Putting up a Christmas Tree

-OR-

Holidays of the Central Valley Suburbs

December fog,

Wearing, days on days,

Just holding.

.

These houses, now become exhibits,

Were never really new.

Always:

The years of potholed driveways,

Cracked pavement, a toppled fence,

And the bald tires on a car kept running

By visiting strangers,

Connections for a cousin,

From some other house unseen,

But always showing up

Just around meal time,

When a visiting uncle,

Now living out there,

Just happened to stop by.

.

The old garage in the backyard,

Everyone’s secret,

That decisionless haunt

Of misshapen mornings strewn about

Turning, in some methodical, timed way

To frustrated, wrenching afternoons,

And, finally, the long soft evenings,

If the drugs don’t turn weak

Or disappear.

.

All at once,

Spooled backwards, knotted, hungry

And free.

.

Kids would throw walnuts at passing cars.

And regret the open window

Yet appreciating the relief

Of an angry knock:

A chance at never again.

.

They wanted to pin us to the growth trajectory,

Instead of the stagnant complacency

Where we could just languish,

In the short, dark days.

Made easier,

In the the dim, grey lights,

Between holidays always celebrated,

Always.

Sketching the Klamath in November

The River is now a great bridge:

The one constant stretching morning

Across the entire day

All the while folding it,

Neatly

Gently,

Back into night.

.

In between:

Freshly poured green water,

Water of life,

Calling water.

Water that hides things

And

rarely reveals them.

.

Even the rocks revel in their newfound tones

Shining on their neighbors with the latest

Deepest

Hue of translucent

stained

Distant

blue.

.

Born of morning,

All the shadowed eddys,

Boxes,

And dark watching spots,

curiously,

Slowly,

Lengthen day’s best work,

In their icy stillness.

.

Dinner is jars of old elderberries,

And struggling greens, lost

Between the miseries of heat

And bugs and thirst

nearly quenched,

While seeing the path ahead,

Pitted, dense,

Still tough..

To where winter will set stride.

.

Cravings of sweets

in the soft, cloying dampness.

Chilled, but

cleansing.

All this:

From vistas of feet

on velvet landscapes,

To the endless jostlings,

Riding across this great bridge.

Sketch from the Orchard

As leaves loose summer’s grasp

They become ghostly ballerinas of the still air,

Glistening,

On the annual pilgrimage to winter’s soft cradle.

.

Morning here lingers well into the afternoon

And shadows replace light

As the preferred method of telling time.

.

Soon, the first winds will stir,

And the old days will be back,

If just for a moment.

Experiments in the Wind

This space, outside, like past years

Came back to visit, in cheers.

Bringing choirs,

Tenors

From trees above,

To the tiniest notes of sands,

All offered from December’s firm hands.

.

You might sing new a new rhythm

To the tells of water

And full moon lullabies.

An old song,

To cast off your wishes,

Before I move along.

.

Show me paths and leeside edens,

Your voice calling, should I turn

To hear.

Bits and pieces on this wheel

Turning,

In time’s great mirror.

.

To be free from this turn,

Take me to the place!

Just outside

the now and then,

Move me

to a different pace.

.

Those melodies pulse softly now,

Of stories you read,

From behind furrowed brow.

.

In electricity of the night you bring,

Nestled softly

In the damp cradle of spring.

.

Woo us from fields afar,

Peering through sky’s great fabric,

Of tatters and thread,

Let me in,

Return me to bed.

Winter’s Grace by the Numbers

How might I count the days?

.

By the sounds of rain

On a field at night?

.

Or should I tally mornings

Of fickle, teasing light,

On the edges of storms?

.

Could it be the screeching egret,

High overhead in dark skies,

Framing chilling air into promises

Of frosty tinkerings.

.

How might I add these days?

Where a single leaf,

Bright star fluttering,

Shuffles to rest,

To dream in the soft cradle of spring.

Finding the Soul of a Mid-winter river (or: caught naked in the sunshine)

Searching for ghosts
Searching for ghosts

At this flow, the tailout is infinitely large – and maybe a tad bit too deep to comfortably wade.  The water is running at six degrees this morning and a long pass through belly deep water would probably sap the life out of me – slowly and unknowingly.  So, I decide to drop the pram in the water and fish through it from the dry.  I didn’t know how the spey cast would work from the pram, thinking the edge of the boat might catch the forward cast as it left the water – not a problem and I managed easily with the circle, cack-handed circle and overhead casts.  I put the Blue Hope into the fly rotation – and, to jump to the punch line – the only grab of the day was on that fly – the slow pause on the deep swing.

I wade fished the run up top, below the bridge and did a pass through another piece of water and just could not get the fish to move.  I think there were fish in there, just too cold to excite them (though I don’t know who could resist pulsing yellow pheasant rump).  The water had a subtle green color, that gave just enough secrecy to the water to keep it interesting.  I ended up swinging a big piece of red meat (prawn) mid-afternoon thinking I could draw them from afar; shaking my head after each swing thinking it was nearly perfect.  Casting rhythm was good, lost track of time during each pass (lost in the swing), and generally fished everything well.  So maybe I did find the soul of this river today – passing along easily over the cobbles, happy in the doing, though craving just a bit more.

Amid bright sun and green water
Amid bright sun and green water

The Places They Go

Nobody heralded the arrival of winter this year.

Soon enough, days hang still

Here we are.

On the cusp, the trailing end of something.

Unannounced winter.

.

Leaden December sky,

Look west and see apricot sunshine

Spilling over everything.

Tell me your secrets here on the edge.

.

Tomorrow the children will gather here

The snow gone in the oak woodlands

In the valley, the first flower peeks skyward

The children gather up their dreams and desires

All through the green grass

They gather them up as fast as they can

For Winter lives here a while longer.

.

In the garden, a blue flower

Cobalt blue with a single black petal

Growing along the fence.

Do you remember?

.

Do you remember,

When we walked along the creek?

Finding that same flower, the single black petal

The children all grown up

Now eating chocolate,

Cobalt blue flower chocolate

While they live their dreams.

.

In the valley and through the oaks

We are still children

We gather up new dreams now

So that we might live them a little longer.

.

Recall a still December afternoon,

Leaden skies, painted apricot

There we found a piece of Springtime,

And gathered it up as carefully as we could

Packing it gently for the walk down the hill.