Just Another Day in Paradise

My life has — even in simple things — a tendency to be intense. I don’t know why, but it’s always been that way. This morning I went to City Market to pick up my groceries. As I drove into the area where I park, I noticed something in the outside garden area that shouldn’t be here.

Bougainvillea. Bougainvillea is Southern California and Italy, not this high desert place with the -30F temps in winter, cowboys, all of it that it is. Bougainvillea is San Diego, my garden in the hood, and beautiful, wild, immense and imported plant that gives a home to stray cats, rats, mice and sometime possums. It doesn’t belong in Alamosa, Colorado. My eyes filled with tears.

Sometimes I’m homesick for California. Ok, I admit it. You don’t live somewhere 30 years without parts of your heart and soul taking root. And, it was 8 years ago today (thanks FB memories) that the deal closed on a house I never wanted to leave in a place where I was happy. Add to that, I was leaving a profession I loved. It was ending piled on ending. I had 48 hours to get out. I put a good face on it, but inside I was very sad and very scared. All that made it bearable was necessity and the knowledge that it would be very beautiful where I would live — though I didn’t know where that would be. I knew it would be the San Luis Valley, nothing more.

At City Market I wasn’t sure it WAS bougainvillea. It seemed too strange. I got out of my car and went to see, blinking back tears.

Of course, I’d seen too much of that plant NOT to know it when I see it.

Destinee came out with my groceries. I was standing behind my car, looking over at the plant, thinking about adoption and deciding against it. I was wearing a t-shirt with a big snowflake on the front — kind of a wearable prayer flag. A lot of my shirts have snowflakes on them.

“What are you doing, you little snowflake?” she said. “It’s kind of early for that!” I didn’t remind her that 2 years ago it snowed on September 9.

“See that flower?” I pointed.

“Yeah.”

“It shouldn’t be here.” I told her what I already told you.

“I’m going to be working out here one or two days. What can you tell me?” I told her that the colorful part isn’t the flower, and that the plants needed lots of sun but not a lot of water. She then shared about problems she’d had with a manager inside. We agreed that it doesn’t make sense for Boss A to make it hard on Employee B just because Boss A “paid their dues” so the young person should have to pay theirs. The conversation (mine) went to Goethe when I noticed Destinee’s earrings said, “Virgo.”

“You were born in August? So was my favorite poet and writer. August 28. 18th century German guy.”

“German guy?”

“Yeah. I met him when I was 50 and I was all like, ‘Where have you been all my life?'”

“I’ll look him up. What did he write?”

I explained about Faust, how it was an old, old story and the standard version had Faust damned for eternity, but Goethe’s didn’t. That for Goethe’s idea of God it was cool that a human was curious and determined, and after all Faust went through, God redeemed him and the devil lost the bet. Destinee was totally into it.

“I told you I’m going to back to school,” she said.

“Yep. I’ve been happy about that all week.”

“Well, when I do, will you help me with my English papers?”

“I would be honored,” I said. And I will be.

The Whole World under My Feet

Predictions are for yet another La Niña winter, dry, again, instead of wet. I really, really, really hope the scientists are wrong because while my friends were here, and I discovered Elephant Rocks, I also discovered (at Elephant Rocks) a spot to Langlauf where I would not worry about going by myself.

I was thinking about the San Luis Valley (“You DO that, Martha?”) last night and I realized I found a place to live that comprises all the places I’ve lived and/or loved except the PRC. Elephant Rocks completed the assemblage. It is Mission Trails Regional Park. As we drove slowly along the loop trail, the rock formations pulled on my heart strings, “THIS, Martha, THIS!” Along the river is a tiny pocket of Nebraska forest along the Missouri. The valley itself seems to hold up a lost shard of the vast sky of South Central Montana. There’s even a little bit of beach out there in the Sand Dunes, and all of it is in Colorado, my old home. To make it even better, there are things that have been completely new that I’ve gotten to meet and learn about in these 8 years.

I did a little research into these amazing rocks and learned this: “The Elephant Rocks managed by the San Luis Valley Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), located in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado near Penitente Canyon Recreation Area. The Elephant Rocks area is a unique area that was once habitat for the Columbian mammoths that lived in the San Luis Valley during the Pleistocene Epoch. The giants once walked here. Local legend has it that these giant creatures left their mark on the rocks, leaving ‘rubs’ smooth surfaces 8-10 feet above the average man.”

