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The prairie is still green,
a strange and wonderful sight
for this time of year. Frequent
little rains—strange
and wonderful—have brought just enough
moisture for that. Can’t get a shovel
in the soil though.
Our large, sweeping notions
of signs of the seasons
must give way now,
thanks to global warming
and climate change,
to noticing more closely;
to paying attention to the discrepancies,
the details that are different.
Familiar patterns are
vanishing.

Tree leaves yet to turn
(though some are falling,)
the green view across the prairie,
but…
three mornings ago,
I heard a most welcome sound:
that raspy “fee-bee, fee-bee,
fee-bee.” It is Phoebe,
returned.

This morning I heard,
for the first time since spring,
winter’s chatter
in the tops of the trees
south of the house.
It was a flock of Red-Winged Blackbirds
returned.

Too this morning,
I heard Cardinal—
not summer’s chirp,
but its winter song:
“Right-cheer, right-cheer,
right-cheer.”

Looks like early summer,
sounds like winter’s
coming.

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Something comes over us
when we realize it’s time
for the annual Green Connections’
Prairie Dinner and Concert.
No matter how much is going on,
or how long the to-do list grows,
there’s a feeling of gladness
in the air. It’s like we’re smiling
inside, carrying
a secret:
soon, gentle folks will drive up
County Road 90, emerge
from their cars,
relaxed, smiling,
hugging each other,
expectant of
another magical evening.
A casual stroll on the prairie,
visit to the magical-in-itself strawbale and mud hermitage,
maybe a walk on the labyrinth at the top of our hill,
a tour of the fall garden,
hanging out with the goats and alpaca
and then
we go down to the edge of Doe Creek
where Chef Barb of Kam’s Kookery
has laid out an elegant table
of just the beginnings of a five-course sumptuous
local foods dinner
and Woods & Waters best Oklahoma wine.
At table, donned with autumn’s prairie flowers,
our most congenial board members
serve the rest: soup, salad, breads,
great bowls of homegrown vegetables
and heavy platters of Oklahoma beef
cooked to perfection. And finally, some
wonderful confection, just about the time
Earth rolls up and sun disappears. Only
the night air could move us from the table,
that moment of complete gladness…
Well, night air
and the promise of something else
quite extraordinary.
We saunter
down the road and into the old round-top barn,
find places on straw bales,
wrap our hands around mugs of hot cider
and settle in for a concert by our dear old friend
Kyle Dillingham. From that first strike of bow
and string, we are carried into the night
in a way that only his music can.
We never want that to end either.
I remember
one year when Kyle, as if sensing the spell
the music had cast and not wanting to break it,
invited us to follow him as he fiddled us out
to the small bonfire just outside the barn.
We circled round the fire,
there under a canopy of stars,
as he played that hauntingly beautiful melody
in “Ashokun’s Farewell.” We lingered in silence
for a moment then, letting the music last.
Looking up finally, there was the Milky Way.
Two people told us that it was the most important
night of their lives.

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We can’t promise, of course.
We can’t make it happen.
It just seems the elements
are all present
and then something comes into play
that none of us can create
on our own.
For five years, this night
has been magical. Perhaps it will be,
this, the sixth year, as well.

Saturday, 4 October.
Come at 3.
Dinner at 5:30.
Concert following.
The Milky Way is already showing.

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Reserve your place at the table
here: www.greenconnectionsok.org
Deadline: October 1.
This is a fund-raiser for Green Connections
and its work of Earth education.
Transition OKC
is a program of Green Connections.

We in Oklahoma
may complain
about the weather—
wind, rain, drought, temperature—
and about the state legislature,
politicians, our representation in Congress—
well, anyway….
When the list gets long
and we sink into
demoralization,
and think
again
that we need to think
about moving somewhere,
anywhere…
but, realizing we really don’t want
to do that,
some Oklahoma button in our brains
goes off automatically
and we suddenly remember
the sky.
Oklahoma swoons over
the sky—
especially the morning
and evening
sky.

We all have seen the sky turn beautiful colors
in the morning and evening
in other places.
But Oklahoma’s sky is almost always
beautiful. And sometimes,
it is exquisite—
as the western sky was last night.

