The big dogs are drilling deeper,
pumping the last of a million years
of underground water, each river

dammed into furrows to farm
the empty Laguna de Tache.
Sixty years ago, when red lights

stopped in every railroad town,
colorful cornucopias spilled
from billboards onto Highway 99

bragging fruit or vegetable capitals
of another world, and huge Big Oranges
squeezed juice every ten miles.

On the semi-arid edge of change,
we beg for rain and dream of floods
to take this Valley back in time.


                    *     *     *


1876 Tulare County Map

Wiki: Laguna de Tache, Tulare Lake



10 responses to “ON THE SEMI-ARID EDGE

  1. Peter Notehelfer

    “But you can’t look back / When you’re moving on
    But you can’t look back / Buddy you got to go and sing your song’
    – John Stewart

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would take the disastrous floods of the 1860s to get this Valley back to where it was before the railroads and dry farming. Our current agricultural and urban demand has been greater than our water resources for generations. Mother Nature is the only one left to make repairs. Thanks for bringing John Stewart along, I’ve been a fan for decades.


  2. Few if any looked ahead more than “next year”. Later some did look ahead, building reservoirs, canals and such. It might have worked if “zero population growth” of the 60’s was heeded. Not only did people move in, but so did greed. So we build a $ billion “bullet train” to nowhere that will never pay for itself. Why not instead build canals, reservoirs and pipelines from areas that flood in the east to areas of drought and maybe even put some back in the Colorado River? Jobs and prosperity? Life blood.


  3. Caleb Pennebaker

    I’m starting to think it was a good thing that my family was so good to the dust bowlers when they got here. The way things are looking we might have to pack up and see if their grandchildren will return the favor.


  4. Here we have drilled for water from under ground and it is sweet and clean. But when it dries up, in a year or a hundred we will curse mother nature without a thought for our own short sightedness.


  5. John: Is that “Cornucopia of the World” a poster or a brochure?
    I have a digital copy of a brochure promoting settlement of the Owens Valley that you might like to add to you collection and/ or distribute to your readers.


    • It all happened pretty quick, the settling of California. Railroads, irrigated farming, cities and communities growing, boom or bust, like there’s no end in sight except for the water.


  6. Ouch! Incredible words.


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