N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 0 6
Every winter it’s the same: The long dry season ends
with huge rolling clouds turning into a black sky parked
mountains for days into weeks, dumping Santa Cruz
rain which courses down the dirt driveway out front
runneling the low side, cutting a foot wide ditch for the
rushing drainage that dries into a deep rut we step
gingerly around for months.
Our yard features a natural spring-fed fish pond which
sits half-stagnant most of the year, but every winter fills
from both ends and sings and gurgles and waterfalls down
stones mortared into the hill. I wait for this season, when
everything is slow except the water, wait for the time
when I’ll walk outside, on a suddenly sunny day
reprieved of gloom, drunken with the blue sky, to count
branches downed by the storm and push a broom across
the pine-needle covered deck.
Every winter the pond becomes its own riparian berth.
There are frogs shouting the evening in behind reeds
swollen green and alive again.
And there are the salamanders…they come, a few
—timid and out of place—(they’ll move elsewhere soon)
and I wait for them the most.
A week or so after the pond is full again I’ll see them in
the narrowsbetween water lilies, somehow prehistoric
in the monochrome water, a livid and dark maroon—
the deepest most thrilling red you can imagine—limned in
Every winter morning until they’re gone,
I’ll scan the moving water for the salamanders’ lazy tail
thrash to the surface for air. Soon, instead of one or two
pushing against the current, there is a pair, stacked
together and floating in place. And I am one winter older
and just as sad this year as last to see them, linked
in this dance with time, oblivious of the man
who stands in the shadow, watching.