How Clouds were Invented

Clouds have long inspired a lot of fantasy, and though I’ve enjoyed many a day of lying around imagining what I saw in the clouds–creatures and inventions of all sorts–I’m quite certain I’m far from alone in entertaining myself with this pastime. A frequent identification of clouds by a great many of us aficionados, too, is the spotting of sheep among them. Whitish, puffy and fluffy, sometimes seen in herd-like groups and sometimes seeming to wander aimlessly, clouds and sheep both inspire a bit of dreamy invention in me.

Contemplating the possible relationships between them is just as delightful to me as noticing their simple visual resemblance. My current dream is that once-upon-a-time, there was a gentle old wizard meditating in a meadow, and he found that despite his lovely surroundings and his peaceable and contemplative nature he couldn’t quite get to the point of having the restful nap he so desired. Couldn’t, that is, until he conjured some of the nearby sheep to float around him like sweet woolly zeppelins, whereupon he closed his eyes in quiet ecstasy and drifted off himself into ethereal sleep.digital illustrationSilly, I know (and potentially having some logistical issues attached), but I find the image somewhat comfy myself. Since it’s nearing 3 a.m. as I write this, I do believe it’s a fine time to test whether simply savoring the image might not get me appropriately sleepy. I’ll get back to you on that. Eventually. Though I might be just a little woolly-headed on my return.

Animal Crossings

I know not what the relevance

Of tortoises and elephants

And tapirs, panthers, malamutes

And goats in my dreams constitutes—

I only know that when I sleep,

This is the zoo I tend to keep,

And if it lends to such pursuits,

It may include a thousand sheep.

Rancho Romantico

digital painting from a photoIn a Sentimental Mooed

Oh, pretty little heifer cow, I think you’re cute but know not how

Appreciation paid in full to such sweet charm could seem but dull

Poor compensation for my plain bland bullishness; am I a drain

Upon your dewy calf-eyed ways; am I so silly in my craze

For you, adorable and fine, that I’m a fool to wish you mine?

Nay, let us frolic and cavort and caper ’round for joy and sport,

Let us delight in being calves and neither shrink from fun by halves

Nor ever find we’re short of hay in pasture, or get sent away,

Or be penned up, for these things, too, would make a poor calf cry Moo Hoo!

No tragedy besmirch our wooing and leave us sadly this way mooing;

Let us, instead, just take a vow to stay together, bull and cow.

Another Pastorale

Yesterday after running errands, we were reluctant to head directly home and do serious Work on a sunny Saturday afternoon, so first we took a couple of brief driving detours into the surrounding ranch-lands and enjoyed a uniquely lush and verdant north Texas spring outing, luxuriating in the marvels of denser woodlands, fuller runoff creeks and richer grasslands than we’ve yet seen since moving down here. Needless to say, we are reveling in the wealth of meadow and pastureland in the surrounding counties, as are all of the horse and cattle herds that didn’t get sold off or butchered outright to evade starvation and thirst in last year’s drought. It’s a beautiful prospect, this well-watered magic we have right now, and inspires the poetic in one’s spirit no matter how it defies other work.mixed media + text

Spring Pastures

Far back among the rolling hills, Where prairie grasses sweep and bow

And the sweet wildflower spills Pour down the slope, the Angus cow

Set farthest back along the line Draws up her calf to join the herd,

Slow-swaying, toward a stand of pine; The rancher there, without a word,

Appears to bring an evening feed, And all the cattle on the clock

That balances content with need, Some time before, began this walk . . .

The faintest glint of sidelong rays Begins to tint the brush with gold

The way late Spring colors her days, As if instead of growing old

She’s only burnishing her tone The more to show her graciousness,

Inviting birds that fly alone To join a choir whose notes confess

A radiant love of living things, Of all that’s sweet and warm and new,

Of leggy calves, of seed that brings That grass now banking up the slough . . .

The cattle walk, now, in their line, Their black flanks shaded in the dusk

With blue-tinged shadows, as a fine Light scent arises like a musk

From all their footsteps tapped in clay, Veils of the thinnest dust laid low

Between the sorghum rows’ array And that tall hayfield yet to mow,

And not one calf among them all Drifts off the center of the trail,

Because they sense their supper-call As sure as seasons never fail . . .