Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Catherine Creek Journal: April 10th, 2012
It’s been very quiet most of the day, and still – silence filled with darting birds and birdsong. Meadowlarks and startled killdeer, black crows and blue jays, buzzards, hawks, eagles – going up Tracey Hill I turned for no reason and a northern harrier swept low across the massive meadow, wings held in a motionless v, and looped around a stand of ponderosa before disappearing from sight. Coming down into Catherine Creek valley, a bald eagle lifted from the ground and perched for some minutes in a tree, then flew away with slow wing-beats when I approached.
I hiked past the bathtub and past the deer-kill I found last March. Not much remains but a skull in the flowers, a segment of vertebra with thick green grass outlining white bone. Hard to believe anything is left of it.
No deer, but sign everywhere: tracks, droppings, paths made for hoofs in the moss and stone. I haven’t been in the right place to see them, I guess, but it’s a warm day and only 6pm. Time yet. Grass widows are mostly gone but other flowers have taken their place. Buttercups are everywhere, alongside oaks toothwort and blue-eyed mary in the duff. There are shooting stars in the hundreds by the Dharma tree, and a carpet of glacier lily in the gully above the arch Yellow and purple desert parsley turn basalt crags and gnarled solitary oak into refined oriental gardens. Hound’s-tooth attracts bees and saxifrage fills the lower meadows, while lupine is everywhere about to bloom, and deep green bitterroot leaves are waiting. A few balsamroot brighten the cliffs.
After saying hello to some hikers near the arch, I didn’t speak again until almost back at the creek crossing several hours later, when I told a circling bee that “I am not a flower.”
Another change: above the corral, the ponderosa limb with that unusual growth has died and fallen; no sign of the growth left among the limbs and twigs in the grass. The tree looks healthy.
Mallards zip by overhead, a pair. Just a chuckle in greeting and they’re gone over the river. A good day for birds.
My thoughts have ranged up and down these trails with no order. But a natural order, a wild order. It’s a good day to sign off in this volume and move on to the next, with more looking behind and more looking ahead: next weekend, wherever it finds me. But first the drive home, a tick-check and shower, a beer and music while I look through the photos I’ve taken.
I’ll bet none of those photos will do today justice. None of them will last like that harrier on the wing.