I can’t think of much that is cooler than Langlauf in a mammoth world. Thanks to Southern California, my standards for snow are pretty low.

Elephant Rock

The significant features of the area are attributed the largest pyroclastic eruption in the world. The eroded ash forms the elephant- shaped boulders. It is part of the San Juan volcanic field and the La Garita caldera. The rocks resulting from this eruption were unusually uniform in composition. This would imply that the ash cooled as a single unit. This unit is known as the Fish Canyon Tuff. Many sections of the Fish Canyon Tuff are over 4,000 feet thick.

The area at Elephant Rocks is mainly grassland with scattered massive boulders laid out. It is also habitat to the rock loving Neoparrya (a relative of carrots) which flourishes in igneous outcrops or sedimentary rocks from volcanic eruptions. The Neoparrya is native to the San Luis Valley and is known to exist only here and in the Wet Mountain Valley regions. The Fish Canyon Tuff makes up the Elephant Rocks and gradually erodes over time to provide the proper soil chemistry and growth conditions in order for this plant to thrive. The recreation area is 378 acres with an elevation of 7,900 feet managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The area has cold temperatures and very little precipitation. (Source)

Photo: Lois Maxwell

Mid-Autumn Festival (Almost)

Bleary-eyed and confused, woke up this morning and realized that — OH NO — what? Well, the bleary-eyed and confused part is right. Company coming today sometime and a trip to the store in the meantime and I don’t even know if I ordered anything edible! This post-Covid brain is easily taxed.

I’m going to remember 2019 as the Golden Age of Lost Innocence and Retained Brain.

Last evening, to our surprise, the wind came up and the clouds came over. By now you know what that presages. Four hot days in a row, one small escape, hardly right, is it? I looked at Bear, Bear looked at me. I went to the kitchen and closed to door, preventing her escape, and leashed her. Teddy had it all figured out, of course, as always. Assembled the appropriate fardels and we were out the door. Dusk fell a little early. Clouds and smoke from distant wildfires obscured the mountains, but the sky above was a kind of veiled blue. As we approached the Refuge, I saw the moon was rising golden behind the thin clouds.

“Wow,” I thought as any sane person would (breathe a sigh of relief) and pulled in, parked, and got the dogs out as fast as I could. I didn’t want to miss this. It was too great. And…

Mid-Autumn Festival. OK, it’s not until tomorrow, formally, but clouds and rain are forecast for Saturday evening. Carpe Noctem!

Our crepuscular walk wasn’t very long — 1/2 mile, but WOW. A black-crowned night heron in flight, more birdsong than I’ve heard in my life, an owl in the distance and this beautiful Moon as golden as the chamisa. My first Mid-Autumn Festival was in China, and I try to keep it somehow every year. It’s a celebration/remembrance of distant friends. 💛

Moonlight shining through the window
Makes me wonder if there is frost on the ground
I look up and see the moon
Looking down I miss my hometown

Li Bai

The moon remained bright and visible, unclouded, until we turned around. It was as if the sky and valley said, “Here, Martha, something for you to think about.”

On the way home, Mohammed’s Radio played the song the valley gave me as I drove home from seeing an ortho in Salida a few years ago. It was before my most recent hip surgery. The doc was abysmal and meaningless, “One of your legs is shorter than the other! I can’t fix that!” was about all he had to say along with, “I can’t read your X-rays,” as if it were my fault that his computer system couldn’t open the DVD my doc sent up with me. Driving home, I felt so disheartened, a little frightened of hip surgery, and unsure about everything. It is a song I never liked, but as I dropped down from the top of Poncha Pass into the Valley, it was as if I’d never heard it before.

When I heard that song that day, I understood something about this place where I came to live 8 years ago (September 20, 2014). It wasn’t only that I felt I belonged here; the valley thought so, too. The valley is like a person to me, maybe it’s my family, too, along with Bear and Teddy.

Last night the salient lines were:

“When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes…”

It’s been a tough summer, but what a wonder I got from that short and beautiful evening walk. Thank you, Heaven.

