Tag Archives: Manzanita

LIKE ALWAYS

Beneath clouds

the forecast rain peters out

to a light mist, heavy dew, a sip

to hold greening hills a week—

like always, I’m disappointed

wanting more

security for cows.

 

Today, we’ll cut skeletons

of brittle manzanita

into woodstove lengths

to bring Blue Oak coals

to flame each morning.

 

We’ll take the dog,

put out salt,

check cows and calves—

stack the brush

load the Kubota

and let her sit between us

all the way home.

 

Through the years

we have worn cow trails of our own.

Like always, we’ll see something

we’ve never seen before.

ODE TO MANZANITA

 

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                             …he fed the young flame with wisps of dry grass
                             and with the tiniest dry twigs.

                                           – Jack London (“To Build a Fire”)

A fair piece from the Yukon,
Jack—nothing warms cold bones
like a good fire. We, too, need

a flame to feed a woodstove
oak, the standing dead and fallen
to adversity and time,

and start with broken posts:
split coastal redwood pencil-thin
into a chimney teepee thatch

on crumpled newsprint
before the match leaps to catch
a hungry blaze, inside

shadows dance and touch,
begging brittle Manzanita’s
hard red heart that dulls a chain,

severed limbs of lichened skeletons
wait to burn hot and easily
to prepare the seed, lick the oak

with fire. And glowing early
morning coals banked in ash
start Manzanita sticks a flash.

 

Sawtooth

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I made a quick tour of Greasy yesterday before the current rain to check our cattle and feed conditions and to cut a Kubota-load of Manzanita. The lighting beneath the cloud cover and view of Sawtooth (elevation 12,343′), above Mineral King Valley in Sequoia National Park, from below Sulphur Peak was eerie and intriguing, enhanced by the 30x telephoto of my point and shoot. Only a light dusting of snow remains from our last storm, but the forecast is for three feet on the Great Western Divide.

 

WILD WATCHING

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Not many left who care
to see the dance, a flash
of flesh beneath her leaves,

she teases him when he’s not
watching hawks and deer—
well before you ever get there.