August 2009

moth - airplaine wings

In the morning it’s fun to go outside
and check the back screen door and window
to see who’s napping.
Moths fly about all night
in the porchlight
then must fall in exhaustion on the screen,
window ledge
and sleep most of the day there.

Tiny orange ones.
A lovely yellow one with a pink line across the wings
and fancy, fanned antennae.
Tiny nondescript ones –
are they babes?
A giant black, charcoal and white one.
Some with dramatic geometric markings.
A grayish one with wings
like airplane wings.
A gray one with just a hint
of turquoise in its wings.
Flat ones.
Sticky-outy ones.
all together,
a magnificent array.

moth - blackand white geometricmoth - flatmoth - stickyout, bettermoth - with turquoisemoth- big charcoalmoth- yellow and pink


cottonwood at twilight

Most of the glimpses of immortality, design and benevolence that I see come from the natural world – from the seasons, from the beauty, from the intermeshed fabric of decay and life, and so on. Other signs exist as well, such as instances of great and selfless love between people, but these, perhaps, are less reliable. They hint at epiphany, not at the eternity that nature proclaimed. If this seems a banal notion, that is exactly my point. The earliest gods we know about were animals – tigers, birds, fish. Their forms and faces peer out from ancient ruins, and from the totems and wall paintings of our first religions.

And though, as time went on, we began to give our gods human features, much feeling still adheres to the forests and fields and birds and lions – else why should we moan about the ‘desecration’ of our environment? I am a reasonably orthodox Methodist, and I go to church on Sunday because fellowship matters, because I find meaning in the history of the Israelites and in the Gospels, and because I love to sing hymns. But it is not in ‘God’s house’ that I feel {divine} presence most – it is in {God’s} outdoors, on some sun-warmed slope of pine needles or by the surf. It is there that the numbing categories {humans} have devised to contain this mystery – sin and redemption and incarnation and so on – fall away, leaving the overwhelming sense of the goodness and the sweetness at work in the world.

Bill McKibben, The End of Nature

spider and blue wasp I

Right there on the back porch
by the back door
was a spider
that got my attention.
It was black and bulbous
and its legs could become hairy.
I wondered if it was a baby tarantula.
a beautiful wasp walked up to it.
It was reddish-orange
with a bright, shiny, blue set of wings.
It seemed very bold
walking up to this spider,
but then I wouldn’t know who had the strongest defense.
I’d seen the spider move – ever so slightly –
a couple of its legs.
After a bit,
the wasp latched onto the spider
and started hauling it away.
Now I began to wonder if I’d really seen
those legs move.
Maybe the spider was dead.
The wasp moved right along,
as if the spider weighed nothing.
spider and blue wasp II

spider and blue wasp III
It carried it up over the bottom of the screen door.
I was amazed,
and then alarmed:
that wasp backed into the corner of the screen door
and carried the spider into my house!
I opened the door,
grabbed a fly swatter
and gently, with the end of it,
flung the spider back outside.

The wasp couldn’t figure out what happened
and looked quite a while for that spider,
which lay perfectly still on the porch.
I carefully maneuvered the fly swatter under it
and laid it beneath a tomato plant,
in the shade,
I’m certain,
I saw the legs move again,
though it stayed exactly where I laid it.
An hour later,
it was still there.
This morning,

All kinds of questions:
was the spider alive?
If so, what was its plan?
Was it pretending to be dead?
Was it at the mercy of the wasp or
was it going to eat the wasp at an opportune moment?
What happened to it?
Is it still alive?
Was it a baby
or full-grown?
And what right did I have to interfere?
I know the answer to that one:
none really –
and I wouldn’t have,
had they not gone into the house.
Familiar issue:
how does the natural world get along
with humans in it?


Outstanding in the Field Dinner – Jolie Vue Farm, Oct. 2008

We’re very excited about the fund-raiser Green Connections
is holding at Turtle Rock Farm.
Green Connections is a not-for-profit corporation
that supports the retreat work here
to help people connect with creation,
get to know it more intimately,
be healed in it,
and make choices about living more sustainably
so that Earth can heal too.

On Saturday, October 24,
at 4 pm people will gather for a tour of the farm
(think hay wagon, gardens, Alpaca)
or a hike
(think prairie, creeks, beaver dam.)
At 5:30,
(inspired by the Outstanding in the Field Dinner)
we’ll take our places at a long table
set with white cloth
along Doe Creek.

Dinner will be prepared by Oklahoma Chef Kamala Gamble
and it will feature all local foods,
from Oklahoma growers including Kamala and Turtle Rock Farm.
Kamala was recently featured in Southern Living magazine.
She is one of the co-founders of Oklahoma’s Slow Food Chapter
and besides her catering business and cooking classes,
(Kam’s Kookery)
she farms organic vegetables in an acre and a half garden.
Her food is spectacular.

Wines will be provided by Woods and Waters Winery.
We’ve been to this lovely vineyard, winery and bistro
outside of Anadarko, Oklahoma,
and love their wines.


