Master of the Night

Stairs at Escondido

This morning I walked to Playa Econdido, as I do most mornings. But today I hoped to see the turtles hatch and make their way into the sea. I sat on the stairs watching the tide, it was higher than I’d ever seen it. It almost slurped its way into the nests. I thought of the eggs and the tiny creature’s ancient instincts responding to the ocean’s pulse as I waited for the rangers.

When they arrived we made our way to the two nests due to hatch. They dug first with a shovel and then cupped hands, deep into the sand. The ranger pulled out something that looked like leaves.

La  cascara? I asked.

Si, se fue, he replied. They are gone.

I was thrilled to hear this. He thought my excitement odd. I explained that it made me happy they had done it on their own, and that the were probably stronger because they had dug themselves out.



Para es mas peligrosa, he said, waving to the seagulls.

Si, es verdad, I admitted it was true.

I thought of the duckling I lost to an eagle, I was three meters away when the bird caught my charge in its talons and flew away— the heartbreak and wonder of that moment.

Coincidently, I memorized this poem this week. I dedicate this recitation to the tortugitas, those that swam away…and the ones that flew.




Abby and Felipe

I wanted to write you a love poem
but all I have are words
made of letters formed from
ideas that once were pictures
representing things only
considered real

I got to thinking of the languages
you know, you learned by listening
to chickens, cluck, screech and caw
You look for hawks in their
racket and the lost chick
at their bidding

Your eyes change in the light like
night eyes you’ve shown me, see
the rabbit eyes glow round, look
they differ from a cat, a skunk
a man, learn them all and you’ll never fear
the inevitable darkness

Being more domesticated, even I
now hear the difference: in someone’s
coming bark, unknown livestock,
it’s a dog, a friend, a stranger.
But I couldn’t tell them
apart before you

All that time, living in a world full
of language I never heard, I couldn’t find
water by following beetles, I didn’t
look in the dust to check my messages,
whisper with horses by sharing breath or even
believe in love

Chicago Il. April 4th 2013 Day 4 Napowrimo

© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

Sitting Ducks

In my ‘About’ page I state; this blog will be about the milagros (miracles) and mishaps of our life in rural Mexico. This is an example of the kinds of mishaps that are common.

Recently, I lost both of my sitting ducks, Edith and Nona, to a fox. They were one and two of Three’s family, the only two I had left from my flock of six. They were both within 10 meters our bed as we slept, with only a screen door between us. They were collectively sitting on 22 eggs. Once we realized they were gone, Felipe placed the eggs under 2 sitting hens, but it was unlikely they would hatch because they were probably chilled for at least 12 hours. This was a pretty big failure, out of six ducks the only one that served its purpose was Three, all the rest were lost to predators. I have also lost three chickens.

Because ducks are fussy about their nests I left  Nona and Edith alone as much as possible. Their proximity to the house was sufficient activity. I didn’t notice their absence for about 24 hours, when I realized that Nona had not come for her corn for two days. The first day I thought she’d probably come out while I was taking Felipe his breakfast. Her eggs were so close to hatching I didn’t even want to peek at her, hoping to avoid the problem I’d had with her mother Lucy, who tried to kill each duckling as it hatched, likely due to some disturbance of her nest.

At the time the ducks were taken, three of my dogs were outside. Foxes are sly indeed; it must have waited until the dogs were called away on some hare-brained barking errand, as they are many times a night, and stolen away with them then.

My ducks and chickens don’t have a house for many reasons: building requires money, enclosed animals require food, and I like my animals to have the opportunity to express their nature, which I feel they are more able to do when they’re not enclosed. We have a beautiful yard with a large bird bath, they stroll in search of bugs, bath in the sun and the water; they appear content. Also, we keep ducks near the house to keep the scorpion population at bay, due to their long, hard, powerful beaks there are excellent scorpion hunters.

I miss my ducks. I was enchanted by Nona. Everyday, she stomped out of her nest all puffed up, banged at the screen, and demanded I go to the bodega (store house) to get her some corn. I took my afternoon break from writing during their elaborate bathing ritual, watching them preen was soothing relief for my computer weary eyes.

I still have Gerald, my drake, but his baths are not as dramatic as my sitting ducks were. I have allowed him to sleep on the patio again. I banished him and my first duck Lucy by installing a fence around it, because they slept right in front of the door and left a remarkably large pile of poop there for me to clean every morning. Duck poo had an unpleasant acrid chemical stink, not at all pleasant to wake up to. But now, as I wake to the stench of duck doo, I know that Gerald has made it through another night pressed against the front door just inches from my feet, and I am relieved.

I wish I had a smart, insightful way to wind this up, but I don’t. It sucks to fail. I guess I could give up, not keep animals, or wait until I could invest in a safe facility for them and could afford to feed them. Though it may be selfish, somehow that doesn’t seem like the thing to do. I like the way they meander the yard, and I cherish the deep pull of flight in my chest as they take wing.