Monthly Archives: March 2017

Blue Oak Casualties



Oftentimes during a year of stress, some Blue Oaks shut down, loose their leaves, only to come back to life the following season. But our 4-year drought was too much and too long for whole slopes of oaks, despite above-average rainfall this season. Now, as the survivors begin to leaf-out, the casualties are fairly easy to distinguish. Most, it seems, are below 2,000 feet in elevation on north to west-facing hillsides. As these trees have been here all my life, I’m guessing they are over 100 years old, but most have probably been here less than 200 years. Usually at the top of these slopes is an older tree, or remnants of an older tree, a grandfather oak that provided the acorns.

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Tom Turkeys






Water slips along granite
slabs beneath clay, leaks up
at the outcrops, pressed

from mountains of moisture
to find a creek, escapes
into road cuts, makes bogs

of good ideas and waits
beneath a thin crust
for a little respect.





Almost underfoot,
you work the ground
for bugs and spiders,
diligently clean window
screens in morning light—
yet play second fiddle
to your canyon cousin’s
higher-up, closer to
the conifers and pines where
sticky-sweet bear clover
plunders my senses.





                     there’s a bluebird in my heart that
                     wants to get out

                         – Charles Bukowski (“Bluebird”)

Leapfrogging fence posts
along a pasture road
just ahead of me

is commonplace, just
out of reach—a game
passing for fun—

and I am blessed
by the flitting iridescence
of another spring.

Closer now,
a pair is nesting
just out of reach.





Early morning dew,
a long leafless shadow falls
between young girls grazing,
sprinkled black on green
dreams, a young man’s heaven
that still works a world away
from almost everything.





Prodigal parents
away with rain, we become
heaven’s disruptions.


Vernal Equinox, 2017



Not a normal spring, Robbin and I made the loop of Greasy Creek yesterday with 750 lbs. of salt and mineral. We’ve not seen the cows and calves since before we left for Elko at the end of January, due to high water in Dry Creek, a huge rock on the Mankin Flat Fire Road, and overall conditions too wet to travel.

We flirted with having to walk home before we reached the corrals where I emptied 6.85” from the rain gauge, a total to date for the season of 24.03”. Not unlike the Paregien Ranch, we can’t get to the corrals with a pickup or gooseneck, so branding the rest of our calves is not a consideration. Furthermore, we’re too late in our grass season for our 500 lbs. bull calves to effectively recover to then continue to gain weight again.

Our dilemma as delineated in the March 11th post is moot at this point, wet roads and weather having made the decision for us. More storms forecast with unsettled weather for the next 10-12 days, with all the colors of spring waiting to unfold. These toms were courting the hens on Greasy Creek yesterday, finding a bare spot in the road to fan their tails, drag their wings and gobble in unison, as the heads of hens watched from the tall grass.





We had to shout around
the fire, the browning beef,
our quartette of comedy competing
with tree frog symphonies,

layered orchestrations beyond
the edge of dark up to our feet,
interrupting, croaking rudely,
demanding their moment on stage.

It’s how the world works,
taking turns—now is the time
for art—to find the common heart
of humanity that can bring peace.





No clock, no time—
free to look down
canyon home, the road

beyond to Lemon Cove
tied to railroad towns
up and down 99

two thousand feet below.
Through 150 hazy years,
much the same

to native eyes, to the wild
that have survived
our good fortune.