Little passion in the dry,
hard hills and dust trails—
little fire in the leaves
of sycamores and willows
preparing to undress.
No foreplay sure,
no long-range rain,
we feed more hay
and wait with cows
in the cold,
by growing babies.
We taste the air and search for sign:
manes and tails and moon dog rings—
our annual drama of hackneyed details
we bury our hearts and heads within
instead of the direction of a nation
without honor or integrity—
in God we Trust.
Leaves heavy with rain,
they bend and bow
to one another in gusts:
short blond feed quivers
as if this old dirt
is taking a breath.
I remember my mother
trying to show me lightening
in a Sierra thunderstorm
and all I could see
was the sun: a faded moon
hiding behind it all.
Noteworthy are the nine days of measurable rainfall in May, over 2 inches
here on Dry Creek. Typically, we don’t get any rain in May, but when we do it’s usually limited to the first week. Our series of storms this year have been the predecessors of the nasty weather that has plagued the mid-West and the rest of the nation.
Our rainfall total for the season is just under 21 inches to date. Our average for the past fourteen years here is 16.22″. Interestingly, we’ve received over 20 inches in five of the last fourteen years including this 2018-19 season.
What’s it all mean? Places on the hillsides and in the flats are turning green. Quite a trick for annual grasses, one I’ve never seen before.
The stage is set with
few days between rains
in years between droughts—
green hills hang fire,
begin to breathe
before they flower.
Knee-deep white egrets
comb blades of grass,
step lightly slowly
as tree frogs gather
an all-night chorus.
Dry cordwood stacked, I crave
unpredictable clouds of change,
the cold and ice, the hail and rain
and the look of snow-capped green,
black cattle grazing an angry gray—
fancy whiskey in a glass with you
inside, woodstove sucking air to flame.
No matter what the pundits say,
it doesn’t change a thing.
Light dusting this afternoon down to 2,500′ on Dry Creek. Exceeding the forecast, just shy of an inch of rain overnight and this morning. It’s wet out there.
Snow accumulation is just short of ‘normal’ for this time of year as we head into four days of forecast rain. Going up the hill to help the neighbors get one more bunch branded while we can still get to Mankins Flat, just on the other side of the near ridge.
California Weather Blog: “Wet and stormy week ahead for all of California”
After a rain, everything is clean,
summer dust washed from leaves,
from the hides of cows and calves
gathered for church in shady shelters
to pray for the sweet scent of green.
We begin again to watch the sky,
look to heaven for perfect storms
and wait—dream of thunder
and draws of muddy water—
leaning forward into the future.
Our small part of the world is almost perfect with last week’s rain as cotyledons break the duff and dirt, a magic time that California natives, men and beasts, eagerly anticipate. Albeit a bit early, our beginning of grass will need another rain soon, but with plenty of old feed to protect the new, that window is open longer.
My niece and family have been visiting once a month to help us deal with the Kaweah River watershed’s implementation of the Groundwater Stabilization Act, 2014 legislation designed to improve water quality and sustainability in California. As a more interesting outing, Robbin and I took them up to the Paregien ranch yesterday as we checked on our cattle.
Her husband Neal is a videographer who is always looking for room to fly his drone. Though I’ve often thought of applications for a drone on the ranch, such as checking fences and looking for missing cattle, I wasn’t quite ready for the visual reality.
Robbin’s ready to record barking dogs and other assorted cowboy sounds to help us in the gather.
Not much to do for the past three days but watch it rain, over four inches in the past ten days.