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January 24, 2008

January Snow


Brisk at daylight, snow down to 1,500 feet with nearly seven-tenths in the rain gauge, the cut-off low spinning off the coast of California for the past three days finally moved into the Sierras after soaking the San Joaquin Valley, raining strictly south to north. With most of the watershed white, Dry Creek maintains its minimal flow. More weather predicted as another low pressure system takes this one’s place on Friday, anticipated to spin off the coast, but perhaps attracting an onshore flow of southern moisture in the process. Sounds good for the grass here - cold flurries for Elko.

January 22, 2008


First the windmill, then the salt house
folded into the earth below the old road
that followed the creek around the hill.

Board pens gone for pipe corrals, I still
look off between calves stretched
for marking – to inhale the calm

across the canyon, mountain steep
clear into the sky. My years know now
how to welcome something

that can’t be seen – to breathe deeply,
thank God and build another loop
to hold the moment a little longer.

                                           for Jody

January 17, 2008

Anticipating Nine Lake Basin, 2006

© Matthew Rangel

Asking Favors

Will one of you go
pretty please with
sugar on top
in my absence
a total stranger will do
salute the water tower
in my full name

Call out boldly
challenge that proud crow
who claims the grass
beneath it as his own
and I will be forever in
your gracious debt

Do rant and rave and
shake your fists at demon trucks
which shatter the quiet
of the Pancake House
As a further favor to me
let the iris blue of Sycamore Street
turn your head
as it turned mine years ago

Above all things just anyone
walk the rose fence foursquare
around Tulare District Cemetery
if the sky is clear east
of St. John’s Church
yell my best regards to the Sierra

                         - Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel
                         from "A Prince Albert Wind"

Dear John

                          - for John Spivey

I think of you often
when I see our mountains
in crisp morning air
in golden afternoons’
last light, turning cold
when the sun goes

down behind your range
I wish

you were here to be
nurtured by the sight
as I am, could be here
to receive their praise,
bear witness to the love
in your heart. I think

of our other dear John
who lives up in their
crevices, marking his time
with words. I think of
dear Bill, who fishes
their granite pools, and Mike
who has hiked their spine
many times. I think

of the heart of my heart
who drew my eyes to knobs
and clefts, gave them names
and stories to match. I think

of all the love they’ve made
amongst our citizens, this county’s
generations of adventurers, pikes,
cowmen, fighters, ramblers, thieves
in their honor, bound
to their magnitude
and magnificence. But John

there’s something I need you
to know: there’s no
snow up there, John, not
one flake and here
it is December already and
any that’s fallen has
melted away, already sunk deep
in Terminus. You can see

every edge clear from here
at Mt. Whitney Mini-Storage, the tops
of trees sharp as teeth
on a handsaw’s blade, blues and grays
distinct, no mistaking
ground for sky. So John

tell all your friends who drink
the Sacramento to go
easy this year

we might have to share.

                          December 2, 2007


Homer’s Nose is glistening
in this December light
no powder to deflect
the early morning rays
glancing off its shiny tip
granite polished by years
of hanging out
in snow

and wind

which is quiet right now
leaving the sun’s heat
where it hits

the street trees’ leaves
concrete not in shadow
south-facing roofs of houses
the curtained windows
of Lindsay Gardens

where inside there are noses
on snowy heads
in need of the sun
and wind

fresh air
and a kiss.

                        -Trudy Wischemann


                        for Happy Jack & Fran

I visit the people-side
of Lake Kaweah
as summer evening shimmers
on blinding ribbons
to pink Sierra teeth
& find Happy Jack among
50 cheap shoreline seats
beside a planted pole,
his line bobbing
in ski boat wakes.

“Have a beer,”
& off we run to topics
calloused hands
will never change
as V-8 power
foams in play
ignored before us.

“You know,”
he pauses without focus,
“I could sit here for hours –
but without this fishing pole
people’d think
I was crazy.”

                        - John C. Dofflemyer
                        from "Cattails & other poems"

January 16, 2008

Paregien Ranch

As Robbin's photos show, branding conditions were less than ideal this morning. With five brandings slated this week among our neighbors, we're fortunate to have them help us get this job done.

At the foggy start:

Clarence Holdbrooks

Brent Huintington, Clarence Holdbrooks & Chad Lawerence

Kyle Loveall

Special to us all was to have Jeff and Allie McKee from the Santa Margerita Ranch help us today.

Jeff McKee

Allie & Virginia McKee

Allie McKee

As soon as the fog cleared, the Paregien Ranch felt magical again. Thanks so much for your help.

Kenny McKee, Virginia McKee, Frances Holdbrooks, Allie McKee, Jeanie Magan, Jeff McKee, Chad Lawerence, Kyle Loveall, Spencer Jensen, Brent Huntington, Tony Rabb, Tom Magan, John & Robbin (behind the camera)

January 5, 2008

'Monster Storm'

As the hype from the Weather Channel continues for California, we are grateful for 1.72 inches measured this morning, Dry Creek subsiding from its nighttime high flows. Though a muddy and frothy brown, it’s great to see it running again. We experienced minimal runoff here downstream, so it had to have rained hard in the upper reaches of the watershed. With snow levels high, perhaps the larger part of the 5 inches promised with two more days remaining of the forecast storm. Cattle scattered on the south slopes, sun trying to break through the clouds, a bountiful morning all around.

January 6, 2008: Though the storm hasn’t behaved as forecast, we accumulated another three-tenths overnight with very little run-off, most all soaked in.


If we truly knew
as much as we thought
we do,

we might
give-up thinking

January 1, 2008


Waking to listen for rain in the dark,
for even a whisper upon the metal roof –
straining to see what can’t be heard

is normal from October to April,
despite night forecasts and maps of
computer models in living color,

in every farm house beyond town
well-before the lights come on
like clockwork – like a religion

connecting pagan souls shivering
under bear hides, underground
and waiting for the perfect season.

The drought in 1976 and ‘77
thinned the cowherd to match
what little grass the hillsides had –

they licked the clay and lived on seeds
with whatever kind of hay we could find.
One after another, the warm rains came

all spring long, covered the slopes with
sheets of solid gold. Nora Montgomery
pushing 100, played with native children

somewhere near Pogue Canyon, said
she couldn’t remember another year
with so many California poppies.

Worst and best, back to back,
Ralph Merhten admonished my delight,
reminding strong feed can’t coexist

with wildflowers, that the business
boils down to pounds of flesh – yet
we still harbor wild dreams of color.

A beautiful day to begin the New Year, clear blue sky, snow upcanyon peeking over Dry Creek’s greening ridges from Redwood Mountain in the Sequoia National Forest – Rose Parade mumbling in the background – Pasadena exceptionally clear as California awaits a forecast 4-7 days of rain.

The opinions expressed in the Western Folklife Center's Deep West online journals are those of the online journal participants and not the Western Folklife Center. The Western Folklife Center does not moderate these journals and as such does not guarantee the veracity, reliability or completeness of any information provided in the journals or in any hyperlink appearing within them.

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