It is hot today. Mad Max kind of hot. I’ve heard it will be 120 in Phoenix, and as I drove through Sedona it was 113. On the deck of our house it is 105 and it’s 95 degrees on the bank of the river. In the river I’d guess it is 70. As you can imagine, I’m in the river every 20 minutes or so.
Just now I swam the eddy upstream where I met the riffling current head on under water, wondering if it would be better to go around it, around the big boulder into the still pool, wondering which route the otter family takes, when I saw Piranga rubra, the summer tanager, in his new red coat of feathers, fly into the alder, on a low branch at the river’s edge, and with the river pushing past me on all sides I clung to a boulder to watch him.
In the shaded grove, he shone—he was carmine calypso—and I could see his yellow beak when he came closer to land on a rock in the creek (remember this is Arizona water and precious) and I thought, no, I told the red bird. I told him in English, I would do all I could to serve him, to serve the wild rivers he came from and the wild rivers to which he was headed.
Cricket, he said.
Cricket, came a reply from high in the alder.
And then a girl flew down to share his rock, and she was the very color of saffron. He flapped off and she followed him up the canopied creek.