November 2011


The Little Green, Solar, LED Lights

 

Ann was on a family vacation
and met another family,
Claude and Maury Dorais,
who founded a not-for-profit corporation
that designs and produces
inexpensive, solar powered LED lights
for distribution in developing countries
so that children can see to read and study
without the health issues caused by kerosene.
(An evening spent studying next to a kerosene lamp
is equivalent to being exposed
to the smoke of two packs of cigarettes.)
Working with other non-profits and relief agencies,
Unite to Light has distributed the $10 solar LED lights
(they use one long-lasting battery)
in 17 countries on four continents.

It’s been a tradition in our family
for several years now
to donate to not-for-profits
rather than pile up the Christmas gifts for each other.
Heifer International is one of our favorites.
It’s a deeply sustainable program
that helps people grow their own animals.
This year,
we’re also donating to Unite to Light.

Guineas, looking out

A couple of weeks ago
I started bringing cracked corn
to Rooster in the morning
so he’d think I was a corn dispenser
and not another, giant, rooster;
so that he’d stop attacking me.
We usually do fine when I’m feeding him the corn.
But when I’m doing chores in the barn
and he’s finished his corn
and is walking around in the barn too,
he comes after me.
A few days ago,
he even left is corn,
which I’d scattered for him outside,
and charged me.
I backed off
but he continued his pursuit;
chased me until
I snuck around the corner of the barn.
I think he gave up the charge
when the alpaca, Biak—
that would be a very giant, furry, rooster—
appeared around the corner.
Yesterday, he came after me again,
doing this flighty thing
three times in a row.
This is one smart rooster:
He knows I’m not a corn dispenser.
He does, evidently, still feel threatened.
So, I continue with the corn
and am ever mindful of his whereabouts,
keeping my distance when I can,
showering him with compassion
when he takes after me:
He doesn’t understand;
he may never understand.
But this morning,
he left me alone.

Meanwhile,
we’ve had more adventures with the guineas,
who escaped out of their side of the barn
a couple of days ago
when the wind blew the tarp loose.
That meant the chickens couldn’t go outdoors
(we’re still trying to prevent the guineas from going outside
until they’re old enough to fly away from predators;
which they might be; but it’s risky; we’re still thinking
spring.)
So the chickens and guineas hung out together
in the barn for a couple of days.
Ann discovered 11 blue eggs in the guinea pen.
Evidently one of the Aericauna hens
has been sneaking over there
(I’d seen her there once, eating out of the guineas’ bowl)
to lay her eggs.
This morning,
the guineas were all back in their pen.
I secured the tarp
and let the chickens outside
into the sunshine.
The guineas stood in the sunshine
at their big gate,
looking out.
I’m thinking they’re ready
to go out. But would they be safe?
It’s not easy to think
like a fowl.

Sunday evening,
the last hours
of what the people in the U.S.
celebrate as a time of thanks-giving.
The yellow sun disappeared
as Earth rolled passed
and now the sky
is orange along the horizon,
then yellow
and rising into a couple of shades of blue.
Alpaca are munching
at their new hay bale,
a giant round of prairie hay for the winter.
The Guineas, in the barn,
squawk to each other,
quiet,
then start again with their dissonant racket.
A Coyote north of the barn
barks
then howls.
I hear Canada Geese coming
from the East,
honking all the way.
Light dims
and the colors in the sky intensify
and now I see the waning moon,
a feather,
shining overhead at two o’clock
in the southwestern sky,
turning bluer by the moment.
And there is Venus, a little lower,
glimmering.
I step out to look East
to see Jupiter,
shining above the horizon.
A last blast from the Guineas,
drowned out then
by a series of large flocks of Canada Geese,
gone to settle on the reservoir south of the barns.

I have built a small fire
in the fire pit
on the north porch.
Not even a breeze,
the air moves from north to south,
until,
suddenly,
it shifts
and not only can I see the smoke change course,
but I can feel the cold night air.
The wind chime softly sings a note or two.
The fire flames
are the same color
as the orange on the horizon.
The old Hackberry’s thick arms
are black against the indigo sky.
I smell the sweetness of Pinon smoke.
I hear the occasional song of the wind chime.
I watch an owl fly silently across my view.


After a long while, I separate the coals
and step out into darkness.
I welcome the cold, sharp air.
The sky is alive with layers and layers and layers
of star light.
I take in the vastness,
the inconceivable beauty
as best I can
and let myself
fall.

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