The Fourth of March

3-1-10 Fairy Bells: yet another lily on the Miwok Trail in Franks Valley

The Fourth of March

Just an ordinary day, the milkmaids
holding up their blank white signs
(they’re in full support of Spring),
the trilliums half open, barely pink enough
to tease: a California day that begs
apology to rubber-booted mittened souls
inhabiting the more refrigerated states.

I head up grinning toward the woods
thinking cold air, warm sun, hearing
all three noisy clans of tipsy nuthatch,
beenters, tootlers and yankers,
and two sex-crazed ravens’ firtop mumble.

There’s sun all right, but better bet on rain:
the lichen and the moss, the coral fungi,
those spit-shined, shocking-orange toadstools
look about as happy as cryptogams can be.

I put my ear against a wood-rat’s
twiggy palace just to hear him gnawing.

Each and every spilling creek acts about
half-drunk. Buckeyes wave hands stuffed full
of leaves, salads stolen from a three-fork diner.

Right here, shameless on the mudded track,
I find a scrape. I sniff and stand and brush
my knees: Bobcat! (And I bet he’s up there
lying along one of those meadows
spilled over the ridge, eyes blinked
almost shut, one paw curled under.)

So, what the hell.

I perch myself in a little tree-walled bald
grown up to rock and manzanita
and give up all control to sun and spring.

I let the sunshine tickle with her tongue
that place between my shoulder blades,
I suck the syrup from a little manzanita
bell and commence to contemplate my life,
my half-laced boots clunked upon a rock.

I contemplate. I suck. And then, by God,
I spare the time I need to suck another.



  1. slpmartin said,

    March 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I never thought I’d like living in SoCal…but as I talk with friends back east…I like you must grin and talk a walk to photograph the wildflowers that have bloomed….enjyoued your poem.

    • billnoble said,

      March 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Yeah, it would certainly be possible to work up a pretty good batch of guilt for all our eastern and northern friends and family. But then, we don’t get to have snowball fights or icicle duels. 🙂

  2. Irene Brady said,

    March 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Bah! Fie on you Californiers!

    Well, at least I DID find a buttercup today, dazzling waxy yellow, tucked beneath a windfall ponderosa thrown across the deer trail in my wet, snow spattered manzanitas. And shooting star leaves plat the ground solid in sheltered spots…..soon, spring, soon!

    • billnoble said,

      March 4, 2010 at 7:19 pm

      There have been many days on our endless rainy winter when I would have traded for the first buttercup and the snow spatters! 🙂

      But tomorrow at 5 am, Brendan and I leave for the peak of bloom in a fifty-year spring at Anza-Borrego! I fully intend to make you green with envy!



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