Monthly Archives: December 2015

Mustard Greens

 

20151218-IMG_5472

 

A beautiful day Friday, I took my camera while checking the calves we branded, photographing this one resting comfortably in a bed of mustard greens, along with the gray cow and calf born late September.

 

20151218-IMG_5476

 

We’re taking the whole bunch back to Belle Point this morning after a slow 0.30″ rain yesterday afternoon and overnight–the same rain we raced yesterday morning while branding Tony Rabb’s calves just over the ridge in Antelope Valley.

Forecast for 8:00 a.m. up until the last moment, skies were clear at daybreak as the storm approached from the coast. Tony made the call and we hustled through 100 calves before the first drop landed at 11:30 a.m.

I note, not so much for posterity but to jog my failing memory, that we had a lot of fun at the quickened pace, far from ‘old people slow’. My first opportunity to help the neighbors brand this season, I took Bart, Robbin’s wonderful gelding, who worked well-enough to have some fun himself, a tough little horse hard not to like.

 

20151218-IMG_5479

 

I also found the Burrowing Owl in his digs Friday while checking the heifers just recently exposed to Wagyu bulls. The first wave of family arrives today. ‘Tis the season.

 

20151218-IMG_5485

 

GATHERING TO BRAND

 

20151217-IMG_4573

 

Neighbors visiting
behind young girls and babies
headed to the gate.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Gathering”

 

Belle Point Bunch Branding

 

20151217-IMG_4567

 

20151217-IMG_4590

 

20151217-IMG_4600

 

20151217-IMG_4606

 

20151217-IMG_4629

 

20151217-IMG_4630

 

A beautiful day to brand some nice calves with the help of good neighbors.

2015 CHRISTMAS LETTER TO PAUL ZARZYSKI

 

20151213-IMG_0840

 

Dear Paul, the sycamores are undressing
long white limbs, a slow strip tease of fiery leaves
along the creek, my chorus line of dancing nymphs
all these years awaiting storms—but hills are green,
cordwood stacked and banked in thick dry rounds
beside the splitter, hay in the barn, meat in the freezer.
We will be warm with family this Christmas,
come hell or high water—grandpa free
to be a gap-toothed troll if need be.
We come of age all-of-a-sudden, spur
or spurn propriety in slow-motion rides,
get our kicks and licks in where and while we can.

The grizzled old natives never left this ground,
never quite made it past the ridgelines
we rode together busting wild cattle
off rock-piled chemise into the open places
we’ll always gather, build a fire and camp
for eternity—for as long as I remember,
become this ground that claims my flesh.
Slow-sipped days, a joyous plodding now
from moment to moment navigating rains
and grass, old neighbors branding calves
one at a time to stay to see a perfect season—
or as close as we can get, it’s how we make it.
Merry Christmas. John

P.S. Thanks for Montana Quarterly—a luxury
to fish during California’s Dust Bowl—a godsend.

 

THE UNDRESSING: ANTICIPATION

 

20151213-IMG_0837

 

On the weather map,
a week of storms
four days out

turned down
to a heavy mist
to quell the flames

before the downpour,
wind and rain—
a tame disrobing

before a shower
of leaves that leave
the road between

barbed wire fences
full to the hubcaps
with bedclothes.

 

THE UNDRESSING

 

20151213-IMG_0833

 

Show starts at two
across the road
with wind and rain—

girls shedding
enflamed leaves
in a slow strip tease

of fire exposing
long white limbs
in a chorus line

of dancing nymphs
along the creek
all ready to go

skinny-dipping
come hell
or high water.

 

SPIDER WEBS

 

Now that I can see beyond the dust
and dead oaks crumbling, begging
for some purpose yet as cordwood—

now that I can breathe, inhale wet,
clear channels to broaden my senses,
taste and smell the green air stick

to my thirty flesh with these rains,
I can think about this distant planet
and its people we are lost among,

the overlap of corporate nations
profiting from wars—projects to busy
and worry a populace to pharmacies—

I feel no less helpless, no less
inconsequential than a fly
trapped in a barn of spider webs.

 

WHEN WAR IS PEACE

 

                         And they establish foundations and give
                              some of the money back.
                                        – William Stafford (“Men”)

No pauses, anymore,
between wars.
No parades for heroes

stopping traffic
on Main Street—
no laurels for generals

to rest upon
when there are no ends—
just justified beginnings.

War is commonplace
like mountains in the distance
no one looks up to see,

too far from more
pressing matters
to consider unusual.

 

BE HERE!

 

20151210-IMG_0831-2

Vanity is absence.

                                       – Wendell Berry (“Praise”)

 

 

Within the unfolding
              Be here!
among waves of leaves
shed like rain
for a moment
of poetry—

somewhere other than
distant histories
and posed reflections.

              Be here!

to witness miracles
while the mundane dance
within the grace

of animated metaphors
in the half-light
of dusk and dawn.

              Be here!

on our knees
bringing life
with gentle breath
to dry twigs
upon dying coals—
to shadows melting
around our fire.

 

PERSEVERANCE

 

20151208-IMG_4559

 

A series of seasons unfolding,
we chase the sun, pray for rain,
year after year—no two the same

in this canyon that sustains us,
trains habits and hones senses
into instincts like horses have,

like the wild wears with first breath
until the last for generations
in the same place—we know

this hard, yet resilient, ground:
clay and decomposing granite
dust mixed like concrete

with green seeds, given rain.
Waiting we become the place
and praise its perseverance.