Monarch

Rain, though not much. Like the thrill of a new born baby, the amount is tiny and everybody wants to look at it. The first rain in perhaps 14 months, but not enough to settle the argument over this enduring drought. I first heard rain come in about midnight, when drops began tapping lightly on the skylight over my bed. At dawn I poke my head out the back door, look across the field next to me, and can smell what a wet earth is supposed to smell like. The small pools of water that lie on the surface of the earth like liquid metal are something I have not seen in a long time. The whole thing will be gone before I can locate my old garden rain gauge to take a measurement. It’s not so much the amount I see fallen that delights me, but rather the idea that the system may not be completely broken.

I know the animals are suffering through this awfully long dry spell. Big cats, both bob cats and mountain lions, have been showing up in odd places near by here lately–close to the public, when they would normally have a fear of being around people. Well, I have that fear of people myself some days, but mine is more related to the lack of reasoning abilities than it is to the lack of drinking water.

The acacia trees below me on the hillside are beginning to blossom in bright yellow. They do this throughout the county, usually about the first of February. I call them sneeze trees, because the pollen, when lifting and riding in the wind, always finds a spot inside my nose, and sends me into fits. Maybe this year will be different. In a normal winter, we will get a couple of strong storms that bring heavy rain, which then soaks the blooming acacias and makes the branches heavy. The wind will then blow hard when the trees are so weighted, and cause either the long branches to snap off, or sometimes uproot the whole tree. This year I see none of that power display, only wispy trees turning yellow.

More disconcerting to me is the news I hear this week about the decreasing monarch butterfly migrations. The population that normally migrates back and forth between here and Mexico is dwindling. Their food source, milkweed, is being destroyed because of the Monsanto Corporation’s product, Roundup, which is sprayed in agricultural areas to keep down the weeds; the weeds upon which the monarchs thrive. It would be hard for me to live in a world without butterflies. Between wild flowers and butterflies, I’ve experienced the special beauty of the earth up close and had a grand sense of my place in it all. We’ve already lost so much. Soon the love of nature will become forgotten or extinct.

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