Sun breaking through grey skies, gradually and unexpected.

It is a morning made of fog and low clouds. Everything is grey and muted. It is a Sunday, for what that is worth. One thing that means in our neighborhood is that it is quiet. Most days, folk in these parts are up to something and making all manner of noise; whether the odd, undiscernible mechanical noises from the shop across the street, to the various construction related sounds from the new house building effort down the street, to the more than a little obnoxious youth riding endless loops on a seemingly unmuffled motorbike. Today though, like most Sunday’s, there is almost no sound. That fact combined with the gloom, and the day seems a bit desolate. But that is alright, some days are like that.

20160219_095200

It is just over a year now since we moved here, the Wife and I and Little. On a day to day basis, the place, and the experience is relatively slow and uneventful. The Wife has settled into her new position at work. I, through a fair bit of interagency wrangling, was allowed to work in a temporary position, although as of next week that will change as I have been offered a full time position, which I have somewhat reluctantly accepted.

Typical to our time together however, we have actually experienced many changes. We bought a house, which we intended to do, and have made a number of improvements; a new floor in one room, a new garden fence, an expansion of the backyard fence, as well as the population, as it were, of a new woodlot. We got a puppy, with the idea that Little could use a friend. She is bigger than maybe we expected, but not as big as people said she would be… based on her giant feet, and she has turned out to be very sweet and full of personality. We traveled to Tucson for a long weekend, visited Flagstaff twice, explored Petrified Forest NP numerous times (I even ran a marathon there at one point), and wandered over and through many parts of the Forest that brought us here in the first place.

20161221_120132

One weekend, we drove to Taos to see a concert, exploring bits of New Mexico along the way. One morning in Albuquerque I was able to do a long run along a great forested trail that I found along the Rio Grande. Earlier in the summer, we flew back east for a family wedding and then up north to visit more family. We kept a small, but productive garden, and in the late summer were able to take advantage of the bounty of local apples, which were somewhat of a surprise to me. We found and picked wild hops, though I have yet to revive my brewing habit. I have spent a lot of free time expanding my baking ability, much to my delight.

20160908_144022

All of that however pales in comparison to the single most monumental change that we have experienced. It is roughly three and a half years now that we have been married and for the better part of that we have been hoping to start a family. For whatever reason that has not seemed to be in the cards. As such, we began to discuss the idea of adoption. Weighing our options, as we saw them, between fertility treatments and seeking to undertake the adoption of a newborn, we opted for the latter, and so began what was to become a rather long and involved process.

Three days ago the Boy turned two months old.

20170112_144509

It is a strange and wonderful and curious existence, this meandering path of a life I have lived. Never truly aiming for anywhere nor anything in particular has often, understandably, left me feeling lost and/or adrift. Yet, many times, it has also left me amazed at where I find myself. When one focuses rather on the journey, or the struggle as can also happen, the destination, or result, can be quite a surprise.

Four in the morning.

I could say it all started with a couple of emails from the Wife introducing me first to this:

http://fourinthemorning.com/

and almost immediately thereafter, to this:

https://www.ted.com/talks/rives_a_museum_of_4_o_clock_in_the_morning

Both are wonderful and in particular the second. The nature of the inspiration and subsequently revealed “coincidence” that Rives shares in the TED talk are right up my alley.

In truth though, I am not so unfamiliar with four in the morning. Case in point, this is a line from a blog post that I wrote first as just an essay many years ago, and then published here roughly four years ago (both, incidentally, before I had ever heard of Rives or his cockamamie ideas)…

“The first rule is never drink coffee first thing; a cardinal rule. If you do, by the time you really need it (say about four AM) its effects will be less than exemplary.”

Funny, but not really that surprising. Not to me anyway. Like I said, this is just my sort of thing.

Of late, I am once again somewhat intimately familiar with four in the morning. Although at this point it is for rather different reasons. One specific reason in particular in fact. His name is Winston and for the better part of the past three weeks, since he first found his way into this world, he and I have become rather familiar with this time of day.

Winston, for his part, is generally oblivious to the potential, relative discomfort of being awake at this particular time of day. For my part, on the one hand it and I are not unfamiliar, but on the other these are different times and different circumstances. While I have more or less embraced my newly re-found intimacy with four in the morning, it is a much less productive, much more bleary eyed experience than it once was.

But here we are. This little man and I, and in most cases, here too is to be found a cup of coffee.

