Last night I pull aside the curtains on all three windows of the Best Little Trailer.
As I lie in bed I like to see the dome of stars over the desert. I read for a while and then I slide down into the covers. It’s a perfectly clear night and the stars are bright. Every five minutes a jet passes over, strobing orange light on its way east from Phoenix. Each one follows a similar flight path over Orion’s belt, carrying people home for the holidays. I count twelve jets in succession before I fall asleep.
Well before daylight Roadrunner coos somewhere near the Best Little Trailer. He’s silent in the daytime when he darts and dashes to our campsite. His gentle, night call seems uncharacteristic for a bird whose angular form and comical movements make me laugh each afternoon.
If you’d like to see photos, read about, and hear a roadrunner, click this link to Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology site: allaboutbirds.org/guide/GreaterRoadrunner/id (Scroll down for audio.)
Well, as long as I’m on the topic of birds . . .
I grab my Audubon field guide — even though I’m online, it’s a habit to grab that book — and I identify this little visitor as a verdin.
Listen to a verdin sing at allaboutbirds.org/guide/verdin/id. (The bird photos in this post are from audubon.org).
One more for my fellow bird-lovers . . .
The day before yesterday is the warmest morning we’ve had since returning to Roosevelt Lake. Typically on a warm day I leave the door to the BLT hanging open, and that’s what I do when I let Bridget out to do her business at dawn.
Later I approach the open door to step outside. A flock of black-throated sparrows is chirping and pecking the ground not far from the door. I remember enjoying these at my bird feeder when we camped in Ajo, Arizona. What happy sounds they make, hopping around in the sunshine!
Listen to them at allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-throated_Sparrow/id.
Do you remember writing letters?
Years ago my mother and her sister maintained a steady flow of letters, hand-written in the graceful curves of Palmer script. Family news, memories, love, and whatnot flew the sky between a mobile home next to an orange grove in Florida and a white-framed house in a maple-tree hollow in rural New York. The two sisters invariably closed their letters, often several pages in length, with hugs and kisses in what is one of the original codes for texting — OOXX.
I used to write letters, too.
That was back in the day when people wrote a note of congratulations or condolence, maybe a heart-felt epistle of love, shared sorrow, offers of help, recognition of accomplishment or the latest milestone. Sometimes a store-bought card was plucked from a box of “assorted greeting cards,” handy for any occasion. A hand-written letter was better than a card.
I wrote to my aunts across the country. I didn’t send them letters out of an obligation to mark special occasions.
They were simply for “keeping in touch.”
I faithfully kept up those hand-written correspondences. It took some effort and care. They were written in ink and since there wasn’t a delete button for do-overs, sentences were “composed.” It was unacceptable to send a letter with scratch-outs. Anyway . . . .
I don’t own writing paper any more.
Nor do I have a box of assorted greeting cards. In the manner of the day I click messages on my laptop at so many words per minute. No pastel writing paper. No special pen. No embossed envelope. No carefully chosen stamp. No wishing at the mailbox, “Gee, I hope it gets there in time!”
These thoughts are triggered by the letter I wrote a few days ago for my sweet auntie who still lives in her white-frame house in a hollow in rural New York. Her sister — my mother — is gone now, so she doesn’t find any more letters postmarked from Florida in the mailbox at the end of her driveway.
She’s the last aunt out of an original clutch of six.
She’s also the last person on earth to whom I still send hand-written letters. She’s almost 90, sharp as ever. She’d write back, but there’s no return address on the envelope I sent her. Bridget and I will move on soon.
As I type this I look out the window and there’s the ranger!
He stops long enough to make sure I have a current Tonto Pass on the dash (which, thank heavens, I do!). I wonder if he’s relieved not having to scold me, or possibly give me a warning ticket, on this day of Christmas Eve. I wave to him out the window as he drives off in his white pick-up truck.
Bridget is asleep beside me, deep into a morning nap, belly full of tender, cooked chicken. After a fierce wind blew across the desert last night, it’s calm today. The sky is light blue, a few swaths of thin, white clouds.
As I lie in bed tonight this Christmas Eve, with Bridget warm beside me, I won’t look for reindeer or for Santa’s sleigh, but I will search the night sky for the brightest star of all and I’ll place this wish upon it for you . . .
“Merry Christmas from Bridget and me!”
NOTE: I’m taking a break for Christmas and won’t be replying to comments under this post, although I’ll read every one. Feel free to chat with each other, dear blogorinos. See you on the 26th!