It might have been this black bear sow, the one who came to our house with her yearling in spring, it might have been her who swam just before us. On our way down to the lake, fresh bear scats on the road, and on the sand, fresh tracks leading to the water, in, then out again and off into the woods. I could almost smell her. And when I entered the water, I thought of all the creatures who need cool water, particularly on these hot days when the smoke haze is thick and the creeks are dry. I have bowls of water around for the frogs and we have a funny little pool, created from an old claw-footed bathtub, where the tadpoles have already become this year’s tree-frogs. The bird-bath is full and grateful robins use it most days.
Yesterday the air was so close and hot that we closed all the windows, put on the fans, and tried to stay cool. This morning I’ve just gathered a big bowl of greens — new kale, old kale, lambs quarters, chicory, blood-red sorrel, arugula going to seed — for a pie and while the oven is on, I’ll roast a little organic hen with herbes de Provence and lemons. A watermelon gazpacho. By evening no one wants to cook.
The rain-barrels are almost empty and the Douglas firs are scarily brown. Not all of them, which has me thinking about water and its secret sources. We have a deep well, drilled into granite, and the water is pretty much the same year round. Cold, clear, and so far, there’s been lots of it. But no one should depend on anything staying the same; hence, the rain-barrels.
A few years ago, when we had 13 weeks without a drop of rain, I said I’d never complain about it again. During the wet winter, I kept my promise. And now I’m dreaming of it, dreaming of its sound on our metal roof. Here’s a beautiful little poem by Du Fu (712 – 770 A.D.). What he calls musk, I call the smell of Chablis — water on dry rock, flinty and delicious. Bring it on.
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened
Colors grace thatch homes for a moment.
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across
Half a mountain — and lingers on past noon.