It’s spring.
Period.
I’ve seen a Kildeer.
Grackles are flying through.
I watched little whitish/yellowish butterflies,
flitting,
mating in flight.
Warm days
and sprouting, blossoming
erupts everywhere:
Vinca, Iris, Day Lilies, Daffodils,
Forsythia, Rose, Redbud, Pear, Apricot…
Even the old Hackberry has buds on it;
a younger one, the one that usually leafs first,
is.

We may get another freeze.
Historically, the last freeze is April 15.
Last year’s last snow was April 14;
it was 26 degrees on April 15
and the last freeze—32 degrees—was April 18.
It could also get hot
quickly. The first triple-digit day last year—
100 degrees—
was May 4. (Thankfully, last year,
we didn’t experience
very many triple-digit days after that.)
Come what may,
these
are spring-savoring days.

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Summer seems
so quiet.
The breeze has calmed,
catching the wind chime only
now and then
instead of constantly.
Birds chirp
rather than sing.
There is quite a lot of silent
motion: butterflies, wasps, dragonflies flit.
Now a hen lets out a string
of cackles,
then
there is a hush
before the breeze stirs
and chimes ring
again—
a guinea
squawks.
Cicadeas’ sizzle
starts. A rooster
out back
crows.
But even the sounds—
the chirps,
the squawks,
the chimes,
the cicadeas—
seem quiet.

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Evening is quieter
still. Air hangs
thickly.
Motionless, silent cranes
fish.
An orb spinner is so still
I bash into its web reaching
for a tomato.
In the night,
fireflies glow greenish yellow
all around the yard,
in trees. Stars keep company
in silence.
Where is that
mockingbird and why has he stopped
singing all night?

 

The gift of a welcoming friend
who realizes our interconnectedness
with everything
and enjoys soaking it up
in a bioregion
different from the one I enjoy
is delight.
A visit with Elizabeth and John
includes not only
healthful, tasty supper
and meaningful and fun conversation
but a long stay under the stars
and many joy-filled exclamations
around stars and bright moon
and soft night air
and the reluctance to go inside,
but the necessity to do so, so that
tomorrow morning’s walk
can be earlier than the wind
and unseasonable heat.
Surprisingly,
after record-high temperature (101!)
the morning is cool
as we set out on a woodland walk
toward Lake Tenkiller.

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Elizabeth lives in the Ozark Highland
ecoregion,
one of 11 or 13 (depending on whose drawing the map)
ecoregions in Oklahoma.
We live in the Prairie Tableland
of the Central Great Plains ecoregion.
Simply,
we live on the mixed grass prairie
and our friends live in the Ozark forest,
with Hickory and Oaks.
Elizabeth and I poke along the trail,
taking in everything we can.

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Evidence of tiny lives
catch our attention early…
delicate flowers on the ground,
beautiful clovers,
ferns, moss, lichen,
a tiny butterfly no bigger than a fat pea.
They flit around our feet,
almost invisible when they stop.
Unfolding briefly before flying again,
they expose lavender wings. And when
two land next to each other,
they look like scalloped flying flowers.
We listen for birds.
Birder-friends who had visited recently
had identified 27 varieties
in the forest birdsong.
I am thrilled just to see
a Summer Tanager couple.
He allows his gorgeous red self to be seen
while we stand thoroughly engaged.
Larger butterflies appear,
floating silently, as the air warms:
yellow Tiger Swallowtails, Monarchs
and an also-beautiful black/dark blue one.

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So good
to visit other bioregions,
enjoy the diversity of life,
notice how different habitats
enable and support different lives.
Born under the prairie’s big sky,
always called to the ocean, so far
away,
I walk in the sunlit, newly-greened woods
as butterflies softly approach
the very friend
who taught me interconnectedness
and the gratitude is so profound
I can only sigh
deeply.

