This Valley is for the Birds

Birds are big where I live, I mean that literally and figuratively. The biggest economic  boom to my town each year is the Crane Festival when people come from all over the world to watch Sandhill Cranes cavort. But there are other great birds here. All kinds of raptors (bald eagles nest here). The Rio Grande threads through the valley and there are hundreds of artesian wells. On a recent walk along the river, we watched a Great Blue Heron take flight in front of us. At the slough, of course, there is every kind of water bird who might like fishing in these climes. Last week I saw my first Killdeer. In my very yard are humingbirds, sparrows, house finches, gold finches and yellow warblers. Of course, I plant things for them. The finches like the seeds of Bachelor Buttons (aka cornflowers) and everything hangs around sunflowers.

Long long ago when the dinosaurs roamed this valley was a huge lake. The lake is now underground and farmers have relied on it for centuries. Because of that ancient lake what would otherwise be a desert is, well, still a desert, but one in which crops grow.

I have a political sign in my yard right now — the first one since 1980 when I worked on John Anderson’s campaign. Yes, that’s obscure but if you’re really interested there’s this thing called Google 😉 Yesterday on my walk with Bear, I was near home when I saw a young, tall, handsome Hispanic guy in a concha belt and cowboy hat in the sidewalk in front of me. Bear and I approached. He remained calm and just patted Bear’s head, demonstrating some knowledge of how to be with a big dog.

“Nice dog. I’m Donald Valdez. I’m running for State Legislature.”

“What do you stand for?”

He was taken back a bit but he answered. “I stand for farmers and ranches, affordable health care and education. I believe in education. People complain about crowded prisons, but I think spending on education is more important. A good farmer doesn’t just put a seed in the ground and forget about it. Seeds are like children. They have to be taught and nurtured.”

I don’t know how you teach a seed, but I got his point. I had to ask the requisite question of the San Luis Valley which is, “Are you from here?” Not from the usual reason but because if he represents the people here, he should know who they are. His family has a ranch in La Jara and he pronounced La Jarrrra correctly.

And now I have his sign in my yard.

Back to birds.

At the moment there are white pelicans at the lake. They are beautiful birds, especially in flight.

Now we are waiting for the fall return of the Sandhill Cranes on their commute from Yellowstone to New Mexico. The cranes ARE our seasons. When they begin flying over again in February, we know spring is on the way. When they come south again, we know winter is coming.

10 thoughts on “This Valley is for the Birds

  1. We have American Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks (they are almost as big as the bald eagles), and of course a LOT of blue herons and swans. If you don’t think a swan is big, wait until won walks up right next to you and you realize that swan could easily take you down. They are HUGE.

    But not a crane in sight. I love our sand cranes. What cool birds,.

    And we’ve been seeing FINALLY some local people running (and winning primaries which for a lot of people in Massachusetts is the same as winning the election because many Democrats run unopposed — but THIS YEAR, they had youthful (YAY!!) competition. We actually voted for the new kid again long time (forever?) Treasurer Bill Galvin. Galvin has done a good enough job, even though he is a lot more conservative than we are — but he’s the treasurer and he has done a good job with our money by basically letting everything fall apart while saving the money until none of the roads are drivable and all the bridges have collapsed. So we have a billion dollar plus in the bank, but the infrastructure, but the trains which only run when they feel like it to the roads which are so broken they really need a complete overhaul.

    We thought the young guy (Zakim) — who is middle eastern, but I don’t from exactly where — with that name he could be Lebanese or Israeli or Syrian –but Galvin won two to one. We just thought we need some younger blood. We got some — our very first black woman rep to the U.S. Senate — and it’s the seat that Tip O’Neill and Teddy Kennedy held, so she has the right place to start.

    Even though this is the “bluest” state in the country, “blues” range from surprisingly conservative (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) to far left socialist. So maybe Galvin will be a better treasurer, even if no one ever fixes anything. We can always go back to dirt roads and just keep saving money!

    Charlie Baker, our guv, is the most left-wing Republican on the map. We always elect liberal Republican governors. It’s a thing. Our senate and house are all Democrats, but the governor is always a Republican. After a brief flurry of Conservative speeches, he buckles down and does what they all do — work with the house to try and get something accomplished. Remarkably, what gets done is rarely what everyone is hoping for — like rebuilding the damned bridges before they fall into the rivers.

    I miss Tip and I miss Ted Kennedy. I miss the old savvy guys who knew how to reach across the aisle and make functional policy that actually helped people.

    This should probably be a post, not a comment, but you flipped a mental switch in my head. You always do that, you know?

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