OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErica, Planting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATaylor and Erica, Weeding Blackberries

Erica Moore interned
at Turtle Rock Farm
last summer. She loved gardening
and brought helpful ideas—
largely from internet searches—
to our work.
An exuberant spirit,
we were delighted to see her again
when she returned for our Earth Day celebration,
with her brother Taylor,
a high school student.
That day, Erica realized
how much she missed—
and needs—time on the prairie,
so she and Taylor decided
to return monthly to volunteer,
which they did,
last weekend.
They helped us with gardening
for two days. And as much as we appreciate
that help (greatly!)
it wasn’t their greatest gift.

As we planted,
Erica talked about her job.
A recent recreation-and-community graduate
from the University of Central Oklahoma,
Erica works as a recreation director
in a residential program for those with addictions.
She convinced the institution to fund
a gardening program.
She and the residents
have made and planted a raised bed garden,
which Erica, characteristically, has plans to expand.
She told us stories of teaching the adult residents
about growing food. One day,
when a hail storm damaged tomato plants,
the residents thought tomato-growing was over.
Not for Erica,
who told them they would replant. “You don’t quit!”
she told them, not hiding her astonishment
that they would consider quitting.
Not only are there healthy new tomato plants,
the hail-damaged ones lived.
Her supervisors are thrilled:
not so much because there are tomatoes on the horizon,
but because of the metaphors about life
Erica and the gardening offer.
Some of the residents,
when they graduate and go home,
have sent seeds back to Erica
to plant at the institution.

Saturday evening,
as supper was cooking,
we took a rest from our weekend labor
and sat on the front porch.
It wasn’t long before
Erica and Taylor were playing the cloud game.
They would call out the shapes
they saw and the other would have to see it too
or it didn’t count. Of course the shapes change
quickly.
They saw the typical dragon, alligator, dog…
but they also saw imaginative things like
“a woman in a box, being cut in half.”
And they both saw it!
Several times, one would call out something they saw
and the other would say: “I was just going to say that!”
For an hour,
the clouds kept our rapt attention;
our hearts were light and free
and we laughed a lot.

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These young ones,
who google information
on their cell phones
all day long,
also know how to put the cell phones down,
entertain themselves in the clouds,
garden—
and teach their elders to garden—
and know when to come to the prairie
to soothe
and feed
their souls.

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Clouds, Saturday Afternoon
(Lower Right: Dog Laying on Its Back)