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Standing long,
watching the changes,
trying to take in the beauty
deeply
is a balm
for practically everything.
Doing so
instantly creates a shift
in perspective.
Indeed: Morning,
evening,
Oklahoma looks to the sky
above this rolling land
and remembers,
one more time,
one rather significant reason
we stay.

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DSCN5131The Prairie on a Cool, Misty Autumn-maybe Morning

All year long,
natural events
have happened
about two weeks earlier
than “normal”—well,
what normal used to be.
And so, it seems,
this week
there is autumn.
Weather has shifted.
We’ve fallen away
from summer.
It slipped up on us,
without a transition time.
But, summer was so mild,
maybe we didn’t need a transition period.
Or maybe this is the transition period.
Indeed, hummingbirds will soon go south,
though we have seen one or two the last day or so.
The white cranes
nesting at night in the Cypress trees
on the Big Pond
seem to be leaving in pairs, or small groups.
Yesterday—a gloriously cool, clear, sunny day—
I watched a flock of Red-Winged Blackbirds
fly low, like liquid, just above the prairie grass.
I don’t know if they’re coming in
or have been here all summer.
But we will know soon:
hundreds of thousands arrive for winter.

This morning, not only is the temperature
in the mid-50’s,
mist falls softly,
painting everything with more intense color.
The wind, from the north,
is so chilly
there is no walking or porch-sitting
without long clothes.
The cool, moist air
blows into my face
as if to shout
“fresh, new season!”

Already, domesticity
is in transition too.
Suddenly, clothes hung on the line
will not dry in 15 minutes.
Mice seem to be coming in!
And I earnestly hope that big snake on the porch
last week
wasn’t seeking hibernation
indoors!!
We will need to keep a close eye
on Red-tail Hawks
keeping a close eye on free-ranging chickens—
though it seems they could make a plentiful feast
on the abundance of field mice!
In the high tunnel,
Ann has pulled up cucumber, squash, chard
and other spent plants
and planted seeds for the fall garden.
Still, tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplant, herbs
produce—welcome remnants
of a summer
that was so much more pleasant
than normal
we only had a few days—
hot and not-normal-for-Oklahoma-extremely-humid-days—
that we wished it away.

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The debate may go on,
people may continue to look for signs of coming climate change,
or deny that the changes in the atmosphere
are caused by human beings,
but the reality is everything that happens this day
happens in the context of today’s climate
and it has changed.
Global warming is our reality,
our context.

Now,
what are we to do?
Will we continue on a path
that leads to the continued destruction
of life
on the only planet that we know of
that sustains life?

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Disruption is a film created by the organizers
of the People’s Climate March
in New York City and around the world,
including two here in oil-and-gas-industry-based
Oklahoma—one in Oklahoma City
and one in Tulsa.
It’s September 21, two days before world leaders
gather for an emergency UN meeting
on the climate.

The movie chronicles some of the historic marches
that have captured the attention of government leaders,
resulted in on-going participation and pressure
from the people
to bring about change.
There was the women’s suffrage movement.
Later, the women’s rights movement.
The nuclear arms protests.
The civil rights movement.
The Earth Day movement that resulted
in environmental legislation.

It has been the coming together
of diverse people and groups
to protest and prevent the building
of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport
the dirty, carbon-rich Tar Sands oil
from Alberta, Canada’s carbon-sequestering
borreal forest
to Houston for processing
and shipment to China
that has built awareness
and a burgeoning global organization
that stands now
ready to make our commitment known
to those in power:
We are committed to radically reducing greenhouse gases
so that life on the planet can continue.

Watch the movie.
It’s free online at www.watchdisruption.com
Come to Oklahoma City or Tulsa
on Sunday, September 21.
The Oklahoma City march is endorsed
by a growing number of groups,
including Turtle Rock Farm,
Peace House, Oklahoma Interfaith Power & Light,
OK Sierra Club, OK United Methodist Coalition,
Peace Education Institute, Oklahoma Conference of Churches,
Center for Conscience in Action, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance,
Grand Riverkeeper LEAD Agency, OK League of Women Voters,
Church of the Open Arms UCC, East 6th Street Christian Church,
First Unitarian Church, Alliance for Global Justice,
Eco Solidarity, Idle No More OKC,
Community Environmental Working Group Tulsa,
and Shawnee Peace Fellowship.

