Tag Archives: Kaweah River

Snowmelt

 

 

We’ve enjoyed an unusually cool May with over 2 inches of rain on Dry Creek, enough to bring summer weeds and some green annual grasses back to our grazing ground. Between rains, it’s been overcast, keeping temperatures down, but adding to our humidity—extended weather conditions that have bled into the first week of June to begin our snowmelt in earnest.

On June 6th, temperatures rose to 106° for a short time, then yesterday temperatures rose to 102° as the Kaweah River peaked at 6,662 cfs at 2:00 a.m. to retreat to 2,124 cfs by 11:00 p.m.

Still overcast this morning when the this photo was taken of the Kaweah River Watershed, from Alta Peak to Sawtooth, there is still quite a bit of snow on the Great Western Divide. Outflow at Terminus Dam has been held steady at 2,596 cfs as the high water at Lake Kaweah creeps up, gaining about 2,000 acre feet in the past 24 hours.

The capacity of Lake Kaweah is 185,000 acre feet. Water behind the dam as calculated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is 155,535 acre feet, with room enough for almost another 30,000 acre feet.

Estimating the water content of the snow remaining and the increasing rate of snowmelt becomes a numbers game for the USACE. Lake Kaweah is beautiful lake and my guess is that it will be full by the 4th of July holidays for water skiers, houseboats and other recreationists. Unfortunately, we worry about fire as the high water mark reaches the dry native feed.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!

 

BLOND ON BLOND

 

 

Taking the cows home
a week after weaning
snakes easily over the saddle
and down to the water
of collected dreams.

I remember yellow
Euclid trucks dumping
layers of native pasture
armored with rock
across the river in ’59,

flooding shoreline picnics
and ground squirrels targets
where the Wukchumne camped—
where Loren Fredricks
never learned to swim

afraid of the three-foot carp,
sun-dried, he had to ride upon
in a horse-drawn cart
up Dry Creek to Eshom
before he became a cowboy.

Snow stacked high
on the Kaweahs, we held
the water back when Visalia
was a town, spread the city out
with no water in the ground.

               Blond cowgirl
               on a palomino
               in the wild oats
               above black cows
               and Lake Kaweah—

taking them home
a week after weaning
snakes easily over the saddle
and down to the water
of our collected dreams.

 

AFTER RAIN

 

 

Azure ridge after ridge unfold
into a swirl of storm clouds leaving,
as if heaven sent, wrapping hidden

peaks of scree with snow, thirty miles away
from this conflagration of cottonwoods,
willows and sycamores below. I look

up the throat of the Kaweah for a sign—
hoping, praying, as we begin again,
for grass-fat calves through spring.

 

GIRLS ON GREEN

 

20160821-a40a1673

 

Heads down, our future grazes green
on the edge of time, on ground
the river met with Dry Creek—

all the round cobbles mined
to build the county seat gone wild
with willows and cottonwoods,

natives claiming space we named
between the Kaweah and Wutchumna
Hill. Nothing is the same for us

or them as they mature to become cows.
Heads down, it is easy to forget
to look up at where we’ve come from.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Edge’

 

Water, Water, Water

 

Greasy Cove, Lake Kaweah June 17, 2015

Greasy Cove, Lake Kaweah
June 17, 2015

Capacity: 185,000 acre feet
Irrigation water stored June 23, 2015: 50,905 acre feet
Kaweah River Flow, June 24, 2015: 546 cfs (cubic feet/second)

 

Roughly speaking, 25% of normal.

 

Weather Journal/2010-11

June 27, 2011

Greasy Cove, Lake Kaweah, 6.27.11

Lake Kaweah, behind Terminus Dam, has only 4-5 more feet to go to get to the reservoir’s high-water mark. The river peaked at about 5,600 cfs for an hour on June 16th, but for 24 hours, cumulatively, June 22nd recorded the highest flow amid four 100º days. Currently about 2,200 cfs inflow to Lake Kaweah, 2,100 cfs outflow. Dry Creek has dropped to 14 cfs, but a lot of water yet for this time of year.

 

RAISONS D’ÊTRE

 

                                       Now in the quiet I stand
                                       and look at her a long time, glad
                                       to have recovered what is lost
                                       in the exchange of something for money.

                                            – Wendell Berry (“The Sorrel Filly”)

Looming closer, a swirling darkness just beyond
the thought of summer’s water that is not
frozen deep in the Sierras to feed our rivers

and canyon leaks—of brittle fall and cattle
gathered at an empty trough. The creek dries back
and sinks in March, lifted to new canopies

of sycamores dressing. Skeletons of old oaks
stand out between greening survivors, some
wearing only clumps of yellow mistletoe

hanging like reasons, raisons—like raisins
clinging to a leafless vine. Each season
spins the same dry song, yet we find our place,

harmonize and sing along, lifted like precious
moisture to tender leaves, a basic ascension not
available in the big box stores, unrecorded

in the history of our presence. This may be
the new normal for old people—that daze
of amazement we have been working towards.

