More on the Locals

It’s a time of plenty around here, mostly, these days.  There’s water, (which we just didn’t have last year), and still enough little rainings coming through now and then to keep it fairly green. The herd of deer that frequent the property is a pretty good size this time of year.  The big boys are still in their velvet, but not for long, and not yet thinking about that rutting thing.  Females with fawns are still hanging with the babies for the most part, but the fawns are just about at their last of being fawns, seeming to be too big for their spots.  All this fraternization will come to an end before too very long, the fawns getting big enough to make it on their own, and their mothers becoming suddenly a hot item for the bucks to consider.  Everything will go to hell when hunting season starts in the fall, and except for the smart bucks that choose to hang around here all year, we won’t be seeing the beautiful boys again for months.  I got caught in the Back 40 a couple of years ago – walking with Cur Mudgeon on one of our late afternoon into twilight sojourns – not knowing that bow season had already started.  I have permission to walk back there, but not during deer season, and it always sneaks up on me.  The hunter’s disembodied voice hollered at me from somewhere in the blind in the big tree, calling me by name, informing me it was indeed bow season.  Time for me to go, denied my Back 40 connection for months.  I have such a hard time with hunting, (especially since we know these creatures so well, and the Queen Mum makes it her mission to feed everything that walks, crawls, or flies – exceptions being slithering and swimming), that I couldn’t suppress the out of line comment that tumbled out of my mouth – something like he’d do a lot better hunting if he’d simply go over to our driveway.  Not a joke, and I don’t think he thought it was funny either.

There are the other things that are in plenty right now – the mosquitos, (comes along with the water, so it has to be a fair tradeoff, but still…), and the high ranges of the temperatures.  Plenty HOT for sure.  We’re bucking the hundreds lately, coupled with the not so welcome companion of high humidity – the couple you sometimes really do wish would get a divorce.  I heard the heat index was somewhere around 111 degrees yesterday – yikes.  But that, too, comes with the water and the rains, so there you are.  There also seem to be numerous reports of snakes and snakebites this year, (along with all of them I’ve been seeing on the road – like that huge rattlesnake on the back road behind the Capitans in New Mexico), so I’ve about got snake fever when walking around the place, especially at night.  Of course we’re told not to have high weeds and lots of wood lying around.  High weeds and piles of wood lying around are about kin to bread and water around here.  I suppose I could make a stab at the weeds, (grasses, actually), and I will, but right now my mending arms give me excuse enough to let that pass for just a while, and maybe the heat will let go a bit, too.  Meanwhile, I’m just going to have to look where I walk and keep snake fever at bay.

Last week a miraculous thing happened.  I had noticed these strange pebbly things on the glass of my door leading out to the deck, knew they were eggs of some sort, and unfortunately flicked one off to its doom when checking them out.  Very tiny.  I’ve been watching them for a while, but these events, sort of like exotic cactus blooms, can come and go in a matter of hours and you miss the whole thing.  Luck and magic were with me last week though.

I went out for a casual Do-Nothing on the deck, (something I am wont to engage in probably far too much, but I like it out there, until it gets so hot you can’t breathe), and took a glance over at the eggs.  Whoa!  Something was happening.  There was something red and almost furry going on.  What WAS this?  I was actually able to put my hands on my magnifying glass in the house, (will wonders never cease), and drug up a seat to watch what was happening.  One of the eggs had an almost plant-like shoot coming out of its center, straight up, all red, with even a little bloom at the top.  All around it was a little gathering of fuzzy red things, down close to the glass – critters already hatched, and bright red.  Very interesting.  I watched all this for a while, then went on to do something that must’ve needed doing, and came back a bit later.  Almost all of them were now totally black!  Except for the one late-comer who was the last one I had seen “blooming.”  Right about then was when it hit me….. Duh, gong to head:  Oh yes – Camera.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fire myself or issue citations for poor professionalism.  Sometimes when I witness wonders, I don’t even have my camera.  Fired again.

So I got myself prepared, and here they are.  I call this:  There’s One In Every Crowd….

I’ve not found out what they are yet – some kind of beetle thing, maybe.  Maybe those stink buggy sorts of things with the little flaggy looking back legs.  Perhaps my naturalist girlfriend will know.  But after a while they were all black, except for the remnants, I assume, of their egg sacks, (and really, I’m just thinking this is so – don’t quote me), which they must carry around with them for a while, (and don’t they look like the  big end pieces of candy corn?), till they figure out how to prey upon and eat whatever is beneath them in the food chain – can’t be much.  I figure there are hoards of things that would wipe them out en masse.  Spider webs would have to be prime terrors.  And the geckos that I love that come out on the door in the dark of night.  And who knows what else.  I could’ve obliterated them all with the small tip of my littlest finger.  In time they all gathered up their little individual courages and headed off for the great unknown.  I checked on them several times later in the day, still being able to see one or two that had made it all the way to the edge of the door and contemplating the big leap onto the walls, but eventually they were all gone, never to be seen again.  There were only twelve of them, and now, who knows.  But it was a great Bug Day.  I got to see a small miracle, and was grateful that I took the time to look.

