Fresh-picked fruit waiting for family, friends and rain to arrive. 1.30″
Like quail before a rain, like deer
we gather in the granite brush
that yet survives the times and us—
around a fire. Lift a water glass
to the first ones here, a jam jar to
the pioneers that spawned this bond
of swirling smoke we nose at dawn
within our clothes and grin, trying:
to remember when
we loved life, or one another more.
Four straight nights of family making music. Grandpa’s done!
(Photos: Neal Lett, brother Todd’s daughter Katy’s husband, OMG!)
A light caress reminder
after a long time gone,
slow wet promises of more—
of fidelity we believe
as if she never left,
our flesh blooms green.
Christmas fell in 2015
to fill four nights rejoicing,
strings and voices rising
to greet the gentle rain—
four dry years forgotten.
We’ll never be the same.
Overnight rain, wind, hail and a light dusting of snow down to 2,000 feet for our Christmas present on Dry Creek. Fairly rare, especially during the last four years.
Whole family here jamming into the late night hours (10:00 p.m., 3 hours past my bedtime), Robbin and Bob with guitars, Jaro and I with harmonicas, all singing what lyrics we knew.
All good, beautiful morning, Christmas 2015!
Bagels and lochs on the deck.
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.
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.
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.
First thing every morning
I think of you making coffee
San Francisco strong, and pray
that a few of our wild gods
go with you on city sidewalks.
I fill the paper filter
that holds the grounds together
with one less scoop than you,
then add a half
to remember you by.
Colder in the old days, we lit smudge pots—
met New Year’s Eve with the all-night roar
of wind machines to stir the air, save
an orange crop bound by sentries, plumes
of flame down every road and dirt avenue—
starlight twinkling madly in a black sky.
Up on the hour to check the temperature,
Dad slept on the wood floor by the fire—
wool sweater, reek of diesel, ready to rise
while we dreamed of what we missed
in the country—like Mom’s new dress,
the festivities and friends in Visalia.
She learned not to cry, let disappointment
spill so easily, especially onto others—
a farmer’s daughter, a farmer’s wife.
‘Traveling the same track
makes ruts when it rains,’
I tell myself, shoveling,
bringing future runoff back
to gutters and culverts
as if I might make a difference.
They hear me in their home
and come to the chainsaw’s whine
limbing a fallen tree on the fence—
old wire that can be spliced
and pulled up into place
only they will see, gathered
in rock piles above me
like Great Aunts, lifting
wet noses to a light breeze.
I left the house with salt
to see the cattle, check
the rain gauge, photograph
the grass ‘lest my memory slips
again and spins a yearning
into some other poem
for Winter Solstice 2014.
We are family, these cows
and calves, this wild about me
as I stack brush for quail
before I leave with Live Oak
limbs—come home with wood.
From dull light into the dark, we
will roast a rib between us warm
‘round our never-ending fire.