William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘The San Joaquin Valley’

Isn’t Is

Hot days and warm nights. But it’s all relative. We used to call these temperatures cool in the San Joaquin Valley. Still, one hundred is one hundred, and seventy is seventy — just as my name is what’s stated on my birth certificate, and on all of my other “important papers,” the electronic ones included. In other words, it is, and it isn’t. Or, to frame it as a question: […]

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That Which Survives

Dragonfly season here is a show of grace; color; delicacy. The insects rise and pause and land with an ethereal weightlessness we don’t associate with the much larger dragonflies of our youth in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where they stood on air and rumbled about in our classrooms at school, entering and leaving freely through the open doors and unscreened windows. During the warm months, which seemed to last most […]

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A Letter to the Girls

The great naturalist, Edward O. Wilson, has died. But the world has not lost him, as the common phrase goes. He lives on his books, in his colleagues, and in the countless people he has influenced and taught. He lives on in the environment and ecosystems he helped and is still helping to save. It is not necessary to meet and know someone personally to benefit from his or her […]

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A Letter to the Boys

Yesterday afternoon I cleared the driveway of snow with one of the old manure shovels my father and grandfather used on the farm during the Great Depression and after the Second World War, and which we continued to use in later years, and which now reside, along with several other tools from that earlier time, in an old barrel in the little shed behind the house. While I was out, […]

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Proud Old Men In a Row

More snow during the night — about an inch, maybe a little less. Thirty degrees on the front step; barefoot down to the end of the driveway, and then back up, possibly a little colder. Still, relatively speaking, the weather is mild. Real cold — Solzhenitsyn’s cold and Jack London’s cold — is not a joke. It is not to be trifled with. It’s easy to walk barefoot outside for […]

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Nothing Like Love

I first clicked “like” in 2010. I have no idea how many times I have clicked it since then, but it surely numbers in the thousands. When we lived on the farm, I clicked “like” in another way — with a pair of sturdy wooden-handled pruning shears. I clicked my way through the damp, foggy winters, up and down rows of vines and trees. Those clicks may well have numbered […]

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Tenacious Fuzz

Out already for half an hour or so, the first person we met in the canyon early yesterday morning was a man we saw several days ago on the Perimeter Trail. Quiet, friendly, and about our age, he told us he retired last year, and that he hikes in the area about four times a week. With the stream rushing and the maples yellowing in the moss-moldy atmosphere recharged by […]

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Dry as Dust

A short dream: Without questioning its odd location, I realize that the bookshelf outside on our front step would be more useful inside. There are only a few books on it, while in the house there are enough scattered and stacked about to fill it and more. What strikes me most, though, is the near absence of dust. Why is there so much more dust on the other shelves inside, […]

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Apricots, Finches, Plums

Found early this morning, fallen from the tree: a very ripe, very sweet apricot — I know, because I ate it right after washing off the ants. The house finches prefer drinking from the shallow glass water dish that we have hanging from the fig tree. The main birdbath, it seems, is a little too large and too busy for them. After watering the barrels, planters, and pots behind the […]

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Cross My Heart

One hundred thirteen degrees. Yesterday afternoon, in the grass behind the house, we set a little sprinkler for the birds. It made a shallow lake in the shade. And out they came from the bushes, and down from the trees, children of the leaves. The tomatoes and peppers did not mind the heat. We protected the cucumbers with a sheet. We will again today. At four this morning it was […]

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