With the invaluable help of Joe Hertz, stonemason and fiddle player for Cowboy Celtic, down from the cold of Alberta, we have completed Robbin’s pool. For a number of years, we’ve been discussing the work with Joe, but due to the demands of our long drought, our plans were postponed.
After the completion of the hydroelectric facility at Terminus Dam, the inside cap of the tunnel feeding the turbines was removed and given to me for a water trough. Thirteen feet in diameter and 1/2″ thick, the steel cap weighed between 3 and 4 tons. I began work ten or so years ago to recreate the feel of swimming in the river with smooth river rock to sit on, but had reached beyond the limits of my abilities.
We utilized the pool during the summer, but with the sharp, cutting torch edges and unlevel state, it needed drastic help.
Joe needed a footing for his rock work, so Terri and formed it up using hog wire for rebar.
We rented a portable mixer and a bought a yard of concrete to wheelbarrow into place to finish.
Joe arrived on the 21st and has been laying rock ever since.
Yesterday morning we cleaned the rock and concrete with muriatic acid, rinsed and added water to see how it would look.
Thank you, Joe.
I let my hand run
upon paper with pencil,
let lines loose to find the grace
etched upon the walls of my mind,
imitate the random arcs
balanced against the tension
of gravity and time
lest I forget a world without
my awkward plodding.
In the foreground: slate gray grass
connects to tall stems bent
with petals across the page.
This year’s tall feed provides good cover for nesting hen turkeys, popping up out of the grass along the road as Joe and I approached them Easter Sunday. Whether the hens were leaving because we spooked them, or leading us away from their nests, was hard to tell as they chose the road ahead, unfettered by thick grass, to leave by.
It wasn’t long before we found two toms making their rounds of the area, fanning and strutting before a small crowd of cows at rest in the shade. American wild turkeys employ cooperative courtship during mating season to better attract the females, and according to a UC Berkeley study in 2005, select a close relative, a brother or half-brother, as a running mate to insure their genetics.
All this time I assumed the toms were competing for the favor of the hens. Furthermore, my Google research found instances where mating season has literally stopped traffic in Berkeley and where courting toms have actually attacked humans. Little did I suspect that the resurgence in the wild turkey’s population would be staged on city streets.
by Robinson Jeffers
Is it not by his high superfluousness we know
Our God? For to be equal a need
Is natural, animal, mineral: but to fling
Rainbows over the rain
And beauty above the moon, and secret rainbows
On the domes of deep sea-shells,
And make the necessary embrace of breeding
Beautiful also as fire,
Not even the weeds to multiply without blossom
Nor the birds without music:
There is the great humaneness at the heart of things,
The extravagant kindness, the fountain
Humanity can understand, and would flow likewise
If power and desire were perch-mates.
Purple Owl’s Clover Castilleja exserta
White Owl’s Clover (Valley Tassels) Castilleja attenuata
It’s been a busy week with perfect weather. Robbin, Terri and I have worked the garden up and planted several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and eggplants amid the volunteer Golden Poppies,
while Joe Hertz, stonemason and fiddle player for Cowboy Celtic,
has been enclosing Robbin’s pool with river rock. Half-day today,
then barbecue and play music.
In the dry and dusty years,
we did not ask much
from our night dreams
of brittle details to get by
day by day—no pastoral
pipe dreams, no comedy.
But we indulge the gods
because we must endure
their sense of humor.
The castings of worms
upon damp earth come alive
with old flesh and bones.
A plodding drawn through hot
and dry, through the seasons
to graze this moment,
this cacophony of light—
of life exploding
beneath our feet.
More than gold and jewels,
hillsides dressed with hair
reaching for the sky.
More than the wealth of green
slopes, tall feed cured dry
and banked. We are rich
with rain, clear into September—
blinded by this moment spilt
upon the ground in bloom.