Thursday, October 7, 2010

Red Wing Black Birds

The day was hot. The hills rolled in the heat like a huddled animal, arid this time of year. The sun beat down on the parched, empty fields, releasing smells of California sage. It came through the windows in dry, musky bursts, mixing with the cigarette smoke. It was too hot to talk, too hot to do anything but turn up the radio and drive faster. The sameness of the vast fields and faded, yellow hills were punctuated with dark wild oaks. Where did that smell of sage come from? It was intoxicating, a guilty smell like marijuana.
Each field was speckled with small dark shadows. Small shapes that went unnoticed till they burst into life and rose in unison, drifting one way and the the other, then shooting together in front of the car, causing a sudden involuntary slowing, each bird with flashing red danger signs on their wings, warning with a breathless, sudden movement. Once the shock faded, with a laugh, I picked up speed and drove faster than before.

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