sustainability


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A couple of weeks ago,
a Barn Owl
and I
got a good look at each other.
Now I know
there are two
Barn Owls
that make their home in the round-top. I try
when I am going into the barn,
to enter as quietly
and with as little movement
as I can, hoping
to see them. Before I find them
there is a motion,
a shadow—there,
behind,
or off to the right—and they are
gone.
Sometimes one will fly low
above me
and I see its white under-feathers.
This morning,
I approached the barn
watching
and when I entered, it flew
from behind me
into the old Juniper, briefly,
and then, with me outside watching,
and Maizey barking,
into a Hackberry
out by the grain bins.
This afternoon,
I entered the barn again,
silently, slowly
and no one was at home.
No flash of white feather,
or wing span shadow.

They often fly out a small, glass-less window
at the round-topped barn’s peak. Sometimes
one will sit there
in the corner. I always look
there
first.
I keep an eye on that little black square,
that patch of blue sky,
hoping to catch another look
at that warm and dazzling round white face,
those piercing dark eyes.
In this season of thanksgivings,
I should be grateful
and satisfied
to have one
long
lingering
gaze.

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It was balmy,
a week after the first snow
of the season. Misty, foggy
first thing in the morning,
warm enough for breakfast
on the porch.
Balmy, cloudy all day
but no rain.

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Dried prairie
grasses revealed their reds
in the moist air
as Maizey and I set out late afternoon
down the west pasture
toward the oil blossom. It hadn’t occurred
to me to go up to the oil blossom
until we were almost there. Ah,
I remembered then,
critical moments when I had been propelled
to the “oil blossom,” (grandfather’s hope)
to stand atop the prairie
above the dilemmas of the moment.
(His: farming, just about every moment.)
Maizey and I climbed over and through
a fence, crossed the dry creek bed
and up the east side of the mesa
that popped up there on the plains.

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As so often happens,
the clouds that had covered the sky
all day, now parted just above the horizon
and as we sat on the north edge,
amid large lichen-covered flat stones,
looking past evergreen trees
to a pond below that still has water!
the first sunlight of the day
poured fiery light across the land,
tinging everything orange.
I didn’t spend even one moment
thinking about a pending decision.
There was too much to see—
notice,
savor—
to think.

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And that’s the magic
of the oil blossom; why
I go there
even when I don’t know I’m headed
there.
There, everything in my head
gets a break,
rests,
and clears.

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Maizey and I headed down the hill,
across the creek,
the fence,
through the scrumptious prairie grass
on our way home
below a sky exploding in outrageous color—
again; as
light on the prairie
dimmed
and this little part of Earth
stilled.

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What better plan
for the day
than a visit
with a dear, long-time
friend now living far away.
Much talk,
a flock of Robins at the feeders;
lunch,
Eastern Bluebirds at the water bowl;
lingering at the table,
exchanging insights from latest-read books,
a Road Runner!
exploring along the alpaca pen fence.
Too soon,
afternoon shadows deepen;
one more time,
a visit to cherish.

Red-Tailed Hawks
sweep above the tan prairie
these days,
perch on fence posts
and lower branches of trees,
ready—so many of them—
I hope,
to bring the dense population of field-into-house mice
back into balance.

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This one is perched in the hedge trees
along the alpaca pen,
where chickens and guineas peck
their way through the day—
which is why,
a few days ago,
we barned them
for the winter.

Saturday morning,
coming out the back door
I see four sleek white-tailed deer
in the pasture west of the house.
We watch each other
long,
until I take one step
and they dash away,
white tails bobbing.
In the round-top barn then,
a Barn Owl
sits on a ledge. I gasp at the beauty
of its heart-shaped, white face.
Those small, black, sharp eyes
meet mine
and we behold each other
long,
until I open the car door.

Saturday noon,
with retreat guests
in the kitchen to prepare lunch,
we eye a bowl of persimmons
Ann has gathered.
Remembering Native American tradition,
we slice into the center
of a Persimmon seed
to check out winter’s forecast.
It is, clearly, a fork,
which means a mild winter.

Saturday evening,
around 8 p.m.
a rumble and boom
under the shaking house.
Another Oklahoma earthquake.
(Oklahoma has had more earthquakes
in 2014 than California—attributed
to increased high-pressure fracking
and waste liquid injection at oil well sites.)

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DSCN6138Eastern Bluebird

Sunday morning,
this winter’s first snowfall. Two inches,
I think. I watch the birds
all day. So happy to see four Eastern Bluebirds
long
at the water. Two pair of Cardinals and gobs of Sparrows
vie for dinner with many Red-Winged Blackbirds
gobbling up the seed.
Wee Chickadee can’t compete with the big birds;
will have to replace a broken feeder
for the itty-bitty ones.

 

DSCN6138Eastern Bluebird During First Snow of Winter 2014
16 November 2014
at Turtle Rock Farm

How we move through the world depends on whether we view everything we meet as self-contained or as containing all life…With no sense of how things are connected, I may move things along without ever being touched by life.

But if I can hold that stone with enough presence and attention to realize its journey over centuries, how it wasn’t always solid, how its minerals coalesced, how it felt the thud and press of every horse, car and road placed above it, I might feel a deeper connection to the Earth that might broaden my perspective beyond the confines of my individual life.

Listening beyond our own silhouette, each thing we encounter is alive—be it a stone, a dragonfly, a symphony or a peach. And each thing in its aliveness encodes and mirrors the whole of life in its own way. When we can listen, each particle of being, no matter how small, invites our presence and attention, so we might hear and feel the Universe through it.

When relating to what we encounter, we become more possible ourselves; able to grow from what other things see and feel…Time has made me accept that I can’t possibly know or absorb the Oneness of things all by myself. In this way, listening becomes a partnership by which we listen and converse with everything. And this conversation with everything…becomes the partnership by which we keep everything joined.

—Mark Nepo
Seven Thousand Ways to Listen. Staying Close to What is Sacred

I won’t complain
about the sudden cold
because
look who’s back! My winter
companions—at least,
many of them. Have yet
to see Goldfinches,
or Meadowlarks (at the feeders,) but, yes:
Red-Bellied Woodpecker,
three Eastern Bluebirds,
three Chickadees,
at least one Cardinal couple,
little Juncos,
Field, Harris and White-Crowned Sparrows.
Already,
the Red-Winged Blackbirds
(and a single, shining Grackle)
are coming
to the birdseed feeders,
and the water.
New this year,
those sweetly singing
Yellow-Rumped Warblers.

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DSCN6080Male Red-Winged Blackbird

DSCN6085Harris Sparrow

DSCN6095Female Red-Winged Blackbird

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DSCN6112White-Crowned  Sparrow

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DSCN6117Yellow-Rumped Warbler

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I had a portrait session
with them this morning,
though they didn’t know it.
I hope they don’t mind me
celebrating
their beauty,
their good company,
their innate ability
to bring cheer
to winter’s bare days.

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