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Together at Turtle Rock Farm…In These Times

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Spring Come Early at Turtle Rock Farm

Our March Newsletter

Four two weeks
during the UN Climate Summit
we made a walk meditation
for Earth and all life
each morning. The last morning,
we left the grassy place we had walked
outside Angie Smith Chapel
on the Oklahoma City University campus,
and we drove north,
to The Great Salt Plains State Park
to see the Sand Hill Cranes.
We thought it a fitting place
to be
at the close of the UN Climate Summit talks—
at Salt Plains Bay
watching Sand Hill Cranes
on an unseasonably warm
and beautiful
December day.
We heard them long
before we saw them.
It was a bubbling,
perhaps gurgling,
sound,
loud. They were standing
in the sunlight
along the bay shoreline.
Several hundred of them.
But there were many more—
40,000—out and about,
feeding.
Creamy gray and white,
with black tips on their wings
that we could only see
when they took flight,
which they did,
to our delight.

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Too, we watched two bald eagles
in a tree above the cranes.
And we walked the nature trail,
alongside the marsh,
beside twittering sparrows—
sighing
often,
taking in the warmth
and beauty
and stillness,
letting go the tension
which we hadn’t realized
we’d taken on; the tension
of climate talks,
about the future of life
on this magnificent planet.

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And that day
in the sunlight
and stillness,
amid the gurgling sound of Sand Hill Cranes,
the beauty of life on the planet
healed us
some,
and we made one more prayer
for healing
for all.

I changed my city sit spot.
I thought it was in the food forest,
under the umbrella of trees
and amid the undergrowth.
But then, a few mornings ago,
I was in the urban farm before anyone else
and I sat down on a half-log
that serves as a bench
and before long
birds
returned
and it was like coming home,
like sitting on my front porch
at the other farm,
Turtle Rock Farm, up north.
It felt so good
to feel in the city
what I feel at the farm.

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Mockingbird

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Female Red-Winged Blackbird

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Robin

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I watched and listened to Mockingbird
and Robin, chirp and eat Juniper berries.
I watched three gulls
flying high in lazy circles
in the gorgeous, cloudless blue sky.
When they caught the sun
at a certain angle
their white feathers
shined silver.
I watched a female Red-Winged Blackbird
(I think) and Sparrows play
on the high line pole.
I watched a squirrel scamper across
a high line wire,
with trips into the trees.
The afternoon sun was warm,
the breeze soft
the light golden,
shadows long.

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View of CommonWealth Urban Farm from new sit spot

Evidently it’s true what they say:
Your sit spot
finds you.

It’s quite a bird day
here in the city!
Walking at Lake Hefner
this morning,
we watched a Great White Egret
fish,
Mallards swim.

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I happened to look up
and saw a large bird approaching
in the western sky.
I couldn’t identify it…
wasn’t a Turkey Vulture,
wasn’t a hawk, and then,
as it reached us,
not far overhead,
the sunlight set its white
head feathers aglow:
it was a Bald Eagle!
A young one,
smallish, but old enough
to have grown its white feathers.
We were astonished
and in awe.

Back on 32nd Street,
two Chickadees
at the bird feeders—
the first.
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Mockingbird
has come close
in the past. Right up next
to me on the porch,
hanging out there on the nearest Hackberry branch.
Forever in my life
she has captured my attention;
first in the song, “Mockingbird Hill,”
(my mother’s old records
must have introduced me)
and much later,
when we still had such things,
atop a tv antennae
in the spring,
throughout the summer,
carrying on exuberantly
that repertoire
of others’ songs. Back
at the farm these last nine years,
their songs,
are among the sure signs
of spring; and, at midnight,
those times I awake,
welcome company.
Around the farm,
Mockingbirds often fly close
as I walk the prairie,
lighting atop Junipers
along the fence lines. As summer
warms, and they have mated,
they fly and perch silently.
I don’t know why; they seem
to accompany.

Now comes autumn
and for the first time
in my awareness,
Mockingbird is close again,
stopping by the bird bath,
flying treetop to treetop
as I walk in country
and even in the city. And
they are singing. I don’t know
why. One time
I had the notion
that Mockingbird,
could teach me to use
my own voice. I have a tendency
toward the paradoxical, you see.
So I am tempted to wonder
if that is something to consider
again. But then I notice
I have indeed been hanging out there on the limb using my own voice.

Perhaps Mockingbird
is confused by a warm autumn;
perhaps they are mating again.
Or maybe they always have sung
in autumn
and I just now notice. I could
Google…
I’m simply going to be
glad
for the song,
the accompanying,
the voice.

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I saw them a week ago
as we drove through Kansas,
long waves of Red-Winged Blackbirds flying
over fields of sorghum.
But I thrilled
yesterday morning
when I heard them,
the first time this autumn,
in the trees between
the farmhouse and the hermitage.
How can the simple, sweet, chippy sound
of a mass of Red-Winged Blackbirds
in the treetops
swell the heart?
It’s a sound familiar.
It’s the sound of community
returned.
It’s a sound of winter.
It’s a sound of home,
and for a moment or two,
my heart ached,
for I was packing the car
for a several-day stay
in the city.

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For two days
I’d watched three turkey vultures
terribly close to the chickens and guineas,
blithely making their way around the farm,
focused on grabbing seeds from grass
and pecking bugs out of the soil. One turkey
vulture was perched atop the Hackberry tree
at the back door of the farmhouse,
where chickens were busy foraging
in the wildlife plot.
One turkey vulture was atop a power pole
in the goat pen,
where a Cochin rooster spends much of his day.
Both vultures lifted those wide black wings
into the air
when I came near.
And then I saw at least 30 of them,
above the southwest pasture,
circling in the sky,
slowly moving south. I hoped
that as I drove away
those two didn’t return
to snag a snack for the road.

My angst then
at leaving the farm
with so much aerial action—
two Red-Tailed Hawks
have returned this week as well.
I hope they focus on mice
instead of chickens and guineas—
abated somewhat
when I met up with a city friend,
a city friend who lives in a busy
part of the city, and she
described the group of buzzards
above her house. Besides the buzzards
on the wing,
she’s been watching Monarchs
and those yellow butterflies
in her beautiful garden, enjoying
them before they flutter their way
south
to Mexico.

It’s heart-swelling season,
in country
and city.

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