Monthly Archives: August 2014




hiding beneath the tendrils
until too big to pickle.






                    what was done in blindness,
                    loving what I cannot save.

                         – Wendell Berry (“To My Children, Fearing For Them”)

No bluecoats, no cavalry trumpeting,
no loping long line of sabers flashing
to rescue what was commonplace before

we put ourselves first, drank the water,
pumped the earth dry, our children
abandoned to a new order in time

of scrutiny and enforcement. We believed
in magic, but their emptiness is mine—
a greater void than I can fill with poetry.



WPC(4) — “Silhouette”

First Calf 2014


Welcome silhouettes in these two photographs, albeit ten days earlier than expected, of our first calf of the season delivered by 0075 on the Paregien Ranch. In past years, we have documented our first calf on this blog to jog our memories and as part of the “Age and Source” verification process when we advertise our calves for sale. Robbin and I went up the hill Sunday morning to check stockwater and to feed the girls, delighted to see this strong, healthy calf. Our year has begun once more.




WPC(2 & 3) — “Silhouette”




We are connected
in red shattered skies—
fractured dawns from blackest nights.



WPC(1) — “Silhouette”


First-calf heifers, tired from the drive
over hill and dale across the creek
to the corrals, sorted and fly sprayed

before their new home plied with alfalfa,
maternity wards bare as human baby’s derrière
in the flats, but with hair yet on the hillsides—

and a few old girls to show them how-in-hell
to get there. Out from under sycamores,
they work the shadow of the ridge in bunches,

stop and look, a few paces at a time,
inspecting distances, not knowing yet
how far they’ll have to go to stay here.


Ides of August


These girls are two weeks away from calving as we begin a new season with little feed and less water, but we’re optimistic nonetheless, looking forward to a little rain and green grass.




…and maybe, just maybe she
comes by a different route,
out of the south with moisture

early. I have felt her breath
in the shade of evening
on my face, harbingers

that teeter on imagination
long enough to become
themselves, develop within

the fading light. All this
imagining excites the flesh
and hair. As shadows stretch

between half-naked oaks
on these sepia hillsides—
we start to color dreams.













No telling the tune
that’s dressed to kill
to pass the hat, to fill the till.



Collisions in Place



Though we don’t leave the canyon often, it’s always fun to speculate about moving to another place, like Victoria where summer temperatures are 25°F cooler than the San Joaquin Valley, where the urban pace is not as urgent as California, where the air is clean and clear. It’s been over a year since we’ve left the ranch on Dry Creek, the dust and drought, the cattle, but in Victoria our daydreams broke free enough to take on details, like trying on new clothes for a decent fit.

Concurrently, I was reading Wendell Berry’s “Imagination in Place”, a collection of essays that exemplify the concept of how belonging to a place can offer a more sustainable vision for it, our community, and ourselves. Reading from Victoria, it was clear that I had not exhausted what was possible on Dry Creek, despite a lifetime of observations, improvements and reams of poetry.

Unbeknownst to us, my daughter Jessica For the Archives who lives on the island of Kauai, was visiting Galiano Island with her husband and son. We’re lucky to see them once a year, so to have them near as the band rehearsed for their show on Salt Spring Island, to pick up where we last left off so effortlessly in a place that was not home to either of us (though Jessica had spent a year on Salt Spring Island) was an interesting mix of exhilarating emotions. We loved it.

Arriving home to the Islands just ahead of hurricanes Iselle and Julio, they were thrown into hurricane prep mode, boarding windows and stowing stuff. But living on a Noni farm with access to well water and a solar pump increased their sense of security, the whole experience enhancing their confidence to ride out most disasters—part of learning to live in a place.

She emails: “Curious how it’s been for you coming home. Sometimes it’s hard to return, other times it feels so good. Sometimes, it’s a little of both.”

It has not been an effort to fall back into the mundane routine of feeding and irrigating, checking stockwater and cows that will begin calving in a couple of weeks. The long shadows of August promise change, the monsoonal thunderheads in the high mountains and the gusts they bring to the canyon excite us to feel young and alive as summer begins its retreat into what we hope will be a normal year of grass and rain. We start over again in a place we know and trust.




Bright yellow flowers
to light feathers just
waiting for an errant gust.



WPC(2) — “Texture”