June 2009


Away from home for a week,
it is good to be back…
to receive warm breath-kisses from the Alpacas,
to see the trimmed tree line
where they’ve been munching;
to scoop up rich Paca Poo for the composter.
To hang out washed traveling clothes to dry on the front porch,
and take them down,
dry,
in a matter of minutes.
To watch the Barnswallows dip and soar,
the Mockingbird send a loud chirp-alert
because of a cat strolling under the tree.
To see bright tangerine Cosmos blooms
and marvel at the completeness
of the grasshoppers’ stripping of the Hollyhocks.
To eat a delicious, drippy Purple Cherokee tomato
right off the vine.
It’s very good to be home.

But it’s good to have gone
to a study on food
in New Orleans.
We were guests at Dillard University,
which is alongside the London Avenue Canal,
its levee breached following Hurricane Katrina,
flooding first Dillard University
and then so much of the city.
Thanks to good guides/friends
we visited many neighborhoods
to begin to get a sense,
a feel,
for what happened here
almost four years ago.
It’s still easy to see the destruction,
though difficult to grasp
how one could get through it,
return,
recover,
go on.
Many are.
And many aren’t,
their houses
with those unforgettable X’s spray painted on the side,
the hatcheted holes in the roofs,
boarded,
abandoned
or gone,
only a concrete slab remaining.
We heard stories,
of devastation
and courage
and determination.
We met in rooms at the university
that had been under 11 feet of water
for weeks.
We worshiped in a church
that had been under 11 feet of water
for weeks.
At both,
only a third of the population has returned.

We sat under the ancient live oak trees
that New Orleaneans
feared would be lost
and worked at saving.
Their vast embrace
is the most reassuring presence.

Once,
I went to Reynosa, Mexico,
to help a young family build a one-room house
out of concrete blocks
on a landfill,
where carts pulled by donkeys
delivered trash.
New Orleans
reminds me of that experience
because
of the devastation,
the challenge of living amidst ruin
and because
the message we heard
in both places
was
when you get home
“Don’t forget us.”

IMG_3396

Ann’s friend and bee-keeping mentor,
Everett,
came recently
to look at the bees
in our hives.
And so our lessons about
and from
bees
continue.

bees in hive
On the hot days
some bees
carry tiny drops of water
from the nearby pond
back to the tiny cells in the hive,
where other bees
spend their time fanning the hive
with their tiny wings.
And since most bees
live only two to four weeks,
this may be all they do,
if their particular life occurs
during the hot season.
They do whatever the community needs
during their
(from my perspective)
brief
life.
Hmmm…

thistle blossom

Thistle Blossom

Part of what it means to be, is to be beautiful. Beauty is not superadded to things: it is one of the springs of their reality. It is not that which effects a luscious response in perceivers; it is the interior geometry of things, making them perceptible as forms.

Francesca Aran Murphy

Creation is always in the heave of growing and becoming and when a thing journeys toward its own perfection or fullness of life, it is also secretly journeying towards the divine likeness. The integrity of beauty  is that inner straining toward goodness and completion. There is a wonderful urgency within things to realize the dream of their individual fulfillment; nothing is neutral, everything is on its way.

— John O’Donohue, Beauty

In Blessed Unrest Paul Hawken speaks of the movement that involves million of non-government organizations that are changing the world. These organizations may or may not know about each other. They may or may not be working on the same issues. But Hawken explains:

…at the core of all organizations are two principles, albeit unstated: first is the Golden Rule; second is the sacredness of all life, whether it be a creature, child, or culture.

I like the way Hawkens compares the movement to the immune system:

Just as the immune system recognizes self and non-self, the movement identifies what is humane and not humane. Just as the immune system is the line of internal defense that allows an organism to persist over time, sustainability is a strategy for humanity to continue to exist over time.The word immunity comes from the Latin im munis, meaning ready to serve.

There is no leader to this movement. The movement is from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. It is individuals wanting to make life better for themselves, others and future generations. The website www.wiserearth.org is available to help people find one another. They have divided the organizations into categories so people can find others who are working on the same issues. The last half of Blessed Unrest is written in conjunction with Wiserearth.org to explain the different areas of interest that have been identified in the movement at this point.

There is a history of movements passed down through the centuries. This movement has no name, but is creating miracles every second.

This is my fourth year to be back on the farm and have an organic garden.

In years past I have spent most of my time weeding.

But I have learned some gardening secrets

from good friends like Bruce and Barbara.

They tell me that the key to a good garden is the soil.

Our soil needed lots of help,

so we planted a cover crop – hairy vetch –

last fall and mowed it down this spring.

We spread manure and compost,

when ever it is available.

But the best secret is cardboard

and straw, hay, or leaves.

Garden in May

Garden in May

When I planted the garden

it looked more like a garden of hay

that was actually on cardboard I saved all winter.

The combination of cardboard and hay

keeps the ground cooler,

keeps the moisture in,

decomposes to help the soil,

but most important to me

it really cuts down on the weeds!

Garden in June

Garden in June

Now I have more time to figure out how to

control the squash beetles.

kale

For us kale seems to be the easiest vegetable to grow. It starts early in the spring and continues on into fall. It doesn’t go to seed for a long time. The leaves get bigger and bigger and there are lots of them. Then you have to figure out what to do with all that kale.

We were introduced to a very simple and wonderful way to prepare it. Tear the leaves into pieces and spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spritz them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. They will be crispy and very tasty. You can put them in a plastic bag and they will last for a long time. Healthy substitute for potato chips. Enjoy!

It wasn’t until the 1980’s that country roads had names.
It was “two miles south”
or “the road that goes by the Kirby Place.”
Now we have a sort of system,
with green street signs!
way out here in the country
so that the ambulance
and fire truck
can find us
when we dial 911.
North-South roads are County Roads,
like CR 90.
Then, East-West,
we have Windmill
and Zig Zag, which doesn’t,
and X-Road
and Valley (there isn’t)
and Yearling.
So,
as I dr0ve the wheat truck
back and forth from field to grain elevator
along Yearling Road,
with city-like street signs at every country mile,
I saw more than a dozen Scissor-tailed Flycatchers
Turtles,
Quail,
Meadowlark,
Cottontail Rabbits,
a Jack Rabbit,
a male Pheasant,
a White-tailed Deer
and a wild Turkey.

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