20161118_203228

 

It better suits you.

20160908_144022

Part 1: Autumn

The days are getting shorter, the mornings darker. Too, the days are getting cooler, though only slightly so, yet the leaves fall from the trees at an ever increasing rate. It is a long, slow, torturous autumn. I am too used to the seasons changing at the drop of a hat, not this creeping, subtle, drawn out metamorphosis.

The greening of the landscape which takes place post monsoon has long since faded and the hills and fields are back to the dun yellow brown of spring and early summer. The air has been calm and it is very very dry. The rivers are low, creeks nearly gone. The reservoirs little more than large ponds.

The elk are bugling in the hills. The cattle are down from the high meadows, most hauled off to wherever it is that they meet their ultimate fate. The pronghorn must be on the move as there have been none around in quite some time. The sunflowers have faded.

We have a large willow tree in our backyard. If you stand under it in the late afternoon, when the day is still warm from the sun, it produces a slow subtle rain. Whatever the substance, it coats anything under the tree in a dark shiny sheen. The tree hums with what look to me to be yellowjackets, though there is no need to give them any heed as they are far more interested in the tree than anything else. In their own right, they have replaced the hummingbirds which have gone on to wherever it is they go.

I do not expect snow anytime soon, though there was a light skim of frost on the shaded part of my windshield this morning. The woodcutters, including us in our own small way, have been busy at their harvest. So too the hunters. The garden harvest, what little there is here, has taken place and many homes have piles of pumpkins in the front yard. There is a palpable anticipation of Halloween, which for some reason I find curious.

Though very different from what I am used to, it is undeniably Autumn.

Part 2: Method of Disturbance

Day before yesterday I took a field trip with some co-workers south into the mountains. We traveled on a series of back roads, of which there are many in these forests, up into the hills to inspect some newly recorded archaeological sites. They ranged from scatters of stone tools and related debris, one likely dating to roughly 8000 years ago; to small, two room, masonry “pueblitas” with associated broken bits of pottery; to a strange, early historic site that might have been an overly fortified homestead or the remnants of some military establishment lost to the vagaries of time.

20161024_114444

We traveled over washed out drainages, ravaged by post fire erosion and flooding. Past crumbling outcrops of old grey stone. Through stands of gnarled old, twisted oak trees and out onto high, open cienegas; marshy, spring fed areas that have supported human activity and settlement for thousands of years. On that day, it was easy to see why people have been drawn here, though curious to contemplate only what they have left behind. Nearly everywhere we went, we saw evidence of people’s passing, down through time. Yet on that day, the forest was quiet. The stones of the structures, whether decades, or centuries old, lay tumbled, overgrown. The stories, mystery.

There is a large field not far from our house that has quite a story to tell. There is an obvious mound, near the top of a gentle slope leading down to the river. Once upon a time many people lived there. Closer inspection shows the remains of a multi-room pueblo; a large, prehistoric, masonry structure. The same inspection shows the clear evidence of disturbance; unnatural disturbance that has gone on for some time. This is not uncommon. It so happens that if there is a site such as this, one that is more or less obvious to the casual observer and is relatively easily accessible, it is more than likely that it has been disturbed.

The site in question here, known to some as the Amity Pueblo, unfortunately suffered a far worse fate in the past many years though. While over time local folks have dug in the old pueblo itself, looking for treasure of one sort or another, it was the plain below that tells a sadder tale. You can look it up if you are curious, it is reasonably well documented. Too hard to describe here.

For my work, when we visit sites that we are “responsible for” that is, those that are found within the bounds of the Forest, we make certain efforts to formally document them, primarily through recording casual, though preferably detailed, observations. Often we use standardized forms because consistency. There is one section where we need to record the presence or absence of any disturbance. Given presence, we are then prompted to detail the nature, and if possible, method of said disturbance. At this point we are further prompted with a set of check boxes; Manual or Mechanical.

I have a hard time processing all of this.

I will leave you with this, which I wrote a few weeks back.

 

Method of disturbance: Manual or Mechanical?

 

These, the ancestors

bleached and gleaming

Scattered, discarded

fragments of  lives long forgotten.

 

Under a sun they were never meant to see

they drift, with cloud shadows

 

they wander, searching

for that Sacred

bend in the river

that once they knew too well

 

Too bright though is the sun

that they were never meant to see.