December 2008

composter 2

On January 17, we’re offering a day-long workshop during which participants build their own 30-gallon turnable composters, complete with wooden stand. We held one of these in October and had a lot of fun.

composter class

Come for the day (or come the night before or stay the night of) and return home with a composter that works great (it’s easy to turn) and looks very handsome in the backyard. Plus, you’ll learn lots about composting (including a peek at our worm villages) and meet other composting-people. You get the satisfaction of having built something yourself and turning those kitchen scraps into a fine gift for your garden.

Register soon (by Jan. 3, so we can get supplies ordered) by clicking on “Workshops and Retreats” at our website:


Pecan Grove - Ben

One of the joys of the holidays is having our grown children come home and enjoying the wonderful young adults they are. Besides playing ping pong, chess and Scrabble, cooking and sharing stimulating conversation, one day we worked together on the farm.

The pecan grove our father started seven or eight years ago needed tending. The trees had never been thinned since they were planted and were growing too close to each other. It is sad to have to cut down trees. But like so much in nature, if the trees are too close together they can’t grow to their full potential. So in cutting down the smaller ones, we would give the remaining trees room to mature.

We loaded the pickup truck with tools, found enough work gloves for everyone, packed snacks and headed to the pecan grove.

Pecan Grove - Will

We recently learned a slogan from the Findhorn community in Scotland: “Work is love in action.” The more we’ve made this something to live into (with every toilet cleaned, every dish washed, every change of sheets) the more we’ve come to love our work. But we especially loved thinning the trees in the pecan grove alongside our children. Sore and tired at the end of the day from dragging heavy trees to the brush pile, dealing with ailing chainsaws and heavy loppers, we were the happiest of workers.

Pecan Crew with Ann

Twice this week
I’ve found dead animals.
First, a fluffy gray kitten
in the wicker chair on the front porch.
Laying there stretched out
rather than in a circle,
which would have been warmer,
so I knew something was wrong.
Don’t know why it died,
how it got up in the chair.

Then a large opossum
in the backyard.
I know how he died.
A dog did it.

I carried each off
where they will become meals
for coyote or vulture.
We all die.
It is natural.
More natural,
in Winter.

sparrows in the grass

The sparrows fly to the limbs of the Hackberry tree first
then float down to the grass below
and the grain and seed I’ve scattered there.
They chatter softly
and squeak
and if this were a spring day
grasses greening
warming air
I would hear their chatter as signs of spring.
Same sounds in winter
water frozen
gray sky
chilling wind.

sparrows in the Hackberry

Suddenly – don’t know why –
wings flap
flutter sounds
and they fly up to the tree
then, one by one,
float down again.

A smallish Mockingbird
comes to drink the fresh water,
then flies up to the Arborvitae
and dries its beak on the tree limb.
Sparrows challenge each other,
flying breast to breast
until one flies away.

I’m so glad the wind is from the south today
and I can sit still and silent on the north porch
and be close to the birds.
Somehow, my body warms.

angels in the snow

On this day, may we become aware
of God’s gifts of love

and community
shown to us
by Jesus of Nazareth.

redtail hawk in tree

Red-Tail Hawk

Winter is time for pondering.
Pondering is different than thinking.
Pondering is taking a break from thinking.

Mary didn’t figure anything out –
at least as far as we know.
She just took the experience,
went inside
and held it in her heart.

As I sit up in bed this morning
and look out the window,
I see the wind has come again.
The barren limbs of the tree are waving wildly.
And there sits a bright red male Cardinal
taking a ride,
feathers lifting in the wind.
I could think about it,
as I have in the past:
about how it holds on –
those tiny little feet up against 25 mph gusts;
or why it holds on
instead of flying to shelter;
about whether it feels the cold
when the wind raises its feathers.

Instead, I simply look.
Red pointy top knot.
Yellow beak
in black circle
on red face.
Riding the wind.

At noon,
on the radio,
I hear that temperatures in northern Wisconsin
will dip to -30 degrees,
with the windchill factor.
And there will be up to 12 more inches of snow.
Nature’s prompting:
It’s time to come in,
look out the window
and take a break from thinking.

Eleanor Roosevelt had a Victory Garden on the White House lawn when FDR was president. Now there’s a movement to plant an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn again, in support of eating local food, which cuts down on carbon emissions.

You can go to Eat the View to sign the petition and find out several ways to encourage the Obamas to plant the garden. We did.

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