Monthly Archives: April 2018

My Happy Birthday Song



From a generation that didn’t trust anyone over thirty, a reckless time during the Viet Nam War when few of us envisioned achieving thirty years, seventy is indeed an invigorating landmark, an open gate to new opportunities to make the most of life. I was pleasantly astounded when I received this audio file yesterday morning from our dear friends David Wilke and Denise Withnell, whom we will see in San Francisco to watch the Giants play the Dodgers at AT&T Park on Sunday as we celebrate Dave’s 70th as well.


A storm off the Hawaiian Islands has arrived in the Bay Area as it edges south with a half-inch predicted here for tomorrow. With grass high, calves growing, rain coming, we leave the ranch in good hands.





Trees and flowers
below clouds above the creek
never looked the same.





The eagles have displaced the crows
on the power pole, singly claimed
the overlook of rising feed saved back

for weaning calves, to fall from,
flap and glide close to the ground
squirrel towns submerged in green.

Short skirmish, the eagle fell with one
black wing outstretched beyond
its taloned grasp deep into the grass.

I think I understand wild politics,
its guiltless traits, its territories
and borders, our totems changing.

How humbled were we when
the golden birds chose us
to entertain at dawn and dusk,

but beak and claw I never saw,
just two sets of wings lifting off
in opposite directions. High

at the head of Ragle Canyon
in the granite outcrop, she waits
to be relieved to feed herself.





It’s Easter spring and the hills are green
as they should be, golden fiddleneck
and skiffs of popcorn flowers in between

and we go back to floating scraps
of wood down furrows, sixteen-penny nail,
a mast for leaves. You would retreat

to your throne and princess dreams
in the forks of the walnut tree beyond us all,
or we would drive a team to town

from the dusty seat of the steel-wheeled
manure spreader to visit friends, names
we both remember now after sixty years.

We were turned loose to entertain ourselves,
play with our imaginations before TV
and cell phone screens—more grateful now.

                                                    for my sister Ginni


Easter 2018



Six bunnies in the driveway as the grandkids and I fed the horses yesterday morning, drab Cottontails, but appropriate symbolism that drew excited squeals, yet underscored with knowing looks about the validity of the Easter Bunny. It was a messy feeding, half the flakes never made the manger, each child covered with alfalfa leaf, but the horses didn’t seem to mind the little strangers. In the Kubota, we prolonged the chore by naming the birds we saw, a covey of quail, a dove pair, a lone killdeer and blackbirds grazing the short-cropped green in the horse pasture.

Hoping to expose them to more wildlife, we took the crew to the corrals in Greasy that we just finished constructing, a project that Earl McKee began a decade or more ago. Even though we kept two of the three board pens intact, the interface with pipe required removing some posts and boards and losing an occasional thirty-penny nail. Each kid got a coffee can and the hunt was on for nails worth two-bits a piece, a practice run for plastic eggs filled with sweet surprises that my daughter was hiding in the dark as I went to bed. HAPPY EASTER!