Human Beauty

A couple of days ago Elizabeth and I went to Del Norte for lunch and to see the San Luis Valley Quilt Guild Charity Show. It had been Elizabeth’s birthday the day before and I worked out a way to treat her to the show. She’s pretty fierce about paying her own way, but she and her husband do so many things for me that I can never repay — liking hanging a door on my studio. Besides, she’s awesome.

We had lunch which was great as was the conversation. Then she wanted to cross the street and go to Kathy’s Fabric Trunk to see if they had white crochet thread. I’ve been in this store frequently with her. There’s nothing in there for me to buy, but the owner is a lovely, sweet person and there are dogs. Last time I was there was during Covid and I just went to the front door and knocked. Kathy brought out some seam tape I was picking up for Elizabeth. It was — as were most stores that year — a ghost store.

Tuesday was a different scene completely, leading to a beautiful human scenario.

The store had more stock than I’ve ever seen — quilting season (winter) is approaching — but even then there was MORE. In the “back” (not really, it’s another full sized room beside the main store) were tables around which sat maybe six women. OK, I’m going to say they were all larger women, most in dresses?! It doesn’t matter but I’m painting a scene here. Elizabeth was looking at a crochet thread. There was no white, only ecru which led to a big deliberation about that. Her goal was crocheting angel tree toppers for the upcoming craft boutique. She stood there with the thread deliberating and talking with the women who were all involved in sewing projects.

At the end of the table in a very helpful wheelchair sat Kathy’s very disabled daughter and, beside her on the floor, was the black lab who never leaves her side.

On a high shelf was a cage with a parrot who talked to me. “Hi! How ya’ doin’?”

To my right, in another space, marked off by shelves, a woman measured fabric. As the parrot and I chatted, a yellow lab came to check on the ladies to see if they were dropping any of their lunch and get pets from me. I was mesmerized by this sight. All the women were so happily engaged with each other and their project. They were interested in Elizabeth’s project and her deliberation. It was so beautiful, enchanting. I wanted to pull out my phone and take a photo, but I thought it might be rude.

I learned later that Kathy now holds classes — conducted by experts in particular sewing and quilting techniques — at her store. I’m sure one of the reasons those women were so buoyantly happy (besides being together) is that they were learning something. From there we went to the Rio Grande County Museum.

As we walked to the museum door, I saw that Elizabeth had her money ready. Lyndsie, the director, waved away the money, “You two are good. You don’t have to pay.” I’d arranged to take income from notecards to pay our donation, but it ended up that Lyndsie paid for us. She gave me the $10 someone paid for a pack of notecards. ❤️ A few minutes later, I gave the $10 “back” by buying a Christmas present that benefited the Quilt Guild. High finance among little ladies…

The quilted sign telling people where their donations go. Tu Casa is an organization that helps adult and child victims of domestic violence. Probably the other two categories are clear. The featured photo — the quail quilt — was done by one of the guild members and hangs in the show.

The quilt show was great, and we got to vote for “best quilt” in a few categories which we like doing. Then, draped over an old sofa (I mean OLD), we saw an amazing quilt, an antique “fancy” quilt a crazy quilt of luxurious fabrics. The legend going with it explained that the quilt maker had been born in 1815. Elizabeth and I kind of agreed that we’d lost something over the years.

There are dozens of 10 inch squares joined together and each square is an elaborately pieced and embroidered work of art. You can see some of it in this photo.

Good news from the museum? Looks like the Holiday Art Show will happen. They were finalizing the document — contract — artists will have to sign releasing the museum for liability. Dates are already being considered. I was happy to hear that and grateful to Lyndsie for advocating for me (us).

I don’t know where I fit in this amazing valley. I think, like a lot of things in life — singing in public for example — my primary role is that of “appreciator.” I wouldn’t be the first “alien” to commit to a life here, as this immigrant’s trunk from Sweden reminded me.

UPDATE: I just got home from the doc. I’m not an expert but I saw my X-rays and everything looks good. The doc explained that joint inflammation seems to be a fairly common post-Covid problem. It’s possible that someone will read my X-rays differently, but I sincerely doubt it. I was so relieved when I saw them, I almost cried and the radiologist hugged me. I needed that hug.

Uh…good thoughts appreciated — I’m off to the doc for hip X-rays. I don’t want to endure surgery again. The extreme inconvenience, pain and complications of it? Just not in the mood. No, it’s nothing like being a refugee from the Russian army or the innumerable worse things that can happen to us humans, but it’s still not fun.

