Santa Ynez River
Long days on the river.
Six. Seven. Eight hour sessions.
The sweet mineral scent of the cool emerald water.
Jet airliners soar over the Santa Ynez Mountains trackless and silent through the depthless blue, their bellies glowing hot white in the blast of sunlight reflected off the top of the fog blanket lying unseen along the coast, over on the Otherside.
Four killdeer eggs.
On one of these days not long ago it became evident that I should explore a gravel bar along the far side of the river.
Long, wide swaths of gravel was spread neatly like a Japanese rock garden between tufts of mulefat and cottonwood saplings and clumps of young willow.
Nothing out of the ordinary caught my attention over there, where it was dry and hot.
There was no apparent reason to walk over yonder for a wander, which of course may just be the perfect reason in itself.
You just never know what’s in that box of chocolates out there.
I found myself hobbling barefoot along the searing hot gravel bar in mid-afternoon motivated by whatever to go look somewhere for something or. . . whatever.
I walked up on a killdeer nest, which is, as evident, a generous description for the egg bed.
Although the eggs were in plain sight in an open setting they were hard to see from any distance.
I hadn’t seen the eggs until I was looming over them about to crush them under foot.
When I came back with the kids the eggs disappeared in the rocks even when I knew they were right there somewhere in front of me. The camouflage was brilliant, my brain easily tricked.
Two eggs disappeared since we first found the clutch about a week ago. No shell fragments have been found. No babies have been seen. The parents still tend to the remaining two eggs.