Once a year “The Great Mestolio” glides into the Coachella Valley from high above the peaks of the San Bernadinos. At summer’s end, he leaves the shaded sanctity of the alpine mountain lakes for the more predictable terrain of his earlier years. With one gust, the Santa Ana lifts him in flight…..
Using the updrafts provided by the Southern California desert wind, he gracefully descends to the warmth and familiarity awaiting below. With each degree of heat, Mestolio’s eyes are synced to the angle of his wing. The weave of increased temperature and landmarks, help exact his flight plan to the place reserved only for him. All instincts tell the Mestolio to fly past the giant fans and billboards to the cliffs of the San Jacinto. He must, as ever before, craft his accelerating glide along the mountainside, drafting beyond the natural desert springs and cacti until reaching the El Paseo, where rest and contentment await him.
After the three hour journey Mestolio refreshes in the small water overflow of the palm tree planter on Tommy’s second story patio. The views to the El Paseo are bent like images in fun house mirrors. Everywhere outside there is no escaping the heat waving grip of the desert, but this does not bother the Mestolio. He is proud, having again found success in locating his personal oasis. The patio now is Mestolio’s domain, his castle alone.
The cool, but quickly evaporating water, soothes his hardened cracked feet. From claw to wing, from feather to head, Mestolio delightfully refreshes, and is emboldened enough to fix a new position atop a nearby table of glass and iron. He does not care about being observed by those inside Tommy’s casa. The two toned bird regally struts to the table’s center and slowly and symmetrically extends his large wingtips to the heavens until his back is reverse arched. Finding satisfaction in his realignment, the Mestolio tilts his head from side to side until he shakes like a happy wet dog. With two more steps forward, his bulging bb eyes methodically survey the environ. Lifting his tail feathers, he provides sufficient room for exacting his “personal signature” on the table top beneath him while being in full view of those inside the casa. Mestolio remains aloof and without shame. For now, and forever he is the reigning king of Tommy’s patio.
For a fraction of a second, my eyes are diverted, and when glancing back, like the sweetness of the mango in November, he is gone. Looking to the horizon, I site three, maybe two impostors, side by side on a bar hosting a traffic light above the Paseo. I pondered, could one of them be Mestolio?
My beautiful bride of one day and twenty years approaches our table inside Tommy’s casa. I look into the sparkle of her deep brown eyes and with one breath…..the Great Mestolio no longer exists.