The Wind of Lonely Places


The old man chanted softly, almost inaudibly, as he held the crystal cup 
beneath the steady stream of silver droplets.  The level of shining liquid 
in the cup was yet an inch or so beneath the rim.  When he felt the 
imminence of a shift in the wind he heaved a sigh, clamped the rubber 
tube closed, and poured the accumulated liquid through a silver funnel 
into a green-tinted glass bottle.  He then commenced dismantling his 
wind-still, which consisted mainly of a glistening sheet of flimsy, near 
transparent film stretched across a framework of withes, lashed upright 
within the worn doorway of an ancient, adobe-brick structure.  The old 
man glanced aside at a dog sunning itself on a rocky shelf nearby, its 
head laid between its massive forepaws.  "AD 1425," he told the dog.  
"Quite a decent year."  The dog whuffed disinterestedly.
	The change occurred as the old man finished packing, and 
something in the quality of this new breeze caused him to fling up a 
bushy white eyebrow in puzzlement.  The dog lifted its head and sniffed, 
produced a low, deep rumbling sound from its throat.  Shrugging his 
arms into the straps of his rucksack, the old man climbed the low hill 
behind the ruin.  The dog accompanied him, its back level with the old 
man's hip.  Across the broken desert landscape the Sangre de Cristo 
mountains reared up in a wash of snow and cloud, the city of Santa Fe a 
red-brown efflorescence clinging to their skirts.  He paused, taut with 
concentration, testing the quality of the wind that the mountains flung 
down.  The dog vented another rumbling growl.  Gradually the old man 
relaxed, shook his head, and clicked his tongue.
	"My, my, my," he said in mocking self-pity.  "Is there no rest 
then for the hard-working weary?"