The Sound of Desert Greening – Mobile, AZ

Last night I heard spring arriving.

The sound of spring on the ground

All winter, it’s been a struggle to keep Woody and Maggie fed.

I can haul some grain on Maggie’s cart; sometimes a few flakes of hay. But as soon as I pitch camp, I tether Maggie by a front leg and turn Woody loose. That way they can browse a bit and add the odd wisps of dry Med grass or mesquite twigs to their meager rations.

Then, just before I turn in, I feed them a few handfuls of grain. As I drift off to sleep, the last thing I hear is the sound of horse muzzles nuzzling canvas.

If sleep comes slowly, I may hear “Clip”.

Then comes silence.

Then “Clip” again and more silence.

Finally there’s a stony “Chew, chew, chew” and the pattern repeats itself. “Clip”…….

The “Clip” is Woody snapping off a dead tuft of grass with his front teeth. The silence is when he looks for another bite. The “chew, chew, chew” is the morsel’s inevitable fate. They’re tough, these winter snacks, and take time for the old boy to crush.

I can hear it’s poor pickings. It’s the sound of a mule trying to make the best of a barren winter plate.

Slim pickings

Then last night I heard it.

“Clip, clip, clip” and immediately “chew, chew, chew”. Followed by “clip, clip, clip” and more chewing sounds. Listen! No silence in between!

I knew exactly what it was. I’d heard it last March at Miracle Meadows, North Carolina. It was the sound of new grass.

The next morning I discovered the splashes of green I’d overlooked the night before. Scattered like random splashes across the desert floor where tufts of green.

It was Med Grass, a fine-leafed grass that resembles Bermuda in the early stages.

The blades and days got longer. The rhythm of clip and chew changed.

Now it’s “Clip, clip” and then “chew, chew, chew, chew, chew”. It only takes a few bites to fill the old mule’s mouth for long moments of peaceful chewing.

Spring comes to our camp

It’s the sound of desert greening.



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