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Dancing on Red Dirt

Posted Feb 20 2009 5:40pm

 I write to the sounds of bluegrass fiddle or slide guitar seeping from the speakers while a cool spring wind blows through half open windows. The wood stove is still fired up most of the day, but it’s easy to overheat the cabin this time of year with an oversized log or even a small chunk of the dense and incredibly heat-giving evergreen Oak. The chipmunks are awake and frequently hop up and down on the rocks just outside the den window, seeming in a bid for attention but maybe they just enjoy the lively tunes of Outlaw Social and Abigail Washburn. Rhiannon can frequently be seen running barefoot across the mesa in her poncho and princess dress, howling the refrain to Wayfaring Stranger while sliding through the mud and riding her stick horse.

The slant of light this time of year is just so that when I sit on the wide rock slabs at the edge of the mesa, I can soak up the sun and get wonderful, sleepily warm without the least bit of sunburn. In a couple months it’ll be way too hot for that, but right now it’s perfect and I feel like well-contented lizard curled up on hot rocks. There’s green everywhere, just little bits, tiny seedlings and sprouts that peek out from under piles of sand and frost heaved soil. The Weedpatch is doing remarkably well (considering I was about ready to give up on it) with Lemon Balm, Lavender, Wild Carrot, Sage, Strawberry and Oats up so far. Not a lot of any one thing, but still, proof that a few plants can survive the savage teeth of the local (seemingly starved, sheesh) gophers.

The Mountain Candytufts are still just at the very beginning of their bloom, but gorgeous in a hundred shades of lavender, pink and white with gold centers. Pretty soon, the whole Pine forest across the river will be thick with them, wide swaths of white to purple blossoming in their beds of aromatic needles and soft moss. Windswept Usnea lichen spirals and weaves across newly fallen branches and provides a vivid green contrast against the white sheen of snow still receding from the mountainside. When the breeze sings through the towering Ponderosas I feel as small as any other sleepy mammal emerging into the blue sky and flower fragrant air of February. I rub my face against the silky moss that grows on the house sized boulders here, and kneel to kiss the ferns unfurling at the base of the stones. Somewhere in the bowl shaped valley slightly upriver from where I stand, I hear a lone coyote start singing and be joined by two more very nearby. They don’t care that it’s late afternoon and that they’re supposed to by primarily nocturnal. Hell no, they’re having a Spring party, no doubt doing a lively two step to the beat of ice falling from Oak branches. After all, the smell of sun on red dirt is enough to make anyone dance.

~~~

All Photos (c)2009 Kiva Rose

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