Avoiding the Swim of Things

Not a swimmer. OK I like swimming in the ocean but no pools, please. It’s OK once I’m in the water, but if I have to choose to go swimming or something else? I won’t go swimming. Yeah, I know how to swim and, as a kid my brother and I spent a lot of time in the public pool in Bellevue, Nebraska. We rode our bikes a couple miles to get there. The pool was on the edge of the forest and as summer days were muggy and hot, the pool was the best place.

My love of swimming in pools or anywhere else (except the ocean) died in the early 90s. (I wasn’t a kid. I was 42.)

In Switzerland, my friends took me to a water park named Alpamare near Zürich. It had several water slides and different pools. It was fun until it wasn’t. I got on a slide, slid down, and, somewhere along the way hit my head and got a concussion. When I landed at the bottom I was unconscious and my face was under water. A nurse/guard there pulled me out and asked me the usual questions about my name, rank and serial number and I couldn’t answer. He concluded things were even worse than they were. He didn’t know I didn’t understand Swiss German. When my friends got to the bottom of the slide they looked for me and found me in the little “hospital” room off the slide area. They hurried in and things were straightened out, but after that I didn’t really like water, especially over my head. It’s funny how an experience like that tells us “No more!!” on a primal level. I’ve only recently put these pieces together to understand why I don’t want to go swimming.

I had the chance in Italy to take diving lessons and the thought terrified me. Kind of too bad though, honestly, it doesn’t put a big crimp in my life.

All around the rim of mountains are hot springs and hot springs pools, mostly on the opposite side of the valley from where I live. There is a wonderful place to swim here in the San Luis Valley known as The Pool. The views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains from this place (not obvious in these photos) are awe inspiring.

It’s a large, wonderful hot springs pool. The facility also has a place it calls “the Greenhouse” which is adults only. A narrow pool runs through it and “rehomed” potted tropical plants grow all around.

I have gone swimming at The Pool once, had a good time, and never went back. I don’t expect to go back, but who knows?

Another hot springs near the small mountain town of Crestone is very beautiful — Valley View Hot Springs. It’s a very special place for its history past and present, and its goals. It looks down over the valley. Incredible.


So what’s different about the ocean? I’ve swum in the ocean many many many times. I loved diving beneath the breakers and coming out on the other side to swim. Maybe it’s the buoyancy provided by salt water? Maybe it’s that there were no boundaries or walls? Maybe it was the joy of living water? Maybe because, in its way, it was like hiking because I could see animals below me and around me? Maybe it was that I would get a free ride back to shore on the waves? I don’t know, but I really loved it.

Home on the Range

I grew up with cowboy songs and while “coulee” and “draw” figure prominently in my favorite cowboy song, the word “gulch” is nowhere to be herd (ha ha ha I’m so funny). BUT the word shows up in titles to cowboy stories and songs, usually, “dry gulch” which is meant to evoke a dusty trail on the cattle drive north from Texas or maybe a bunch of outlaws hiding from the good guys, “I reckon they’re waiting down in that dry gulch. Be careful Lamont. I think they’re holding that eastern Dude hostage.”

Sadly, Lamont WASN’T careful and that explains how he became momentarily extinct back in the 19th century and Dude was dragged across the cactus flats for a good ten miles, not that good for HIM, of course. It’s an idiomatic use of “good.”(for disambiguation type “Lamont and Dude” in the search bar of this blog).

I never got all that interested in TV or movie westerns and I only read one Zane Grey novel, Wyoming, which, as it happens, has a protagonist with MY very name — Martha Ann. I thought that was pretty cool, but the story didn’t grab me. It was just a fiction dry gulch to me.

The “old west” was too close to fascinate me as a subject for fiction. At dinners of the extended family, I listened to stories of the “old west.” Maybe less old than the gold rush(es) but still pretty rough and woolly. I was interested in the settlers and REAL cowboys — like my uncles were when necessity put them out there working cattle. But other times they were working in wheat fields. Other times? I don’t even know. All work was gig work — seasonal labor. The family didn’t own any property to speak of. I’ve wondered sometimes who they might have been if it hadn’t been for WW II. WW II took one of my aunts to Washington state to work on ships. Another aunt became a nurse. Another aunt was already a teacher. It sent my mom to “normal school” and to the reservation to teach. My Aunt Martha went to DC to work for the OSS. It sent my uncles to war. Really, how DO you keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?

