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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There were tasks,
work,
to be done.
And yet
little desire.
Reluctance reared
at every moment
until
finally,
I went to the porch
and laid an armful of work
on the table
there. Following hot days,
an inch of rain fell
this morning
and gray clouds have hung
in the sky
all day; sprinkles
have fallen,
now and then;
the air swirling from the north,
is soft and cool.
Phoebe babes
at the other end of the porch
sleep all day; parents,
watching from tree limbs,
don’t deliver worms.
A cat situates herself carefully
in a circle of comfort,
her eyelids half-closed,
then nestles her nose to paw
and falls asleep. Hummingbird
whirrs in
for a sip.
The Cicadea chorus
pulses,
the wind chime never stops ringing
its deep, cool tones
and the black and brown rooster
stands beside me
crowing loudly.
Okay…

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One cannot plan
a day,
like this. Unexpected
tasks
would surely interrupt. A day
like this
demands
attention,
an embrace,
stillness.

The world is all brand new
these days…

Canola fields in full bloom.

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The sky in a puddle.

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Raindrops on Iris.

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Alpacas all sprucey
in their summer
dos.

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And, in the evening,
little frogs,
emerged from the long-dry creek bed,
singing into the night
along the muddy waters.

Too, in the night,
that smell…
of earth
and moisture,
sublime.

Retreatants gathered
at the Dominican Sisters of Peace
Heartland Spirituality Center
in Great Bend, Kansas, last week
for a time together
seeing with new eyes
our life on this “Blue Boat Home.”
Peter Mayer‘s song wove through
our days together
as we explored the Universe Story
and how those of us who have grown up
with the creation story
from the Biblical book of Genesis
can find spiritual meaning and purpose
in the continuing story
of this expanding creation.
These clergy and lay Kansans
in the Christian Disciples of Christ Church,
explored the springing natural world
in the evening following a day of light rain,
then spent a day in nature
at the Dominican Sisters’ Heartland Farm.

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Heartland Farm
is a sacred place
because here sustainability
for all
guides their every move.
This is where we at Turtle Rock Farm
first met alpacas
and first set foot in strawbale structures.
Mr. Darcy, Biak Bay and William
eventually moved from Heartland Farm
to Turtle Rock Farm
and we eventually built
a strawbale hermitage.
The women of Heartland Farm
are our sisters in so many ways.

DSCN7028Inside the Straw Bale Art Barn at Heartland Farm

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Sr. Jane introducing retreatants to Heartland Farm

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DSCN7034Making the Cosmic Walk

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Though the Disciples retreatants
had been visiting the monastery in Great Bend
for 15 years on their annual retreats,
they had not ever heard of or visited
Heartland Farm
until this year,
last week.
This is so telling
of where we are as a culture—
economically,
socially,
spiritually.
Creation spirituality
and sustainability
is, for most people, definitely
seeing through new eyes.

This time for the Disciples retreatants
was spent mostly outdoors,
learning the story of the Big Bang
alongside honoring the Genesis creation story;
re-discovering the wonder
in the natural world—
that we too
are part of the natural world;
meeting the gentle, dedicated women
of Heartland Farm.
For some of these courageous people,
the process was unsettling,
challenging, and yet
hope-filled.
Seeing with new eyes
is like that.

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Our December Newsletter:
Hello 2015. At Turtle Rock Farm

Leaving The Year of Wonder
and entering
A Year of Engagement


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Designer Tom Temple tells the story of the building of the straw bale hermitage.

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A beautiful day.
People arriving
from the city.
Experiencing a house
constructed by friends
out of straw bales
and mud.
Meeting alpaca
and pygmy goats.
Walking a country road.
Making their way
through the back and forth turns
of the labyrinth mowed into the
native grasses
atop the prairie.
Children playing
in the tall grass.
Gathering along Doe Creek,
greeting friends,
meeting new gentle people,
nibbling on abundant local food
and local wine.

DSCN5409Board Members Dorothy Gray and Tom Temple, serving Woods & Waters Wine

DSCN5402Transition OKC Team members

DSCN5403Three generations of the Wilkinson family.