Then, our dear friend Kyle Dillingham
will cast his musical spell upon us
in concert right here on the prairie.
Kyle is an incredible musician and performer,
a member of Horseshoe Road.
They’re the ones who wrote and recorded
the Oklahoma Centennial song, Oklahoma Rising.
Kyle was a lad when we first heard him play the fiddle
and we’ve watched him grow as a prince and a musician:
we were there when he played on Grand Ole Opry;
when he performed with Roy Clarke as a guest musician –
and heard Roy Clark say “This is my show” when Kyle stole it;
gave his senior recital at Oklahoma City University.
As a matter of fact,
we even played the old stand-up bass with him
long, long ago.
We are very proud and excited
that he can share this evening with us.

Too, on October 24,
we will all pose for a photograph with the number 350
displayed dramatically in some form
(any ideas??)
as part of the action event day
that day
when people the world over get the word out
that 350 is the limit of particles per million
that the earth can sustain –
It seems a fitting combination of conversions:
a world-wide recognition and call to stop global warming
at a dinner celebrating and recognizing the importance
of eating whole, local food grown naturally,
while taking a moment to celebrate life through music
and raising money for work
that connects
and supports
sustainable life.
Tickets are on sale

Join us
for a memorable
evening on the prairie.

chicken tractor complete

Ann’s been hard at work
and has finished building the chicken tractor.
It took her the better part of a week
and several trips to the hardware store
and considerable problem-solving
but she’s created a safe, sturdy, spacious mobile home
for the five hens
who will be arriving next week.

Their work is cut out for them:
with late-summer rains
the weeds and insects
are going strong in the garden.


Last week on Oklahoma Food Coop delivery day
we picked up our order outside a neighboring town
at Rowdy Stickhorse Wild Acres.
And so we took the tour.

The Rink family moved to this 100-year-old farm
about 10 years ago.
It was, they say, ramshackled:
not a roof on a single barn.
They’ve worked steady and hard
not only repairing buildings
but building flocks and herds:
chickens, goats (meat and dairy), pigs (ohmygosh cute, squealing piglets) and cows.
They sell their products on the farm
as well as at farmers markets and the Oklahoma Food Coop.
They work very hard
to provide natural, unadulterated food and other products.
One swing around the place
and the amount of work that goes into it
seems overwhelming.
But it’s a family effort
and they seem to meet it with creativity, dedication
and good energy and good humor.
We like getting our food and other necessities
and some niceties
from people who care about Earth
and who are cheerfully committed to natural ways,
harmonious ways;
who are resourceful
and live sustainably.

So thank you, Paulette and family:
You inspire.


pond - hijinks

They spent much of their boyhood
in a tree in our front yard,
on a multi-level platform
that needed constant attention
and kept them creatively engaged for hours, days, years,
until they were old enough to get wheels
to bike and skateboard the neighborhood.
When they got big wheels,
they found muddy country roads
and places to camp.
They had their video games,
their electric guitars and drums,
cell phones and computers too.
But they were outside
a lot,
gathering in the front yard
(but not in the tree)
once the girls became friends.

Now they are marrying
and otherwise beginning to disperse,
to Los Angeles, New York, Colorado,
even St. Petersburg, Russia.
But for the second year,
on a Sunday in August
they arrive here at the farm
for reunion,
young men now, and a few young wives,
to spend the day together.
A day outdoors.

Time stands still
in the Alpaca pen,
feeding them,
stroking Mr. Darcy’s soft, carpet-like neck,
letting him sniff them;
sitting on the grass,
or laying in it,
seeing how close they can get to Biak and Cha Cha
who sit in repose seemingly uninterested.
They notice that the Alpaca never blink
their huge eyes.
They notice their forked feet
and are amused how they can move their legs
to scratch themselves.
They are especially amused
and are quick to flee
when Biak and Cha Cha
begin a spitting match.
They think the Alpaca weird
and compelling.

But it is the time on the pond
that warms my heart
and gives me confidence
in this generation.
I sit with the young wives
on the grass at pond’s edge
watching “the boys”
rowing in the canoe and rowboat.
Once the races, the gentle crashing,
the splashing
the jumping and swimming from boat to boat
have run their course,
as the sun turns the pond
more intense blue
and the trees take on a golden tint,
they begin lazily exploring
the shoreline, the islands,
watching frogs and snakes.
The stated goal is to catch them,
but they never do
and I don’t think they ever intended to.
We sit on shore for a couple of hours
watching these young men
as they make their way around the pond
on this golden evening.
They disappear behind an island
and we hear nothing for a long time,
then finally see the tip of the canoe appear
around the end of the island.
Later we hear shouts
and laughter
as a snake surprises them.
We on the shore laugh too.
Our joy couldn’t be more complete.
“They never get to do this,”
says a wise young wife,
as if to say, “This is important.”
My heart couldn’t be warmer.
When I visit my son in Los Angeles,
we go to the ocean several times during my stay.
He takes me to his favorite spots:
close-by beaches where he and newer friends watch the sun
disappear in the evening,
and farther places,
wilder places,
where they go to get away from the stress of the city.
I know he goes even farther,
into the great forests,
to camp.
So I believe that
this group of friends that grew up in tree house
and Oklahoma countryside,
will take with them,
to LA, Colorado, New York,
St. Petersburg,
wherever they go,
their need,
compelling interest in,
and connection with
the natural world.
I pray that because they spent lazy summer Sundays
on an Oklahoma farm pond
they will find the world’s great oceans,
the great forests
and mountains
and that they will always care
and do what they can to preserve
the wild, natural places.

pond - exploring shoreline

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