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.

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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Supper was light and cool—
gazpacho with homegrown tomatoes,
black bean salad, humus…
together, we cut up a cantaloupe,
candy-sweet,
a perfectly ripe watermelon and made smoothies.
It was 7 or so,
the breeze had cooled,
when we set out on the road
walking to the labyrinth.
Conversation was effortless.

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We stopped to notice a zillion grasshoppers,
one swimming in the creek;
Indian Blanket, Hollyhock, Flax blooming
on the pond dam.
At the labyrinth we stood amazed
at the beauty there, atop the prairie.
360 degrees of soft green,
in late July
in Oklahoma.

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Earth would move up in front of the sun
soon. We walked our intentions around
the outside of the labyrinth,
then each entered.
Grass wall is thigh-high;
white flowers too.
Small pink-lavender ones
shorter, in the short grass.

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Each at our own pace,
in silence,
we follow our feet around curves
and switchbacks, passing
one another, into the center,
under a wide, wide, wide bowl of sky,
in the middle of a circle of prairie,
tree-lined creek, cattle
grazing,
silence still,
golden light.
Silence still
going out,
back toward the reasons
we came here
to seek solace,
direction.

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Watching the sun disappear then,
light shimmer on the pond,
Nighthawk squawk and swoop,
it was good to be together,
friends,
here.

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As we walked down, back,
slowly,
we stopped to watch 10 white cranes
take places for the night
in the Cypress trees
on the islands in the pond.
And then we noticed
a dark hunch
alone
in a dead tree,
high,
its back to us,
but no doubt:
a Bald Eagle.

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It was dark by the time
we made it back to the front porch
of the farm house.
They gathered their things
and left for their homes.

 

DSCN3620Eagle Nest is in center of photograph

It was a quiet Easter afternoon
down on Red Rock Creek
where a Bald Eagle couple
have made their home.
Their two eaglets are growing;
we can see them clearly now in the high nest.

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Mom and Dad were perched
nearby
side-by-side,
talking to the eaglets.
A little while after I began observing them,
one of the eaglets
spread its wings,
then spread its wings again.
There was more communication—
a loud squeaking sound from parents;
rapid-fire squeaking from youngsters.
Then Mom and Dad flew farther away,
perching near each other
in another tree.

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Our first observation of this family
was in mid-March.
At that time, we could only hear the eaglets.
We don’t know when they hatched.
Typically, eagles learn to fly at two months
and leave the nest at four to six months.
They keep their dark feathers
for five years,
before growing out the white feathers
that have caused humans to call them
“bald.”
Mom and Dad have made this
quiet neighborhood their home
and most likely will raise their next family
here, in this nest.

When the eaglets’ calls grew louder,
one of the parents
flew back
and kept watch
on a branch closer to the nest.

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A human family
came to watch
for a few minutes.
Townspeople make regular visits.
There is a reverential air
there—
we humans
in awe
of the beauty
in the Eagles’ simple domesticity.

We got word
of an eagle nest
about six miles from here
down on the creek,
in an area rarely traveled
because of road conditions.
This morning,
I found them.
An adult kept watch
on a branch higher
and to one side
of the wide nest,
built in the fork of a tall tree
along Red Rock Creek.

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Eagle nest is in lower center portion of photo.

DSCN3209Eagle parent can barely be seen in tree fork above and to the right of the nest.

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Closeup of nest

I couldn’t see into the nest,
but I could hear the babes,
perhaps startled by the sound
of the pickup truck motor.
They quieted after a little bit
and then the adult
took flight,
made a wide pass over the treeline
and settled at the very top of a tree
where it talked,
most of the time,
for the next half-hour.
It was a creaky, croaky
sound.
The youngsters never
made a peep
while the parent
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Eventually,
it moved again,
lower into the trees,
but kept calling.
Finally,
before I left,
it moved again.
And as I was driving away
I saw in the sky
a second adult Bald Eagle.
It flew toward the trees
where the family nests,
floated above them
several passes,
then sailed out over the prairie,
soaring
higher and higher
into the blue sky,
finally out of sight again.

