Yesterday in mid-afternoon, August 10, 2011, a weak squall line walked through my ranchito in central-west Texas. Blue-gray rain clouds edged and staggered to a halt south of my place. A few drops of rain fell. The power of the squall line churned up dust clouds, obscuring the Nowack barn across the county road in a microburst downdraft. East of me, seventy-five miles away, Fort Worth had rain falling on Sundance Square, the heart of downtown commerce and entertainment that coarsely promotes the city as, “Where the West Begins.” I disagree, but that argument will have to wait for another day.
The squall line with thunderclouds failed to bring rain on my land yesterday, but one weather change in the future will bring drops and sheets of rain. I looked at the weather charts yesterday afternoon and saw thundershowers, sixty-miles north, let loose rain, then dissipate into nothingness but a void of mirages, quavering silver lakes far away. No mirage here, the juniper trees in the ranchito grove threw off a luscious scent with the rise in humidity, dispelling summer for a time and bringing a promise of better days.
This morning, clouds remain to my east and as the sun rises, I see remnants of yesterday’s storm over Sundance Square. I count three, perhaps five, sun rays through the cirrus and cumulus debris. In all of this — the dust clouds, wind, scarce drops of rain and the sun’s rays — I look at yesterday’s date, August 10th, and know that Fall is forty days away, and that the sun rises later and sets earlier each day upon the earth’s northern hemisphere, Sundance Square and my hacienda.
As if I needed any more natural substantiation that the season is turning — I do — Mourning Doves (Zenaidura macroura) sustained their ooah, cooo, cooo, coo this morning for over an hour, sitting on power lines and in the mesquite brush of the Dooley place to my west. The Mourning Dove with hot mornings and brutal afternoons of heat on the ranchito does not coo earnestly, but quiets in sorrow for the lack of rain.
Notes, corrections and additions:
The call of the Mourning Dove comes from Roger Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to Western Birds (1969), my constant reference and field guide that is tattered and torn. But I would not have it any other way.
Photographs of the dove are from The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds (1977). This reference guide from Audubon was in the small library of my parents who grew up in the country of central Texas and were always cognizant of wildlife, thunderstorms, cattle and horses. I inherited the library and treasure each volume of field manuals that they thumbed through.
Several species of dove reside and pass through the ranchito.
- Cool, clear water (swamericana.wordpress.com)
- Flaming rainbow (swamericana.wordpress.com)
- Chocolate to mesquite (swamericana.wordpress.com)
- Bird nest with horse hair (swamericana.wordpress.com)
- Fort Worth Stockyards (pristuff.wordpress.com)
- The aire be stirred with wild things (swamericana.wordpress.com)