Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Fall Day at Quail Meadows

I wake when the sky begins to lighten. Stars mingle with the earliest sky of blue gray light. I watch out my bedroom window, thinking perhaps I will fall asleep once again. But fall means such bounty I simply must rise. Coffee. Three pages of writing. Laundry begun ( I adore clean line dried sheets! oh heaven you are found in laundry! who knew!). A phone call requiring the utmost presence. Then: out to the day!  A day which begins with pink. purple, gray and white puff ball clouds streaming from the southern dawn. Greeting the chickens who are happy to eat fallen apples, the migrating bird-pecked peaches and simultaneously mow the grass beneath the trees. Such virtuous weed whackers, these ladies. What is the most urgent today? Mugwort! Grapes! Peaches! Pears! I keep moving and carefully harvest each one in their turn. After greeting the goats.

Six of these endearing creatures live with on this ranch. They work for a living. Yes, they do. Three years ago there were three serious fires each within three miles of my home. So serious were these fires that crews came to each of the ranches on the road and helped to clear away or suggested where to clear the fire dangers. In my case a somber tall close-shaven man stood for many minutes looking in to the willow, blackberry and horsetail thicket ringing the barn, workshop and garden. He stood looking in to this massive growth and spoke a truth I had felt for a long time. "This is your greatest fire danger, here." His crew, waiting for release into working the fiercest blaze, never made it to my home to help clear as they had with other neighbors on this nine mile long dirt road. But the message remained clear to me. These six goats are now nearly completed with removing extra growth from one half of the thicket identified three years ago. I am greatly pleased that I have found a gentle way to accomplish this work.

I manage to harvest all fruits on my list and run another round of laundry. The sky smells lightly of smoke. A smell I have not had since those fires three years ago. It is a deep awareness we live with out here in the middle of the dry summer forest: fire. There was a small fire south of me sending gray plumes up into the sky yesterday as I traveled home from a long day away helping a dear friend. Three years ago the only way I could handle the tension of impending immolation was to create wood burned sculptures. I returned to the last of those sculptures waiting to be finished and have been working it for two days. Now, hang the last load of laundry and hope the heat of a summer given way to fall will offer enough to dry my comforters. Oh bliss! To climb into bed at the end of a long day of work, freshly washed sheets and me!

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