April 2015


We’d seen a Kildeer
active along the roadside
very near the entrance
to the Pond House driveway.
She scampered along the road
as I drove by, trying to distract
me from where she evidently
had laid eggs.
I knew there had to be a nest,
but didn’t
take the time to stop.
And then the day
Ann first drove the riding lawn mower
up the road to the Pond House,
the bird wasn’t darting off across the road
to distract Ann
from the area where she’d laid eggs…
no,
she was standing in the nest
raising a ruckus. Ann stopped
the lawn mower
within inches of the nest,
with its speckled teardrop-shaped eggs
perfectly placed.

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Knowing that the mail carrier
often drives alongside the road,
Ann warned her
and, at the mail carrier’s request,
put up two little flags around the nest
to help remind her,
in case Mamma Kildeer
was on break
(which she was,
when I took these photos.)

Kildeer are beach birds,
related to the Sand Piper.
This used to be a beach—
millions of years ago.
And the gravel along the roadside
is the closest material there is here now
to sand. Makes sense
she would build her nest there,
though quite hazardous
for the eggs. Still,
Kildeer often succeeds
in bringing little ones
from that beautifully-laid
nest of eggs
into the prairie world.

 photo 1-2

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photo 2-1
 Photos by Ann Denney

It’s getting close to honey bee swarming season.
Ann is already just a little bit
on the lookout.
And when she noticed 100 hives
had been placed
by a commercial beekeeper
to pollinate a neighbor’s Canola field,
she and Frank went hunting.
Sure enough,
the hives were crowded
and bees had swarmed.
In fact, they found the biggest swarm
she’d ever captured. It would be impossible
to find the queens,
though it would have been good to find a queen
for each hive. Instead,
they took brood (baby bees)
from Ann’s hives
and put a little in each of three boxes.
The swarmed bees will make queens
from some of the brood.
It was a large job
capturing the bees
into the three boxes.
But now the traveling pollinators
have three new homes
on the Oklahoma prairie.

I rise early
and, unusually, am instantly
vertical. It rained gently
all day yesterday
and clouds are thick this morning.
But there, in the east,
the sky is ablaze—orange, red,
expanding:
rolling orange and golden clouds
against red and blue ones.
I empty the rain gauge—1.3 inches,
from yesterday, last night.
Two Cottontails dash around,
heedless of wet grass.
It’s chilly,
still. I breathe deeply
good air.

As I often hear in the mornings,
Phoebe sings.
And, a small frog.
I only now hear
that Phoebe sings two
different
sentences: same words,
different emphasis.
“Fee-bee.”
“Fee-bee?”
Her name,
as statement,
then,
as question.
A Cardinal chirps — a male —
and I spot his bright redness
atop a door-stop-sized rock kept
at the back porch door.

On the front porch now,
listening to Phoebe.
A Dove coos
too. A rooster
crows from the barn.
Phoebe.
Phoebe?
Is there something about Pat
I don’t know?
What is it?
Dove stops cooing.
Phoebe still sings.

The sky has lost its vibrancy
and softened to pink.
Tree leaves stir.
I feel a chill.
Phoebe stops.
Dove coos.
Frog creaks.
I’m almost so chilly
I’ll soon
have to go
inside.

Clouds cover the sun.
The sky is gray.
Rooster crows
from the yard.

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Youth from St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow
came Friday evening,
settled into the strawbale hermitage
and put up cots in the tipi
then checked out the moon and planets
through the telescope.
By early morning,
they were up early,
good scouts they also are,
and helped us set up
for the fifth annual Green Connections Earth Day Celebration.
They stayed all day,
and joined other guests engaging
in the events and activities,
meeting the animals,
touring the strawbale with Tom Temple,
and the solar shower,
which he set up again for the season;
walking the labyrinth,
sitting on the porch,
climbing trees,
visiting the high tunnel garden…

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The Transition OKC team
invited guests to make their own toothpaste
(mint or cinnamon)
and make bookmarks
using flower petals and other natural materials.

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Green Connections board members
Tom Temple, Bruce Johnson, Barbara Hagan,
Dorothy Gray volunteered all day.
Bruce cooked granola in the solar oven
and he and Barbara demonstrated
how efficient energy can be produced.
Our friend Deb Blakely taught
about wild bees and how to make a wild bee home.
Transition OKC team member Josh Buss
stepped up to build fires for the bison hot dog cooking
and grilled the corn on the cob.
Dave Conrad led a drum circle
that brought everyone into a zone
of relaxation and connection with Earth.
Patty and Bill Cummings and Matthew Hill
played fiddle music that heals the heart
and buoys the spirit.
Lisa Piccolo demonstrated the gentle art
of spinning alpaca fiber.
Tulsa Sierra Club members shared seeds
and Loblolly Pine seedlings.
Some walked the timeline of the creation of the universe,
the “Cosmic Walk.”
We joined together in a liturgy thanking all our Earth kin.

