Windward Review

cccclatinxcaucus

Volume 18, 2021

some small mesas to the west,

he reached Mudcarnie Creek.

The creek contained no water,

but Cam found a small amount

of barely damp mud which he

expected would be dry clay by

evening.

Through the morning, Cam

walked up and down as well as

forward—because his route ran

perpendicular to the many channels.

Fortunately, he rarely had

to climb more than ten or fifteen

feet, and often five or less, before

descending to cross the next dry

channel. About two hours after

he left the traces of Mudcarnie

Creek, the the terrain grew a little

more steeply channelized and

the soil became less pink and

more orange. The vegetation became

less dense with the change

in terrain and soil, holding far

fewer shrubs but more large

ones, mostly Old Man Saltbush.

About two hours later, Cam

crested a ridge to see dazzling

reflections from several dry salt

lakes ahead and to both sides.

What caught his attention even

more, however, was what appeared

to be the top of a particularly

large saltbush a few hundred

yards to his left.

Craving more shade than his

hat provided, he turned that way

and walked a quarter of a mile

south. Watching carefully and

stepping heavily, he approached

the saltbush, which stood at least

eight feet tall. A brown snake

moved away and disappeared

behind some smaller shrubs.

Lucky, Cam thought, A taipan

might not’ve given up its shady spot.

He sat under the saltbush

and ate his sandwiches while

addressing grateful thoughts to

the big shrub. Eager to explore

the salt pans, he finished the first

water jug and tied it back onto

the packframe before heading

due west. He reached the first

crystalline lakebed in half an

hour and spent fifteen minutes

looking at its almost uniform

surface. Heading due west again,

he pondered the realization that

the brown snake he’d dislodged

from under the saltbush was the

only animal he’d seen all day.

Aware he was walking over

the traditional land of the Yandruwandha

people, Cam nevertheless

hadn’t expected to see

any human beings and so, felt no

surprise on that score. The total

absence of animals, on the other

hand, shocked and saddened

him. He knew the chenopod

shrublands usually supported

kangaroos and planigales and

Civility + You

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