But… the nostalgia was passed down to me. I loved my family and I loved their stories, and, obviously, I love the Big Empty. In 2014 (as they would say) my “chips were down”, I gathered up my “winnings,” and came home to a world where men in cowboy hats drive trucks and there are more cows than people. I believe the heart carries within it images of home, and it might even be a place a person has never seen. The featured photo is one of my first photos of the Refuge. This is one of the first photos I took of the San Luis Valley near Monte Vista.


I sang this song for my 6th grade choir grade at the private school I attended in Omaha, Nebraska. My teacher, who’d been in Mitch Miller’s choir, stopped me before I could finish. “There’s more to music than cowboy songs.” Well, maybe, but it’s a beautiful song. This is a very un-fancy version.

Precipitation

Yesterday my little drought-plagued square on the checkerboard of the San Luis Valley was hit by precipitation. A fast-moving thunderstorm came through, terrifying Bear and dropping graupel and rain. All this happened just before sunset and probably there was a rainbow out there, but the graupel was falling too passionately for me to feel like going out to see. Besides, my leaving the house would have terrified my livestock guardian dog. She was already in livestock guardian hell, trying to stay safe herself while protecting me. She stood in the small dark hallway and watched me across the room. It was hard for her to hold it together when I opened the front door to see how things were going and to savor the amazing weather.

I hope it is a sign that Mother Nature has remembered the San Luis Valley and will give us a normal summer with evening thunderstorms and lots of rain. I have tranquilizers for Bear. ❤️🐾

P.S. I deleted my earlier political rant. If you get my blog posts via email, I guess you still get to read it. I realized (as I was vacuuming) I don’t have anything new or useful to say about any of it. All I can do is vote.

Not New…

I guess after this post, I’m going to recycle the Patagonia magazine (catalog), but there was one more wonderful article. It is about environmental activists who don’t call themselves activist or do activist “things”. It’s an article about five people who just love the natural world where they happen to be and are just purely and simply THERE. What struck me about it is a quotation about our “places.”

“I’ve learned through the past decade that we’re not out exploring an empty canvas. We’re in places that already have a story.” Tamo Campos

Back in San Diego, at “my” nature park, I was very aware of the story that pre-existed my landing rather randomly in Southern California. Most place names out there are related to Spaniards — conquistadores in some case, discoverers (I use that term loosely), and “padres.” San Diego’s baseball team is the Padres. The main padre in my California world was Father Junipero Serra. So many things out there are named for him. Among the things he built (beside the mission) was a dam some ways up the San Diego River from the Mission to make sure that the mission would have water all year.

It’s a very historic old dam — Old Mission Dam — my memory (which could be wrong) tells me it’s the first such Spanish-built edifice in the so-called “New World.” Among other things, was a clay tile lined flume through which water flowed to the Mission San Diego de Alcalá. It’s pretty amazing and people love it. I love it, but not as much as I love what I found away from this beaten path.

Native Americans had lived there for thousands of years, part of the migration route from the ocean to the mountains every year in search of game, comfort and acorns — a staple of their diet. Upstream from the dam, up a narrow canyon of a tributary seasonal stream, was a place I called the “Indian Kitchen.” There were grinding holes and cisterns carved into the rock, but MOST of all was a pool of water that never dried up. The “dam” that held it was one, huge boulder.

Kelly and Molly drinking from a grinding hole at the “Indian Kitchen” after a rainstorm, 1990.

The “kitchen” is close to a large grove of oak trees replete with acorns in their season. The canyon has afternoon shade and water — not potable water, but water. It was a great place to break up a hike on a warm day. That world was a very ancient world when the Spaniards arrived, claiming the land for Spain and calling it “Tierra Nueva.” All the animals of that world — coyotes, foxes, mule deer, raccoons, everything — sought the water in that canyon. Chaparral is dry most of the time.

When I moved back to Colorado in 2014, I’d been “trained” by California in ways I don’t think many Coloradans imagine someone coming in from California. The thing is, 30 years earlier, when I went to live in California, I took the Great American Rocky Mountain West of my childhood and youth with me to California, and I’m sure, maybe without thinking, I built on on that tradition, that sense of my self.

