February 2010

There is something deeply sacred about every presence. When we become blind to this, we violate nature and turn our beautiful world into a wasteland. We treat people as if they were disposable objects. We lament today the absence of God and the demise of the sacred. Yet it is we ourselves who have killed God. The world today is just as full of sacred presence as it was centuries ago. With the hardening of our minds we are no longer able to feel and sense the ever-present sacred the way our ancestors did. Our arrogance and greed have killed the gods. Unknown to us, the suppression of Divine Presence exacts a terrible price, because nature and person lose their inner divinity…We no longer walk the earth with wonder. We have purchased the fatal ticket. Instead of being guests of the earth, we are now crowded passengers on the runaway train of progress and productivity; the windows are darkened and we can no longer see out.

We desperately need to retrieve our capacity for reverence. Each day that is given to you is full of the shy graciousness of divine tenderness. It is a lovely practice at night to spend a little while revisiting the invisible sanctuaries of your lived day. Each day is a secret story woven around the radiant heart of wonder. We let our days fall away like empty shells and miss all the treasure.

– John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes


I haven’t written much about the cats
we live with.
There are many
and we love their companionship.
Maybe I take their presence for granted
or maybe I haven’t written about them
because their stories are sometimes
hard to tell.
Cats come and go around here.
They have to survive hungry coyotes
and other predators,
like our dogs.
And here on the farm
accidents happen.
Take Whiner, for instance.
(I must warn: this is a gruesome story.)
Last spring,
she had another litter of kittens
and put them up on a high shelf
where we kept iron discs for the plow.
One of the heavy pieces must have fallen on her right back leg,
breaking it.
She evidently knew that this was going to hinder her parenting,
perhaps her nursing.
One day our cousin came upon her
killing her kittens.
He didn’t stop her.
This is the way of nature
and he wisely, I think,
didn’t interfere.
Kittens rarely survive here,
for one reason or another.
And the adults don’t live especially long lives.
Whiner is a survivor.

Hugs and Kisses

Many of our cats are gray and white.
Ann introduced Hugs and Kisses,
two female cousins,
to the community of cats at her house
about a year ago.
They’re gray and white,
but more of a calico.
They have both had litters,
from which only one or two survived.
They are tamer,
having been raised by neighbors
who have children.

I’ve managed to tame only one of the cats
born on the farm.
Little Gray.
She loves to be petted,
refuses to be held.
She’s pregnant
and I hope her kittens survive
and like to be petted.
who was born at our house in Enid
when my son was young,
sits on my lap when I have my Saturday evening
front porch sit.

Maybe I don’t write about cats
because they are such an integral part of life here.
They are part of the landscape,
all day
meandering back and forth from barn
to pasture
to front porch
to barn,
sleeping in the sun,
gathering at the morning feed.
I’m grateful for soft moments with them,
and I like to feed them and keep clean water out for them,
but they always and forever
will do their own thing,
their way.
They help keep
away any lingering anthropocentric ideas:
life is not all about humans.

Making Notes about Creek Observations

Scrubbing the Shoreline for Bugs

Bottling the Sample

Yesterday was bug collection day
at our little corner of Doe Creek.
Kim Shaw came from Blue Thumb
and helped us scrub around the edge of the creek
and collect a sample of grass roots and mud
and, hopefully, microinvertebrtes.
We’d had an inch of rain on Sunday
and the creek was out of its banks,
so the concern is that the insects
have all been washed downstream.
But there we were,
so we took the sample anyway.
We’ll know in a couple of months
when we get together for the bug count.
Water was rushing through the beaver dam too.
I imagine they have some repair work to do.
Gushing water is an unusual sound here.

We were just at the creek last week,
to do our monthly monitoring,
collecting water samples
and doing chemical testing
to keep track of how healthy the stream is.
And today,
it had changed a great deal.
Amazing all that goes on
when you aren’t looking.

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