The idea that people could
use the energy provided by their feet—
instead of burning fossil fuel—
to propel them up the street
proved to be a popular one
yesterday afternoon,
as hundreds of people
walked NW 23rd street,
enjoying sunshine,
community,
and all sorts of educational
and health-related
(health of people and planet)
activities.
Open Streets OKC
an alliance of several groups
working for a healthier community—
held the first annual
event to give people the opportunity
to enjoy city streets
blocked off from traffic.
A people-mover
powered by people pedaling
was great fun. On board,
as they pedaled,
there was community
sing-alongs
and not only enough energy
to move them up the street,
but also to make smoothies!

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Our friends with Transition OKC
helped gobs of people
make seed bombs,
to provide food and habitat
for bees and butterflies,
who provide necessary pollination
for people food.

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We set up the Cosmic Walk
right there on the street
and invited people to walk
the story of the creation of the universe.
It was a thrill to see parents
reading the story to the youngest ones,
older children making the walk through time
on their own
and so many people enjoying
this experiential way to learn
our expanding universe story.
It’s the kind of experience
that can lead to a change in perspective
and changes in the way we live
together on the planet.

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Seeing people happily
walk right down the middle of the wide street,
enjoying the beautiful day,
each other
and eagerly participating in new learning experiences
gives a friendly new meaning
to the phrase
“take to the streets!”
Thank you Oklahoma City.

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The Common Wood-Nymph
is fanciful—
but then what butterfly
isn’t!
Imagine designing
something as varied
and always beautiful,
always eliciting
delight
as butterflies do.
The sub-species here on the Oklahoma prairie,
says John Fischer,
Oklahoma butterfly and moth guy,
has the yellow patches
around the eyes on the forewings.
Those who live farther east,
have no yellow patch,
only rings around the eyes.
She will lay eggs singly
on leaves
and the caterpillars
will hibernate
until spring.
In fact, short, thin green caterpillars
are clinging to screen doors these days.

Common?
All the more wondrous then,
this life.

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Johnson Grass

Having been to the mountain top,
on retreat a week ago,
learning more deeply
Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects,”
I awoke today
with that clarity
that sometimes comes
between sleep and awake.
This would be a quiet day
alone
and so the angst:
I need to be more engaged
with people
doing “the work that reconnects”
us to each other
and all who live on the planet;
helping people come to know
that connection
deeply.
It’s urgent;
how can a day alone
help?
My morning welcoming
on the porch
wouldn’t do. After that,
I knew I had to walk.
Maizey went along;
Joe, with cancer,
is not up to it.
An unusually wet
and cool
summer
(71 degrees at 7 this late-August morning!)
and everything has flourished.
Johnson Grass is what’s as high
as an elephant’s eye.
Snow on the Mountain,
Sunflowers
fill the pastures.
Other grasses are taller,
their heads fuller.
Dragonflies,
Grasshoppers
and two little orange butterflies
are company
as we walk.
The breeze is light,
cool.
There is a pool of muddy water
beneath the bridge,
muddy ruts
on Zig Zag Lane.

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DSCN0852Flourishing and Abundance
on the Prairie this Summer

It is a sweet morning walk
and my restless heart
is soothed.
For today
it is enough
to be in the natural world,
to enjoy it,
to be grateful for it.
Step one
in “the work that reconnects.”

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February’s weather extremes
strained the life of plants.
On February 10, after a blizzard
and record snowfall the day before,
(27 inches in eastern Oklahoma)
temperature dropped to -25 degrees here
(-31 to the east.)
Within seven days, temperatures climbed
to 79 degrees,
the greatest change in temperature in seven days
in the history of the state.
(See Oklahoma’s Mesonet.)
Combined with the current drought,
conditions are poor for plant life.
Some trees and bushes never blossomed.
Some have died.
Some are blooming a month before their time!

It’s unsettling,
troublesome,
when the natural processes of life
are interrupted.
It’s like losing middle-aged friends unexpectedly.

So it is with great joy,
great joy,
that I see frog eyes
peering out of the water in the ponds,
little ones hopping in and out of the water;
and turtles emerged, making their way slowly
across grass and gravel road;
and Monarchs – glorious Monarchs – fluttering
even in the wind
on their life-long trip from Mexico to Canada.
And a single black butterfly with yellow markings.
Great joy
and immense relief.