QUAIL MUTTERINGS #39. Isn’t February Too Early For Spring? (February 6, 2016)
What? Who says it’s Spring? The birds do! That’s who. Every morning the canyon wrens are singing merrily all around the house. Their melodic, descending trills provide the sound track of a new day dawning. The house finches dart back and forth between their numerous nests in the nooks and crannies of our log cabin and the budding bushes in the yard. I’ve noticed that the squirrels have also decided that winter is over and clamber up and down the granite boulders and in and out of holes in the ground. Life is good.
The other morning Kent and I drove up the hill to get a better view of the planetary alignment, only visible in the night sky shortly before dawn. We got out of the car and stared up at the sky. I stood in awe of how miniscule we really are. These five planets, perfectly aligned, are so far away, but yet are some of our closest neighbors. We are only one of so many planets. The differences and difficulties that we have here, with each other and with different global communities, seem absurd. Don’t they? None of that really matters in the big scheme of things. Gazing upward from the east toward the west there they shimmered. Mercury was the least visible being the closest to the horizon. Venus, a big bright beacon. Saturn. Mars, emitting a reddish hue. And Jupiter, the closest to setting but still hours away. We returned to the morning cacophony surrounding our front porch.
Only last week we had that big winter storm with the crazy winds that knocked out our power for eight hours. I dug out candles, lighting them in groups to provide more light in needed areas. Luckily, I’d made soup the day before and there were enough leftovers to heat on the stove for dinner. A quick open and close of the refrigerator was all that was needed to remove the pot. Not a good idea to let out that ever-so-valuable frigidness necessary to keep our food edible. Then we moved the candles to the living room where a fire burned in the fireplace emitting a soft glow which added to the limited light available. There’s nothing like a power outage to help us put on the brakes and take the time for relaxed conversation. I welcomed and relished the resulting magical ambiance.
A day later, work on our rock tiny house resumed. The building is evolving, taking on a persona of its own. Whereas most construction follows a set of plans and dictated schedules this thing suggests we stop and ponder. That’s fine with me. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s also the reason why I’ve changed my mind, more than once, over the desired end product. It’s gone from being just a simple bathroom/kitchenette to adding a small bedroom on the side. The whole thing is less than two-hundred square feet and occupies the site, and one of the rock walls, of my grandmother’s previous abode. The one that the Cedar Fire took away. Now more rock scavenging is needed. We scour the mountainsides for more of “my beauties” as I call them. A friend who’s doing the construction probably worries that I’ll change my mind again, but I am trying to work with each phase that it has progressed to. Sometimes it’s as if the canyon itself is providing the instructions.
These recent evenings, on my nightly excursions outside to whisper my gratitude, I’m enraptured by the eclectic symphony coming from down the creek, toward the pond further down the valley. The bullfrogs’ rhythmic bass, the toads’ melodic counterpoint and the crickets’ steady pulse provide the backdrop for a lone Poorwill singing further up the ridge. I can also hear a Great Horned Owl and a Western Screech-Owl on opposite walls of the canyon. The boulders shine magically in the moonlight and I am, once again, filled with reverence for all this life around me and my place in it.
Tomorrow will dawn a new day in which the Dance Centre will rehearse for our upcoming story ballet: A Star Studded Tea Party. It’s not a traditional tale, but one that is evolving. Similar to the way that the tiny house has come along. Between the advanced dancers and me collaborating together, it’s grown into a birthday party for Alice (in Wonderland). The Cheshire cat, the white rabbit, and the mad hatter all show up. And, of course, the big bad wolf. Why not, right? If you’d like to check out our twisty tale then come on over to the Performing Arts Center at Olive Peirce Middle School at 6:30 PM on April 15th. Don’t worry. The date’s easy to remember. It’s tax day!
Chi Varnado is a contributing writer for The San Diego Reader. Her memoir, A CANYON TRILOGY: Life Before, During and After the Cedar Fire and her children’s book, The Tale of Broken Tail are available on www.amazon.com. Chi directs the Ramona Dance Centre. Her collection of essays, Quail Mutterings, can be found on www.chivarnado.com.