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The parent guarding the nest
never moved.
I was already too far away
to hear
if there was conversation
between the adults.
I would like to observe them
again,
for hours.
But I hope
all the calling
wasn’t because I was so near,
though that would be
understandable.


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Cedar Wax Wings (notice yellow-tipped tails)
Gunshot woke me
Saturday morning.
It sounded close—
and I thought of the five deer,
including “the biggest buck”
seen in this part of the prairie
for many years,
that graze just below
the hermitage.
But it was bird shot.
I dressed,
contemplating whether to venture out
to see from whence the shots came.
I was standing at the back door,
coffee in hand,
when I heard the next shower
of gunshot. Two Red-tail Hawks,
who home at the top of a tree
just south of the hermitage,
flew up.
I put on my shoes,
grabbed the No Hunting signs
I’d found in the closet
and got in the car.
I saw no one on the road
and there was no evidence
of anyone in the pasture—
human or deer or bird.
I strung a No Hunting sign—
“under the penalty of the law”
(very intimidating!)—
on the fence near the cattle guard
leading to the reservoir.
Then I drove over to the 200 Acres
and installed a No Hunting sign
on the fence next to the gate
leading into the beautiful pond there.
Quiet though I tried to be,
I disturbed the ducks,
who fluttered and splashed into the air,
took a fly-around
and landed softly back on the pond.
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It’s here,
two days ago,
I saw the two Bald Eagles
the young farmer who rents the land
told me had returned.
Last year, they (are they the same ones?)
hung out in the tree tops
near the Big Pond next to the farmhouse.
They were here a few days
and then we didn’t see them again.
I’m hoping to be able to contain myself
and not disturb them too often
this year. They see as soon as I drive up
and park the car on the road,
the far side of the pond.
They are big,
and, through the camera lens,
I observe their beauty,
their stillness,
their alertness,
their birdness—they groom—
and, their confidence
(this may be an anthropocentric projection.)
I am thrilled to the core
to see them.
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At home,
a mile as the crow flies,
in the Hackberry and surrounds,
there is a flock of Cedar Wax Wings,
a flock of Robins
and I make the first sighting
of a House Finch,
at a feeder hanging low from the tree.
I watch a Red-Bellied Woodpecker
near the top of the pecan tree
try to peck its way into a pecan husk.
Three Bluejays are at it too.
I am thrilled.

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Cedar Wax Wing

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Robin
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At twilight,
the time when great flocks of Canada Geese
take to the sky,
moving from one place to another
in v-fronted lines,
I stop amidst evening chores,
to watch, listen.
There are so many
that together, they fill the air
with a tremendous honking.
Two flocks fly overhead
as I drive down the road
south of the hermitage,
on an errand.
I see a truck parked
on the road.
The driver has backed it
up against a pasture gate so that he’s not parked
in the road; he holds field glasses to his eyes.
I stop, roll down my window.
“Do you enjoy watching the geese?” I ask.
“And the deer,” he answers.
I ask where he’s from;
he lives a few miles away.
“We’ve had a lot of shooting around here lately,” I say.
“I’m not surprised. It’s deer season,” says he.
“All this area is posted,” say I.
He changes the subject.
I drive on half a mile
and release another field mouse,
caught in a trap in the high tunnel,
where they’ve been munching on the greens.
A few moments later,
when I drive by,
the pickup truck is gone.I think word is out
about “the biggest buck.”
He is magnificent.
As are the Eagles.
I hope people are coming
simply to look,
and wonder. But I am as nervous
and alert
as the deer,
the eagle.


 

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Bald Eagle over the Big Pond at Turtle Rock Farm, Winter, 2011

When we begin to understand the divinity, the cosmology of all life, we will no longer take our beautiful planet for granted, the Grandmothers say. In these days…we are the ones who will determine whether or not we will destroy our Mother Earth and ourselves. Each one of us must decide now whether or not to live wisely and with a selfless love for the benefit of all. Will we choose to awaken to our higher consciousness in the face of dramatic Earth changes? Will we choose life?

Change will not be created by passing laws or developing technology, the Grandmothers say. What needs to be developed is a deeper, more personal sense of connection with the Earth and our place in it.

Grandmothers Counsel the World. Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet
by Carol Shaefer