If your group wants to be an endorser or co-sponsor,
let us know.
Bring your group’s banner,
march to let government leaders
and oil companies know
it is time for profound restraint
in the production and burning of fossil fuel
on all our parts;
time for creative innovation,
for creating jobs
and a healthy future for life on the planet
through conservation and the building
of sustainable energy projects.

We at Turtle Rock Farm will walk in Oklahoma City
Sunday, September 21 at 2 p.m.
East lawn of OKC Municipal Building,
Hudson and Park Ave.
Free street parking at metered spaces on Sunday.
Gather at 1:30 to the beating of drums
2 p.m. Welcome and Remarks
2:30 One-mile march
https://www.facebook.com/events/266383843562362/

Tulsa People’s Climate March
Sunday, September 21 at 3 pm
41st & Riverside Drive at RiverParks
https://www.facebook.com/tulsapeoplesclimatemarch

 

Saturday was the OKC Urban Ag Coalition’s
first annual urban farm and garden tour.
Rain came the night before
and continued much of the day Saturday.
It wasn’t the usual Oklahoma rain. Rather,
there was no wind,
so it fell almost straight.
There was no lightning.
It fell steady
and long.
Every OKC urban farmer or gardener
would be thrilled,
appreciative.
It was such a rare phenomenon,
there were no rain plans. Yes,
it might rain, but not everywhere,
not all day, not in Oklahoma!

The garden where I was set to volunteer
(get the signs up, lay out the materials, etc.)
was at the Del City Church of Christ.
This is a humongous garden,
founded by the support of one dedicated member
and tended by others in the congregation,
plus some people in the community. A generous
garage allowed volunteers shelter
and the church folks wanted to keep the tour open.

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DSCN5098Community garden in the rain at Del City Church of Christ

And that’s what we did. We welcomed the handful
of people who came. There was a festive feeling;
everyone was cheerful. An English-style rain
in Oklahoma
the first week of September! Much to cheer.
With umbrellas and rain gear,
we strolled the vegetable beds, lingered long,
talking vegetable growing, marveling in wonder
at the much-needed rain
that kept falling. It was a lovely morning.

Other gardens on the tour also stayed open,
but not so many people ventured out. So,
this Saturday—September 13, 8 a.m. to noon—
will be the first annual OKC Urban Farm and Garden Tour,
Day Two.
Go to the Urban Ag Coalition facebook page
and check out the gardens. At the first one you tour,
you will receive a list of the others. The whole tour is $5.

Everywhere on Earth, life is established on a functional community basis. Each distinctive bioregion is composed of mutually supporting life systems that have organized and sustained it over vast expanses of time…

A bioregion is an identifiable geographical area of interacting life-systems that is relatively self-sustaining in the ever-renewing processes of nature. The full diversity of life functions is carried out, not as individuals or as species, or even as organic beings, but as a community that includes the physical as well as the organic components of the region.

— Thomas Berry, The Great Work

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Sunday morning was clear and cool,
sunny,
following a day of sweet, soaking rain
in the city.
The final event of the first
Urban Ag Week
organized by OKC Urban Ag Coalition
and Transition OKC,
we gathered along the street in Warr Acres
between two apartment complexes.
A grassy ditch emerges
from one of the wooded apartment complexes
and flows beneath the street where we stood.
Because of the rains the day before,
there was water in the shallow, grassy ditch.
From this spot higher
than the land forms
to the east,
this is the head waters of the Deep Fork River
and Lake Eufaula.
From there, the water flows
into the North Canadian River
and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.
We spent the morning exploring
in the Deep Fork Watershed
in an effort to get to know this
bioregion.
It looks like a city—
Oklahoma City.
In fact, it is a land form,
with natural water ways
and soils and winds
and trees and other plants,
birds, wild animals, insects,
fish.
We looked at the Deep Fork
behind Walmart
and alongside a city park
and behind an office building.
We walked along the edge
of its deep walls,
discovering giant trees,
layers of sandstone,
trash,
birds,
flowing water,
quiet beauty,
forgotten.

DSCN5108Learning about watersheds.

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Mapping the natural world around our homes.

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Exploring Deep Fork Creek

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DSCN5091Trash snagged in trees along the creek

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We came away,
more aware of our life
in the city
as part of a natural community.
We came away
inspired to stay aware
and be in touch
with the mutually supportive
life
in our bioregion.

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