Sunday, February 27, 2011


soft nacre spills over the mountain
the snow is coming, the snow is coming
knives of ice cascade along the roofline
the ice is coming, the ice is coming
deer and birds hunker up to the house
the wind is coming, the wind is coming
the grocery shelves are scant today
a storm is coming, a storm is coming

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zero haiku

hovering above zero
Canada geese flap
at the right-left bend in the river

Friday, February 25, 2011

afternoon dreams, with fever

that apartment, all brick and lofted to the tip
of the roof
that motorcycle (ride softly and carry
a big key)
that horse in a trailer, impatient for hay and
a bucking run
that water making an island of the expensive
the landlady decked at last in blue chiffon and
butterfly embroidery
wake up, wake up, wake up - to put out  a fire
while asleep (hurts)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

as forecast 2/23

as forecast at half past ice
chill and smoke and mystery
melting together

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Attention to detail

winter hunger rides roughshod down the draw

empty tank, empty barn,empty bellies and
keen awareness of the second coming of
the hay truck, and there by the oat barrel

quails mark time, track after track after track

The home fires

 it happens this way

February the home fires burn
sometimes more than

the fire department volunteers
grab their turn out and
turn out

for another winter home fire
smoke sprouts from
the valley floor

tomorrow, cans with names
scribbled will say

your friends your neighbors
lost everything but the

the kid who works at the grocery
will gather emergency

the paper will declare the losses
the neighbors will make up
what happened

it happens that way

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Half Sonnet for a Freak Snow Storm

 half sonnet for a freak snowstorm

ice crystals decorate black pants over heavy boots

so many inches of new conveys bragging rights when

the rest of the country has respite. two horses stand

coated with the real stuff on ears, neck, back and tail.

just another county spring or this could be summer -

or who knows, perhaps another epic winter. glove up:

here is your challenge - love what comes when it comes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aseasonal Wallowa Wanders . . .

Aseasonal Wallowa wanders...

A short check during a moment of sun,
..this warm weather in deep mid-winter,
....has many species confused.

There are no bluebirds evident front of this front, gleaning and moving,
....just a prairie falcon and harrier.

Bird predating raptors watching,
..where sharptails and partridges gather,
....and meadowlarks hide in holes.

Flocks of robins are gathering,
..where junipers offer both cover
....and a reliable resource of berries.

Starlings, that ever reliable and adaptable
..beastie, is pairing off and exploring
....every hole that could become a nest.

Folks with greenhouses are dancing
..with glee, first seedings of greens
....are already harvestable size.

--r.anderson 15Feb2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wallowa Windiness . . .

Wallowa windiness . . .

Gusty zephyrs whip by
...and a gutsy sharp-shinned hawk
.....has nailed juncoes on my window,
taking advantage of everything
...moving, she is getting close
.....enough to procure a meal.

r.anderson 14Feb2011

Gusts to 62, 2/14

gusts to 62, 2/14

no matter how well sealed away
some winds creep in
up around under through

watch the curtains quiver
feel the unconditioned air
so uncivilized, so free

everything the neighbors own
comes by for a visit and there are
a few missing pieces here or somewhere

even when what whips
down the canyon softens, the chimes
continue to sing “stay in, stay warm”

nice advice, and some
I will follow, some I won't
risk is sweet like that, so is adventure

even the light fractures in
the wind, and the roadway cautions
“something could fall at any time”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We Could Send 'Em to Wallowa: A Response

We Could Send 'Em to Wallowa: A Response

Hah... everybody knows
.. the big draw in this valley
.... is the artsi-fartsi village
...... at the end of the road...

Replete with all the accomodations
.. breweries, distilleries, soon a winery,
.... lots of artsi-fartsi galleries,
...... no end of devices to fleece the pilgrims

Crank out that pony dray,
.. dust off your footman,
.... hang a shingle 'round yer neck
...... and jingle those coins!!

Instead of re-enacting a shoot-out
.. at the old bank of "Dewey, Cheatem and Howe"
.... you could rent out soap-boxes
...... to shirtless cowboy poets...


Sharing with Brother Bear . . .

Sharing with Brother Bear . . .

For many years, I met dawn,
.. deep in old-growth timber stands,
.... part of a dawn-chorus survey effort
...... recording bird species and numbers,
........ when they are most consistently vocal.

There is a particular old-growth stand,
.. in the far northwest corner of Wallowa country,
.... mature white fir on deep soil and a steep slope,
...... where each step down slides long,
........ and it takes six steps to crawl back up.

Several years in a row I could count
.. on meeting a big old boar black bear here.
.... Occasionally he would be mumbling up the trail
...... as I stumbled down, until I spoke to announce
....... my presence where he least expected it.

Whenever this happened, Brother Bear
.. usually became airborne as he sailed off the hill
.... and I listened intently as he caromed off trees
...... and logs laying waste to herbs and shrubs
........ as he got out of the way.

