February 2011


Endless days
sick in bed.
when even the long-awaited rain
that finally falls
is but a passing bit of news,
nothing more.
This is when we remember
that we will die,
and, in light of the fact we can’t keep
a single commitment,
the crazy value placed on our doings.
That will all go on,
no matter what.

Then, another of those gray days,
one hears again,
first thing in the morning,
the sweet whistle of the Meadowlark
and notices,
high above the clouded horizon,
two pink clouds floating along.
Later, on the edges of more deep sleep,
there is the flutter of a flock of Meadowlarks
as they rise suddenly outside the window.
And eventually,
though still gray, a day comes that is so warm and breezy,
windows and doors are opened
to freshen the air
and, amidst a concert of sweet birdsong,
the spirit.
There is life still,
and now,
altered perspective
about how to live it.



Best of any song
is bird song
in the quiet, but first
you must have the quiet.

— Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir

Dove and Red-Winged Blackbirds

Woodpecker and Red-Winged Blackbirds

When the community
of Red-Winged Blackbirds arrives
at the Hackberry to eat,
they mostly eat grain scattered on the ground.
One or two might vie for a spot on the block of suet
hanging from the tree.
Some will climb aboard one of the other hanging feeders.
Sparrows retreat to the tree limbs
until the big birds have had their fill.
Little Goldfinches continue, undisturbed,
to feast from their feeder
because the perches and feeding holes are too small
for the bigger birds.
Dove is undaunted, feasting around the periphery,
and the black birds don’t seem to notice.
Neither is Woodpecker going to wait for the Red-Wingeds
to take all the goodies.
He flies right down into the middle of the throng.
The bigger birds approach him,
but he pokes at them with that stout beak
and they back off.
He takes a grain quickly,
watching the other birds,
fending off those who approach,
then, in a flash, looks to the ground
and pecks another grain.

I can’t feed all the birds.
I don’t need to feed all the birds.
I can’t assure that every bird
gets her or his fair share.
I can only watch
and marvel.

Building the Raised Bed

Planting the Raised Bed

It’s gardening season.
Ann has started seedlings
in the house
and now, planted the first seeds in the soil.
Last Saturday,
during the first-of-the-season
Composting and Gardening Workshop,
participants built turnable composters
to take home
and then learned how to build
a raised bed garden,
into which they planted
and onions.

The next Composting and Gardening Workshops
will be March 5 and April 9.
To register, go to our website: www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com

Eating fresh, healthful, delicious food
that you’ve planted
in soil that you’ve nourished with the trimmings
of vegetables you’ve grown
and prepared for those in your life,
is to experience the simple
and wondrous
circle of life.

Class Participants with Composter

weather to walk in.
Haven’t been out onto the prairie
for weeks,
so Joe, Maizey and I walked
into the stiff southern wind
Sunday afternoon.
It felt good and warm
and familiar.
The cattle
standing on the crest of a rise
watched, motionless,
as Joe investigated holes
in the ground along the fence.
Maizey trotted along,
staying close to me—
until we got to the point
I wanted to turn back.
This time, she kept going
to the neighbors’
where I heard the dogs there
greet her.

It was good to see clouds
moving fast
across the sky.
It was good to hear the Meadowlarks,
one especially,
singing atop a fencepost.
Joe and I were back home,
before Maizey returned,
describing her solo adventure
with an exuberant wag of the tail.
She got lots of exuberant
and then we all settled
on the front porch,
in the quiet
and the warmth,
to watch the light fade.

I turn
and, for a moment,
open my eyes—
I must be awake—
and see out the window
to the East
a bright star
in the night sky.
The next time
my eyes open
it is a little higher.
And the third time—
I am awake now—
the sky is morning white.
The golden sun has yet to crest
the horizon
but it has washed its light
on Venus
and I can see her
no more.
So many beautiful lights
now unseen
but there.

It was like April today.
My second February afternoon
working from the front porch.
I watched two honey bees
at the bird feeder,
felt relieved that the fish pond
is now thawed
and no fish float on top.
Opened front and back doors
so that a soft, warm breeze
and birdsong
could flow through the house.
we met today with friends and supporters—
the amazing group of wise and committed people
who sit on our advisory board—
and made plans for the first
Turtle Rock Farm Earth Day celebration.
I hope for another April-like day
April 22.

We will dedicate the Straw Bale and Mud Hermitage,
give thanks to the good Earth,
celebrate life on the planet.
There will be Alpaca-shearing,
Alpaca-wool spinning,
solar-oven cooking
(and you can make one to take home).
Other interesting and fun
Earth-related things to do,
for adults
and children:
animals to meet,
things to plant,
nature hikes,
walking the labyrinth,
a cookout,
an old-fashioned contra dance
in the round-top barn
and some things that haven’t even
occurred to us yet.
Keep posted here
and on our website.
And plan to spend the afternoon
and evening with us
on a real April day.

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