Central Valley River

All these days start with hope,

Optimism,

And some serpentine skepticism

That stays put

While the water lies flat and glassy.

.

This valley fog,

Soured and pressing,

will harken feelings of home,

Summoning some seasonal, familial promise.

.

This is a cold morning:

River hosting winter,

Almost a thing of the past,

On the shortest day of the year,

Defining the deepest place of then,

Like the hottest sequestered August afternoon:

When, as kids,

We were shut in,

And left wanting for a calling evening breeze

Never to come.

Or, now, just a brief parting sky:

A blue never seen.

.

This is the Great Valley: Tethered in the cliche

Of fog

And heat.

.

In both:

Rain is forgotten,

In the wretched gossip,

That orchards will tell.

.

But here,

When the gentle boils of this big river

Still breathe steady,

The scope of years, lives and old people:

No matter how unreal,

Or long,

Turns, now, slowly into view.

They lived this,

And danced to the sound.

.

Hunker down, into this patient water,

Fish, sands and winter bugs still crawl.

Feel this breeze:

What should be gentle and pleasant,

Is biting,

Up along the fetch of a journey,

That is not ours,

But must be.

This chill is almost enough,

We should turn away.

.

Ultimately, though, this grey sky grabs me

Takes me,

Stretches me,

Into the fading call,

Of a day that just got started.

.

Postnote: this could be the San Joaquin, the Merced, the Tuolomne, the Mokelumne, the Feather, the Sacramento, or a whole host of small streams that drain the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. All these rivers regain their magic during magnificent California winters and were once home to people that lived in a truly splendid place now fading into a soon-to-be-forgotten glorious past.

Home is where the water runs from the hills.

New climates and old winter base flows

Gosh,

How the hydrology seeps back out of our bones,

Pouring across landscapes gone silent,

And waiting.

.

This is the way way it used to be,

Like some song playing in the corner juke,

When bars crowded early

And left well before closing.

.

This storm won’t give you resolution

Not yet,

Years will go by

Until the sun sets on a foggy bottom land

In the stalest of latest possible summers

When water is again a pastime,

As the next wind blows:

Turning heads, and raising the mutterings

Of those who still live out there.

Celebrating the 4th Rain

Like old days come to visit again,

Now the dampness will live here,

For a good long while, Defining

Hopefully

This place and this time.

Soon, the waves of hungry cold

Will take the leaves,

Peaches, pears, finally the apples.

Always the last apple.

.

Released, now

To a brief ease of playing in a fickle sun

Soon covered by the gauze of quick rains.

Rains that sneak through,

Leaving grand dripping choirs

And the late night sounds of wet soil.

.

The day opens to waters passing,

And the joy of new light.

West Coast Therapy Sessions

Remember the winter that barely passed a month?

And then came the sun.

Yes, still cool enough

To host lingering frosty mornings.

Until the heat came,

And February anniversaries

Were forever changed.

On that exact day thirty years prior

Snow, days of snow

Then ten days of ice five years later

Frozen,

With the surprise light dusting

Of sea level snow for a casual two year memory.

.

And then the rains would come again.

Now,

I tenuously hold on to a line in an article

Discussing the human experience

Of a changing climate:

There will still be good days.

Fractal Gardening

Obviously the pattern plays out a bit

Random at first glance.

Time worked into the edges,

And the small becomes large,

And the oldest wood grain

Of a leaning fence post stands tall.

.

A hundred little emergencies scatter out front

Swirling amongst the thousand arms of possibilities.

The intricacies of pattern,

The frustrations of patches.

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,

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.