July 28: day 15 on the mountain

I’ve skipped many days but it doesn’t matter because it’s in the past.

I took my first shower in 5 days. It’s been 90 degrees on the mountain. Except for two days ago when rain came unexpectedly. We went off to check the nets just as drops started coming down. We figured it would quit soon. As I untangled a MacGillivray’s Warbler it began to downpour and the bird became wet and matted and quite unenthused about it all. So did I.

There’s a Creature that crashes through the dry grass on the ridge above our tents each night. A week ago I laid awake with wide eyes, straining to hear if it was coming closer, heart pounding. Now the sound gives me a sense of comfort and familiarity. Two nights ago Creature was breathing heavy, I fear that he’s sick.

Nighthawks meep at dusk while the tree trunks glow pink. I am tickled by the flowers and sunrises. Trevor and I got rear-ended in town yesterday. Uninjured and undamaged, we went on to the river and listened to the Canyon Wrens yodel in the hot afternoon. We met the rest of the crew downtown and I drank nice beer from a glass as if I can afford to live in a civilized manner. The pretending is denting my wallet and anyway, I prefer to sweat and listen to Chats call from the shrubs instead.

There are fruit flies inside my cooler. And I’ve been drinking milk that’s been lukewarm for days. It would take a lot for my stomach to be upset. Ice doesn’t stay frozen for long in this heat. I think there are still stinkbugs under my tent but my new sleeping pad is so nice and thick that I don’t hear them. They won’t hurt you anyway.

Did I mention the rattlesnakes? There have been 16 sightings now, in just 2 weeks. Steve is still ecstatic. But even Trevor is becoming less amused. I’ve rehearsed in my mind what to do if someone gets bitten, but it’s hard to actually imagine it happening. A forest fire might be more likely. There was heavy helicopter traffic yesterday, so Katie hiked up the hill to look for smoke. It was fine. This time. A helicopter landed on the mountain last week, just to give us all a rush and make us think the nearby fire was gaining on us. It wasn’t. This time.

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June 4

It’s a lazy Sunday; not a single dog chased me on my run. Sarah and I hitchhiked to “town” yesterday on accounta there was a sign for street tacos in “downtown” Hoopa! Boy, we done did the town. Went to the taco stand, the café, the post office, the casino, the taco stand again, and the gas station. We were so confident in our thumbing abilities we bought ice cream to take back to the farm… on a 90 degree day with 3 miles ahead of us. We got picked up right away!

June 1

The onions have grown like mad since we weeded and watered. The broccoli are massive. Lots to harvest tomorrow for market. My truck left me stranded on the highway so I hitchhiked back to Hoopa and arrived just before dark. In perfect time to read my mail and get to bed before 6am wakeup. Somehow it’s already time for bed again now. Days go by so quickly, there’s so much to embrace; the waking hours are never long enough. But on the same token, I am exhausted from the day under the hot sun and can’t wait to lie down with Wallace Stegner.

May 30

This morning we were harvesting lettuce and I heard a raven croak and I looked up to see a red-shouldered hawk soar low over the lettuce with a raven on his tail. Later this evening a jay was squawking at a red-shouldered – probably the same guy. While we set up the drip line I heard some movement in the tree tops and looked up to see a handful of doves flying away and a small accipiter just behind them. Yesterday while watering the tomatoes we heard a funny sound coming from beyond that I wasn’t even sure was a bird. And then we watched as a falcon, followed by another, cried and soared high overhead and then dove together. I think peregrine! Food carry by jay today. Overcast and humid – the chat was not entertained. He hardly spoke! On the river today I saw a downy low in the willows as I have a few times before. And he was on a plant amidst the rushing floodplains. On Sunday I found a killdeer nest! I checked on it today and it still had 4 eggs, arranged perfectly. Speckled like the rocks, absolutely camouflaged right out in the open. She was nowhere to be seen though, I hope she didn’t abandon. I’m concerned about this nest.

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