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The sun shone.
The breeze settled.
Late in the day I stood,
a bit apart,
for a moment
and reflected on this little scene:
People came to the prairie,
to a place where they could
for a day
spend time outdoors,
under a big sky,
learning, celebrating, being together,
being healed in the wind and the sun
and the quiet
alongside others. I’m not sure why
everyone made such an effort.
It is amazing that they did—
a glad moment,
sustaining all.

1990 Pale_Blue_Dot NASA“The Pale Blue Dot,”
as Carl Sagan called our planet home as seen on the right side
of this photograph, in a vertical streak, middle of the image,
taken in 1990 from Voyager-I.

 

There’s no use talking about Earth Day until we begin to think like Earth{people.} Not as Americans and Russians, not as blacks and whites, not as Jews and Arabs, but as fellow travelers on a tiny planet in an infinite universe. All that we can muster of kindness, of compassion, of patience, of thoughtfulness, is necessary if this tiny planet of ours is not to go down to destruction. Until we have a leadership willing to make the enormous changes—psychological, military, and bureaucratic—to end the existing world system, a system of hatred, of anarchy, of murder, of war and pollution, there is no use talking about buying more wastebaskets or spending a couple of hundred million dollars on the Missouri River.

 If we do not challenge these fundamental causes of peril, we will be conned by the establishment while basic decisions are being made over which we have very little control, though they endanger everything on which our future and the world’s depend.

—I.F. Stone
Speech at National Mall
First Earth Day, 22 April 1970

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Elm Dance, During a Past Earth Day Celebration

 

Last-minute surprises
for the Green Connections’ Earth Day celebration
tomorrow at Turtle Rock Farm.
Matthew Hill, who we got to know
while he was helping Tom Temple
frame the strawbale hermitage,
is also a fiddler. (Some nights,
during those building days, he
and Tom and Bob Powell, also
a carpenter-musician, made great music
during evening jams.)
Matthew has arranged for his friends
Bill and Patty Cummings,
from Flagstaff, Arizona,
to play music tomorrow at the Earth Day
celebration. Bill is a fiddler extraordinaire,
Matthew raves. Patty plays guitar
and Matthew will join them on the fiddle,
playing Celtic and traditional American music.
We are glad they happened
into Oklahoma this weekend!

And,
we learn this morning,
Bill McClelland, from Green Country Sierra Club,
is bringing Loblolly Pine seedlings
to share!

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
at Turtle Rock Farm. (Directions.)
1 p.m. —Earth Drum Circle with Dave Conrad,
followed by Thanking the Earth Ceremony
3 p.m. —Cookout, with Wichita Buffalo Company hot dogs
and Corn on the Cob
On-going:
make gifts out of natural materials with TransitionOKC
alpaca fiber spinning and fiber arts with Lisa Piccolo
make your own toothpaste
build a wild bee home
energy demonstration with Bruce Johnson and Barbara Hagan
tour the strawbale hermitage
Cosmic Walk
Prairie Labyrinth
High Tunnel garden

And Music!
Trees!

Let us know you’re coming.
It’s going to be a lovely day
to be together,
make music,
love and celebrate Earth,
and let Earth
heal us,
guide us toward sustainability—
toward respectful life
for all species.

There was a time
when I visited rural Wisconsin
in the summers—August,
actually; a good time to leave Oklahoma heat
and travel north.
The farms there were picturesque—
red barns seemingly freshly painted,
manicured homesteads. I marveled
how much tidier they look
than some of our Oklahoma farms,
including ours. Different ethics, I suppose.
And while I love looking at the beautiful
Wisconsin farms, I can’t bring myself
to apply that ethic
here.
We patch and mend
old barns
that lean more each year
and drip during rains.

An old shed in the corral
was beyond mending.
Half its replaced roof lay in the pasture
for a couple of years now.
Finally, someone showed up
to take the old shed,
from our grandparents’ era,
down. The next issue—one
that paralyzed me for too long—
was what to do with the pieces.
Haul them several miles to a landfill,
burn them and haul some,
or bury everything.
Pollution, every which way you look.
As we know,
when throwing things away,
there is no “away.”
Letting it sit on the prairie,
leaning, flying in the wind,
avoided the “away” issue.
But eventually, the issue had to be faced
and last week a new member of our community
(Ironically, he moved to Oklahoma because
environmental regulations in California
were so costly.)
brought his big machinery,
ripped the old shed down
in less than an hour,
then dug a hole
and buried the whole lot,
including a pile of broken concrete
that had been sitting in the pasture for years.
I have no idea where it came from,
or why the pasture was its
throwing-“away” place.
There it all is now,
in the good earth,
forever.

We repaired the fence that one end of the barn
was holding up. Now the alpacas
have a clear view to the west,
cattle will have to find shelter
along the tree-lined creek
and the eyesore—
save for one old pole that stands
next to a water hydrant—
has gone away.
Well,
at least we can’t see it.

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