Looking between their ears
watching the business
on the ground stretched
and rolled for needles, knife
and iron, the mesmerizing
dance of humans ‘round
a calf to be turned back
into a jungle of Poison
Oak and Manzanita,
the impassable wilds
of Woolly Canyon
it took four days to gather—
all done in an instant.
Little progress here,
but no less futile
than punching a clock
where time is money
and the earth is flat.
Not a good sign for us that our asphalt connection to the outside world has received more attention during this past year with more non-sense emanating from town, reflective reminders, spaced every tenth of a mile, that nothing ever stays the same.
Shortly thereafter, Dry Creek Road got its first double-yellow line for its initial eight miles to where the pavement becomes too narrow to accommodate a vehicle either side of it, false hope for tourists taking the backway to Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park towing fifth-wheels with no place to turn around. The most recent signage also suggests sharing the road with bicyclists. Tricky business when the latest fine for crossing over the double-yellow line was $350.
Then a white fog line painted on and off the dirt. Thank you Tulare County government, dollars well spent!
Weekly Photo Challenge
Last to see the light
in the shadow of mountains
rise both day and night.
With native grass
we cling like clouds of steam
to hillsides after a rain.
I know for a while again
the health of self forgetfulness,
– Wendell Berry (“Sabbaths 2000, V”)
Call it ‘eye’, if you will,
that desperate search for notches
and niches apart from the self
that beckon, and sometimes beg—
but often ambush us with awe
to behold, to become so small
that we forget what we have created
within this heavy flesh just
to consume and survive our appetites
for a short time. Only the desperate
have it, the lucky ones looking
beyond man’s crude creations
our children must learn to live with.
I die a little each time I’m overtaken
to let the mind go at these thresholds
and somehow think that I can
preserve and frame the moment
in a photograph or poem.
for Wendell Berry
Sabbaths 2000, V
Comfortable in shadows
no one rises
when I enter their room.
I stumble on Bukowski early in the dark
morning, pleased to hear him voice
basic town stuff from the other side
of the page, but glad he’s not been
riding shotgun through this drought,
cussing everyone including God.
We hung a little hope on the gray
rolling in, gathering on the ridges—
on gusts stirring up, then down canyon
and grinned like foolish children
who still believed in weathermen
and Santa Claus. We dreamed
of how much rain it would take
to fill all the new cracks in clay
where the thin grass fades—
of an errant thunderstorm
that could fill the dirt tanks
and let the creek run
enough to meander and pool
under canopies of sycamores and oaks
for the Wood Ducks, cattle and us.
Through the black screen door,
wind under my skin,
I hear it begin to rain.
Ever-hopeful and in anticipation of tomorrow’s rain, I took a few photos of today’s feed conditions, intending to concentrate on the filaree, having turned red a week or so ago in places, then purple and brown. A miraculous and extremely strong non-native cattle feed, it is the predominant species in dry years. With good moisture, it can come back to life and turn green again. With less than 4” of rain and only about 30 days left in our rainy season that averages about 16” annually, the grasses never really germinated completely, resulting in a mosaic pattern almost everywhere today.
Just through the fence that separates our driveway from the pasture, I wanted a good shot of where the filaree had turned a purplish brown, only to draw one of the Roadrunners nesting in some nearby Prickly Pear cactus, closer.
Short green turns under
clear skies, no place to hide
rocks and cattle grazing.
March 29, 2009