Chris, next to the wagon-full of unwanted plants in the high tunnel garden


Knowing a guest
is “on retreat”
in the strawbale hermitage
is always a comfort—
even if they want solitude
and we don’t engage with them.
Another human presence
brings softness.
Sometimes though, we are engaged
with guests on retreat
and last week
it was a delight to spend time
with Chris.
Chris brought his bike
to make the trips from the hermitage
to the pond house,
where he helped Ann,
pulling weeds in the high tunnel garden.
He worked in the yard at the farmhouse too
but still had plenty of time
to venture out onto the prairie.
He walked the prairie labyrinth,
spent half of one night
(until skunks wandered by)
in his hammock set up on the mesa-like Oil Blossom,
as our grandfather called it;
and, he hung out with ants
at their giant anthill home in the south pasture.
Chris’ telling of his adventures with the ants
is compelling.
He watched them for about an hour,
during which he noticed they carried grass
down the hole and into their home.
So he thought he would help
and laid some grass there for them.
They didn’t find that helpful, evidently;
they carried the grass away from the hole.
He observed them carrying grasshoppers
(Yay!) down the hole and into their home.
So, again, he thought he would help
and captured a couple of grasshoppers
and laid them next to the ant home entrance.
The ants removed the wings from the grasshoppers
and took them home.

Compelling, his story—
and awe-inspiring:
that a young man
has the interest
and takes the time
to observe deeply
some of the smaller wonders
in the neighborhood.