I step out onto the south porch this morning to a sound….what was that?…I had heard it only once before, in the summer a year past. It was the sound of a dying fawn, taken down by a 'something' in the woods, probably a bobcat or a coyote. The cats sit still and silent at my feet, they too are listening. Three hoarse calls and then nothing. I let out a strong breath for the last breath of that short life and the terror it felt at the sudden, swift end. A lone vulture circles high above the trees, waiting his turn.
On these cool mornings, temps in the low sixties this morning, it seems easier to notice the life around me as I walk through the gardens. A lizard wearing coral colors scurries out of the hole I make while digging the potatoes. A bright green tomato worm lifts and arches its head and becomes immobile when I lean over the plant, searching for him. Sorry my friend, I have found you.
While driving toward town, a single quail runs across the road ahead of me, head high, feet a blur of motion. At the half mile line I look west and slow to a stop, intrigued by what I see. Round bales of wheat straw lie haphazardly across the field and on many of them, ten that I can count, as well as two or three fence posts, sits a dark Turkey Vulture, looking east into the breeze. That in itself is a little strange but is not what brought me to a stop. Every bird has its wings outstretched and is holding perfectly still. I sit there and stare, grasping for the 'why' of it, stunned by this unknown.
( After some later research I discovered that this is called the 'heraldic' position and they assume this pose when the sun first appears in the mornings and other times as well. There seem to be two schools of thought about the reasons for this behavior. Some say they are 'sun bathing', letting the UV rays of the sun cleanse their wings, feet, body and head of bacteria they have picked up from their meals of decaying animals. Others say they are spreading their wings to raise their body temperature, thermoregulating. I have not seen other birds doing this, but these are scavengers, eating almost solely dead and decaying carcasses so the UV cleanse thing is a good idea.)
I did not get a photo but found this one on the 'net' for you, so you would see what I meant.
A little farther down the road a grown Road Runner speeds across the road, disappearing into a field where a herd of Longhorns and their calves lie on the damp ground, mouths moving, beautifully curved horns slowly turning as they watch me drive by. Before the mile corner is reached, a small spotted fawn scampers across the road in the opposite direction, alone, and runs on stilty legs into the same pasture as the cattle.
I drive past a field planted to turnips which have gone to seed, yellow flower stalks rising above wilted green leaves. Once again I slow the car to a stop and get out. The field is a riot of motion, white butterflies by the hundreds of thousands flutter, dip and rise around the flowers, some of them coming out onto the highway and bouncing off the windshield. If only my hearing were finely tuned enough to hear the music of their flight! The dance is delightfully surprising, as if hundreds of small bells, their melodies ascending and descending in unimaginably complex counterpoint were ringing in explosive, ecstatic celebration. Oh my. As far as the eye can see, movement and light. The sight takes my breath away and leaves me bright with laughter.
When I return home, in the grey light of evening, my two cats mince they way out to the car, lifting their paws high out of the wet grass, happy to have me home. The chickens are silent in their pen, already tranced in sleep on the roosts, and a lone owl sends his hollow query from high in the Cedar. I sit silently beneath a waning moon half hidden by clouds. Frogs sing from the creek banks and I find myself filled to overflowing with contentment, so blessed to be living here in this near-wild space, beneath the wide prairie sky.