QUAIL MUTTERINGS #26. Added Instruments in the Canyon’s Symphony (January 22, 2014)
On my first lap up the canyon this morning I had to stop momentarily to soak in the view. It was barely light enough to see where I was running, but the clear dawning sky allowed the mountain ridges to stand in stark relief against it. Every tree, rock or indentation was intensely vivid without the sunshine to diffuse the light and spread a wash of brightness over everything. Pre-dawn feels magical to me. It’s my favorite time of day. The owls are still hooting to each other across the valley and I’m ever so fortunate to be here, right now, with them.
Today, I’m substitute teaching at MVA, the local, part-time public school for the home-schoolers. It’s one of my favorite places to work as these kids are, for the most part, allowed the freedom and the time to explore things more at their own pace. Today is a half day and when I get back home I will tutor another home-schooler in reading, writing and arithmetic. Last year, we covered all the multiplication tables through the twelves and he now knows them by heart. He writes wonderful, imaginative stories, practices the vanishing art of cursive writing and we work on fun science together.
Last week we picked up five new chickens from one of my Dance Centre students. My son, Chance, home on break from Chico State; and my five-year-old grandson, Ian; came with me to help capture our new feathered friends. Once we got home it was quite dark which made it much easier to treat the chickens for potential mites or other nuisances. We each had a job. Ian held the door of the pet carrier closed. Chance held each bird while I smeared Vaseline and tea tree oil on their legs and then my husband, Kent, dusted them with diatomaceous earth. The sleepy heads barely knew what was being done to them. Now, at last, we’re getting plenty of eggs to feed our family.
Construction has officially begun on my grandmother’s Cedar Fire rebuild. A week ago Monday, we had the big cement pour. I had tried to convince my daughter, Kali, to let Ian skip school to watch this exciting event. He’s one of those little boys who could watch big trucks and tractors all day long. What’s he going to remember from whatever he did at school on that Monday anyway? The images of big cement trucks finagling their way in the dirt road and up to the construction site along with the pumper engine pushing the gushing grey sludge out the huge snake-like hose, requiring massive strength from the guy holding the end of the serpent, is probably more likely to stick with him.
When Sunday rolled around Ian’s dad dropped him off at our house for Kent’s birthday dinner. Kali stayed home since she had the flu. Well, as it turned out, Ian did get to witness the busy event after all since he ended up staying with us for a few days. He was a little more subdued than usual though, since he too now had the flu, but he was still quite happy to be here to witness this action-packed endeavor. Dr. Granny stepped in to offer tender, loving care for the little sickie while at the same time provide up-close and personal adventures for direct deposit into his memory bank. Aahh, the joys of grandparenting.
As the framing takes place the natural music of the canyon is interrupted during the daytime with another orchestra consisting of hammers, saws and drills. I only hope that the birds, and other wildlife in the canyon, can know that, in time, the current racket will cease and the sound space will be theirs once again. In the meantime, I’ll listen for the brief interludes of silence during daylight hours while at night my ears will welcome the songs of the owls, crickets and frogs. For everything there is a season. The world continues to turn, turn, turn. And we have the opportunity to see things differently in every change of season, whether figuratively or literally. So, for now, I’m allowing the incongruous, dissonant music to blend harmoniously in my head without over-analyzing or judging the new station that we’re currently tuned into. Right here and right now.
Chi Varnado is the author of two books. Her memoir, A CANYON TRILOGY: Life Before, During and After the Cedar Fire; and her children’s book, The Tale of Broken Tail, are both available from www.amazon.com. A sampling of Chi’s Quail Mutterings can be found on www.chivarnado.com.