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Stories from Bernie's current trip - a mule voyage from Canada to Mexico

Crow Fires
February 16, 2009

Back when I worked in an office, I noted the seasons on paper, with a calendar. That changed when I moved into a wagon and crossed the ancient seabed that spans the middle third of the North American continent.

In South Dakota, Lakota Elder Janice Red Willow explained how the natives marked the seasons using references such as the moon and wild turnip.

In New Mexico, I learned how Sucker Rod uses crows.


Sucker Rod
Maljamar, New Mexico

I met Sucker Rod on my 2004/5 voyage across America by mule. Named Sucker Rod after the slim pipe that pulls oil from the ground, I revisited him recently with mule Polly. We got to talking about the seasons, how winter was drawing to a a close. How, come March and early spring, the grass fires would begin.

There were various causes.

First you have dry lightening, where a lightening bolt strikes the grass, but no rain follows so the prairie burns. Then you’ve got cigarettes and trucks with flat tires (the rim drags on the pavement, creating sparks that ignite the dry grass).

Finally, you’ve got crows.


New Mexico Crow
Maljamar, New Mexico

Seems they have a self-destructive habit of building their nest in places that cause ignition – to themselves and the grass below them.

Curious?

Then click on the audio player below to listen to Sucker Rod explain.


After I left Sucker Rod’s place in my wagon, headed west toward Artesia, New Mexico, I started taking a closer look at the power poles that lined the highway. Sure enough, on average, every twentieth one had a crow’s nest.


High line with crow’s nest
Outside Maljamar, New Mexico


Crow’s Nest
Outside Maljamar, New Mexico

Posted Monday February 16, 2009 by Bernie
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