Tag Archives: Sulphur Peak



Your robe’s frozen sleeve

reaches the creek once again,

my unending friend,


you carry both storm

and heaven on your shoulders

when I reflect up—


face unwavering

beneath sun and starlit night

always in the morning.




It’s been interesting weather, now half-way through our rainy season, over 18 inches of rain after a decade of drought.  Already whispers from the loudest drought complainers for relief as these hills leak crystal rivulets again. 


We lost a month in time in January to the Atmospheric River during branding season, and now with nearly 3 inches in the past 3 days and 3 inches more forecast for the next three, it will be at least a week before we can get to our upper country to brand the last bunch, putting us close to the middle of March.  These calves will be big, a handful.


The Paregien Ranch ranges from 2,000 to 2,600 with its own light blanket of snow now, time-released moisture soaking into the clay and granite ground that leaks down the smooth rock waterfalls of Ridenhour Canyon, adding to Dry Creek that peaked at 684 cfs last night, that probably washed out some of our watergaps replaced after January’s peak flow over 3,500 cfs.

Job security, but patience until we can get there—you can’t fight Mother Nature, just try to adapt and face the consequences—fully enjoy her luxuriant and persistent presence after so much needed moisture.



We feed on numbers,
irrigate and harvest plans
with shaved efficiencies,
measure our well-being
by more or less
with what’s on paper
so easily burned
or suddenly erased—
we forget who we are.
We share amounts of rain,
compare numbers
with the neighbors,
too often disappointed
with what we need most:
just enough moisture
to revive this ground—
this flesh and our more
common senses.





On the other side,
all the current dangers rage
unseen that words cannot

assuage. Isolated here,
hands busy with simple
tasks, we cannot breathe.

On the other side,
an unknown future waits
to reshape us to survive.

Fifty years ago,
I was afraid
I would become proficient—

integrate guilt and hate
into my young soul
to become the best

at squeezing death
before a soldier’s
impromptu grave.

On the other side,
we pray for clarity—
for humble purpose.


Sulphur Ridge



Robbin and I spent most of yesterday checking the cows and calves in Greasy, scattering salt and mineral beneath the Golden Poppies on Sulphur. Colder and under quite a bit of snow this winter, the grass and wildflowers are just getting started. Note all the drought-killed Blue Oaks in the foreground.





Low snow up canyon, cold
rain at dawn, vernal pools
in the pasture stand full
waiting for Wood Ducks,
waiting for spring.

Sycamores stripped naked,
their white limbs wave
from across the creek
upon these ponds of water
in the evening sun.

Headlights slash the darkness,
a caravan of jeeps
and 4-wheel drives
whine down canyon—
weary songs back home.


Sulphur Peak




Overnight rain, wind, hail and a light dusting of snow down to 2,000 feet for our Christmas present on Dry Creek. Fairly rare, especially during the last four years.

Whole family here jamming into the late night hours (10:00 p.m., 3 hours past my bedtime), Robbin and Bob with guitars, Jaro and I with harmonicas, all singing what lyrics we knew.

All good, beautiful morning, Christmas 2015!



Bagels and lochs on the deck.






Errant gods return
to paint earth and sky, bring
dark light after dry.






October slips away from the sun
sliding south down the ridgeline
after a quick rain clears
               the air,
settles summer’s dust,
erases tracks
               for a day:

                              another beginning
                              to another adventure—
                              nearly 25,000 now.

No calls from beyond
Sulphur Peak:
                              old friend
to generations waking
from dreams and restless sleep.

On top in the brush
a 2” x 2” surveyor’s pole,
a Challenge Butter buck
               not quite in rut.
Spring poppy overlay of gold
winter cap of snow—
               never naked,
always changing clothes.



Weekly Photo Challenge: “(Extra)ordinary”


Good Day @ Ragle Springs



To complete our documentation of last week’s efforts to improve the availability of water for cattle, Terri Blanke stands beside the upper concrete box last Wednesday, one of many constructed by Earl McKee, Sr. and Lee Maloy in the 1930s when they packed cement and sand on mules from the Kaweah River, five miles and 2,500 feet in elevation away.

From the bottom, the upper box was plumbed to the lower box with 1½“ steel pipe too rusty and leaky to repair, rendering the lower box useless. In the 1990s, Earl McKee, Jr. and Chuck Fry constructed the pond below with dozers to collect all the leaks plus seasonal runoff. Dirt tank dry by the end of June for past two years, I installed the little galvanized trough last year to provide clean water by utilizing a hole in the side of the upper box.

While David Langton was mucking out the pond at Grapevine last Saturday, I plumbed the second concrete tank to the overflow of the little galvanized trough with 1 ¼“ PVC and galvanized riser. On Monday, while David was covering the PVC, he bumped the rock beside the galvanized trough with his backhoe’s outrigger, which moved the empty trough and snapped my PVC fill pipe. We plugged the flow from the upper box with a plastic bag and I went for hose at the corrals a mile below to syphon water into the galvanized trough rather than lose it, giving me time (2½ hours) to get to town for galvanized pipe replacements.

There wasn’t enough water stored in the little galvanized trough for the fourteen head of cows living at Ragle Springs, yet the little trough filled and overflowed at night. Assuming the lower box doesn’t leak as it fills, we will have enough water stored for the fourteen cows—a good day for all.






My pagan sunrise hangs over the black ridge
reaching for the saddle this side of Sulphur
Peak with blinding light, this native place

where women healed themselves—to endure
this longest day of hundred degree heat.
Each day shorter, we move with confidence

towards October, imagine gusts beneath
dark clouds that bring the storm gods closer
to bless this dry and dusty dirt with rain.