Hawk Medicine Telephoto

red-tailed hawk over snowy hills

It’s not spring yet

There it is, a red-tailed hawk. I didn’t see it when I took the telephoto shot, which makes this even better. For those who may not know, sightings of particular animals (and the nature of these encounters) often have great significance in Native American and other aboriginal cultures. (Google away, there are many books and references.) Hawks have extraordinary eyesight and awareness of their surroundings. They see more things than we do and are akin to messengers. In my experience, the appearance of a hawk always suggests a commentary or counterpoint to whatever big picture view may dominate my thoughts. True in this case, absolutely!

These sightings constitute a gift from other realms. All the more reason to protect and defend the Earth and all its creatures, for without them we are lost and blind.

And the Sun Did Shine

looking west from Llano Quemado

The view is probably the best thing about this neighborhood

A few hours before I took this shot, we headed south to Pilar to look for ducks along the Rio Grande. As soon as we had a clear view out to the west, I saw a wall of rain and snow marching across the vastness. In the way it often does around here, one half of the sky looked like gimme shelter and the other half like Picnic City. This was obviously the leading edge of a cold front, which reached Pilar about the same time we did. There was precipitation of almost every kind (corn snow, large wet flakes, sleet, drizzle, pounding rain) very different for the bottom of the canyon in my own experience, and beyond Pilar, the road was virtually nearly deserted. No wonder, under the conditions. In this dramatic setting, we saw a few mallards and a mess of common goldeneyes. In a short time the temperature dropped about fifteen degrees.

By the time we got home, it was snowing hard. I built a fire and we groused about the winter, which we’d dared to hope was over. (Isn’t that quaint?) Half an hour later, the sky looked like it does here! See the magpie? Look again.

Beautiful Dreamer

raccoon track

Morning raccoon track!

“Yyou’re doing this to yourself,” she said. It was the sickness again. The impossibility of anything. I ought to give it a name, like an invisible raccoon, and tell it to go sit in the corner, except it would probably be the size of an elephant with fangs like butcher knives!

Related or not, for some reason I was thinking about Lady yesterday. I used to have a dog, a smallish white German shepherd—raised her from a pup until I came home from the vet with just a collar… Twenty years ago that was, and no dog since. That’s the way it is after a relationship like that. How could any animal replace Lady the Wonder Dog? She’d even climb trees that had a little tilt to the trunk. So I was sitting here like I am now and wished out of the blue that I could stretch my arm and grab a panting dogface by the snout as he or she walked by. (My hand remembers what that’s like.) Perhaps wherever she is, Lady has helped me to forgive myself a little, that I could feel this way again.

We drove by a couple of houses for sale, too. Neither was affordable without a twenty percent haircut, and even then they were both ridiculous unless traffic noises are your thing. But instead of merely driving past and swearing, I actually parked so we could get out and walk around, peek in the windows, and get a feeling for the atmospherics. It was a lovely day in any case. At each location there came a point where my wife said, “No need to see any more!” and did I ever love that we were on the same page. But something was different this time. We didn’t get depressed. I’m not sure how to handle that. It might be that a different narrative is settling in. Something more than “Jesus Christ, we’re old and poor and fucking doomed!”* None of that, it just felt normal, as in: we need a house, we’re looking, neither of these will do.

* El Mapache

A Knock on the Door

New Mexico sunset

Claim it, chilluns

“I come from the mountain,” he said, and growled. This was no game, however, but serious shaman voodoo meant to jolt me. I knew the mountain, too. “Do you know how many people I’ve taken out there?” he asked. “Just you,” he said.”You’re the only one.” We talked a long time. The rest of this is secret, but it really happened. “Say good-bye to this place,” he told me near the end.

That was the least of the energy he’d come to share, but today I tried it. Whenever my eyes lit on something in the house or outside that I was predisposed to hate, dislike, or wished I’d never see again, I addressed it with a firm “good-bye.” The actual word in real time. I felt a tiny shift each time I did it. The faint dissolving of a bond.

Dead Dog Dirtball Dream

Llano Quemado, south side of Taos, New Mexico

The blue sky reflected in the puddles! Win!

There was silence when I walked up to the car this morning. Nothing. No barks, no jangling chain, no pity crying in my heart. Maybe the neighbor’s dog died, I said to myself. I sort of wished he had.

He was chained outside a few steps from the gate. A Doberman, black and very skinny. They weren’t wasting food on this guy. Outside every day and night, in snow and sun and zero degrees. Maybe they brought him in once in a while, who knows? One day when I went to get the mail, I saw this funny black thing in the dirt beside the trailer and stopped to stare. It was the dog, curled up so tightly there were no paws or tail or head to notice! He must have been asleep, because he didn’t bark. All the rest of the forever time, though, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark… Whenever one of us got the mail, he barked. As soon as I opened our front door, he barked. He barked when I was crunching through the snow. He barked when I was chopping wood. He barked when I walked down the road two hundred yards away from him. We could hear him barking late at night. Sometimes there was a piteous moaning when his owner drove away.

At any rate I kept my distance. I didn’t want to see or hear or feel the dog, so in that respect the whole thing worked. I mean, he didn’t even have a dog house. There may have been enough chain for him to crawl underneath the single-wide somewhere, but I doubt it. “Call the sheriff,” people said. Oh sure. “Call animal control.” Yeah, yeah. And if I did and someone really came—there’s only one employee for 2,204 square miles—the owner’s gaze would turn my way. I know better than to tell a heavy guy with four trucks how to take care of his dog.

And then you’ll never guess what. I went back up to the road to take a picture for this post, and the leaping wraith was back! Was I glad or disappointed?

Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark…

What a karma sink this place is. There must be human sacrifices buried in the dirt. Flayed Spanish corpses, gringo teeth. Gasoline and radium.

And dogs.

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