— Photo by Tricia Dameron

Hackberry in the Evening Sun

When Dad came back
to the farm from World War II,
he bought a military surplus bulldozer
and carved out terraces
and ponds on this land,
as well as neighbors’.
One day when he was doing some dozer work
here at the house where he lived,
what we now call the farm house,
he noticed a young tree
and paused before
bulldozing it down.
It seemed to be in a good place,
right there at the northwest corner
of the yard,
and so he left it.
Sixty-five years later,
it is a magnificent tree,
with strong, thick branches
that spread 40 feet across.
It’s where I feed the birds,
birdfeeders strung along one lower branch.
A wooden statue of St. Francis of Assisi,
the patron saint of animals and the environment,
stands beside the wide trunk
and holds out a tray of birdseed,
which I fill each morning.
This is my sit spot.
From here I can watch and listen
to the chattery Red-Winged Blackbirds,
see a little Chickadee quickly grab a sunflower seed,
Red-Bellied Woodpecker hang from the bottom
of a suet feeder,
a flock of Robins searching for worms.
I can see, out in the alpaca pen and barn,
a Kildeer seemingly searching for a nest site
in some low gravelly place on the ground,
a cottontail rabbit hopping about.
I see bright pink rose buds
and the deep purple, spiky blossoms of Salvia.
From the barn I hear rooster crow,
alpaca watch me watching them,
pygmy goats napping.
The breeze blows through the hackberry,
branches bending gently,
the powerful arms,
unmoved.

Under the Arms of the Hackberry

On busy days,
I forget to stop
and sit
and watch
and take in
the goings on
of this tree-centered life.
It takes me awhile then
to settle
and be content
with green,
stillness,
chirping,
tender breezes.
The haunting call
of the mourning dove
draws me in deeper
and when my soul settles
under the arms and canopy
of this old tree,
nothing could be
more important.
From here I watch the red ball of sun
disappear beneath the horizon
as Earth rolls up in the evening.
This time of year,
I keep my eye on storms
building in the west.
And when I return
to doing,
my spirit
nourished by nature,
my work is imbued
with the stillness
in my soul,
and the remembrance
that there is something
strong at my center.