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Little Washoe Sonnets


The memory of Little Washoe lake,

the Northern Lake separated by marsh

where Washoe people lived through winter's harsh,

when wind would blow everything it could take.

To weave old baskets from the tall cattails

who separate the little from the big,

a Sacramento Perch with the right rig.

To even be one of Mark Twains lost tales.

As many days as possible we swim

in hidden beach with bench and trees for shade

a quite place where all my children play

and sometimes a large bass or carp would rim

where you would float on raft of sticks, homemade.

Every time we left we wanted to stay.

A time when Washoe waters twelve feet deep

to fill in with thick layer mud from slide

where Channel Catfish feed in mud and glide,

where Washoe baskets lie under the steep.

The Washoe wind rolls up tin sheets like foil,

an extra push to ancient lumber load

once used to build away the Comstock Lode.

Now farmers till large swaths of Washoe soil.

I watch as wind brings waves over our heads

to know your safe by loud ringing laughter,

you splash, you dive with each new crest of wave.

Then dry on beach with towel for our beds.

We eat our lunch to go for swim after,

these youthful moments, three children will save.

The West may hold a slid Sierra peak,

the east the desert Washoe Mountain Range.

Though pine trails differ, Washoe stays the same,

except the wildlife found near desert creek.

To see from mountains peak the two lake shore

and trek through sage onto a calming beach

to know a peaceful soak is in ones reach

a place described within Washoe tribe lore.

Where Sam would run ahead to conquer rocks,

and Hannah points to each colored petal,

Elias builds up the world with his stones.

To head back down to Washoe lakes few docks,

to rest our worn feet where waters settle,

to watch the sun set while soaking our bones.

Along with brother, sister lake comes forth,

a gift of knowing a valley so well

and even though our home is up to sell

our years here became a part of lake myth.

A story told along with tribal tales

or mining conquests up the Gieger Grade,

our own histories dyed deep will never fade

or blow away with Washoe valley gales.

How even in the drought we swam the lake

when bottom lake weed floated to the top,

a pile on shore that grew with each new swell.

Yet through the muck my children could not fake

the fun they had in tossing up the slop,

a part of them as far as I could tell.

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