Last year, spring in the Four Corners region of the desert Southwest was comfortably cool; this year, mixed business temperature-wise, but brittle-boned, tinder dry.Â When the summer rainmakers come, they’ll find plenty of fodder to feed their range fires.Â So far, mosquitoes have been rare and the black gnats–“flying teeth,” as a friend once called them–pretty thinly spread, causing little trouble.Â The hummingbirds and orioles that frequent our feeders drain the cups twice a day, which is pretty serious sugar water quaffing for May–especially with those thread-like tongues that the hummingbirds have to work with. So far this spring, I’ve removed one hummingbird and one fence swift from the house.Â Because of dry weather, the globe mallow–O, ye of the lovely, sherbert-orange blossoms!–is blooming a bit closer to the ground than it has during previous springs.Â The invasive alfalfa that over the last five years had built quite a stronghold in our yard is struggling everywhere except in my garden area where I water the peach trees (which, by the way, surrendered all hope of fruit to a week’s worth of chill o’ the night frosts … except for one tree, which put out two flowers two or three weeks after the rest).Â The claret cup cacti is blooming out.Â Engleman’s hedgehogs are beginning to flash pink frills.Â Prickly pear buds have sprouted like toes on the wide green pads of those be-spined plants.Â The creek in Crossfire Canyon has gone thin and muddy, then, in places, flaky or sandy and dry-stoned.Â The snowmelt on the Abajos to the north seemed to have skipped its trip south to the San Juan River via Crossfire Canyon and cascaded straight up into the air.Â The beavers remain the water barons in the canyon, gathering together the springs at their canyon bottom outlets with mud and vegetable dams to hold constant the water levels of their modest ponds.Â The last time I entered the canyon, about 30 black Angus cows and calves were strung out along the beaverworks, which provides the only significant, native water for miles.
Unlike the melt-off from the Blues, WIZ’s Runoff has been pretty impressive.Â But like all runoffs, it has tapered off. The last poems have posted and deliberations to choose which of the 31 eligible entries might win the Spring Poetry Runoffâ€™s Most Popular Poem Award and the Admin Award are about to begin.Â VotingÂ for the Most Popular Poem will be conducted by public poll beginning Monday, May 28 or Tuesday, May 29.Â Poets, please come back and vote, and invite your friends and family members to come vote, too.Â Winners of both awards will be announced on or around .
Thank you so much, writers, for participating so well.Â Poets, readers, and commenters who have already put so much time into the Runoffâ€”prepare yourselves to vote, starting next week.Â Each voter will be able to vote for his or her three favorite poems!Â Please, participants–enter three choices for your favorite poems.Â It’s more sporting than just voting for your single favorite poem, and it provides other poets feedback for their hard-wrought words.
Again, good work, participants, and thank you, readers, for sticking with us and reading all the entries.Â There were many delightful surprises in this year’s offerings–a lot of poetry I’ve been proud WIZ hosted.Â Remember: Choices for this year’s prizes are Fire in the Pasture, an anthology of contemporary Mormon poetry, edited by Peculiar Pages, and the novel The Scholar of Moab, by Steven L. Peck and published by Torrey House Press.Â Which, by the way, opened up to accept submissions on April 25.
It’s been a vibrant spring so far, thanks to all your flowers of speech. (Does anybody besides me remember that phrase, “flowers of speech”?)