Relief and other updates

The relief feels wonderful and yet disorienting. It’s hard to adapt. I have my life back. Book seven in the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series, Shadow Family, is with my editor now. I sent it off last night—actually, at around 3:30 in the morning. I know my editor will be sending me sections to revise, but today, I can think about the next book. I can even write a blog post.

Relief came with rain as well. September is still summer, the grand finale of the monsoon season, with temperatures in the eighties, cooler than August by a long shot. It’s rained three times—one drizzle, one thunderstorm with hail and two inches of rain in two hours, and one nice steady all-night rain. Wow! The jewel-colored greater earless lizards need to sunbathe and get warm. When it’s cloudy, they hug the rocks with their wee limbs, seeking every last bit of sunbaked heat from the surface. The baby lizards are out, flawless miniatures of the adults, no bigger than a bug with a tail. I marvel at their toes, and at their orange stripes and green legs, their little eyes blinking up at me. Desert plants are in bloom, yellow chamisa and something purple—maybe some kind of sage. And with all the rain, Turtleback Mountain is more green than red.

The other night I went for a walk with a friend and his dog, hoping to see bats over the wetland by the river, but it was too windy for them. As we were leaving Rotary Park, which is right on the Rio Grande, a coyote started yipping and singing on the bank directly below where we’d been standing a minute earlier while my friend took a dead bird away from his dog. The dog, strangely, wasn’t interested in the coyote, only the dead bird. A whole coyote chorus started across the river as the one on our side would sing and the others would answer. The dog still didn’t care.

White rabbit update. First, her former owner said he only had females, so I’m now calling her “she.” Second, she’s been chased by dogs and by a cat, and someone sprayed weed killer on all the plants she used to nibble on in the yard of the empty trailer across the alley. Fortunately, she finds shelter in our yard. I decided to feed her nightly after all, because I’m going to try a new way to catch her. Her future owners brought a live trap, and we baited it with sliced pears and fresh greens. It may be shocking for her to go to her usual buffet and have a door close behind her, but she’ll escape predators and poisons to be loved and petted. And then it’ll be her turn be relieved. If all goes well, her new owner will show her in the county fair. Because she is so beautiful.

 

Incompleteness

A week of thunder and lightning, but no rain.

A long to-do list.

A book finished but not finished. It’s with my beta readers and critique partners now. I have no idea how much revision they’ll recommend.

A world I wish I could change for the better.

If only the clouds didn’t have so many spaces between them. I think they could rain if they all got together. I have no power over that, though. I only have power over how I handle incompleteness. One thing crossed off the list every day. Small steps taken to make a better world, adding my voice and my efforts. Accepting there are no guaranteed results.

Inner quiet time. Without it, I can’t do the rest.

Snake Tracks

What was going on that night? Are they always out in such numbers, and the conditions simply revealed their traces? Or was it a special event?

A light evening rainstorm, isolated in Elephant Butte, cleared all other imprints from the sand on the trail, so only the tiny dots of rain pocked the otherwise smooth surface. It was so hot the next day, no humans had set foot there until I went for a run. Every few feet, a snake track crossed the trail. Thin snakes, thick snakes, straight-line travelers, undulating travelers. Travels to bushes, to rocks, to holes. I had wondered what lived in that hole. Now I know.

I also know how a snake can travel in a straight line. If it’s in no hurry, it can propel itself along on the scales in its belly, almost like walking. I watched a video. Amazing. Now back to writing the book in progress. As long as it’s been taking, I seem as slow as a scale-walking snake after a rain, but I’ve been busy. Every night. Apparently, so have the snakes.

 

A Runner’s Rain Chant

Today, it finally rained. Real rain, hours of it. Enough to make puddles and breathe petrichor, the magical scent of desert rain. A friend took her infant daughter out in it after the thunder stopped and let the gentle rain bathe the baby. Her New Mexico baptism.

Earlier in the day, while I ran at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, the clouds gathered around the full circle of the horizon in tall white towers and thick gray sweeps, and yet I ran under a bubble of hot blue sky. As the wind picked up, the movement of juniper and creosote branches reminded me of the pine boughs carried in Pueblo corn dances. Dances that honor the oneness of humans, plants, animals, ancestors, and rain. I silenced all other thoughts in my mind and ran for rain, adding my inner voice to all the other rain-prayer songs in the desert.

Cloud People, for you,

My feet are a drum,

Pounding the rhythm of rain.

The grains of sand shushing under my feet

Softly rattle the sounds of rain.

My sweat is rain.

My blood is rain.

My thirst is the thirst of the dry earth,

For every fluid of my body

Is made of rain.

Even my breath as I push up this hill

Exhales the moisture of rain.

The plants are dancing for you,

Hopeful and eager.

