And he saw his shadow…
The barn door knocks against its frame, sending staccato signals into the night. Nobody out there to interpret the message. All these ghost ranchitos. Only me in here, and I know the message: that barn door needs to be rehung. If I can find the hardware.
I watch as the sand finds sliver holes in the slump block wall, creating minuscule alluvial fans to perplex the mice. What does a mouse think of the outside world invading our home? Does the mouse consider me an outsider? Does the mouse worry when the walls start creaking? And what horrible cacophony that must be to mouse ears!
It’s 1am. The canyon breezes are dancing down the mountain face, wild souls looking for something to break. There’s already a pile of brush stacked against the east fence. Now and again one leaps over its cousins and goes tearing off into the night, trailing moonlight in its wake. Where it goes is one of life’s great mysteries. There should be a pile of tumbleweeds a mile deep somewhere. Or maybe there’s a sipapu out there in the desert that sucks them all up and sends them into the next world. Hope they like Russian thistle up there.
This is my last stub of candle. I should snuff it and try to sleep. Or just lay in the dark listening to the wind. You can hear many things in that wind, textures that bear greetings from the past. Laughing voices that mock my solitude. You are never alone, foolish human. Here are we and we have always been here before. I feel that if I were to put one foot outside my door, they would carry me halfway around the world before I could scream. So we’ll just not listen to them, shall we. Stay snug right here.
Tomorrow we’ll see about sweeping out the sand again. Roll down to the valley to ask after screws. You never know; more could have magically arrived on the wind. Nah. As if wind would collude with closed doors.
The churros are muttering out there. There will be complaints filed in the morning. They don’t mind wind; they mind noise. Other breeds might be nervous about the banging barn door. Churros just get pissed off. Can’t say I blame them.
Ah, the power came back. The chorus of electronic anxieties. Am I awake? Was I asleep? What did I miss? It’s like chickens at sunrise. But without the eggs. Suppose without the smell either. But eggs.
I guess I really should go to sleep now.
Sand has been expelled again. I feel like I should be carrying it further than just off the front step. Maybe all the way down to the river and dump it in, sending it on its way to some beach that needs replenishing after some hurricane that took offense at beach-front properties. Shouldn’t taunt the wind like that. What were they thinking, etc. Again. But the sand? It’s only going to come creeping into the cracks again. Because, duh, sand is the medium here. I could haul buckets all day long. Wouldn’t make a difference to the wind.
The wind picked up stakes and left for places other people are trying to sleep. Not too much disruption this time. And the sheep seem to have decided to table the insurrection for the time being. I’m sure there’s a tally book somewhere. They never forget. But the barn door is worse than I expected. It’s held up now by one screw in one hinge.
So it’s a quick spot of brew — with milk now that Luni is lactating again — and off to the market. Someone’s got to have something I can use. It’s the price that worries me. Still, need a barn door. There will be more lambs soon. And I guess there’s the red rug I was saving for emergencies. Hope it’s worth iron hardware to someone. Preferably someone with iron hardware to trade.
Things to be grateful for: Roads. They were really good at roads. I can ride my cargo bike all the way to the valley. Getting up? Well, the road is still good anyway. It’s the knees that complain. Not their fault, that one.
One of the wind turbines on the mesa is churning out electricity. Today is a good day, then. I can turn off the generator. Though maybe need to top off the battery bank first.
With all the could-have-done’s though. One might wish that shade trees were the priority. And good soil to hold them. And the sand. I mean, how did they expect us to fix turbine coils? With all this useless barbed wire, I guess.
Still, there were long, rust-free screws in the market. And hinges! Some kind of huge and fancy wrought iron confection that served who knows what purpose back then. Only a little rust. And even a tool to fit the screws. And it only cost one rug. One very beautiful rug. One rug that took me over a month of canyon breezy nights and all the madder I could coax out of the dirt last growing season.
Thing to ponder: desert rust.
Another thing to be grateful for: drilled wells. There was rain sometime around the solstice. I think. Tend to lose track with all these empty days. But a wash after that bike ride is heavenly!
Maybe after I fix the barn door though. It’s already hot. On Groundhog Day. One that doesn’t ever predict winter with shadows. Dry heat, right? Except in the armpits. Why do old women sweat anyway? It’s not like I need to cool down my fingers and toes. Even in the dry heat.
Back in my 20’s, thought all this would be temporary. Building back a brighter future and that. All together now, heave ho, and off we go! Sure, there were problems. Lost mom to Pandemic4. Don’t know what happened to my sister. Last I heard from her was back when communication lines were still somewhat line-ish. I was maybe 40?
That’s a big should-have-done! Gathering all eggs in one basket, usually not recommended. And I suppose there’s a chance we’re both alive. So, point to genetic survival. But what is the point of surviving? Should have made sure we were all together when it started to go wonky.
There’s a crocus smiling in the squash bed. I didn’t plant it.
Six more weeks of winter…
©Elizabeth Anker 2021