Every evening that I gather eggs,
shepherd in the guineas,
feed and water
the alpacas, goats, guineas, chickens, rabbits,
the cat,
I talk to the barn community
as I close the last gates:
“Thanks for the eggs.
Look out for each other.
Be nice to each other.
Take care of each other.
Have a good night.
Sleep well.”
I don’t know when I started this.
It’s as natural now
as every other part of the nightly
routine.
But I’ve noticed lately
that I really do care about them;
that I do feel part of their community;
that they are so used to me,
they come running when they see me
and it’s time to be fed,
and they ignore me as I walk close to them
any other time—trusting completely
my footsteps.

The other company
I keep
is the community of stars and planets.
Sometime every evening,
at least once,
I go to see them—
see what is where,
how many I can see,
which is red, blue, yellow,
clear,
bigger, more brilliant,
fainter.
Those nights they are brilliant
and many,
the sky clear and black,
something glad happens deep inside me
and I have to catch a deep breath.
Lately, the great swathe—
the other 100 billion stars
in the Milky Way—
are showing
and there is a sweet familiarity,
a quiet welcoming,
as if they’re/I’m coming home. Stars feel like
company,
always have.

How is it possible?
That though I’ve treated the stars,
the animals who live here,
like company,
suddenly,
I know:
they are.

10557160_10203890552378674_8023954093810462506_n“Landscape of the Heart”
A Watercolor by Mary Tevington

Supper was light and cool—
gazpacho with homegrown tomatoes,
black bean salad, humus…
together, we cut up a cantaloupe,
candy-sweet,
a perfectly ripe watermelon and made smoothies.
It was 7 or so,
the breeze had cooled,
when we set out on the road
walking to the labyrinth.
Conversation was effortless.

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We stopped to notice a zillion grasshoppers,
one swimming in the creek;
Indian Blanket, Hollyhock, Flax blooming
on the pond dam.
At the labyrinth we stood amazed
at the beauty there, atop the prairie.
360 degrees of soft green,
in late July
in Oklahoma.

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Earth would move up in front of the sun
soon. We walked our intentions around
the outside of the labyrinth,
then each entered.
Grass wall is thigh-high;
white flowers too.
Small pink-lavender ones
shorter, in the short grass.

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Each at our own pace,
in silence,
we follow our feet around curves
and switchbacks, passing
one another, into the center,
under a wide, wide, wide bowl of sky,
in the middle of a circle of prairie,
tree-lined creek, cattle
grazing,
silence still,
golden light.
Silence still
going out,
back toward the reasons
we came here
to seek solace,
direction.

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Watching the sun disappear then,
light shimmer on the pond,
Nighthawk squawk and swoop,
it was good to be together,
friends,
here.

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As we walked down, back,
slowly,
we stopped to watch 10 white cranes
take places for the night
in the Cypress trees
on the islands in the pond.
And then we noticed
a dark hunch
alone
in a dead tree,
high,
its back to us,
but no doubt:
a Bald Eagle.

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It was dark by the time
we made it back to the front porch
of the farm house.
They gathered their things
and left for their homes.

 

We have hot days now—
days of cool food
and summer’s oven.
Thermostat at 85,
shades drawn in mid-day,
fans stirring the air,
solar panels collecting rays…
no way am I heating the kitchen,
cooking those beans
with electricity.

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Glad
for the solar oven,
set on the grass
in the backyard,
wide open to the sun,
with only a few minor moves
as Earth does.

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By suppertime,
perfectly cooked,
zero carbon footprint
beans.
Delicious.

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Summer seems
so quiet.
The breeze has calmed,
catching the wind chime only
now and then
instead of constantly.
Birds chirp
rather than sing.
There is quite a lot of silent
motion: butterflies, wasps, dragonflies flit.
Now a hen lets out a string
of cackles,
then
there is a hush
before the breeze stirs
and chimes ring
again—
a guinea
squawks.
Cicadeas’ sizzle
starts. A rooster
out back
crows.
But even the sounds—
the chirps,
the squawks,
the chimes,
the cicadeas—
seem quiet.

