The Ranch That Soothes My Soul

“C’mon!” I call from up by the chicken coop, “Time for ‘the family parade!’” Ninety pounds of smiling dog muscle trots in my direction. Sweet gentle Meggie. With cheeks curled up at the corners and thick tail beating the air, she is ready to go. Moxie, her antithesis, two bold pounds of spotted Chihuahua, already wiggles at my feet.

“The family parade” is what I call our morning and evening walks around the property, a chance to stretch our legs and remember our good fortune for having such bountiful views in every direction. As we stroll,  our steps kick up dirt on the tractor road that cuts out to the canyon and wraps neatly back around to the house. I have just let the fowl out for a day of pecking and in the peachy glow rising off the horizon we can hear the young roosters hollering their cock-a-doodle-good-mornings to anyone who will listen.

This place, my father’s 16-acre ranch in the dry scrub-covered hills of Southern California just west of Palm Springs is, for me, a place of great peace. Of collecting my thoughts.  Of escaping the day-to-day bustle of the city. I am watching the property while Dad and Marie-Laure do some escaping of their own—a wedding anniversary trip to visit friends in the Pacific Northwest.

So for now it is me,



Minou the cat,

four French sheep,

several birds,   

And a whole lot of fresh air. Walking with the dogs settles my mind and binds me back to the earth, to the here-and-now. I relish their companionship. Indeed, they are essential to this heavenly sliver of life on the Banning Bench. But there is wildness here that simultaneously captures my heart. My eyes naturally scan for wildlife on the ranch, a shy coyote skimming a knoll or a hawk flushing prey from a stand of green bushes. As we reach the edge of the canyon   and pause to watch the valley below fill with golden light, I promise myself I will show you some of the ranch’s wildlife—the bears and bobcats and birds—I will show them to you in my next blog. Yes, a short photo essay from Dad and Marie-Laure’s extensive collection of images; that will be wonderful! They are great photographers and I know you’ll be pleased.

“Let’s go, guys,” I rally the dogs, who have wandered off into the grasses, bored with my reverence for the sunrise. They come quickly and we turn toward home. There are sheep to feed.

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