All these days start with hope,
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
Rain is forgotten,
In the wretched gossip,
That orchards will tell.
When the gentle boils of this big river
Still breathe steady,
The scope of years, lives and old people:
No matter how unreal,
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,
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
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.