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Evening is quieter
still. Air hangs
thickly.
Motionless, silent cranes
fish.
An orb spinner is so still
I bash into its web reaching
for a tomato.
In the night,
fireflies glow greenish yellow
all around the yard,
in trees. Stars keep company
in silence.
Where is that
mockingbird and why has he stopped
singing all night?

 

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Our July-August Newsletter
Summer (Sorta) at Turtle Rock Farm

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This week,
I heard and learned
Sara Thomsen’s song for the children.
And this is a week
when the world needs
to hear,
take to heart,
remember,
sing
this song.

 

When you sleep, may love keep you safe and warm.
When you wake, I will take you in my arms.
Love you deep as the ocean and high
As the twinkling stars up in the sky.

Oh, chick-chickadee, bumble-bum-bee
Bum bitty bum, listen to the drum
It’s the rhythm of the heart, we all have a part
Playin’ the heartbeat drum.

When you cry, I will sing you lullabies
Tickle toes and wipe your eyes
Drift on over into sweet dreams
The dark night is full of moonbeams.

All around the world, every boy and girl
Bum bitty bum, listen to the drum
Little lights all a-flame, no two the same
Playin’ the heartbeat drum.

Soon the sun will come and bring the day
And my dimpled darlin’ we will play
Open the window, welcome in
All the myst’ry whisp’ring in the wind

A tiger in a tree, fishes in the sea
Bum bitty bum, listen to the drum
Every shape and color, each different than the other
Playin’ the heartbeat drum

We are many and we are one
Playin’ the heartbeat drum

Sara Thomsen, “The Heartbeat Drum”
on her CD, “Somewhere to Begin”

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At dinner a week ago,
during the Sisters of Earth conference,
there was a buzz around the table,
welling excitement in the air:
“Have you heard Sara Thomsen before?”
Many had; I hadn’t.
We are in for a wonderful evening,
they pronounced.

Sara actually arrived for our concert
in Leavenworth, KS, from Oklahoma!
From Okemah; from the Woodie Guthrie festival,
where her song, “Precious Water” had won
third place in the songwriting contest.
From Duluth, Minnesota, Sara has been
writing and singing for years. She is truly
a folk singer/songwriter: singing boldly,
and beautifully, of the social issues,
and the wonders, of our time.

I have been playing her music all week because,
in her music I experience exactly
what she describes in the liner notes for her latest album,
“A Song is Somewhere to Begin:”

The singing is not about the song
The song is a vehicle, instrument, passageway
To propel us, move us, shake us,
beckon and break us
open, to wander where our hearts want to lead
Present, Open, Aware, Engaged, Caring
Able to witness the wondrous and horrific world
Around, within, and about us.

 

Sara is engaged—bringing song to protests, to teaching
and healing. With the community choir she guides,
Echoes of Peace, she traveled to Iraq,
to Halabja, one of the villages where people died
from chemical weapons.
That song is on her latest album. (The Iraqi voice in the recording
is that of the poet reciting his poem. Sara recorded him on her cell phone
during the visit.)
Other songs on the new album include “Precious Water,”
commissioned by a community in Minnesota
protesting a mining project near the Boundary Waters Wilderness
and “Between the Clotheslines,” written
for an environmental awareness event. (It points to the fact that
sixty million Americans are banned from hanging their laundry out to dry.)
I also love the title track from the latest album “Somewhere to Begin”
and the children’s calypso lullaby: “The Heartbeat Drum.”
You can find her story and her music on her website: www.sarathomsen.com

Here are recordings and videos of a collection of her songs.
“Halabja” and “Address” is a beautiful song Sara wrote from the words
of the poet who lived in the the Iraqi village the day
the wind brought deadly chemicals.
The images of the villagers are very strong.
“A Woman’s Place” celebrates women globally.
“By Breath” speaks to the connectedness of the great web of life on the planet.

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