PLASTIC WATERGAP

 

 

Stretched across the creek
for looks like herding humans,
not stampedes or floods.

 

TREE FROG POLLYWOGS

 

 

Bowl full of croakers
deafening some dark spring night
with endless love songs.

 

BLACK PLASTIC

 

 

So little water, we left
pasture gates open, turned
ranch management over

to the cows until
December brandings—
forgotten plans

stirred and mixed
to leave with dust devils
for four years straight.

Then so much rain
the rising water
took every fence between

neighbors, cattle free,
to graze up or down
twenty miles of stream

too high to cross
to cut the bull calves
as late as April aspirations

bellowing and packed
into a swaggering
700 pounds.

We wade the creek
repairing watergaps
with black plastic mesh

designed to herd humans,
an experiment worth trying
to run a ranch.

 

EVENING MOONSET

 

 

No babysitter,
black night ours to navigate
like coyotes and owls.

 

SHORT MOMENTS

 

 

How many pass without notice
as if chained in black caves
away from ordinary light

dressed in the shadows
of where we’ve been, shades
of time filtered into the present,

the parade of memories
and forgotten faces begging
a name—how many pass

us by?

 

ROBIN AFTER RAIN

 

 

Despite politics,
we all have work to do like
making rain repairs.

 

Easter Sunday contined…

 

 

My sister and I circled the mountain pasture behind the house in the Kubota after opening the gates to the flat below for the first-calf heifers and their Wagyu X calves before we drive the bunch to our scales and processing corrals next week. The calves need to be revaccinated before we ship them in May to Snake River Farms to be finished as American Kobe Beef. Not quite the same as gathering a horseback, she managed to see a lot of country where the cattle had been before we finally found them—a steep, rough ride nonetheless.

Gentle and Kubota-broke, our cows spend their first three years in our low country before graduating up the hill, and managing to gather them all was not a surprise, but offered an up-close look at the cows and calves for my city sister to see. Also, part of our purpose for gathering them a little early was to begin grazing the tall ripe feed around the house that will become a fire hazard this summer, despite the firebreak I’ve bladed with the skid steer.

Within a couple of hours, as if invited to Easter dinner, some of the cattle had gathered below our ‘sip ‘n’ dip’ for a visit.

 

Black-headed Grosbeak

 

 

With a few exceptions, I tend to lump all the little birds together, especially in the spring. The constant flittering that seems to begin with the house finches courting on the railing, the rosy chests of crooning males that seem to intensify in the process, followed by a period of squabbling with neighbors while claiming space along the beam with a steady rain of dry materials from construction and deconstruction overhead. With space enough for half-a-dozen households, it’s entertaining, but messy.

My sister, who was visiting from the Bay Area, was impressed with all the avian activity when Robbin and I both noticed a bird we hadn’t seen before, bigger than a finch, but smaller than the clan of blackbirds, who’ve taken residence in two coastal redwoods, strutting across the lawn between unabashed breedings. To add more birds for our entertainment, Robbin filled the bird feeders for the first time in months that drew the stranger in, along with a pair of Bullock Orioles. Even noting the distinguished details of the stranger with binoculars, I couldn’t identify it online or within the several bird books on hand.

So taking a page out of my wildflower identification experience, I photographed it last evening on the feeder. Only in the photograph did I really see its ‘large’ beak, then went online this morning: I think it’s a Black-headed Grosbeak!

 

Black-headed Grosbeak

 

 

Easter 2017

 

 

FEELING APRIL

 

 

From creek to ridge alive with spring,
churned and feathered urgencies abloom,
from pink to purple petals opening

to the sky, to its great white ships
passing after a sunlit shower’s rainbow.
Perfumes stirred inhaled, this canyon’s

air is shared with two golden eagles
hunting for hungry hatchlings high
in granite outcrops, sailing low

to snag sunning ground squirrels
more frequently now, imagining
young yellow beaks in sticks

open to the sky. It is the beginning
of the end, the ripening of the seed—
the dramatic performance of scripts

with fresh actors little changed
in my life, in my flesh—dependable
feelings somewhat akin to love.