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Jennifer O'Neill Pickering

Jennifer O'Neill Pickering
There are no differences between endings and beginnings.

Jennifer O’Neill Pickeringis a local writer and artist who has participated in the Cache Creek Writer’s Workshops at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve facilitated by Andrea Ross and then Rae Gouriand.





Could you start by telling me your relationship to this place?

Several years ago, I started attending the Cache Creek Writer’s Workshops at the preserve. I am primarily a poet and artist, but am now also write fiction.

Why is this place important?

I grew-up in the country and left for the city and never returned. Coming to the area is like coming home for awhile. The Cache Creek Nature Preserve preserves the history of the area. It is my understanding the land of the preserve has had many uses by the Native Americans and settlers. There was a reconstruction of a granary from native materials and the barn is beautiful structure used in a farm. Then gravel was extracted from the area. The riparian habitat is being restored with native plants: deer grass, red bud and the animals have returned: bobcat, rattlesnake, rabbit, deer, and humming birds and hawks to name a few.  Many people have not experienced the countryside and have no idea what that experience is. The Preserve is very special way of sharing threads of the past and the natural world with the community. It is a testimony for restoration and has many educational uses.

What impact has this preserve had on you personally if any?

The preserve has been an inspiration for my writing. I have been inspired to write books of  poems from here. This place has been a big part of my life; I’ve spent many hours here in the workshops. Many times I would simply sit and listen  and observe nature. This  is magic. I’ve incorporated many of the scientific terms learned in workshops into my poems. One poem written at the preserve, I Am the Creek was selected for the  sculpture, Open Circle, in Sacramento. I also co-edited an anthology of poems written by poets in one of the early workshops. The anthology, Walking and Writing the Creek, is archived at the California State Library.

On that note, I would like to invite you to read the poem that you brought today.




I asked the sky if it defined

the boundary of the barn.

Sky replied, "Trust what is seen,

answer all else with faith."


The barn said, “I sit on the earth,

a shelter made from the limbs of a sister oak, older than I and who once held up the sky."


The spirit of the sister oak said to

 the barn, “The sky was never a burden

even resting on my shoulders.”


Her son called to the passing squirrel,

“I welcome you across my threshold

as friends do strangers, mothers their children.” The squirrel thanked Father Lightning for opening a door .


A hawk flying by called down,

“If you agree there are no differences

between endings and beginnings,

no boundary will define you.”


Then the wind came up, whispering,

“Listen to your breathing.”

In each breath reside all answers.”


Very well said. Are there any other thoughts or feelings that you would like to share right now with potential listeners?

I encourage you to come out here but also to support the Cache Creek Nature Preserve. It’s very important to have green space that people can come to enjoy and to have a space utilized as a source of inspiration for writing and educating our children and new generations to come.


Written by: 
Louis Perez

To download the audio, right click on the audio link above and scroll to "Save link as . . ." and choose the directory where you want to store the mp3. In Windows, you may have to use Control + S to select the link.