Late winter storms, Sierra Nevada--a poem



Mother’s Day, 2017.  On this day,

Mother Nature is no wallflower.  As

I drive past Donner Memorial State

Park, snow flurries speckle my

Windshield, a reminder of that

Winter here on hundred seventy

Years ago, when frozen travelers

Ate the flesh of their relatives to

Survive until Spring.  Winter and rural

America, both holding on tenaciously,

Furiously, but powerless to stop the


The little café in Sierraville,

Where I stop for lunch, is

Crowded, a family recounting the

Morning lessons from church, two

Old men cursing the cold, a

Huddle of skiers.  The waitress,

Young and lovely as the Girl from

Ipanema, ignores the ambient

Music—leftover Country, hanging on like

Winter.  Marty Robbins, Hank Williams,

Johnny Cash—El Paso, Cheatin’ Heart and

Folsom Prison.  The past lives on

Here, but for how long?  Sierraville

Edges a huge meadow, lush grasses

Every shade of green and dotted with

Yellow flowers, a painting waiting for a

Canvas.  Alongside this glorious

Swale, the highway is shoulderless,

Dangerous, a side path would offer its

Glories to pilgrims and cyclists.

With a bit of guaranteed income, some

Training in agriculture, and prices

Reflecting the true cost of food,

Young people might come here and

Rescue the future. 

Crossing Yuba Summit, the flurries

Come again.  Dirty ten-foot banks of

Snow line the roadbed.  Then, a

Flash of sun (!), the snowflakes

Landing like fireflies on my

Windshield, and, suddenly,

Stopping, patches of blue

Revealing the Sierra Buttes.

Ten minutes later, in

Downieville, it is warm

Again, and Spring is