Your grandchildren call,

And you come to us,

Singing thunder,

Trailing your soft gray hair over the mountains.

 

 

 

Images: Clouds by Child Hassam and Desert Rain by Edgar Payne

Water’s Colors

Shortly after I posted about the early spring and the warm dry winds, it finally rained. Cool as well as wet, it was practically our first winter day all winter. The rain smell was so welcome, so magical, I had to go out in it. With a large umbrella, of course. The sound of raindrops on it was the best music I’d heard in months.

There’s a beautiful walking route in Elephant Butte known as “the dirt dam.” It’s a road that’s been closed to traffic and takes you over the dirt dam to the big dam, the one that really makes the lake. It’s not the dams that make it scenic, though—to me, anyway. It’s the subtle colors and dramatic shapes of the desert. On a sunny blue-skied day, I’m drawn to notice the grand-scale sculptures of rocks and mountains. I seldom see this place soaking wet. It was a different world, where fat, silvery raindrops hovered on the tips of pale brown thorns. Many years ago, a friend told me he liked cloudy days because the colors of nature were revealed better, the way they were in classic Japanese watercolors. He was right. The rocks and soil were darker, and the bare thorny bushes looked black. Against this backdrop, dried-out straw-colored flower-stalks surrounded suddenly bright green stems. A red hue streaked up clumps of pale yellow grass, the same coral red as some crystals I’ve collected in the area. The flat, spiky pads of the purple cacti seemed more intensely purple and the green ones more vividly green. One full day of water and winter. I’m grateful.

Relative Discomforts

Cloudy winter days aren’t as blissfully beautiful as the sunny ones with pure bright bowls of New Mexico blue overhead, but the payoff comes later, with mind-blowing, psychedelic color and texture at sunset. The changes happen so fast, I have to time my sunset viewing exactly right and pick the right location for it. The sunsets may technically be in the west, but the colors can show up anywhere. There was a thick, creamy, red-purple display in the southeast one evening, a blazing orange total-sky event on another, then a softly glowing purple radiance in the north the next night. On a cloudless day, all we get is a pale rim of gold on the edge of the bowl.

Most of these lovely clouds haven’t rained, though. Yesterday’s shower was the first in around two months. It’s been a warm, dry winter. One day in December was actually cold. One day. High temperatures should be in the fifties, not sixties or seventies. I wonder if the snakes ever brumated. The other day, a little yellow jacket wasp was walking around on the top of my shoe while I was working out by the river. I like bees and wasps, but should they be out and about in January? The pines trees have shoots of new growth and I think they’re pollinating. The fig tree in my yard is budding. A mosquito tried to bite me. I’m comfortable, but too comfortable. The bugs and plants and I should be enduring bit of a chill. I’m sure my East Coast friends would like to ship a big load of winter to the Southwest about now, and I wish you could. Without snow in the mountains, we could be headed for a dry year.

The following is not a complaint: My home internet was down for a week and I had a cold—events so insignificant in the realm of human difficulties that they remind me my life isn’t hard. My immune system probably appreciated the chance to do a little work. I wasn’t knocked-out-flat sick for even a day. To avoid spreading germs, I was less social, but less dancing meant more writing. And while I had to schedule my limited online time and leave home to do it, my reading changed for the better. Fewer news articles, and more in articles in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, a medical journal I still find fascinating even though I’ve retired. A challenging read keeps the dust off my brain, and I occasionally get plot material from it, including the remarkable studies that help shake up Mae’s world view in The Calling and the Tibetan medicine material in Death Omen.

I can cope with minor personal discomforts and even benefit from them. The uneasy comfort of the weather troubles me more.

Rain Salutations

I know I can’t make the sky rain. It’s like trying to make someone love you. When the right conditions have arrived, the change comes. Sometimes, however, I think it fails to rain when the world is out of balance, and that it takes dancing and meditation, yoga done as rain salutations, people showing compassion and affection and listening to each other with their hearts, to invite rain. Love and care for the earth will call rain. Earlier today, it rained in the alley behind my apartment for one minute. I went for a short walk at sunset, and a massive blue-black cloud was flashing lightning out toward Elephant Butte, revealing the rain as a sheer curtain in each orange flare. I did a little dance, spinning and then running backwards, asking the storm to follow me home. It did, but I don’t take credit.

When I was running in the desert around noon today, I encountered a mule deer. They often look you in the eye before they run. If they even run. We circled a juniper, checking each other out, making eye contact through the branches, then she turned her back to me, did two full springs straight up in the air with a graceful tuck of all four legs, and trotted off. If anything had the power to call the storm, she did. The deer did the rain dance.

*****

Unrelated, but perhaps of interest: The Calling, book one in the Mae Martin series, is on sale for 99 cents on all e-book retail sites through July 21st. If you’ve enjoyed my books, tell a friend. Thanks.