• Sam Baker

Day 68 isolation Random and Rhythm


Good morning painted bunting!

A painted punting came to get water by my house this morning. Quick, furtive, and beautiful. My eye knew it was different before my brain realized how different it was or even what it was. Its colors are striking. In my landscape of subtlety the bunting is all stage. Opera- a color prima donna of the wild.

The sun is just coming up. Still tangling in the east mesquite trees.

fingers of light, yellow with sparkles, extend and move through the landscape creeping

almost as if light lives and is gliding west.

Wire grass, no longer green- is an ochre yellow both uniform and lacking consistency. Although now I believe it is both consistent and lacking uniformity. It depends on how I squint. It depends on what story I tell myself.

The river has its same form. Narrow to wide to curve. It appears static but I hear the rapids and see disturbance at a turn. The river is blue. Ultramarine with some amount of silver. A bit of titanium white. Or even a gesso. Unmixed. Co applied. as if from all colors on he same brush. Applied in one knowing stroke. Rocks overexposed white. Random. Uneven and providing a sunning place for snapping turtles.

I wait for the return of the bunting. It has disappeared. In its place- A house finch, a mocking bird, a wren, a female cardinal.

In Mexico when i used to travel, they had a saying if you have nothing to do- make adobes. They will aways be needed.

I have my good camera set up with its good portrait lens. and a good microphone sensitive and maybe too sensitive. Maybe too hot. It picks up all sounds. All sounds. The Propeller Air plane unseen. Circling. Droning. The Birds are indifferent. I find the sound intrusive. Like the sound of the jet now flying over. 30000 feet flying west. These sounds are new. The last few days planes have begun flying agin. I did not realize, even in this remote place, how the sky fills up. How it broadcast engine noice across the landscape.

I have memory cards of bird photos i don’t need any more. But I have nothing to do. Make adobes! Fill more memory cards with cardinals and finches. The light has never and can never been the same!

A male cardinal is at the feeder. In the rising east light the color red is explosive. Red drops to the ground to feed.

The river has turned to silver- with islands of dark green of reflective trees on the far bank. There is no wind and then...

at 7:25 the wind makes its presence known. Just as the sun breaks free of the mesquite grove.

The feeder sings in the soft wind and no birds approach but i capture the sounds the river, the dove, the mocking bird, and now i supposed the painted bunting (although I don't know its call- its voice).

I sometimes listen to these sounds when I am on the road I turn them up high because my hearing is so bad.

When it is mechanically loud I hear even more than comes to me now. The recorded sounds of birds and river is louder. More Vivid. More Powerful. Flatter in recording. But louder. Loud but as if the living equalizer is not set yet. As if the smell of river or new growth or the great living and dying of this landscape could be adjusted with a fader.

I hear it like I hear recordings of rain falling. I hear it like it has no rhythm. Like it is unstructured and lacking consistency.

And I listen closer. Now, like wire grass, I believe it has it all. Uniformity. Consistency. Randomness and rhythm. It has everything.

Just like this landscape. Everything.

Including this morning’s painted bunting.

Showtime!