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Heading south again, I came right back into another series of heavy winter storms off the Pacific. The third night out, after checking sedums for absent elfins in a patch of rare sunshine in the Siskiyous, I was quite literally “stuck in Lodi again.” (The first time was in ’69 or so, in a $2.50 hotel room replete with bedbugs.) Nor were there many butterflies in the sprayed-and-paved Central Valley, though I did scare up a few in rags of habitat in the San Joaquin; and a couple more in Death Valley, where the post-rain wild flowers were blinding – especially the Desert Gold, a bright yellow-rayed sunflower with orange discs.
Most of my transect of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas has been a matter of creosote bush and yucca, cold wind, dust and desiccation, with scarcely a drop of nectar. Tomorrow I’ll hit the Gulf and follow it to Florida, to warmth, moisture, blossom, and butterflies. Soon I’ll be swimming in them. I should treasure these weeks when every single butterfly matters immeasurably, when I may, as Robinson Jeffers writes in “November Surf,” rediscover the value of rarity.
In a couple of days I’ll skirt Mobile. Road-gods willing, I won’t get “stuck inside of Mobile” too, with the Memphis blues or not.
Shelter from the storm –
— had an almost-working 1954 jukebox, with “Peggy Sue” – my favorite!
There was a cardinal — CARDINAL — singing outside my room this morning (first bed in a week — $27 — in this dry weed of a Texas town*. That, the nearly flat Continental Divide, and the Central Time Zone — as well as my petrified posterior — tell me that we’ve covered considerable distance.
Through driving snow just above Las Vegas, snow on the Chiricahuas, snow in the Pinalenos. Finally, the sun, in Texas — and the wind, and the drought. Powdermilk and I press on.
* But actually quite charming in the middle — old limestone courthouse, library, with butterflies out front.