Friday, January 25, 2008

Dancing with roadrunners

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — The forms of my world are fading away…or going full-tilt surreal. Almost every week, it seems, there is something new and strange in the ‘hood.
Nationwide recessions and housing crises are finally having their trickle-down effect on our rampant development, but now that the construction dust is settling, and the winter dust storms are blowing stuff up, up and away, and we’re packing up the last of the distracting holiday decorations, you, too, may look around and notice how much things are changing in your neighborhood.
And there are a few things that don’t seem to be changing enough, due to another force that transcends our fronteras and control: global warming.
It’s January and anything can happen, but by the middle of the month, things were still blooming in my yard that shouldn’t be.
Most of the verbena and lantana bushes have dropped their green leaves and colorful little flowers and gone into hibernation, but two stubborn desperado bushes, one in the front yard and one in the back, are still producing lacy bits of green and bright purple blooms.
And every now and again, I notice a confused looking housefly or butterfly making pseudo-spring rounds.
A lot of the jackrabbits have moved on to wilder desert climes, but I have a new paisano. I’ve christened him Errol Jr. because, like his first roadrunner namesake, he’s a dashing soul. Errol the First established his own cozy condo in the eaves of an isolated home on acreage in Picacho Peak where I lived a decade ago. He was an elegant, laid-back gentleman bird who would complain subtly if I disturbed him at his slumber too early in the morning, but was always in the mood for a fiesta if he smelled albondigas simmering through the kitchen window. He earned his keep snacking on rattlesnakes and sometimes joined me for walks down mountain trails.
Errol Jr. showed up a few months ago. Strangely enough, the first roadrunner to establish regular routes through my neighborhood, turned up after another recent wave of development and human traffic escalation. Not surprisingly, he’s more of a streetwise, hip urban guy than the courtly rural gentleman who was my first serious roadrunner amigo. E-Jay (Errol Jr.’s rap name) seems a lot more hyper, too. Maybe the neighborhood Starbucks is on his rounds and he’s running on a contact caffeine high.
He’ll look me in the eye, but doesn’t seem inclined to share a leisurely amble with me at this stage in our relationship. It’s true that I haven’t wooed him with albondigas. I’m not much into red meat these days and somehow, Boca Burger meatballs just don’t have the same allure. I’ve noticed that his route includes a rock fence that runs through my lot, and if I position a slice of toast there, before E-Jay’s morning rounds, he gratefully snaps it up.
Then he’s off, in a cloud of dust on the sandy trail behind my patio. Without a word. Those of us who have spent quality time with roadrunners know they are more likely to mutter something that sounds like a rachety Louis Armstrong riff, rather than the “beep-beep” of the famed cartoon character.
While I’m hanging with my peeps in the ‘hood, E-Jay may be off to rally with his posse of roadrunner beeps at some as-yet-undisclosed hideaway, maybe one of the last stands of mesquite on this side of the newest subdivision, or a highway underpass.
I just remembered that this is Mesilla Valley Balloon Rally weekend and the fates have been known to stage a landing or two nearby. This could be the perfect Sunday morning to head out to the patio with a camera. With a little luck, I might be able to get a shot that includes E-Jay munching on seven-grain toast in a rock garden full of enthusiastically flowering things that shouldn’t be blooming in the winter, with a few ethereal hot air balloons floating toward the Organ Mountains in the background.
It’s another surreal January in Las Cruces.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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