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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?

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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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Snow on the Mountain in the Pasture

Heading up Zig Zag Lane

The dogs and I headed up Zig Zag Lane
while the sun was still high,
the air still,
humid.
I hoped to see Monarchs;
I’ve seen a few already
and know
they like to stay awhile in the trees
along the lane
as they fly north
from Mexico.
I saw no Monarchs today,
but Zig Zag Lane
shows other signs of transition.

Prairie Nettle

Cedar Berries

Snow on the Mountain

Grasses are drying—
green and golden
in the late afternoon sun—
and sunflowers are blooming,
but so is Snow on the Mountain,
and the purple flowers on the prairie nettle.
Cicadeas still sing
and grasshoppers spring everywhere.
I hear them land
on the dry Johnston Grass.
Dragonflies, thankfully,
(there are still mosquitoes)
are plentiful,
flying elegantly amid the graceless grasshoppers.
But Cedar tree boughs hang thick
with winter berries
and the scent of fresh cedar
mixes with dry grass
and dry earth;
autumn’s spice is in the air.

It’s dry.
Storms that surrounded us
the last two days,
that towered above us
and thundered and flashed,
failed to deliver much rain—
barely 1/4-inch worth.
Ponds are very low.
Exceptional drought,
they say.
My concern about the drought grows—
especially
since I read this morning
that scientists are watching
a climate change pattern
in which we get more rain in the fall
than in the spring
now.
And yet,
we missed a soaker
again.

This morning,
someone said to me,
“Summer’s over.”
“I hope not,” I said—
and I have no idea
why I said that.
I am so glad
the temperature has dropped,
though the humidity has been so high,
I am dripping after a few minutes of outdoor tasks,
or a walk on Zig Zag Lane.
I came down the Lane
looking for Monarchs,
looking for signs of autumn.
And I do see transition.
I look forward to the beauties
of fall,
but evidently,
I’m not ready to let go
of summer.

Supper on the porch,
in the cool of a breeze
stirring again;
I watch the chickens
make their evening rounds,
listen to the cicadeas’ sleepy summer serenade
and watch
the hummingbirds
chase and dive bomb each other
for their moment at the feeders.
Maybe that’s why I’m glad
it’s still summer:
the hummingbirds
are still here,
though their summer days
are evidently numbered.
Overhead,
something white catches my eye:
I look up,
my jaw drops:
Snow Geese.

Women
from Albright United Methodist Church
in Ponca City
came for a retreat
last Saturday.
We spent the day
learning to live in the moment with God.
When it came time
to go outside
and pay attention
in the natural world,
I walked down to the pond
and then sat alongside
to watch the Damselflies:
bright blue ones,
a gray one.
The Damselflies
were intent on eating—
or resting?—
and sat perfectly still,
on the ends of plants,
their bodies cantilevered.

Three Damselflies

Dragonflies,
double wings painted brown and white,
flew fast and free,
side-by-side.
My eyes could barely keep up with them.
The longer I sat still,
the closer they came,
as if I were invisible,
and I wondered
if they might collide in to me at any moment.

The longer I sat still,
the more I noticed around me:
tiny yellow flowers on a plant
growing on the edge of the pond.

Looking more closely,
I was delighted to discover
the intersection
of bright, fan-shaped petals
form a green star.

And when the petals and stamen are gone—
fallen to the earth,
blown in the wind—
another, tinier, star
is revealed.


This moment,
God’s wondrous world.

Doe Creek at our Monitoring Site

The Overgrown Beaver Dam

Dry Wetland above the Beaver Dam

Switch Grass Growing in the Dry Creek Bed

Doe Creek
down by the beaver dam
is a sacred place.
Woods surround it
and the beavers,
who have lived there 20 years,
have created a wetlands
that widens the creek to the north and east
and creates a beautiful environment
of healthy water, reeds and dragonflies.
Deer, raccoon, snakes, the Great Blue Heron,
Red-tail Hawks, butterflies, moths
and fish all live here
in cooperation and harmony.
Beaver are a keystone species
for the prairie.
They’ve been here longer than humans
and they, the buffalo and prairie dog
were the prairie’s hydrologists
and played a huge role maintaining
an ecological community here.

