it is following the hawk. Following the same path through the air. It flutters to stay near, as the larger’s wing span glides.
I discover that it is youth. A very young hawk is following the adult. It’s learning the currents, the movements, the feel of it all by following and imitating the seasoned. Over and over, it must flutter those little wings to get caught up again and glide with the experience of the elder. Each time, it is exercising tiny wings and growing tiny muscles into the strength that it needs.
On the ground, a covey of grey quail crosses the path in front of me in the dirt driveway. This last month larger than usual strings of chicks are marching single file behind their elders. When I drive down these dirt roads, they are cute as they scurry and fly off into the shelter of the brush.
The saguaros are all topped off with fresh buds. They look like they have tied multitudes of bundles of ribbon tied hair knots on the tops of their heads. Each branch has a collection. It is here that many of the birds congregate. Moist buds and seeds are everywhere.
A roadrunner rests on top of a boulder on the crest of the knoll sunning itself. Saguaros are nearby. Mutilated buds litter the ground below. These are still filled with seeds and juice. These attract the rodents and other small meals for the two legged predator. This roadrunner appears to have eaten well. It sits like a rooster comfortable in the morning sun. Higher on the food chain and high up looking down; its vigilance for its own dangers appears to be more relaxed.
The resting bird sits like a monarch, it stretches its wings up and out, thrusting its breast. A neck bends and the long beak is tucked into the down of feathers. It uses this to primp itself, scratching like an old dog in fur.
A lizard does its lizard saunter across the patio before me. It is one which has a tail as long as its torso and nearly as thick. It is shaped like a small diesel train with legs. I see the content roadrunner off in the distance. No conflicts today.
As I imbibe, a very common looking bird is feasting above to the right. It spreads its wings and reveals a beautiful yellow. I don’t remember seeing one.
I close my eyes, and watch a breath get deeper, there is more calm. A passing disturbance in the air brings a light tickle of a breeze across my body. I feel the hair on my arm waft.
Up above I hear an unusual sound. At the very top thin branch of the huge bundle of hackberry bush and mesquite that flourish next to me, a black bird is perched. This is someone that doesn’t frequent the neighborhood. This season brings travelers.
A woodpecker returns to a saguaro again for more fun in the fruit.
The cicada noise begins to flow once again…or maybe I just haven’t noticed.