The gift of a welcoming friend
who realizes our interconnectedness
with everything
and enjoys soaking it up
in a bioregion
different from the one I enjoy
is delight.
A visit with Elizabeth and John
includes not only
healthful, tasty supper
and meaningful and fun conversation
but a long stay under the stars
and many joy-filled exclamations
around stars and bright moon
and soft night air
and the reluctance to go inside,
but the necessity to do so, so that
tomorrow morning’s walk
can be earlier than the wind
and unseasonable heat.
Surprisingly,
after record-high temperature (101!)
the morning is cool
as we set out on a woodland walk
toward Lake Tenkiller.

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Elizabeth lives in the Ozark Highland
ecoregion,
one of 11 or 13 (depending on whose drawing the map)
ecoregions in Oklahoma.
We live in the Prairie Tableland
of the Central Great Plains ecoregion.
Simply,
we live on the mixed grass prairie
and our friends live in the Ozark forest,
with Hickory and Oaks.
Elizabeth and I poke along the trail,
taking in everything we can.

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Evidence of tiny lives
catch our attention early…
delicate flowers on the ground,
beautiful clovers,
ferns, moss, lichen,
a tiny butterfly no bigger than a fat pea.
They flit around our feet,
almost invisible when they stop.
Unfolding briefly before flying again,
they expose lavender wings. And when
two land next to each other,
they look like scalloped flying flowers.
We listen for birds.
Birder-friends who had visited recently
had identified 27 varieties
in the forest birdsong.
I am thrilled just to see
a Summer Tanager couple.
He allows his gorgeous red self to be seen
while we stand thoroughly engaged.
Larger butterflies appear,
floating silently, as the air warms:
yellow Tiger Swallowtails, Monarchs
and an also-beautiful black/dark blue one.

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So good
to visit other bioregions,
enjoy the diversity of life,
notice how different habitats
enable and support different lives.
Born under the prairie’s big sky,
always called to the ocean, so far
away,
I walk in the sunlit, newly-greened woods
as butterflies softly approach
the very friend
who taught me interconnectedness
and the gratitude is so profound
I can only sigh
deeply.