The flood and drought cycle
is part of the prairie’s ecological system.
This drought has driven the beavers away.
There is no sign of beaver activity
at Doe Creek.
No footprints,
no new cuttings;
their dam is overgrown.
And no water.
Grass is growing in the creek bed.
The wetlands above the beaver dam
are now cracked earth.
Felled logs are turning gray.

I go there
and hear birds
and trees creaking in the breeze.
Green leaves shine in the sun.
Deep stillness is profound.
This is still a sacred place.
And one day,
we hope,
there will be water
and beavers
again.

Monarch Floating Among Trees on Zig Zag Lane

Joe and I headed up the road
for our Sunday evening walk
and were halfway to the corner
when we heard Maizey barking.
She was still back by the mailbox.
Evidently she wanted to walk with us,
so we waited until she caught up.
Then the three of us walked up
to Zig Zag Lane.
Because a tributary of Doe Creek
has meandered its way very close to the road,
the county has stopped maintaining
this half mile
to discourage people from driving on it.
It’s a gift to be able to watch nature
take it back.
It has been dry for months,
but, because of the heat
we hadn’t walked here
for months.
Now, with two and a half inches of rain
the night before,
we decide to negotiate these muddy tracks.
Happily.
Happier still,
because the Monarchs are here.
They float silently up and down the lane,
flitting from tree to tree,
stopping now and then on a limb to sit,
closing their wings to rest, I guess.
As we pass,
they take flight again.
It is a soft, pretty ballet
they make up Zig Zag Lane.

Buffalo Wallow

When we come out from the trees,
the horizon is moving closer to the sun
and the light is golden.
I turn into a pasture kept by a neighbor;
giant hay bales are lined in a neat row
and recently-mown grass is greening.
Joe follows the scents
in the taller grass on the other side of a fence,
but Maizey stays near
and we discover not one, but four ancient buffalo wallows,
all close together.

I call Joe back—
I suspect he’s on coyotes’ trail—
and we walk back down Zig Zag towards home.
The light is turning orange
and catches the wings of dragonflies
zooming along.
An armadillo scuttles across the road
and into the understory below the trees.
The Monarchs are mostly closed up
for the evening,
hidden amid tree branches,
but, happily, a few still take flight
when we pass.
As we turn back onto the gravel road
towards home,
I take a moment to pause,
look back in remembrance
and reverence
and gratitude,
for a little time in the magical habitat
that is becoming
on Zig Zag Lane.

 

Twice recently
people have observed
that if you live on a farm
you don’t need a very big house
because you spend so much time
outdoors.
The outdoors is part of your “house.”

It’s been challenging for us
during this run of very hot weather
to not be able to be outside
in the heat of the day,
which has been the larger part of the day.
It’s similar to wintertime,
when we have to limit the time
we’re outside.
Summertime cabin fever.

Living as though
the outdoors
is the living room
comes upon you
without you realizing it.
It’s when you have to go
inside
that you notice
how very big
is your living room.
And how very beautiful.
Much of the beauty of nature
happens without a sound;
there’s no breaking news announcement;
if you’re not outside
you don’t see it.

You step outside in the morning
after a rain
to feel the cooler air
to see how much it rained
and there is a rainbow.
It came in silence
and could easily have disappeared
without anyone even seeing it.
You sit in the morning
in the quiet
and a Great Blue Heron,
its wings wide
and legs extended behind
flies silently overhead.
Most of the times
it flies silently overhead
I don’t see it.
The doves’ cooing across the prairie
is inaudible
if I am in the house,
though the windows are open
as much as possible.
Outside,
I see motion in my peripheral vision
and look up
to see the Alpaca chasing each other
and wrestling with their necks.
Outside,
in this vast living room
I see an Orb Spinner
still in the center of a web
created in silence
and watch a double-winged dragonfly
sit perfectly still
on the very tip of a reed
and two black wasps pulling at each other.
Monarchs
feed on Milkweed,
sunflowers bloom
and turn toward the sun;
the stars appear and disappear,
Jupiter moves across the black sky,
the sun creates a colorful sky morning and night,
the moon goes in and out of shadow
without a sound.
All this –
and so much more –
is going on
in silence
largely unobserved
in our living room.