Our May-June 2016 Newsletter
Much Ado About Earth
April 26, 2016
What better way to celebrate
than to enjoy it.
And we did,
Oklahoma April day.
We learned about bees and other pollinators,
took the Cosmic Walk,
made seed bombs,
spun silky alpaca wool,
cooked in solar ovens,
discovered Smart Pots,
toured the house made of straw and mud,
walked the prairie labyrinth,
watched the goats and alpaca,
led children on a nature scavenger hunt,
climbed old Junipers,
danced, hilariously, to sweet fiddle music,
picnicked on grilled corn and bison hot dogs,
and thanked the Earth.
May we be so attentive,
so thoughtful about living our lives
with this magnificent planet
October 19, 2015
We are not foreign
to harvest machinery breaking down.
It is to be expected
during wheat harvest.
But it never dawned on us
that the pecan harvest might
come to a profound halt
due to equipment failure. It did.
Ann’s sons, Brok and Ben,
and their families arrived on Thursday
energized about the celebration
and the good work
that is pecan harvest. Especially
this year, with a bumper crop.
Friday we were in the pecan grove
shaking trees, collecting pecans in tarps
then hulling and sorting them.
All hands were busy, including three
who figured out the hulling
very quickly. We brought home
1200 pounds of pecans on Friday.
Saturday, everyone was eager
to get back to the grove. That’s
when it happened: something broke
on the tractor’s PTO apparatus
which runs the shaker. We called
a couple of mechanic-minded friends,
but no one could figure how to fix it.
The tractor had to be hauled to Perry
to be diagnosed on Monday. By then
family will have returned to their homes
Leaving the pecans hanging,
we spent two days, hulling and sorting
the pecans from the husks,
the Kansa from the Pawnee.
We moved the operation
from the grove to Ann’s front yard
and enjoyed the conversation,
the gorgeous autumn weather,
the light on the pond next to us
If love makes pecans taste better,
these will be the best.
October 5, 2015
We’ve been lucky the last six years;
on the day of the Green Connection’s
Prairie Dinner and Concert,
we’ve experienced Oklahoma breezes,
but never rain. It’s usually been sunny,
with crisp autumn air. But this year
was different. Normally, we begin
setting the long table about 1 p.m.
This year, we sat around the living room
watching the radar on our cell phones
trying to guess if the storms in the west,
would move more north,
or dissipate before reaching us.
Making the safest decision,
we began setting up the tables
in the round-top barn
instead of outdoors alongside
tree-lined Doe Creek.
a different kind of Prairie Dinner and Concert:
the board members, Transition OKC‘s core team
and even guests who had already arrived
jumped in to help. There was wonderful
comaraderie as we also helped chef Kamala
and her kitchen staff set up in the barn as well.
Soon, the Closer to Earth youth arrived
and the abundant appetizers were set on a table
in the farmhouse backyard. Tom Temple uncorked
Woods & Water Winery‘s Merlot
as more and more guests arrived
and the seventh annual Green Connections
Barn on the Prairie Dinner
was no less magical than when it is
alongside Doe Creek. Different certainly—
after all, we were only kinda outside—
but no less magical.
The five-course local food dinner
was scrumptious; who could choose
which dish was their favorite—creamy autumn
vegetable soup, roasted vegetables,
garlic mashed potatoes, roast (yes, local) beef,
Conversation was festive
inside the barn walls;
the service was sterling,
thanks to the Closer to Earth youth.
Marcy Roberts, who leads
the Transition OKC core team,
gave a beautiful tribute
to a surprised Lia Woods,
who received the Community Catalyst Award,
for her work in urban agriculture
at CommonWealth Urban Farms in Oklahoma City.
played sweet and heart-achingly beautiful
music on that violin; his friend Claire
joined him for some jazzy tunes
on her saxophone; his son Christopher
and her son Moses played tag
with Kyle, as he played on;
a bonfire outside offered warmth
on an October evening,
as did the wonderful gathering
of people who care about Earth
and sustaining life for all.
And so it is to all,
that we offer our profound
June 25, 2015
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(a family I happen to know)
signed up for last Saturday’s
“A Sense of Place” Workshop.
So we spent the day together
learning about watersheds,
and exploring one in particular—
Oklahoma City’s Deep Fork Watershed—
to begin to understand
that everywhere on the planet
and that one way
to get a sense of place
is to get to know the watershed
that contributes to the stream
that flows through a place
and eventually leads
to some ocean.
After learning how
streams become polluted,
we headed out to Warr Acres,
to Ann Arbor Street, to see
the head waters of Deep Fork Creek
and Lake Eufaula.
We spent the afternoon
visiting habitat along Deep Fork Creek
at three sites around the city.
All four members of the family
have great interest, curiosity,
a sense of adventure
and already know a good deal
about the natural world. So
it was a pleasure,
wander and wonder
Parents who spend time
in nature with their children
are gifting all life
on the planet.
The Sewell Family
April 17, 2015
Alpaca shearing day
is a festive day
for us humans—
a group effort
as Marty Hoffman
and at least some of his children
Not so festive for the alpaca:
When we halter them
they immediately they begin humming
Trizah, Kezziah, Ezekiel, Lazarus
Ann scoops up the soft wool,
a year’s growth,
still warm from Biak’s body temperature,
and keeps the three grades separate
in marked bags.
When Biak is shorn,
it’s William’s turn. He also
gets a tooth-trimming.
But it is Mr. Darcy,
the youngest, who will undergo
the greatest shedding this year—
not only his fleece;
today is his gelding day.
It is Frank’s (he is a vet)
first alpaca gelding.
We are all a little nervous,
sad. We’ve avoided this surgery,
but Darcy has become very rambunctious
when anyone besides Ann, Frank or I
come into or near the pen. He bucks and
kicks and rears up in a show of his dominance.
It started a couple of years ago,
just with young males. But now,
any visitor stands the chance
to witness or experience
Darcy’s display of alpha-ness.
It was unavoidable
if we wanted to be able to
bring people into the alpaca pen.
Frank performed the surgery
carefully and efficiently
and Darcy immediately
stood as if it was simply
We expected he might spit
at us, but he didn’t.
We hope that he is less
but as curious and approachable
as he has always been.
March 11, 2015
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It was “Quarter Time”
at First United Methodist Church,
in Pawnee, Oklahoma.
It’s a multi-generational gathering,
for a program, music,
food. It’s the church
I attend; the pastor and people there
support the work we do
at Turtle Rock Farm
and come to celebrate
Earth Day with us.
This Sunday evening
the generations gathered
to make the Cosmic Walk,
a journey through the universe’s becoming,
beginning with the Flaring Forth
some 13 billion years ago,
up to right now,
where we, not that long ago,
came into the long,
they declared at the end:
“I am _____
and this is my story.”
After the walk,
as this community
a few tears,
of their life together
Then, in the celebration—
the children’s sharing
of their considerable musical talent—
grew ever more