August Burn Notice
The Klamath Basin pale pink morning air
Holds a chill as the sun warms
The night-settled Smoky haze
From the fires north of Medford
And south in the Siskiyou Mountains.
Rain comes variably to the ground
Lately, on rare afternoons. Lightning
Strikes air to ground, ground to air
And fires start small, most die out.
Others become unmanageable unless Nature
Intercedes and makes heroes and heroines
Of the Hot Shots dodging death flares along the lines.
Our morning stroll in the vacant acres
Alongside the Fred Myers Big Box
Spread Tess out as she adorns herself
In the grasses and alfalfa someone bales
Not more than once a season without irrigation.
There is a crisscross of walking paths I tend
Keeping the seeds out of my shoes and socks.
Doves are flying up in front of Tess.
They have decided it’s time to congregate.
I wonder if they leave here? Probably.
Locals tell me the snow “tends to stick” here.
Luckily they don’t have far to move
Compared to their Minnesota cousins.
We’ll see. For now the 30 days and nights
Of August, plus one, burn with the last spears of summer
Sun thrusting its more angular rays at us.
I begin the recycling of my seasonal wanderlust.
Thoughts turn toward “the chase” as Fall sneaks in.
I recall olden days in the high desert sage and red rock
Shaggy ridges, 10,000- footers like Steens
With it’s near surface water and aspens finch yellow
Bathing the eye--some relief from the somber dusty gray-greens,
Browns and tans hiding the quail and chukars of my Paleo-mind.
This Basin is new to me. I feel it, a stranger for now.
I watch it carefully as anyone new to place ought to.
There are signs of companionship from these hills
Leaning in toward us at holding the haze.
The Cascades are only 40 miles to ridgeline
Then north and skyward looms 9000 foot-plus, McLaughlin Peak.
And south the double-coned Shasta stays snow-clad,
Visible to me when I wander toward it and out of town.
The village mood is more like that of a colonial time here.
Hamilton was moody in its discontent with itself.
I’m gladdened by the energy of Oregonians,
Headin’ to the hills one way or another.
My mind engages in the music, writings and searches here.
Tess feels the ‘dog days’ burn of July and August more than I do.
She too anticipates that expected pleasure
Fall brings in it’s shedding of annual growth, changing hues--
Its molting. Yes, a new fur is energizing isn’t it Tess?
‘Off with the old on with the new’.
We should shoulder a pack soon and try for some brookies
Over near Bly or Paisley. The map shows rivers unknown to us
There. Let’s wait for the next frost and the dampening of these fires
Head out and get lost, a man and his dog.
Let’s ignite some envy.
The ash settles each night on my car.
Our morning walks start a bit later each day
As the sun takes a moment or two longer to bare down on us.
We should find a hillside trail nearby and gain some altitude.
I’m sure it’ll pay in the long run and maybe just in time
To work our way into the Trout Creek Mountains southwest of here.
But first things first, Tess.
First things first. We need to burn off August slash.
Sit on the porch at sundown.
Watch the red sky burn through the neighborhood trees
Until leaves are dried and brown and down.
That’s when we’ll be up to no good.
Then, we’ll go and go until winter settles into the Basin
And we can become lap dogs again.