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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

It was a tense sort of day yesterday. First thing I headed for Merriman to get a pair of front shock absorbers fitted to the car. I bounced and lurched my way up the soft sandy undulations that used to be a road, arriving at the top of the hill feeling I was ready to take on a bucking bronco – or that I already had. By the time I got the highway I’d relaxed, and remembered that my wallet was still on the kitchen table. Nobody at the garage turned a hair. Just pay us next time you’re coming through, I was told. And then there was the obvious follow-up line. ‘Hey, we know you ain’t gong far in that old thing.’ So, I’m about $100 poorer – or will be when I pay them – and Mercy now bucks as before, but doesn’t bang at the front end the way she used to.
It was interesting to sit in the garage for an hour or so. There’s a coffee machine, a table and a pack of cards. I picked them up and played patience for a while. The twelve-year-old boy who’s having to hang around there during the long school vacation while his dad works told me he was bored – but not bored enough to take up my suggestion that he sweep the forecourt. I thought of teaching him a card game or two, but then got distracted by the old dog, who sidles up to everybody in turn to have her head ruffled.  Odd people drop in for gas, or for coffee and a chat – like the elderly man who sat a while, looked me up and down several times and finally asked, ‘Are you a Snyder?’ H was a perfectly pleasant gent, but something about the way he was eyeing me made me relieved that I was able to deny any connection.

The weather was what we’d call close, or muggy. It was humid, and cloudy, and the radio kept talking of storms. Back at the red house I kept an eye on things and wondered how I might protect my garden, where this morning the first bloom has opened up on the zucchini squash.

While I was out there I realised that the dragon-fly population is really exploding. Pretty creatures, about two and  half inches in length.

They were everywhere – although so were their supposed prey, the danged skeeters, and just now I only have to stick my head outside to get bitten. Twice when I hung out my washing to dry, twice more when I gathered it in. Thankfully, I have my tube of Anti-Itch cream (extra strength) which does pretty much what it says on the packaging.

By early evening the radio warnings were more frequent and more unsettling. We had severe storm and tornado warnings, and Cherry county was getting mentioned more and more frequently. I could hear rumbles in the distance, and was aware that the sky was darkening. Then came an alert to say that a tornado was making its way north from Mullen. I checked the map, and saw that it was too far west to affect us – unless there was a sudden shift in direction - and went up onto the range to see what I could see. I have to say I was almost disappointed, and slightly confused. There were some inky clouds to the west, and rain was clearly falling out that way. But while that weather was moving swiftly south, I was being buffeted by a strong wind headed north.

I stayed up there for some time, enjoying the coolness and wondering whether I would get lucky and click my camera just as a lightning strike hit the western horizon. As I shifted from the shelter of one cedar tree to the next, I came across a couple more flowers that I’d not seen before.

Yet again, I have been unable to identify either of them, although I’m wondering whether the purple one might be a gayfeather. I’m struggling with a lot of plants just now, among them this rather lovely specimen I spotted a few days ago.

I recently commented on the sudden disappearance of the yucca flowers, and yesterday, while driving to town, I noticed that the ones on the road side, i.e., outside of the fenced pasture, still had their spikes, whereas those inside the fence had mostly lost theirs, which seems to fit my theory that the livestock are eating them. I stopped the car and snapped a commemorative photo, just in case that’s the last of them.

Today it’s cool, cloudy and damp, and I feel more energetic than I’ve felt for several days. I’m  planning a trip to Gordon to check out the livestock auction. But first, breakfast.

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