April 7, 2021 433 PM
An obvious omission from my previous post: When a person first hears a pinkletink, they run to the phone and call the newspaper. The one, the only, first caller gets bragging rights around town, plus their name and where they heard the tiny frog song published in the paper. Perhaps that time-honored tradition compels me in part to alert others to the silent beginnings of spring out here. Or maybe it was my first encounter with a rattlesnake. I didn’t know enough to know the snakes were out. There are many new faces in town and maybe they don’t know either.
My first spring in Marfa, my 12-week-old puppy was bitten by a rather large rattlesnake out on Pinto Canyon Road in the first part of April. As I followed the puppy into the grass, the rattle sound alerted me and I froze –– the puppy moved, and the snake struck. When I got to the vet she asked what kind of rattlesnake it was. I pantomimed my hand shaking back and forth and then two fangs striking. The biting kind, clearly. She was less than amused. She said for dogs it’s not as important, however for humans to get the proper lifesaving anti-venom, one must be able to distinguish. I came home and studied rattlesnake photos online, and honestly my progress has been limited. The light and angle being different in each photo, it’s impossible for me to tell much. What I did learn from a rancher, when I called to tell her some of her cattle were out on the road, is that Green Mojave rattlesnakes are around here and one had just bitten and killed one of her steers. The Green Mojave, in addition to having a reputation as a more aggressive snake, has both hemo- and neurotoxins. Bonus! So if you get bitten, get the proper ID. (That’s in a perfect world. I took off running and did not look back). That puppy of mine is now 11½ years old; he’s fine, and I’ll never be the same. Please don’t make me witness or participate in another rattlesnake bite ever.
Robert Halpern stopped me on the street to say some people out here don’t consider it the beginning of spring until the mesquite blooms. None of the mesquites I’ve seen have blooms. Maybe that will be the next nature excitement to come. People have also suggested no plants put in the ground until Mother’s Day. I have no opinion. Friends have greens growing all year out here and some weathered that recent deep freeze under row cover without a browned or curled leaf. Mazel!
This past Tuesday on a walk, I saw my first chocolate daisy of the season, one lone bloom on a tiny plant. What a singular treat. I went back to double-check, it was so thrilling. They never fail to astound me with their unexpected scent. How is that even possible? I’ve long admired how they bloom throughout the long, hot, dry summer along the highway without fail, and yet never have I seen one so early. Any and all can celebrate a single chocolate daisy if nothing else, right? Onward.