Summer Begins at Psikeep

Sun slipping below the hillside unravels
a timid breeze skidding down the slope to cool
a hot, stale afternoon.
On the rooftop of the barn
a raven tears out the heart of a ground squirrel
the story of my life unfolding…

This post is as rambling as a summer day and dedicated to the small things we step on, as we thoughtlessly plow our way toward those goals we consider of greater importance to us.

The long construction of the sister website,, set everything back at the Center for the Arts and Ranch. There were San Clemente goats to sell and brush to cut and all this before any artwork could take place.

Most of us regard wildflowers as a pretty thing along the roadside. We pass by quickly or surreptitiously stop and snatch a few flowers before the next car driving by catches us picking a bouquet that will never last. We try to grab the moment of all that splendor and end up with some withered stalks.

Monkey flower

Monkey flower

But, a battle rages in that field of flowers. For the flower is the end of life for that plant or that part of the plant. It is the culmination of a fierce race to propagate before it dies. The drought in California only intensifies this race. Each plant is throwing all it has into quick growth, flower and seed before the earth dries, cracks open yawing out a long summer of dust.


Elderberry blooming and berries setting

There were so many flowers blooming this spring in the race against time that one morning I had stop coding, take out my camera and collect some pictures of the flowers just outside the door and along the way to the orchard. At one point I was down on my knees, crawling through the under-brush so engrossed in photographing a tiny flower from the right angle that I tripped over a newborn fawn hiding there. Staring eye to eye for a fraction of moment we were both equally surprised. Then the fawn leaped up and ran to its mother before I had a chance to take a picture.

This year I was a little late with the weed eater. By the time I got to the orchard, it was overgrown with a waist-high plant that smelled faintly like anise.

weeds in the orchard

Weeds in the orchard between the apple trees

The seeds must have come in with the orchard grass and alfalfa, which I fed to the goats last winter. It got a good start with the manure and barn bedding I set out in the orchard. Rather than evasive it was a gift. It was easy to pull out and for a week I fed the goats on it. By the time I got in with the weed eater it was just beginning to flower.

unknown plant in the orchard.

A fennel like plant growing in the orchard

No, it was not wild fennel although I wish it had been. I use fennel in a lot of my cooking but this plant had a more wispy smell of anise. The leaf structure was different and it never produced the compound umbel flowers characteristic of wild fennel. If anyone can identify this plant, let me know.

So I found myself slaughtering thousands of little lives as I mowed down the waist-high brush to make ready for the fire season. I had to stop for a moment and reflect from the plants’ point of view just exactly what I was doing by cutting down the plants before the seed was formed. All that wasted growth broken and lying on the ground behind me while I walked away thinking how nice and clean the orchard looked.

It is all a matter of perspective and sometimes what link you are standing on in the food chain.


Posted on June 18, 2014, in Psi Keep Center for the Arts, Uncategorized, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. jordanlederer

    Poetic and philosophical…


  1. Pingback: More on the Drought | PsiKeep Venture

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