Two white contrails sliced the cloudless blue sky as planes rumble past each other. The sound carries easily across the desert and down into the gully. The travelers are glad to leave the winter winds of Canada behind. They will rush from the planes to their hotels, to the restaurants, to play the slots, and maybe, if time permits, see a show. Most will stay the weekend, or a couple of days more for the lucky ones. Then, onto outbound planes, returning from the Sin City, back to the cold, snow and work.
They won’t see the soft, beige Pampas grass that grows tall along the edge of the gully. Their large feathery heads bright against the tall red walls of the riverbanks. Six-foot-high reeds swaying, releasing their seeds into the gentle breeze. The skeleton of a Creosote tree firmly planted along the shore, its roots no longer reaching the life-giving water, is a look-out for the small Sagebush sparrows.
They won’t see the sand and desolation that surrounds a small, lush oasis, created by eons of flash floods. Bright snippets of green peeking out as the Mesquite Honey bushes attempt to set roots in the sandy soil.
They won’t hear the water, a wandering minstrel, that begins its song from far away.
We hear the soft melody that transforms into a deep throated song as the creek flows through the Vegas Wash, tumbling over the dark, jagged river rock.
We see two Mallards, drake and hen, sitting on a craggy boulder in the middle of the creek. The couple preens, pulling the oils along their feathers, waterproofing their wings.
We see a blue heron fly low over the water as we climb along the dusty riverbank. It lands on a nearby sandbar, and waits, silently, for us to leave. The shadow of a cormorant glides past as it lands in a nearby eddy, perhaps to steal the heron’s deserted catfish.
We see four young Coots, frolic in the small whirlpools. Their ivory beaks bright against their ebony bodies as they plunge into the depths, hunting for snails or maybe a tadpole. They dive into the smooth pool at the top of a gentle cascade, popping up in the white foamy bubbles, to join the raft of Coots downstream. Shaking water from their sleek heads, they dance through the rapids back to the headwaters of their playground.
Soon, we also must leave, to catch the plane, to return to the cold and snow.