 

ALMOST MARCH

 

IMG_5687 - Version 2

 

Thin veil of snow on the Kaweahs—
granite shows on peaks undressing.
The creek slows and disappears

as the thirsty earth drinks miles
from the river, puddled behind a dam
that will not fill the Valley’s furrows.

Tan medallions, last spring’s leaves
quiver from brittle fingers of oak trees
sprinkling green hills, giving centuries

of rainfall back as decomposing homes
for smaller survivors. It is not over
despite a forecast chance of rain—

dry seasons last, leave evidence only
years of floods can erase. Almost March,
the buzzards have returned early

circling an easy harmony of generations
gone—each clear voice rising,
we hear assurance and good advice.

 

ON THE SEMI-ARID EDGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The big dogs are drilling deeper,
pumping the last of a million years
of underground water, each river

dammed into furrows to farm
the empty Laguna de Tache.
Sixty years ago, when red lights

stopped in every railroad town,
colorful cornucopias spilled
from billboards onto Highway 99

bragging fruit or vegetable capitals
of another world, and huge Big Oranges
squeezed juice every ten miles.

On the semi-arid edge of change,
we beg for rain and dream of floods
to take this Valley back in time.

 

                    *     *     *

 

1876 Tulare County Map

Wiki: Laguna de Tache, Tulare Lake

 

 

BATTLEGROUND

 

                        Then the man noticed that he didn’t
                        have any shadow. He went out and
                        looked around: nothing had any shadow.
                        He began to squint up his eyes, it was
                        all so bright. And wherever he looked
                        there were sharp little knives.

                              – William Stafford (“Stories To Live In The World With”)

1.
We were but shadows on this ground,
young bulls bellowing into space
hoping for an answer in an echo—
not rivals down canyon pawing dirt.

We cast more shade now as we go
remembering the bluff and bluster
of manifest destiny—the arrogance
of greed blest by God—feeble-legged,

stumbling in cobbles along the creek.
If left alone for a century or two,
time will heal the tracks, erase mistakes
we might have better learned by.
 

2.
It did not begin or end there. Three
hundred shadows passing in this canyon
when Sir Francis Drake stabbed
California sand for Queen Elizabeth I

leaving little sign of how their minds
worked grinding, making palatable
what was at hand until—you know
the rest—like echoes in these hills.
 

3.
Pages welded together in dark corners,
transcripts in generational stacks
only attorneys dream of designing,
hold both petty and valuable details.

How it shook the old house, my father
overwhelming his in a thunderous
shouting match, a sparring over nothing
to hone a keen edge for the Corps.

Or the luxury of divergent dreams
of royalties instead of rent, in-laws
and family divided and divorced with
land—and from the tracks cut deep.
 

4.
We are but shadows on this ground
passing beneath us as always, immigrants
in old space that cannot stay the same
in the new world that swirls around us,

an invisible adversary invading our air,
our flesh, this dirt we shall return to—
however gladly or reluctantly, to cast
no more shadows—at home at last.

 

= = = = = = = = = =

Stories To Live In The World With (Someday Maybe, 1973)

A long rope of gray smoke was
coming out of the ground. I went
nearer and looked at it sideways.
I think there was a cave, and some people
were in a room by a fire in the earth.
One of them thought of a person like me
coming near but never quite coming in
to know them.

Once a man killed another, to rob him,
but found nothing, except that lying
there by a rock was a very sharp,
glittering little knife. The murderer
took the knife home and put it beside
his bed, and in the night he woke
and the knife was gone. But there was
no way for a person to get in to take the knife.

The man went to a wise old woman.
When she heard the story, she began to laugh.
The man got mad. He yelled at the woman
to tell why she was laughing. She looked
at him carefully with her eyes squinted
as if she looked at the sun. “Can’t you
guess what happened?” she asked.

The man didn’t want to be dumb, so
he thought and thought. “Maybe the knife
was so sharp that it fell on the ground
and just cut its way deeper and deeper and
got away.” The woman squinted some more.
She shook her head. “You learned that from
a story. No, I will tell you why you
thought the knife was gone and why
you came here to ask me about it:
you are dead.”

Then the man noticed that he didn’t
have any shadow. He went out and
looked around: nothing had any shadow.
He began to squint up his eyes, it was
all so bright. And wherever he looked
there were sharp little knives.

This is a true story. He really was dead.
My mother told us about it. She told us
never to kill or rob.
At a little pond in the woods
I decided: this is the center of my life.
I threw a big stick far out, to be
all the burdens from earlier years.
Ever since, I have been walking
lightly, looking around, out of the woods.

                                                            – William Stafford

Courtesy of

 

NEAR THE RIVER (RIPARIAN)

IMG_1109

 

Within the wild grapes and willows,
a world become tame
without humans.