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DSCN5421Kyle Dillingham, ready for supper.

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Taking places at the longest table yet
for the Green Connections
sixth annual Prairie Dinner.
Friends and supporters
serving family style a meal
whose scrumptiousness
can only be described
by the continuous “Mmms”
and “ohs.”

DSCN5400Chef Barb grilling fresh okra.

DSCN5401Kamala Gamble, of Kam’s Kookery, bringing more appetizers.

 

DSCN5430Green Connections Board and Transition OKC team, ready to serve a scrumptious meal.

DSCN5424Guests Diane Coady and Ron Ferrell

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Ohs and ahs too
for the sky through the trees
as Earth rolled up and the sun
disappeared
in the west. And for the
three-quarter moon shining
brightly, showering light
in the falling darkness
as we finally rose from the the table
and walked back down the country road
to the round-top barn
for a concert by the irrepressible
Kyle Dillingham. His eloquent music
connects soul to soul to soul.

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Once again, some described the experience
as “one of the most meaningful in my life.”
We will do this again
next year. And someday,
we hope to see another dream come true:
an entire orchestra
atop the prairie
for the premier
of a prairie symphony written by Oklahomans
Callen Clark and Kyle Dillingham. So that
everyone can experience and celebrate—
through gathered community
and soul-stirring music
(and perhaps Barb’s and Kam’s food!)—
the prairie ecosystem,
a life system
that nurtures so many.

 

 

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Something comes over us
when we realize it’s time
for the annual Green Connections’
Prairie Dinner and Concert.
No matter how much is going on,
or how long the to-do list grows,
there’s a feeling of gladness
in the air. It’s like we’re smiling
inside, carrying
a secret:
soon, gentle folks will drive up
County Road 90, emerge
from their cars,
relaxed, smiling,
hugging each other,
expectant of
another magical evening.
A casual stroll on the prairie,
visit to the magical-in-itself strawbale and mud hermitage,
maybe a walk on the labyrinth at the top of our hill,
a tour of the fall garden,
hanging out with the goats and alpaca
and then
we go down to the edge of Doe Creek
where Chef Barb of Kam’s Kookery
has laid out an elegant table
of just the beginnings of a five-course sumptuous
local foods dinner
and Woods & Waters best Oklahoma wine.
At table, donned with autumn’s prairie flowers,
our most congenial board members
serve the rest: soup, salad, breads,
great bowls of homegrown vegetables
and heavy platters of Oklahoma beef
cooked to perfection. And finally, some
wonderful confection, just about the time
Earth rolls up and sun disappears. Only
the night air could move us from the table,
that moment of complete gladness…
Well, night air
and the promise of something else
quite extraordinary.
We saunter
down the road and into the old round-top barn,
find places on straw bales,
wrap our hands around mugs of hot cider
and settle in for a concert by our dear old friend
Kyle Dillingham. From that first strike of bow
and string, we are carried into the night
in a way that only his music can.
We never want that to end either.
I remember
one year when Kyle, as if sensing the spell
the music had cast and not wanting to break it,
invited us to follow him as he fiddled us out
to the small bonfire just outside the barn.
We circled round the fire,
there under a canopy of stars,
as he played that hauntingly beautiful melody
in “Ashokun’s Farewell.” We lingered in silence
for a moment then, letting the music last.
Looking up finally, there was the Milky Way.
Two people told us that it was the most important
night of their lives.

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We can’t promise, of course.
We can’t make it happen.
It just seems the elements
are all present
and then something comes into play
that none of us can create
on our own.
For five years, this night
has been magical. Perhaps it will be,
this, the sixth year, as well.

Saturday, 4 October.
Come at 3.
Dinner at 5:30.
Concert following.
The Milky Way is already showing.

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Reserve your place at the table
here: www.greenconnectionsok.org
Deadline: October 1.
This is a fund-raiser for Green Connections
and its work of Earth education.
Transition OKC
is a program of Green Connections.