When I was in the 5th grade I was tortured and bullied by a very sophisticated 10 year old smoker with perky red hair named Judy Hill. I dreamed every night that she met a terrible end. That she was old and ugly and sick. It probably all came true.
Will Sampson who played the physically imposing, mostly silent Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest came into the Thunderbird Bar where we all hung out in the Mojave. Someone said he owned a piece of property in the area. He'd sit alone at a table by the wall and drink Joyce's watered down drafts. He had hands the size of baseball mitts and he was as silent and imposing as he was in the film. Everyone said he was crazy and we were all afraid of him. One night I bought him a beer. Everyone watched to see how he would react. He flicked an eye in my direction as way of thanks, (at least that's what I thought he was saying.) He drank the beer down in one simple swallow, left the bar and we never saw him again. I liked to think it was good for my karma.
Irene saved a crow last night. She discovered the bird near the street, bleeding from the beak. People stopped by.
"Too far gone," they said.
"You can't save it," they said.
"Someone should put it out of its misery," they said.
Meanwhile the bird lay by the mailbox, unable to move, ants encroaching. We called the Native Animal Rescue number. We'd have to bring the bird to them. Trouble is, we were a little afraid of the bird.
Irene broke the stalemate, loaded the unresisting animal into a box and we drove it to the rescue place which is a house nearby run by a woman with donations only. She did a cursory exam and took the animal in. Irene is a woman of action. She stepped up. She did the right thing. While a hoard of passers-by counted the crow out Irene took it in.
When I moved to the Mojave in 1972 we had a ten person party line and our phone number had 4 digits. We'd all get into great battles over phone use. Some people left their phones off the hook to tie up the lines. Others hurled insults. Some just listened in to every conversation. Some times the phone system was out of commission for days, all of us just waiting for the other nine families to blink. We were a lawless bunch.
We went to see Young At Heart yesterday, a musical/documentery about a chorus made up of people whose average age is 85. It may sound trite but this film is another reminder of the importance of living in the moment. And another reminder of the miracle of the human spirit.
This morning before sunrise Annie Bones and I were in our little front yard when we heard the riotous sound of a murder of crows. They swooped from a nearby Cypress and while Annie went crazy I watched a thin brown coyote who came running down our street just ahead of the swarm of birds. It stopped once and looked back at Annie, then ran into a neighbor's field.
Seeing a coyote on this street in what is almost downtown Santa Cruz is a first for me.
In 2000 Irene and my son and I drove through the dirt roads in the desert near his house looking for the perfect place to scatter my sister's ashes. We followed a crow that swooped ahead of us until it landed on the highest spine of a Joshua tree.
We came around the corner, stopped and watched the crow who seemed to be calling to us. There at the base of the tree was a coyote, standing completely still for one moment, watching us watching it. It turned after a moment and headed into the brush.
This was the place. This Joshua tree came to be known as Beki's Tree.
This morning I feel as if my sister came by just to say hello.
This morning as Annie Bones and I took our walk we passed a pre-school yard filled with screaming 3 year olds. Not an adult in sight. One little girl, dangling from a jungle gym sang out as we passed, "The teacher is naked!" I wonder what that was all about?
We have a butterfly bush growing outside our backdoor. It's a volunteer, just moved right in. So far the snails haven't discovered it and it's showing its appreciation with huge purple blooms. The butterflies haven't discovered it yet either. So far it is just ours.
We were exploring the back roads of the Mojave in March and came across this little place with a confluence of dirt roads and granite boulders. And tucked into the crevices a couple of desert houses. The few people who live here call it Adobe Gulch. (I think it's unincorporated.)
I'm looking for a piece of land in the desert where I can just come and go, where people will hardly know I've been. Where I won't be expected to build a sub-division. Or keep my dog quiet. Where there's no such thing as "appearances".