March 2009

Ann and Zinnias

Ann and Zinnias

Seed catalogs begin arriving in January. I love looking at them. My sister calls them pornography for gardeners. Everything looks so beautiful. The fruits and vegetables look delicious. I know what I’m going to get when seeds arrive: tiny possibilities. We start many of them in the greenhouse and then transplant them into larger containers if they get too big before it is time to put them in the ground. It’s fun to get a head start on spring.

But somehow it seems different when I order flower plants. I think catalogs should have pictures of what they actually are going to send you. The pictures of the beautiful flowers are hard to resist. But when the single stems with a few roots arrive in the mail it’s hard to believe that they will turn into beautiful flowers. I don’t think those 24 little stems that arrived this week will lushly cover the ground this year.

A couple of years ago I ordered strawberry plants. The package was very small. But last year we did enjoy great strawberries and this year the growth is so thick I’m sharing the plants with other people and thinning out our patch.

UPS just arrived with another small package. Can’t wait to see what is in it.



If you notice cattle as you speed down the highway,
they seem to move slowly,
chewing their way across the prairie
or wheat field.
Sometimes they’re full
and just sit,
Sometimes they stand in the shade,
Only in a snow storm
as they hurry to the treeline,
or when the hay is delivered
do you see them trot with any kind of speed.
But when they are born,
while they still get their nourishment from Mom,
and are free to play,
they are quite agile and energetic.
While Moms graze closeby,
the young ones
run across the pasture,
kick back their heels,
chase each other,
push on each other
head to head.

Not sure why this sight
brings such joy.
But I’m glad it still does.



stormy sky

Oklahoma Sky Early This Week –
Heralding a Thunderstorm

The great Irish teacher John Scotus Eriugena taught that God speaks to us through two books. One is the little book he says, the book of scripture, physically little. The other is the big book, the book of creation, vast as the universe. Just as God speaks to us through the words of scripture, so God speaks to us through the elements of creation. The cosmos is like a living sacred text that we can learn to read and interpret. Just as we prayerfully ponder the words of the Bible in Christian practice, and as other traditions study their sacred texts, so we are invited to listen to the life of creation as an ongoing, living utterance of God.

— J. Philip Newell
Christ of the Celts: The Healing of Creation

snowy spring

Horizontal Snowfall

Peonies a foot high.
Red tulips.
Plum blossoms thick on the tree.
Apple blossoms,
pear blossoms.
Potatoe plants
and pea plants,
The promise of a fruitful season.
We were so proud to have planted
right on schedule
and so happy to see healthy growth
that, with the forecast for
the blizzard of the century,
(which we don’t exactly believe)
we cover tender plants with yogurt cups
and buckets
and secure hoop houses.
First it hails
then rains for a day
and the winds come
as they always do
and the snow falls horizontally.
Once again
we are humbled.
This is rare – a snowstorm the last days of March.
Rarer still,
to have thunderstorms
and snowstorms in the state on the same day.

Spring had come.
returning birds,
greening trees.
I trust the signs.
It was spring.
But spring lies under blowing snow now,
exposed to freezing winds.
I think all of nature could be as confused
as we are.

snowy white

My heart grieves
for tender plants
and for the Lesser Prairie Chicken
in Oklahoma’s Panhandle,
where they got the full-blown, historical blizzard,
where electric poles snapped
and left all vulnerable to freezing temperatures;
and I ache for calves standing in the biting wind
and plum trees that won’t get to bear fruit this year
and people in North Dakota threatened by a frigid river.
Yet, for a few hours,
there couldn’t be a more exquisitely beautiful day.
And, very strangely,
my heart sings.

I have prepared a sermon,
something I don’t do often these days,
for tomorrow,
the fifth Sunday of Lent:
Even as we face our crosses,
as the winds of destruction blow,
the rivers of destruction flow,
there it is,
always surprisingly,
the exquisite love of God.

snow drifting


Since my last post about the bees, I have continued to read and learn more from “Beekeeping for Dummies:”

Honey bees fly more than 50,000 miles and visit more than 2 million flowers to gather enough nectar to make a pound of honey.

Although the temperature outside may be freezing, the center of the winter cluster remains a constant 92 degrees F. The bees generate heat by ‘shivering’ their wing muscles.

Last weekend the weather was warm enough for Everett and me to go look at the hives that were being sold. I appreciated Everett’s experience and knowledge about what to look for – hives that are active and have lots of bees. Some hives had hive beetles and some had few bees in the top of the hive. Two hives met Everett’s approval. He sealed the hives with a screen so no bees could get out and brought them to Turtle Rock.

Now I start my new adventure. I’m looking forward to larger fruits and vegetables and our own homegrown honey. But mostly I am looking forward to learning first hand about the lives of bees and how they do what they do.

springhill in a circle

We concur with Richard Louv,
who inspired the “No Child Left Inside” movement in this country
with his book Last Child in the Woods:
Children need time in nature.
And so it was with great excitement that we welcomed
Springhill School for a day at Turtle Rock Farm.

They made a new bed for the Red Wiggler worms
who compost some of our kitchen scraps.
They planted seeds to take home.
They picknicked
and hiked
and observed:
giant bullfrogs,
tiny flowers in the dried grass,
turtle rocks,
the prairie,
the sky.
And they drew pictures,
which is a great way to get to know anything.

springhill and worms

springhill on the prairie

springhill drawing

We’re glad they came
and look forward to their fall visit.

spring Oklahoma sky

Spring days in north central Oklahoma
have a tension about them.
It’s PTS: Pre-Thunderstorm Syndrome.
I remember my grandmother one year,
when the first thunderstorm was well over-do,
after several days of crankiness, complained:
“When are we going to get that storm?”
And the morning after the season’s first
bone-chilling crackle of thunder, ripping wind and rain,
she was merry again.

The wind is constant,
the wind chime on the front porch never stills.
The screen door squeaks as the wind blows it open,
then bangs as it hits the door frame,
closed again.
Loose tin on a grain bin bangs eerily.
As I settle on the porch,
the dogs and cats move down to the end where I am.
The wind blows the cat’s fur as it nestles in the flower bed.
Red-Winged Blackbird sings its familiar song in the Hackberry,
but then lets out an alarming, high-pitched, long screech.
Now the sun almost shines on us,
for there are shadows,
and, momentarily, a brightening of the greening Hackberry.
Set against the dark blue clouds,
its whipping new-green branches of leaves
are an icon of Oklahoma spring,
as is the tin rattling on the barns,
the banging screen door,
the constantly tinkling of the wind chime.

Next Page »