Crescent Moons

June 18, 2007

desert tortoise egg

Last night’s crescent moon was a thin silver wire or a fishbone needle.  Tonight it is a cat fang.  Tomorrow it will be the curved, sturdy claw of a bird of prey, a cat, or a mud turtle.  I have collected these crescent symbols for a long time, but today I expanded the list and played around with the words as if they were runes or a pebble oracle…still a young idea, like the moon itself. 

Yesterday morning I walked along a gravel wash and surprised a barn owl that was roosting in a canyon hackberry tree.  I watched it circle the wash and fly to a grove of desert oaks.  Its white moon-face glowed in the sunlight, and its soft, puffy wing feathers were paler than the sand.  I have walked under the oak trees that it sought (I could feel its brown eyes seeking the deep shade under their evergreen leaves) and its flight was a reminder that I want to see them again on another day.  In the desert, barn owls live in old mine shafts and eroded holes in the earth.  They are more strictly nocturnal than the other owls, and previously the only glimpses I’d had were of the one that occasionally flies over my front yard at night, a glimmer of white and a chilling hiss that is gone in a moment.

Today we hiked among thousands of agaves, sotol, yucca, and ocotillos that crowd the dry limestone hills on the east side of the Empire Mountains.  In the hot dust, among limestone boulders, I found the egg pictured above – it is the same size and shape as a great horned owl’s egg, but it belongs to a desert tortoise.  It is hardened and ready to hatch.

Two round, white gifts from the earth, reminding me to look to what I am incubating, what light I am reflecting during this Moon, what unexpected journeys will be possible.


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