Late yesterday afternoon, Dusty, Bear and I went out to observe our golf course. Like most things around here, the dry winter has played hell with the grass and the course looks bad. People are playing, but not as many as in former years when the grass was green and soft not yellow and stiff. We were lucky because the weather was turning ugly (which right now means turning beautiful, stormy and wet) and the course was empty. Sprinklers were running everywhere in desperately attempting to mitigate the dry winter.
The wind was blowing cold and blustery. I even wore my winter sweatshirt (thanks LL Bean), the donning of which makes Bear run outside, dig furiously on the crater she’s got going under a lilac bush, run around and go to the gate. Dog joy is a thing unto itself.
As we were crossing the course, behind us was a kid with a big bucket of golf balls and his bag of clubs. Dusty looked over his shoulder and held back to check him out. I said, “Dusty, c’mon!” Dusty came, looking back, but unconcerned about the kid, not running toward him with a menacing bark. I thought, “Dusty T. Dog, there was a time when you’d have thought that kid was the enemy, out to hurt me. You’ve learned SO MUCH since we moved here!” I scratched his ears and he leaned against me.
As we walked along the outer edge of the course, first breaking up a meeting of earnest starlings, then a gentle conclave of doves, suddenly I felt something strange, cold, wet on my cheek. Could it be? Was it? There were more, coming down pretty hard. “Wow,” I said. A sudden, hard gust of wind shook the cottonwood tree, and an immense turkey vulture spun down in front of me, actually surprised, I think, by the wind, by me. He righted himself quickly (fearing he’d lost face?) and sped across the ground as if that had been his idea all along. These guys don’t travel alone and soon his pal flew out of the same tree, but up on a gust of wind and they took off together.
The rain fell in spurts. I was filled with hope that this time, finally, but… The storm kept moving, not before dropping a few flakes of snow on my jacket. I didn’t tell Bear. She’d get her hopes up… The air smelled fresh, damp, happy. We turned onto the lower end of the driving range. The kid was hitting his golf balls a fair distance against the wind, so we went across the driving range (pasture) at the lower end. A redtail hawk swooped low in front of us then headed for a tall cottonwood near what was once a burned out adobe house, torn down last year. His mate was already perching on the high branches. A meadowlark sang in the distance.
Then I saw what I’d set out hoping to see — the wide sky and tumbleweeds stuck on a fence. Some readers of my blog were curious about the tumbleweed photo I posted yesterday. I have a Swiss friend who’s lived in the US more than twenty years, and he is STILL fascinated by these things. I think he kind of loves them.
Tumbleweeds (IMO) are pretty much any plant that cuts loose from the ground and blows across the world dropping its seeds. Wikipedia, that repository of all knowledge, agrees with me. Tumbleweeds