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On Sunday afternoon’s walk
through the prairie, I tried
something new. I tried
to imagine it
without humans. No where
could I look and not see
humans’ impact. So I tried
to see it
after humans. It was sobering
and freeing
and beautiful—aliveness
everywhere. I’m trying
now
to hold this perspective.
I think it could make
a difference.

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There’s a lot going on
out there
right now.
Temperature is so mild
and wind so gentle
I could work on the porch
yesterday afternoon. So soft,
this yellowed land, littered
with turning leaves, wind chime
singing, I could
swoon,
and did
in moments.

DSCN5739     Mockingbird

DSCN5736     Yellow-Rumped Warblers

DSCN5675     Easter Blue Birds

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Mockingbird sang most
of the afternoon.
Yellow-Rumped Warblers
chased each other
and flitted about the trees.
An Eastern Blue Bird sang too
and both kinds of birds
drank often from the water
St. Francis is holding.
Some birds drank from the fish pond,
as did squirrel.
Little white and yellow butterflies
sipped
from the Russian Sage.

DSCN5701     Belted Kingfisher

On Sunday, I heard, then saw,
a black-crested bird on a high line wire.
Its staccato call seemed urgent. When
another came alongside
they flew south. A bird-watching
cousin who has a “life list”
identified it as a Belted Kingfisher.
Bedazzled.

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The prairie is layered
in color.
Strips of green,
still dotted with bright white Snow
on the Mountain,
layered between the burgundy
of taller grasses.
Leaves are yellowing,
falling,
covering the dried grass
below.
Breezy air is a touch cool
in the warmth of sunshine.
The light spectrum
is softer, fainter,
more yellow. Shadows
are longer, more defined.
The sky blue
is outrageously beautiful.
Waning moon shows
this morning there
in that vast blue.

After a morning of Oklahoma earthquake reports,
discussions about water
and political campaigns,
images of children dying of Ebola
in West Africa,
the scheduling of future appointments,
the lengthening the list of tasks yet to be
completed…
I come to the porch.
The big wind chime rings
constantly,
diminuendo,
crescendo
pianissimo,
forte
…a single chime,
then the ringing of all.
Guineas chirp staccato,
a little Junco spits out an
insistent
sentence.
A small wind chime
whispers in high notes.
The northern breeze
rocks a wooden chair
next to me on the porch.
A prairie bird, not far off,
speaks in a monotone
as it flies. An entire Guinea chorus
breaks out. A lone Canada Goose
honks from the sky. Amazingly, Mockingbird
sings what I thought was its spring
repertoire.

I come
to the air,
the sky,
the prairie,
sun and shadow,
nature’s songs.
This music will play on,
always—a balm,
if we hear it.

 

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IMG_9302                                                                                                                                    Photos by Ann Denney

Undercroft Montessori School in Tulsa
brought junior high students to the farm
for the second time. They visited in early spring
three years ago and we were very glad
to welcome the group this fall.
The students do the planning,
the preparations (make reservations,
meal-planning, shopping, cooking, clean-up.)
They do a service project while they’re with us—
this year, moving and piling brush
and making beehive supers. The classes
have a beekeeping project at their school,
so they were actually excited
about getting to build bee houses—
and check out our hives.
They also spent a day
at the Great Salt Plains,
digging crystals from the lake of salt
left over from a pre-historic ocean.

They took the farm tour,
fed the animals,
walked the labyrinth,
played flashlight tag under the stars
and kayaked on the pond—
and climbed a cypress tree.
I think they are the first guests
to ever do that!

Thank you all for coming to the farm,
for helping out,
for your happy ways
and most of all
for learning about Earth
and how to live thoughtfully,
kindly,
as part
of this amazing planet.

DSCN5560Great White Egrets and Pelicans

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DSCN5590Pelican wing-span

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DSCN5611Visiting heron

DSCN5649Great White Egret

The pelicans stayed
until sometime Saturday.
We enjoyed every minute
of their presence
on the Big Pond,
swimming in one big group,herding the fish,
feasting—
heads dipped,
tails tipped.
They sometimes stood in the shallowest,
flaring their expansive wings.
Sometimes they flew away,
and returned.
Never did they make a sound.
Silent they came,
stayed,
and left,
us marveling.

The Great White Egrets
who have been sleeping in the Cypress
all summer,
remain. They kept company
with the Pelicans.
A Red-Tailed Hawk, at one point,
sat atop a Cypress. No way
would it approach the big birds.
The resident Great Blue Heron couple,
always shy and to themselves,
came and went from the edges,
as they pleased.
Briefly,
a migrating heron, we think,
stopped for a rest
on one of the islands.

In the tiny bird bath
at the Farmhouse,
a male—red—Cardinal
took a splashy bath
in the sun Sunday morning.
Driving west later,
there were Red-Tailed Hawks
all along the road,
for miles. I still spot
Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers,
their breasts a soft apricot,
on high line wires and barbed wire fences.

A flock of Blue Birds arrived
and drank from the bird bath
in the afternoon. Then,
a Mockingbird.
I filled a bird feeder for the first time
this fall
and a Junco is the first
to find the seed.
On a Sunday evening walk,
I flushed two large dove—
there are many dove this fall—
and a male pheasant. We scared
each other.

This morning,
an Eastern Phoebe couple
took respite on drippy tomato cages
just outside the south windows,
from the blustery, wet (!) north wind.

We welcome
all migrants,
and winter’s company.

 

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Our hope for a decent future—indeed, any hope for even the idea of a future—depends on our ability to tell stories not of how humans have ruled the world but how we can live in the world…The central story of power—that the domination/subordination dynamic is natural and inevitable—must give way to stories of dignity, solidarity, equality. We must resist not only the cruelty of repression but the seduction of comfort.

The songs we sing matter at least as much as the machines we build. Power assumes it can control. Our task is to resist that control.

—Robert Jensen,
We Are All Apocalyptic Now:
On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing and Speaking Out

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I saw them in the sky first,
at dusk.
They were headed for the Big Pond.
Ann watched them set down,
gently, tucking their wide,
black-tipped wings,
long bills and gullets. Maybe 150
American White Pelicans.

Next morning, they were gone from the water,
but filled the skies—soaring south,
then north, then circling
the neighborhood. They settled
back on the Big Pond in the evening
and have come and gone the last two days.

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They fish as a group,
swimming wing-to-wing—
literally herding the fish—
then dip their heads—
their tail feathers upended—
and bring up the fish,
tipping their heads to swallow.

DSCN5531Heads down…

DSCN5542…tails up

Kaw Lake, about 40 miles north,
frequently draws pelicans.
We’ve had fly-overs before;
one or two on the water. But never
a big flock,
for days.
The shallowness of the pond
is a draw this year,
making the fishing easy.
I wonder
if they could wipe out
the fish population,
but the fish might have succumbed
to drought eventually anyway,
as some have already.
There’s is no way we’re chasing away
these beautiful, large, elegant birds!

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IMG_8942                                                                                                      Photos by Ann Denney and Pat Hoerth

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