Engineering for Reality

It’s sand in the turbine again. Hell cats with singed tails squalling in the wind. Don’t know what they have to complain about. They come from worse heat than this, or so the story goes. Maybe. On second thought, I don’t really believe there is worse heat than this. The sun might be cooler than wind season in the desert. Hell cats don’t like the sun. Nobody likes the wind though. The wind doesn’t like the wind, arguing about direction and speed, batting around this way and that, until it winds itself into knots and shoots sheds over walls.

Last time a downdraft hit back there, the coop ended up in the herb bed. Came out with my morning brew and there it sat on the mint bed. Landed right side up. Chickens still on their roosts. Because chickens just won’t go out in the dark and don’t much care if the door opens on new digs in the morning. Probably a perk, as far as they’re concerned. They’re not allowed in the herb bed most days. So fresh bugs. And mint. Keeps them cool. Me, it just sends into a sweat. Strange how that works.

So now about the hell cats. Stupid vents are supposed to keep the sand out. Which defies explanation, but there it is. Engineers. Had to clean out the lower one already this year. Still, to be fair, the turbine hasn’t melted, so the vents are doing half their job. Must be grateful for something. The day that fails is the day this whole thing stops. No turbine, no pump, no water, no… anything.

Things to be concerned about: friction on hot days.

Funny, they thought they could build these things on Mars. Funny to think of hell cats screaming at the Martian wind. If any of them still stand, I guess. Turbines, not hell cats. Way too cold on Mars for hell cats. Though no water. They might like that. Once saw a picture of some barren strip of dirt, not unlike home, stuck with turbines as full as a pincushion at the quilting bee. All the same rust red as the sky, the rocks, the sand. 

Perplexion reprise: desert rust. 

Increased order of magnitude: Martian desert rust.

Guess tonight will be up ladders. Inconvenient because it’s time to clean the coop also. Been putting it off — because one does. But have to get it done before someone goes broody. And it’s not getting any cooler out there. If I could just remember where I put the floodlights. Need to rig all that up this afternoon. Light. Well pump. The dairy cooler. Not going to get much sleep tonight. Might as well start the siesta now.

Memorandum: Fill the generator.

There’s a roadrunner on the wall. Wonder how he feels about chickens. There used to be a place down in the valley you could go and look at dinosaur skeletons. Maybe it’s still there. Haven’t been down that way in decades. And who would keep the lights on in a building with no kitchen? But there they were — great lumbering cows, most of them. But one or two were sheer nightmares. Not the biggest ones either. No, it’s the ones with hooked claws and needle sharp jaws that could crush basalt. Roadrunners remember. They still have that look in their eyes. I’d eat you if I were bigger. Chickens get that way too sometimes though. You walk into the coop with the basket and there’s this baleful eye of unblinking regard. If they had eyebrows…

I remember seeing pictures of windmills in that museum of skeletons. No tilting though. No donkeys. One stands out in memory. Windmill picture, not donkey. A row of mud houses like the old pueblos but more rounded somehow. More organic in line. And a beehive of vertical wood turbines in mud scaffolding. Very old. Used to grind the grain. I support that. Beats cranking for hours.

Humans used to think in elegance. Simple wood lattice that turns in the desert wind. Put them all together and they could be a battery bank. Without batteries. Without wires. Without rust. Without hell cats screaming all night long because there’s sand in the works. Because of course there’s going to be damn sand. This is a desert. 

Irritation: fantasy engineering.

Same people were going to live on Mars though. What can you do?

©Elizabeth Anker 2021