January 26, 2012

The pictures above are of sandhill cranes.  We didn't take them.  They are from a blog called The Fire

We got a wildlife camera for Christmas.  You tie it to a tree and wait to see what shows up overnight.  It uses an infrared flash so the animal (or person) doesn’t know he is being photographed.  Someone not far from us caught a picture of a drug mule carrying a bag of marijuana, but fortunately all we’ve go (so far) is animals.

First we saw one of the neighbor’s bulls emptying our water ponds.  He sneaks in by walking carefully at the edge of the cattle guard on our gate.  He’s a handsome creature.  Then we saw a grey fox, a coyote, a beautiful fluffy skunk, and the usual herd of twenty javelinas that keep trying to eat our prickly pear.  On another night we saw both the male and female coyote.  He came first and gobbled up the over-ripe pear and stale bread we left outside before his mate could get to it.  She’s smaller.  I’m sure she’s feeding cubs somewhere and I hope we get to see these.  She walks in front of our front porch in daylight.  It’s generally a bad idea to leave food out for animals, but it’s tempting to get rid of food we don’t want.  Last week we left out an over-ripe watermelon.  Daniel (our son) chopped it into pieces.  Unfortunately, it rained and we had to bring the camera in, so we don’t know who had the feeding frenzy that night.  In the morning not a seed or shred of skin was left.

On the other side of the mountain is a marsh where sandhill cranes gather this time of year – over 30,000 of them.  We made an expedition to see them.  It was bitterly cold and the wind was blowing, but the cranes come from as far away as Siberia so it was like summer to them.  When we got there, we couldn’t see any, though there were a lot of ducks floating around.  Then we heard hundreds of birds calling, both near and far, but we couldn’t see them.  Daniel spotted them in the sky.  Vast flocks of them circled in and out of low clouds, slowly drifting closer.  It was really beautiful, like listening to angels sing.  Gradually, they floated down and at the last minute spread their long legs and fitted themselves into a mass of gray birds already on the ground.  They only sang in the sky.  Possibly, this is how they stay together as a flock.

On the way to the marsh we saw many border patrol agents, some in cars and others on a kind of three-wheeled motor bike for going over rough terrain.  A group of them had surrounded a twelve-year-old girl who must have been terrified.  It was out where no one, let alone a child, should be.  But she was lucky to have been found.  Groups of illegals cross through the desert and are met by a pick-up car or truck at an assigned spot.  The car only passes once and if the illegals miss it, they are on their own.  In some cases the slowest persons in the group are abandoned, as I think happened with this girl.  Then they might very well die.  This time of year it’s below freezing at night and a lot of people don’t realize how cold it gets and aren’t dressed for it.  The girl had no sweater.  She will survive because she was found.

When Daniel was coming to visit us, he saw a group of border patrolmen surrounding a car only a few miles from where we live.  Two men were driving the car and in the trunk was a body.  The patrolmen laid him out on the ground.  Daniel said his skin was blue and he was clearly dead.  We don’t know whether the man froze or whether he was murdered, but so far nothing has appeared in the news.  This kind of thing goes on all the time along the border.

As for the sequel, I am writing as fast as I can.  I think you will like it, because I sure do.  I discovered that music helps me write faster.  For years I haven’t been able to listen to music because it disturbs Harold when he is working.  We lived in a very small apartment.  Now I have a whole office with sound-proofed walls between me and Harold’s office.  The first time I put on a CD I almost passed out it was so beautiful.  I wrote for five hours without stopping.

I will answer letters very soon.  I do read all of them and thank you for sending them.  They keep my spirits up.  I wish I could help some of you with your papers, but I simply don’t have time.  If you look over my website you will find a lot of information you can use.