It’s difficult, after four years of drought, to think in terms of rain. Making preparations for a wet winter may offend the superstitious, or seem contrary to the priorities of recent years, but Daniel Swain’s blog offers a most comprehensive forecast for the coming months. Should California be the target of a “Record-strength El Niño,” its impact on the West may be exacerbated by current and recent wildfires.
@ Cedar Grove, Converse Basin, Buck Rock Lookout
We feed our future,
as it approaches, plenty
of alfalfa hay.
when calves come
trailing their mothers
out of seclusion
added to explore
this old ground,
wind shuffling leaves.
In their eyes,
and a chance
A game since April, my presence, while irrigating, interrupts the daily routine of wading the edges of the pond for this Great Egret and Great Blue Heron. Usually one or the other, they generally fly when I get within a 100 yards of them to light a safe distance away on dry ground to watch and wait until I’m done. Sunday morning as the pipeline filled, they both circled to a secluded spot in the cattails instead, just barely within range of my camera lens.
Not quite a siege of herons.
Billowing from behind the barn before dawn
rising, clouds hang and drift, coat everything
as saddle horses wake to play over fences
in August, when there is no dew nor brittle stems
to cling to. Expectant mothers waddle to the water
trough, dragging their feet in soft, deep powder
pounded fine enough to float, to trail behind them.
Within the Palo Verde’s safe thatch of thorny limbs,
the reveille of quail brushing dreams from their eyes
before their morning march to the rock pile
in the middle of the bare horse pasture—even
the tiny feet of laggards catching-up stir the dust.
The first dry leaves lift in a swirl of weather changing,
distant premonitions that stir the flesh to ask
if the stage is set to settle this ever-present dust
A gaggle of geese (wild or domesticated)
A murder of crows
A parliament of owls
A descent of woodpeckers
A kettle of hawks
A host of sparrows
An unkindness of ravens
A raft of ducks
A party of jays
A skein of geese (in flight)
An exaltation of larks
A charm of finches
A bevy of quail
A covey of partridges
A dole of doves
A murmuration of starlings
A nye of pheasants (on the ground)
A bouquet of pheasants (when flushed)
A pitying of turtledoves
A spring of teal
A party of jays
From my desk window, I watch the fire
where the far ridge drops into the next
watershed, Rio de los Santos Reyes,
to follow mushrooming thunder cells
billow white as backfires collide:
cedar, fir, pine and redwood up in smoke
late afternoons and imagine the heat
and trees exploding, smudged yellow
Nomex—men, and women too, on the fire line,
exhausted and bleary-eyed as the red tails
of air tankers sail back and forth over me.
Sixty thousand acres plus of back country
charred by a living, breathing monster
twenty-five percent contained. The wind
has changed and cleared our canyon
as thunder cells push eastward up the Kings.
From the ridge and from the air they watched
a lightning strike run in the rocks
for over a week, thought it would never
jump both the river and the road—
could have put it out anytime.
August 28, 2015, 4:35 p.m.
August 27, 2015, 6:30 a.m.
Fire continues to burn on both sides of Highway 180 and the South Fork of the Kings River, leaving rock slides from the steep granite walls that now block vehicular access to Cedar Grove and points beyond. Smoke so thick in Dry Creek Canyon, you can almost identify the wood that has burned by smell: pine, cedar, fir and redwood. We quit work early yesterday.
August 27, 2015, 6:45 a.m.