I still remember with amazement Bear's progress,
.. and the trepidation I felt as I set forth to follow,
.... hopefully with some fewer ricochets,
...... dawdling noisily to allow bear time
....... to get out of my way.

Invariably, sir Bear would be fetched up
.. down below, under a log pile... right where
.... I had to crawl over, under and around,
...... to get to my pre-assigned listening points.
........ Surely, knee-knocking experience for us both.

Sadly, as I read the project's final report,
.. there is nothing of the excitement I met
.... on those often cold and damp mornings,
...... meeting and crawling and praying a bit,
........ in a steep slimy thicket, with Brother Bear.

--r.anderson 13Feb2011

Dumb as Mud (Second Fake Spring Day)

dumb as mud
(second fake spring day)

dumb as mud, puddles stand
dumb as posts, except – the
splash, the squish, the runnels

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Forester's Wildlife . . .

A forester's wildlife . . .

Back in the good old days,
.. when the forest service had not yet recognized
.... that "birds that live in holes in dead trees,
.... and eat bugs that defoliate their trees..."
I had as many as five thousand boxes in trees.

Ahhh such fond memories...
.. of sawdust and building parties and donated lumber,
.... and climbing parties, hugging trees with my knees,
...... and that trembling thrill of trying to tie in.
I really didn't worry about big birds in my tree.

Then, of course the learning,
.. of who was using my boxes and platforms,
.... with lots more climbing and snooping,
...... and puzzling out the sign, often in layers.
Occasionally there were even occupants, at home.

Great gray owls on open platforms,
.. ravens in a big box, chipmunks and squirrels,
.... bluebirds, flickers, kestrels and even small owls,
.... here a weasel caught a chipmunk that ate the bluebird.
Once... I even found a couple of dried truffles buried in a nest.

There were a few surprises . . .
.. the hives of bees were good for adrenaline,
.... the bumble bees deep in a flying squirrel nest, buzzing,
...... or a box full of furry voles with seven saw-whet owlets.
The porcupine on a platform had been sleeping soundly.

Have you ever met baby red squirrels face to face?
.. First time out of their box, hanging on my nose
.... or plopped on top of my head, they pause gathering their game,
..... then empty their bladders as they take the air.
The feel of trembling warm toes is a gift as the trickle runs down.

Hopefully, now, foresters and land managers
.. are knowledgeable and wise in their choices,
.... allowing dead trees are integral to the forest,
...... and the associated wildlife does more service than harm.
Driving the managed forests I find myself automatically counting snags.

--r.anderson 13Feb2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wallowa Country's Flying Cigars

Wallowa country's flying cigars . . .

Nearly the last to arrive
.. and among the earliest to leave,
.... the swifts of Wallowa country
..... are barrometers of the aerial insect bloom.

Vaux's swifts are the once ubiquitous,
.. diurnal, aerial insectivores
.... of Wallowa country forests
...... and the seasonal "chimney swift" of the valley.

Great swirls appear in mid May,
.. in Wallowa and LaGrande,
.... eventually disbursing to the forests
..... to find their own hollow trees to nest in.

It is amazing to watch the vertical
.. swirling flight of roosting flocks
.... enter and leave a chimney
..... and consider they are flying straight up and down.

I have watched a Vaux's swift
.. flying at high speed, directly
.... into an old pileated woodpecker hole
...... knowing he has to make a right angle turn, to fly down.

White-throated swifts do the same
.. in the hard and rocky canyons
.... at much lower elevation...
...... entering little holes in basalt at high speed.

Black swifts are much more scarce
.. and have their own peculiar niche
.... nesting behind vertical falling water
....... which is a rare enough commodity.

Once, after struggling to the top
.. of Twin Peaks, I was nearly peeled
... from that precarious summit,
...... by a close pass of hyper-speed black swifts.

The last several years, I have played host
.. to a nesting pair of Vaux's swifts,
.... in an un-used chimney at home,
...... perhaps harbingers of luck like Europe's storks.

--r.anderson 12Feb2011

Soft Spot in the Road (Directions in the Manual)

soft spot in the road
(directions in the manual)

rock gently back and forth
from the mucky stuck spot
to get yourself on
to the desired future.
it is easy enough.
let the movements
dissolve each other
like dust on ice - go
with the flow
one after another,
repeating after me:
what it would be,
what it could be:
and once askew -
forward motion appears
on the horizon, something
happens, and then
all that mud
in the rearview at last

Minam Canyon redux

Minam Canyon redux

the steelheaders are back
and so are the fish
they say

grazing granola bars on the river rocks
ice milt in the melt
cast your line

try your luck, hook your dinner
or maybe just another
fish tale

the mergansers won’t tell

KB, 2/2011