Casualty of drought and time,
no shaded bed in the tangle of dead limbs,
no burnished fruit to harvest—
but its temporary grace in death
teeters beneath the heavens.
What histories yet reside,
what sights saved within its centuries of rings,
of native talk recorded lest
forgotten of wilder beasts and men
teetering beneath the heavens?
I see myself reflected
kindly, a lifetime rooted in the same place
that I’m thankfully becoming
in a harvest of verses penned
that teeters beneath the heavens.
One of the pleasures of helping Kenny and Virginia McKee brand their calves in Woolley Canyon is the early morning drive up Dry Creek to the Mountain House, then down CA 245 as first light strikes the plentiful magenta redbuds in bloom, a gloriously slow and winding 45 minute trip with a pickup and gooseneck load of horses. Midway between Mountain House and the entrance to Woolley Canyon grows the fabled ‘white redbud’ overlooking 5,000 acres of overgrowth that takes a week for young men and dogs to gather before we arrive.
It was the late Ed Vollmer, a native of Badger, that related stories to me of how Cutch Cooper and others, several generations ago, tried and failed many times to propagate this rare find from seed. One must assume they also tried grafting to a normal redbud. Though extremely rare to the Southern Sierra Nevada, my Google search discovered that the white redbud is available from nurseries in northern California and Oregon. Nevertheless, it has become a game for us on our annual trek around the vernal equinox to locate the tree and be assured that our ‘white redbud’ is still alive.
Outside, the Maytag
wringer-washer chugged with diapers
to be hung on a rope line
from cedar to pine.
Inside, you could see out
through bat and board cracks
after the war and Relocation Camps
your family had come from,
you but a child holding my hand
afraid to let go
when the buzzing began
coiled on a rock.
You ran as fast as you could drag me
down a trail you don’t quite remember
sixty-five years later.
* * *
Robbin and I had the pleasure of coffee Sunday morning with Evelynne Watanabe Matsumoto and family. Evelynne babysat my sister and I, and initiated contact from Southern California a couple of years ago. Her letters have been delightful rememberances of her time in Exeter before heading off to UCLA to become a teacher, marry and raise a family. She told me that the $250 she saved from babysitting paid two years tuition in those days.
Matthew Ormseth Photo