17 July 2008


Flat land draws more of the sky closer to the ground. Austin is like that. The sky comes clear down until the sides fall away so that you can feel the curve of the earth under your feet as if the rest of the planet extends down from the capitol of Texas.

Trees grow in wide rolling hills here. Live oak, elm, maple and lacy willows in colors like crayons – spring green, mint julep, sea foam, emerald – and flowering trees in veils of purple pink ivory blossoms.

But it’s hot. And wet like breathing inside out, body fluid and organ warm, and flowing with a deep rhythm so that my own pulse flutters sparrow-fast and the jackdaws, flycatchers and mourning doves quicken into a single, held note.

Down from the capitol building, there are bats under the Congress Bridge. I watch them at dusk emerge in a cloud to feed against the fading sky. I am told it is the largest urban population of Mexican Free-tail bats and that these are the mothers, their offspring still tucked away in the man-made crevice of cement and steel that has become part of the regular migration path. Texas Capistrano’s swallows. I am down-river from the bridge, the crowd too much of a deterrent for me, but I am delighted at the flurry of erratic wings on the hunt.

And I wasn’t bitten by a mosquito even once.


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