Guardians

Mishewah Wappo descendent Alyx Howell said that his people call poison oak “guardian oak” and, as a result, have a better relationship with the plant. When you call it guardian oak, you are less likely to get an itchy rash. Alyx knows stories about the oaks that I have not heard from any other source. … Read more »

A Fantistical Opossum Story

The story starts with taking out the trash about 8:15 pm Wednesday, an unusual thing for me to do. In fact, when have I taken out the trash in the evening? It involves driving the 3/4 mile driveway to the trash cans at Dry Creek Road, and who in their right mind would do that… Read more »

Go-Bags and Exit Plans: Navigating the New Normal

The ranch is fresh green, the Mexican daisies and Spanish lavender in full bloom, and the birds courting. We’ve had a fraction of our average seasonal rainfall. I find it harder to enjoy the brilliance of April, one of the most verdant months here. The valley oak leaves are large and still that first green-gold…. Read more »

Returned from the Forest

Recently she reappeared, this figure the height of my grandson who stands solid and white on the western-most reach of our 100-foot defensible space about our home. She was given to us by Donald’s youngest daughter, Genevieve, a gifted ceramicist, when she moved from her Sonoma home to a smaller space. I have always liked… Read more »

Lineage of the Christmas Stocking

My cousin, about the age of my mother, knitted the stockings for my younger sister Judy and me when we were very young, and I have knitted the same pattern stocking for each of my children, their wives, and their children. When my daughter-in-law Melissa, Grace’s aunt, reminded me that it was time to start… Read more »

Wind–and Fire

This latest round of fires began in the early hours Sunday. I wrote this that morning before the flames would spread over the mountains east and west. As I write, we are notified yet another red flag warning may be issued tomorrow.  We are all on alert. Yes, this is climate change, California style. It… Read more »

Chaos

I like to think I have a lot of tolerance for chaos, but in this time of wildfire, pandemic, and political maelstrom, I’m being tested. Here we are, “we” being my family, sequestering in place together, and holding a pretty strict protocol. We have had very little direct outside contact for eight months now. Groceries… Read more »

Art and Land-Use

Casey and I ran across the stone one late autumn day in 2016 as we were hiking the trails of Austin Park in Napa. We stopped in surprise, examining a   haiku pasted to its side. “grass greens bright/long slow drizzle/ flowers prepare to POP”.  We photographed the stone and continued down the trail. Just… Read more »