Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada

TOURIST

 

Courtesy: The Summit Post

 

If ever there was a table set
on the John Muir Trail,
it was picked clean
between meals
by Steller Jays
impatiently waiting,
screeching, falling
from Tamaracks
in the midden around
a black circle of stones.

The trail is wide
through Rae Lakes
beneath Fin Dome—
slick leather soles
on the Serpent’s back—
my name is in the box
above the fractured chimney
where I held a tourist
pregnant from falling.
Saved two risking one.

I leave again without the work,
without the pack stock,
without the traffic on the trail
whenever I want
to cast clear water
to green submarines
cruising a hidden lake
that I suspect
the world has found
and picked clean.

                                 for Tim Loverin

 

February 10, 2016

 

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Temperatures in the single digits, we left blowing snow outside Tonopah a week ago in Nevada’s Great Basin. Since we have gathered our last bunch of cows and calves to brand this morning to a forecast high of 76°. Here the hillsides are green, spattered with early patches of golden poppies and fiddleneck, as white popcorn flowers begin to creep up the lower slopes. The visual and mental contrasts from Elko to Dry Creek are startling, two different worlds either side of the Great Western Divide within a week’s time.

 

Two Ranges on the Solstice 2014

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It’s rare to see across the San Joaquin Valley to the California Coast Range anymore, over the small community of Elderwood, from the Paregien Ranch, then look east to the Kaweah Peaks of the Great Western Divide, and Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park — a good air day!

 

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IN THE DISTANT HAZE

                              Now I carry those days in a tiny box
                              wherever I go.

                                   – William Stafford (“Remembering”)

I feel for pocket-knife, keys and wallet,
handkerchief, cigarettes and lighter
before I pull on my boots, find my glasses

and pick which hat to meet the day’s
surprises, but this tiny box is always
with me. Before daylight, I crack the lid

to see what wants out on paper: a river,
a lake or Sierra pass take shape, pine smoke
curls through cedar boughs and I am

there with coffee before an eager fire
on another cold morning. Here money
buys nothing, and no more than paper

to ignite wet kindling after a thunderstorm,
all other urgencies are washed away, shed
downstream to mix and pool in the Valley—

like the Christmas flood of ‘67, when
they shipped food and freight into Visalia
by boat in May. We think we have

seen extremes, but the San Joaquin
has always been changing—begun
in the mountains, days above it all away.