dawn in the back 40

the night brought rain. windows open to the scent. the desert bursting. dawn awakened.

“Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth,
I believe.

He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience,

to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. 
He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season
and listens to the sounds that are made upon it.
He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind.
He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.

For we are held by more than the force of gravity to the earth. 

It is the entity from which we are sprung, and that into which we are dissolved in time. 
The blood of the whole human race is invested in it. We are moored there,
rooted as surely, as deeply as are the ancient redwoods and bristlecones.”

N.Scott Momaday

cool water

“All day I’ve faced a barren waste without the taste of water, cool water.
Old Dan and I with throats burnt dry
and souls that cry for water, cool, clear water.
Keep a-movin’, Dan, don’t you listen to him, Dan,
he’s a devil not a man and he spreads the burning sand with water, cool water.
Dan, can you see that big green tree where the water’s running free
and it’s waiting there for me
and you?
The nights are cool and I’m a fool, each star’s a pool of water, cool water.
But with the dawn I’ll wake and yawn and carry on to water, cool, clear water.
The shadows sway and seem to say,
Tonight we pray for water, cool water.
And ‘way up there He’ll hear our pray’r
and show us where there’s water, cool, clear water.
Dan’s feet are sore, he’s yearning for just one thing more than water,
cool water.
Like me, I guess, he’d like to rest where there’s no quest for water,
cool, clear water.”
Bob Nolan


Woven through the tines of a garden rake, at rest against the patio wall until the weekend; on the sill of a kitchen window, opened each morning for the cool exhale of dawn and closed to the breath of the midday heat; on the limb of a climbing bouganvillia, lightly, and temporarily, snagged to a branch of mesquite. Haphazardly constructed and precariously sited, the nests of the mourning dove are feats of deconstruction.

Over a period of two to four days, the male sets out for building material, lands or climbs upon the female’s back, and distributes twigs, leaves and inorganic material for her to build the nest.


After that odd display of gender roles, duties are shared equally through the two week incubation and two week nestling periods. We watch, and many times a day worry, as a parent gently rolls and turns the eggs before ruffling over the clutch and bravely stands down great horned owls, squads of burrowing owls, greater roadrunners, tree climbing gopher snakes and the law of gravity.

In early summer we found Travis on the gravel path, too small to be out of the nest, a week shy of fledging. The empty nest on the branch of the texas ebony tells his story: a night time attack, the parent flushed, his twin taken and Travis jumps into the sky.


Named for X Gamer, Travis Pastrana, who in 2007, after first throwing back a Red Bull, jumped from a plane without a rig, free falling and summersaulting, before piggybacking onto a fellow jumper.


For a week his parents move him around, following the sun’s transition across our garden, into the warmth of the morning sun and shaded during the lengthening daylight of summer, tucked in the underbrush.

Carefully nurtured, Travis finally fledged from ground level and flew into the sky.


Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home
And freedom, oh freedom, well, that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone
Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re losin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?
Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late
The Eagles



I stand here by the Western Wall
Maybe a little of that wall
Stands inside of us all
I shove my prayers in the cracks
I got nothing to lose
No one to answer back

All these years I’ve brought up for review
I wasn’t taught this but I learned something new
I had to answer a distant call
At the Western Wall

I‘ve got a heart full of fear
And I offer it up on this altar of tears
Red dust settles deep in my skin
I don’t know where it stops
And where I begin
It’s a crumbling pile of broken stones
It ain’t much but it might be home
If I ever loved a place at all,
it’s the Western Wall

I don’t know if God was ever a man
But if She was, I think I understand
Why He found a place to break his fall
Near the Western Wall


Rosanne Cash