May 13, 2015
Where’s the song of my canyon wren?
Where is that lilting call… those piercing, clear notes that build and climb and move something heavy in my chest? Where is the tiny, grey body that perches on the porch rail, or sits in the gnarled, lightning-stricken oak tree outside of my bedroom?
It feels strange.
Absent as well are the other birdsongs, many of which have never been more than unidentified melodies… finches, sparrows, nuthatches, and so on, brightening the morning. For that matter, the oak tree is also absent from my morning. So is the view out my windows of the sun lighting the rocky western ridge of the canyon, and the seasonally changing scents… agarita blooms, dried grasses, caliche dust…
I guess, if I were to put it in perspective, it’s not those things that are absent. They’re right there, where they belong. I am the one who is gone away. I’m not there anymore.
As I type this, I look out the window to see a privacy fence. Over the top of the fenceline, forming what there is of a skyline, are a few oaks and maples, and the empty space where the pine forest is slowly being supplanted by multi-family homes (or whatever they’re building today). If you’ve ever seen a forest after a fire or a hurricane has ripped through it, that’s what the woods across the street look like now… or at least what I can see, that isn’t blocked by this fence… a lot of empty space where treetops should be.
In place of birdsong, I hear traffic when I awaken Private vehicles buzz back and forth, yards from the bedroom window, interspersed with the roar of construction trucks hauling concrete, lumber, sheetrock, and brick. The sharp beep of backup signals, and the belch of air brakes let me know the crews are arriving to begin work on the nearby units. Soon, instead of woodpeckers tapping a tattoo on the tree trunks, I’ll hear the rap of hammers and nail guns, whining saws and drills, and the multi-lingual shouts and chatter of the carpenters, electricians, painters, and bricklayers. And sure, there is birdsong, but it’s difficult to hear it over the cacophony.
I take small comfort… minuscule solace… in the deer tracks I saw when I took Iggy for his morning walk.
And there’s another alien thought… the whole concept of having to take the dog for a “walk”. It’s one thing to let him run around when I go out to feed horses, check the fences, or any of the myriad ranch tasks with which I busied myself in the past. It’s one thing to let him come indoors for a treat, and then turn him back out for bed.
But now it’s another thing altogether. Now I have to make the conscious effort to remember he’s here, in the house instead of outside (where a dog should be). I have to accompany him to go out in the yard for water or to hike his leg on the little, non-native ornamental bushes. I have to walk him, sometimes quickly, out of the complex and across to the open area where he can take a crap in a place that I’m not required (by strange, social convention if not by law) to pick it up for disposal in a little, plastic bag. What does it say about a place when dog shit needs to be collected in plastic and trucked to a landfill?
This, too, shall pass.