I study rock landmarks,
look for tracks
to see if they have moved.
The pipe gate swells
in the heat. Now only
swings but one way.
Resident ground squirrels
and immigrant ring-neck doves
share the dogs’ food.
On brutal days
there are no rules.
Like Dali’s clocks,
time is part of the landscape,
like it or not.
A man gives up early in the summer,
too warm for wine, too hot for evening
poetry to endure, before darkness closes
the oven doors to bake in the black.
The Kings River calls, trout singing
from the riffles, asking why, when
trails of natives and early settlers rise
into the mountains, spread like webs
into the pine cabins and camps
beside the mantra of running water
through the night. I go early to bed
to get there in my dreams.
Nobody keeps record temperatures in Lemon Cove, but yesterday’s 101° in Fresno broke the high set in 1927. It was 104° on Dry Creek as we hauled gooseneck loads of weaned calves, gathered the 101° day before, off the Paregein Ranch—three two-hour, four-wheel drive round trips off the mountain. In addition to the calves, we hauled 20% of the cows down to go to town as we prepare for summer with little feed. With less than 8” of rain, our rainy season is over until October, capping a second year of drought. With no snowpack or surface water runoff in California, hay prices are already escalating.
The first few days of 100° heat are hard on people and livestock physically, but we all get out a little earlier in the morning and finish what we didn’t get done in the evening. The most noticeable impact of the heat is to our temperaments, not near as pretty as this white geranium, happy as long as it gets water.