January 2010


Morning Sun on a Snow Day at Turtle Rock Farm

Creation’s being is God’s pleasure, creation’s beauty God’s glory; beauty reveals the shining of an uncreated light…Creation is only a splendor that hangs upon that life of love and knowledge, and only by grace; it is first and foremost a surface, a shining fabric of glory, whose inmost truth is its aesthetic correspondence to the beauty of the divine love…It is delight that constitutes creation, and so only delight can comprehend it, see it aright, understand its grammar. Only in loving creation’s beauty – only in seeing that creation truly is beauty – does one comprehend what creation is.

–David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite

If you want to see what’s coming up
in February
at Turtle Rock Farm,
here’s a link to our February Newsletter.

I remember a winter
some years ago
when I was living in this house –
before I left
and returned.
A friend,
traveling from Enid to Tulsa,
stopped by for a visit
and lingered long
into a snow storm
until she knew she couldn’t leave.
I think she wanted to get stuck here
rather than return home to Tulsa
and all that awaited her there.
And I was happy to have her company.
We sat here, by the dining room French doors
and watched the snow fall,
then the birds eat the seed we took out to them
several times a day.
We drank tea
and ate soup and bread
and talked
and walked
in the quiet, snow-filled prairie
for days.
That was one time in our friendship
when I think we finally got to say everything
we wanted to say.
And I’m grateful for that time
when everything stopped
except feeding the birds
and ourselves
and enjoying the snow
and our friendship,
because eventually she moved to another state
and died of cancer.

I think of her now
because I’m snowed in
alone –
well, not alone;
there are the birds
and dogs
and cats
and chickens
and Alpaca –
all hayed and fed and watered.
And the cattle across the road,
covered in white now.
And the snow’s soft,
inexpressible beauty.
I am companioned by beauty.

Too, I think of her
because yesterday
a mutual friend died.
And I imagine them
there
in whatever way
we are together
when we’ve left Earth.
And yet
here we are
on another snowy day
in whatever way
we are always
together,
in the exquisite silence
of a soft snowfall,
surrounded by
and filled with
Beauty.

Three of the Five Hens at Turtle Rock Farm

Eggs are the easiest food to grow
on our farm.
Not that we grow them.
Well, we provide a happy home,
fresh (unfrozen) water
and feed
and corn
and treats
for the five hens who live here.
But they do all the work.
We thought that during the winter
they would stop laying.
And for a couple of winter months
they gave us only one egg a day,
which was enough –
until our sons came home for Christmas
and we had to buy a dozen eggs
even though we had saved the ones
our hens had laid.
But after Christmas
we started getting two eggs a day
and now there are regularly four.
With deep gratitude,
we thank the hens every day
and give them whatever they want.
They congregate around our feet,
clucking,
to our deep delight,
squawking sometimes,
to our deep delight,
as we freshen their water
and pour the corn out
for them to scratch about.

These lovely orbs of nutrition,
in varying shades of tan and pinkish beige,
in varying sizes
(the littlest, black and white speckled hen lays the smallest egg)
are perfect.
Every time.

I don’t know how to explain the wonder,
the profound satisfaction,
of eating food
that I see born
right where I live.
Warm there,
in the straw bed in the roost,
into my hand
into the pan.
So simple.
So complete –
even more so,
for reasons I do not know,
than tender, newborn leaves of spinach
growing in the greenhouse.
Perhaps because I made no effort.
It was the chicken’s doing.
All I have to do is care for her
and she gives
food.

We have arrived at the point
in our work at Turtle Rock Farm
that we are ready to work with an intern
who’s ready to learn about
the kinds of sustainability projects we have going here.
Working alongside us,
living here on the farm,
an intern would learn from hands-on experience
in the gardens, with the animals,
in the pecan grove, the orchard,
the pasture land,
and during our retreats
what we are learning about living and farming sustainably.
If they come on board in time,
they’ll get to be involved in our exciting strawbale construction building too.

To find out more and how to apply,
go to our website www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com.

The sky was on fire
as I settled onto the west end of the porch
for my Saturday evening ritual,
watching the sun disappear
as Earth rolled up
at the end of another week.
Everything was still
as night began to fall –
only the slightest pink still visible
above the horizon.
It was just growing dusky
as I sat in the stillness,
letting it sink into my bones,
when a Cottontail Rabbit
hopped (really, hopped!) up next to the porch
where I put out seed for the birds.
One moonlit night not long ago,
to my delight,
I had discovered two of them there,
nibbling away at what the birds had left.

So I sat still and watched both
return.
Then, I had to stop myself from laughing right out loud
when a third hopped
really high –
as if thrilled to have just discovered the bounty –
onto the cracked corn and sunflower seed-covered lawn
and began to feast.

It is so wonderful to see them there
that I’m going to ignore the fact that
lots of fearless rabbits
could wreak havoc
come summer,
come gardens,
come blackberries.
Maybe they like dried grain and seeds
better than blackberry vines!

In his book Anam Cara
John O’Donohue tells the story of Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez
saying about his 30-year relationship (at the time)
with his wife Mercedes:
“I know her so well now that I have not the slightest idea who she is.”
O’Donohue makes the point that Marquez,
who shares his gift for
celebrating the wondrous mysteries of life in his celebrated fiction,
would seem to live it out in his relationships –
never getting so familiar,
even over 30 years,
that he would think he knew his wife completely,
thus leaving himself open to the revelation of further mysteries.

I was reminded of this story recently
when suddenly,
looking at Mr. Darcy,
I realized that his nose
is shaped like a heart.
I had never noticed it before.
When he first arrived last June,
it was the breath-kisses from his nose
to our faces
that we loved most about him.
Now that he’s growing into adulthood
and is choosy about when and who he kisses,
(and prone to snitty spits if you push him,)
we’ve sometimes had to stand back
and love him from a distance.
And now I see
his sweet nose
is shaped
like a heart.

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