Christmas 2011

Jessica Dofflemyer photo

The days have been pretty and dry: pretty dry! No trouble finding a kid to drive.

Cutler and Bodhi helped grandpa split and load the Kubota with oak for the cook fire, one of those ‘hands-on’ instructional activities grandfathers think might make a difference some day. On ranches throughout the West, there’s always a little lost between generations, but now that most kids live away from the common experiences of the ranch, American society is losing its common sense…

Amanda Bauscher Photo

…and opportunities for discovery in the natural world, even in a round of oak—and hence any kind of basic understanding of how to live and survive on the land we all inhabit.

Amanda Bauscher Photo

The knoll, a short walk from the house that kept my children occupied years ago, intrigues them more now as we discuss it was once a women’s sacred healing place for the 300 natives that occupied this part of Dry Creek less than two centuries ago. Interesting that the ground supports less than 20 of us now. Of course, the Wukchumni triblet of the Yokuts didn’t have big screen TVs, HBO subscriptions, or any other places they needed to be. Above, Cutler is exploring the depths of a grinding hole.

Amanda Bauscher Photo

What was intended as a daughter/son project became a father/daughter exercise as Amanda and I constructed a washtub bass for Cutler. It’ll be a year or two, however, before he’s strong enough to keep tension on the string. Nevertheless, Robbin and I had fun strumming it around the fire.

The lines of last year’s post have echoed throughout the weekend, almost déjà vu, a richer and encouraging instant replay for me, still true as I reassess my role as a grandparent surrounded by family.


                                                                                    The dead,
                        too, denying their graves, haunt
                        the places they were known in and knew,
                        field and barn, riverbank and woods.
– Wendell Berry (“2008, X.”)

Even now the headstones claim
little flats beneath nameless draws
either side of the house, rough

granite boulders set at the head
of deep holes filled for horse and dog –
where the deer lay down to shade

when I was a boy, and women healed
the spirit, burning sage, chanting
until they fell asleep. Hollow ground

to horses’ hooves where my children
played pretend, those great imaginings
that beg to fly – now walk their sons,

listening – feet wet in grass.
To come home for Christmas can be
a gift – so many voices welcoming.


Robbin and I wish you a Merry Christmas from Dry Creek!

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