Many, many years ago I read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, and was an immediate fan.  I wanted to be like her, just as now so many want to follow in the physical and spiritual footsteps of Elizabeth Gilbert.  None of us can be anyone else, or have the same experience, even if now they are offering (supposedly) wonderful travel packages that will have you eating in the same restaurants and dogging the same ashrams as Liz, while you seek your very own (similar) enlightenment.  No thanks.  I appreciate the inspiration, but I think I’ll create my own journey.  I’ve sat and watched the bug miracle at my own little ranch, (in my mind), much as Annie Dillard studied the escapades of muskrats on her Tinker Creek.  Were I her, I’d be telling you the genus and species of what I’d observed, rather than calling them little buggy things of unknown origin.  (If I do find out, I promise I’ll let you know.)

But I follow in the spirit of what she did, and Liz Gilbert, and Georgia O’Keeffe.  My special places are piled high with bones and artistic twistings of wood, and bags of feathers and a few bird skulls.  (Not so easy to find, I must say!)  And one of my most prized possessions that stumps most who are asked to identify it:  a somehow preserved cow tongue.  It has to be a cow tongue, for it was found in the dried out bones and pieces of cow that were head and neck, and what else could it be?  Maybe I prefer a little mystery to fact, for I’ve never looked it up for sure, but I’d wager fairly high on this one.

So I know, I’m perhaps a strange sort of girl in many camps, and that’s fine by me.  If I ever aspired to be anything, it was Different.  I think I made it.  There are many of us who would rather dance to the beat of the different drum, and we are of the same tribe.  We love Mother Earth, and Father Sky.  We’d rather hike than watch reality television, or most any television at all.  We sit under the stars at night, and appreciate vistas instead of city architecture.  And we’re enthralled with the little scenes of nature that play out before us, even if we have to watch them through a magnifying glass.  And then there’s that rafting through the Grand Canyon thing.

Life is indeed fairly swell, and I am a lucky girl.  So if you’ve got a few moments to be inspired, take a walk out into your yard and see what’s really going on.  You might find dancing critters that look like they’ve escaped some Fellini-esque Disney movie.  You just never know, and if you don’t really, then you get to embrace the mystery.

The So You Think You Can Dancers:

And just a little bit of mystery, from deep in the heart……


5 Responses to “More on the Locals”

  1. Oh how wondrous and marvelous those little spidy beetly things are. Kudos for grabbing the camera and getting such interesting shots. I love the “deer in the tea lights” another mystical image. I wish such wonders were awaiting me in my back yard. Still over 100 degrees and a little parched here right now. Really nice pics, so glad you shared them

  2. Those bugs are so cool. I wonder why the one was red. If you find out what they are I’d love to know. : ) Love the deer photo too. Are they investigating the light patches? Or is that the mystery that we must ponder on our own?

  3. queeniesays Says:

    They were ALL bright red to start, when they just hatched. After they came out and “dried,” then they turned black. It was amazing. I guess they were red in their egg containers, then became black when exposed to the air. The one red one was just the last one hatched, the last to turn black.

    As for the “light patches,” maybe I’ll let you chew on that one for a while. I think we all need a little mystery now and then. You’ll laugh when I tell you what it is. A little Photoshop goes a long way.

    And I am going to have to find out what the buggies are. Enquiring minds and all…..

  4. To my dear friend Queen Mum “Happy Birthday” at 87 years young! You look great and You are the Best! Jimbo
    After reading this from the beginning of this essay describing the construction of the booth through the days of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar – where your time to pee is under extreme timing due to unavailable help not showing up when needed? Then the issue of the hunt referring to deer season. I am so glad not to be a hunter and killing animals. I enjoy the Buddhist ideas of living every day and being mindful to all sentient beings on mother earth. At the end is Queenie’s Quote of the Day. I have to say Alexa you should write a book about some of the things you do—you would have a best seller. Love Jimbo

  5. queeniesays Says:

    I fully intend to. Absolutely I consider myself as much a writer as a photographer, and, uh…… I DO have a book already! Practically sold out of the first two printings!

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