Archive for June 26th, 2008

Happy Monsoon Season! Happy Rainy Day!
June 26, 2008

“If you really want to be happy, nobody can stop you.” 

Mary Tricky

Here in the desert, if you look at the sky, every day is pretty much the same; the weather, although cooler at the end of the year, is pretty much unchangeable. If you bet the sky would be blue, you’d win, because blue skies abound.

Except during Monsoon Season. Happy day!

It’s been hotter than Hades in Arizona, and by hot, I mean 112 to 116 degree days. Each morning when I wake, regardless of the dreaded heat, my first responsibility is the morning feeding — of my rescue’s sanctuary dogs, my little terriers, and of course, the horses and donkey.

Saved from slaughter, the equines are especially hungry having known starvation in the past, but when summer rolls around they become less active in the heat. Consequently, I must decrease their rations.

Cloud, my newest equine rescue, has been successfully re-fed and happily sports a big hay belly. It’s to be expected, but as I lessen his rations, he grumbles in the only way he can — with ears pinned, and with head nods toward the tower of Bermuda hay. I explain to him that he can’t eat as much as he does in winter because it’s summer, now. I tell him he even needs to lose a little, and he pins his ears and snakes his neck menacingly, and because he wouldn’t hurt me, moves out of reach of my scratching fingers. Fine, he says. So there.

Each morning, trumpeting at me in greeting, he trots back and forth along the fence-line making soft, nickering sounds. Nuzzling my shoulder with his pink nose, he thanks me before starting to eat. I am the reliable food lady, tossing a flake on time throughout the day, never missing a feeding, always good for a neck scratch and a carrot or a peppermint candy. 


Photo by Emily Murdoch 




Sometimes I catch Cloudy staring at me, like he can’t believe his luck. Maybe I should give her a tiny nip when she comes by, just to make sure I’m not dreaming. Meanwhile, he gets what all horses deserve — care, food and a home for life.

If only all our problems could be solved with a schedule and a flake of hay.  

The monsoon sky, swollen to bursting, lets fly. Cloudy reluctantly abandons his hay, kicking out at the thunder. 116 degrees (as it was this morning at 11 am) is washed away almost instantly, and it’s only 96 degrees an hour later. Clouds, rarely seen since last June, are fat and sassy or pulled in threads like cotton-candy, depending upon the winds.

Before this storm lets up, there will be hail. But, the equines are snug in their shelters, and the dogs are dry and sleeping on comforters from Goodwill. Sitting here typing in the air-conditioned bedroom, my favorite place in the summertime, I’m craving a cup of hot tea and the day off, like an east coast snow day, to read a book in bed while scratching the terriers with my feet and throwing balls that ricochet off the walls.

I just love Monsoon Season. The desert is shined up by the rain, the green everywhere multiplies, and all the animals of every size, domesticated and wild, run and jump and wrestle and play. Summer is officially broken in, as the rains will carry us from June to September, eventually replaced by the cooler clime of a desert winter.

It couldn’t have happened a day too soon. I was tempted to buy a sprinkler, today, and freezer pops, the long ones, where you cut off the end and suck on the blue or red or orange juice. Maybe I will — no one’s watching, right? I’ll dance through the sprinkler with no make-up on, my hair unbrushed and flying, not caring how I look in a bathing suit, and living completely and thoroughly in the moment.

(Who knew a little rain outside, could resurrect the child of summertime?)

Nirvana hides in a cardboard box.
June 26, 2008

 “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”

Louis L’Amour

Recently, I joined a wonderful writer’s group and as part of my profile, I had to put down where I’m located. My husband, looking over my shoulder and gifted at quick quips, and taking advantage of aol allowing us to be online at the same time, sent me an email (which was much more romantic when we lived on opposite ends of the country).

Hey Em – put down, “If there’s dog poop, horse manure, kibbles and hay, I’m there.”

Very funny, especially because it’s true: if there are horses or dogs in need I’m there, and yes, cleaning up and feeding is part of it. Presently, our kitchen is overrun by yet another puppy play-pen, and another dog in need; this one healing from a fight with a coyote, having dug out of her kennel in record speed and running off even faster. In the desert, (which is more like a zoo), the clash between domesticated and wild almost always results in some sort of trouble.

Where we live, which is rural ranch and horse country, people push dogs out of moving vehicles with the hope that someone in the community will take in the dog. “How do they know you so well?” my husband asks, rolling his eyes and sighing. I can’t blame him — the man’s a saint. Not only is he the world’s best supporter of my writing endeavors, he also understands my penchant for the underdog, including the two now in my kitchen.

It never ceases to amaze me just how grateful an abused horse or dog is for food and attention. Their capacity for forgiveness is difficult to comprehend, and especially so when considering the fact that they’re better at it than most human beings.

This hot afternoon, two stray dogs believe I am the star of their air-conditioned universe, each having been given an empty box — one a Ritz cracker box, and the other a box of Reese’s Puffs. In their eyes, happiness is free and easy; the best times are had with boxes, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and Dixie cups — due to the wonderful sound they make hitting a tile floor, and because of the way they crunch — while fitting perfectly in a medium-sized dog’s mouth. Each paper object is sturdy enough to be thrown in the air and caught many times, and the future can always be counted on for more.

I work hard to be a grateful person in this twisty-turny, nothing-for-certain life; I am grateful for so many things. But Nirvana is made out of cardboard, today, and I’m humbled by the saying these two dogs know so well: one man’s garbage is another dog’s treasure. As the dogs mimic each other, taking my fearless arm into their gentle mouths, who knew it would be so easy to find Nirvana in the kitchen, next to the apple sauce and flour?