Just as no places in the world are new, neither are we. ❤

And this place?
The Refuge — wetlands with geese nesting in the cattails and ducks in the water.

I drew it and painted it before I ever saw it. The mystery of that haunts me whenever I’m out at the Refuge. How did I know this place before seeing it? What is my part in it? It is so old for humanity. “My” wetlands was an inland sea where people hunted and lived 10,000 years ago in the last Ice Age. Is there reincarnation? Was I here before?

Often, at Mission Trails Regional Park, ambling around on my own, it seemed like I could feel the presence of those ancient people. The trails I was on were their trails. I thought about it all the time. I think about it now, here. Those Clovis Point hunters looked at this landscape, these mountains, scanned the horizon for game just like I do. They wanted to eat; I just want to see it. Yesterday I saw a small herd of antelope grazing in a field of barley stubble. Clovis Point hunters didn’t see the barley field, but they saw the antelope. We read the same story. A hundred elk heading south across the grass in February? They read that story, too.

Today I watched two red-tail hawks make love at the very top of a dead cottonwood tree. The tree looms above a deserted homestead. The people who planted the tree — and others — as a windbreak for their homestead are long, long, gone, but the hawks — actually, buzzards, buteo — are taking advantage of the tree’s marvelous height to create the future. It’s incredible.

I agree with the article in Patagonia’s magazine. When you experience and learn to SEE a place, allow it to become part of who you are, that’s its own kind of activism, the transcendent, timeless, activism of love.


Featured photo: Old Mission Dam, San Diego from Wikipedia

Quotidian Update 91.8.4b.ix

Yesterday Bear and I went out for our observance of the Refuge before the wind came up. With the Crane Tourists gone, it’s ours again and we have another pleasant six weeks (inshallah) before the deer flies and mosquitoes force me to test my summer wardrobe of beige clothes and my insect repellant baseball cap.

The Canada geese are building and sitting on their nests. The smaller birds are singing and looking for luv’. The mountains are still white with snow. Basically God’s in his Heaven and all is right with the world — at least at that scale. I took a big plunge yesterday and sent my CV to the organization that supports the complex of wildlife refuges — Friends of San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges. I don’t know what they’ll do with those four pages, but maybe they’ll have a little something for me to do. I’ve realized since the last (ultimate?) tea party that maybe I need to make connections with people with whom I share common interests. We’ll see.

Another thing going on here in the back-of-beyond is that this summer on one Wednesday each month one of the stores “downtown” is organizing a street fair for artists. I’m interested, but organizing a display is a problem. It’s expensive, and I know this place pretty well. My thought right now is to go to the first one and see if my work fits in that milieu and then decide.


Meanwhile, happy whatever you celebrate!

Maundy Thursday

As a Panentheist who was raised with the Bible and writes novels centered on religion and is not anti-Christian (or any other faith) it’s impossible for me to ignore the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. For me the big day is the day Jesus told God he’d really rather stay on Earth than go through everything he knew was ahead of him. Except for the early-morning betrayal by Judas, it’s kind of a non-event. Guy goes to garden with his friends. Friends are soporific from a big dinner and wine and promptly go to sleep in spite of Jesus asking someone, for the love of God, to stay awake with him (for reasons he knew and we all found out later). OH well.

It’s not cool to know your fate. It’s a question that was debated a lot in my house because my dad KNEW his fate, roughly how long he had to live and what would kill him. Not cool. Better to be surprised especially if you KNOW there’s a crucifixion ahead of you. THAT makes this world all the more beautiful — even in my dad’s case one of the last things he wanted was to see Pikes Peak (we lived in Colorado Springs) one more time.

So every year I celebrate this day of the Earth’s beauty by walking my dogs. Out at the Refuge, I was happy to find that the wind has died down in general (though we are still under a Red Flag Warning). We were able to get out early enough to beat the wind entirely. It was absolutely quiet out there except for the songs and sounds of birds. I watched a pair of red-tailed hawks hunt and, later on, an osprey flew over and in front of me. The songs of red-winged blackbirds and meadowlarks serenaded us along our way. The cinnamon teals — beautiful red ducks with a teal band on their wings — were swimming peacefully. The geese were chill, literally, on some ice left over from the very cold night we had. No people. “The cranes have left. There’s nothing to see.” I’m honestly glad they think so.