Oklahoma


Annual alpaca shearing is in April.
By summer’s 90-plus days
the alpacas are hot. We know
because Mr. Darcy stands with his front legs
in the drinking water bucket; that’s the time
to begin mid-day showers. Mr. Darcy is first
to stand over the spray when we turn it on;
he likes the cold water on his belly.
He stands there a very long time.
William will sidle up to Darcy,
but Darcy won’t step aside.
So that’s the point at which we take control of the hose
and share the showers.
While Darcy prefers the cold spray
on his belly,
William prefers it on his tail end, sometimes
sitting on it. Biak, who never approaches Darcy to share,
saunters over now.
Biak likes the cold water on his chest
and then likes us to hold the spray
so he can dip his nose in it.
We wet down their backs, bellies,
trying to give equal time—especially
to Darcy’s belly,
William’s tail
and Biak’s chest and nose.
Ah…
the splashy days of summer!

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Glorious Summer Days at Turtle Rock Farm
Our July 2015 Newsletter

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They come for 24 hours
four times a year.
Its not enough,
really—
for any of us. But
we are glad for every minute.
Most have known each other
30 years, or more—
colleagues in ministry.
Some of us have come along
lately. It is no matter; gladness
is the welcome; deep
is the sharing; gentle
is the humor; in every way,
nourishing,
the time together—
in silence,
in conversation,
in song,
in nature,
at table. We do not resolve
even one single problem
the world faces. Well…
perhaps, in a way,
we do:
there is healing
balm in this circle
of love, care.

A family
(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
is nature,
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.

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DSCN7587At the Head Waters of Deep Fork Creek


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.

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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,
and gift,
to simply
explore, observe,
wander and wonder
together.
Parents who spend time
in nature with their children
are gifting all life
on the planet.

DSCN7596The Sewell Family

Gathering eggs
is confusing these days.
When we see a pile of eggs
we’re never sure if a hen
is getting ready to brood,
so it’s tricky to know
whether or not to gather the eggs.
Ever since the gray Cochin hen
joined the flock two years ago
hens have been brooding
and hatching chicks. Again,
this year, she and three others
are sitting on nests of eggs.
So far, there are two chicks,
hatched by two hens,
or maybe just one—not sure.
We moved the two hens
and all the eggs
into a private suite
and soon there was one,
then two
babes.

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Now the Cochin is sitting
on an egg pile
and a Leghorn is sitting
on a nest of Guinea eggs!
Soon the Cochin may get moved
into the private suite, though
she’ll share it with the two moms
and two chicks
because they’re still too small
to be allowed in the big part of the barn,
where two cats also hang out
now and then. We’re wondering
what the guineas will do
if the Leghorn hatches keets.
Too, we’re wondering what the Leghorn
will do
when she realizes she’s hatched
guinea keets
instead of chicks.

After a few days
of strange activity,
my cell phone died.
It was three days
before a new one arrived.
Three days
of lost connections
during which my anxiety level
was alarming.
I was anxious
because
the system I use
to communicate
and connect
was lost. Now I am
acutely aware
that I need to be connected
and
that thread of connection
is very thin.
I barely could keep
the panic at bay
when I realized
I couldn’t reach
anyone
by telephone.

Probably it has
always
been this way.
I remember
being the heir to a box of letters
to and from an elderly friend
when she first made her way to Oklahoma
from her family home in Indiana
in the early 1900s. So poignant,
the descriptions of her life
on the prairie—
so far from family, home—
as she established a new home
and family,
community.
The letters came
weeks apart,
months apart. I don’t even want
to imagine the isolation I would feel
in my time
if the connections were that far apart.
In time,
she got to know the neighbors;
in those days,
there were three families within a mile
of her farm house.
In time,
she would have a daughter.
In time,
her husband would die, too soon,
and her daughter
would grow up
and move away.
By the time I met her,
she lived alone on that farm,
tending flowers and vegetables,
warmly welcoming
all visitors
with her craggy voice,
her beautifully-lined face,
her thick arms wide.
I was a young girl
and still remember those visits,
of good humor,
soft, no-nonsense wisdom,
and gentle, warm presence.
She always sent us away
with bouquets of flowers,
jars of pickles
or jelly.
We connected;
thus I, a writer then,
received her box of letters
after she died.

Cell phones,
email,
social messaging
are extremely handy.
They don’t preclude,
at least for me,
face-to-face,
heart-to-heart
connections.
They only make
getting together
easier.
I am grateful
I don’t have to wait
for letters to arrive,
though I love it
when I receive a letter from
the two people I know
who still write letters.

Cell phone-less days
have made me more aware
how fragile
is this connection.
So, I’m using an old-fashioned
address book,
to list everyone’s phone numbers.
And I’m getting an old-fashioned
land line,
just in case.
I know,
there’s that cloud…
But it seems a bit wispy
to me,
and connections
too important.

The Phoebes quickly
are outgrowing their nest.
It’s a Phoebe pile,
constantly adjusting
to fit,
but it doesn’t really
anymore. One is always
on the edge—that is
the Phoebe that moves the most,
the one I suspected
would take flight first.
It took up the most personal space,
flapped its wings,
groomed under its wings
with its beak. As it moved around
more and more,
the other three seemed to voice
their displeasure.

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Then, there were three.
That busy Phoebe
took flight.

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