Every evening that I gather eggs,
shepherd in the guineas,
feed and water
the alpacas, goats, guineas, chickens, rabbits,
the cat,
I talk to the barn community
as I close the last gates:
“Thanks for the eggs.
Look out for each other.
Be nice to each other.
Take care of each other.
Have a good night.
Sleep well.”
I don’t know when I started this.
It’s as natural now
as every other part of the nightly
routine.
But I’ve noticed lately
that I really do care about them;
that I do feel part of their community;
that they are so used to me,
they come running when they see me
and it’s time to be fed,
and they ignore me as I walk close to them
any other time—trusting completely
my footsteps.

The other company
I keep
is the community of stars and planets.
Sometime every evening,
at least once,
I go to see them—
see what is where,
how many I can see,
which is red, blue, yellow,
clear,
bigger, more brilliant,
fainter.
Those nights they are brilliant
and many,
the sky clear and black,
something glad happens deep inside me
and I have to catch a deep breath.
Lately, the great swathe—
the other 100 billion stars
in the Milky Way—
are showing
and there is a sweet familiarity,
a quiet welcoming,
as if they’re/I’m coming home. Stars feel like
company,
always have.

How is it possible?
That though I’ve treated the stars,
the animals who live here,
like company,
suddenly,
I know:
they are.

10557160_10203890552378674_8023954093810462506_n“Landscape of the Heart”
A Watercolor by Mary Tevington

DSCN2282Ann and East Coast friends, Jeanne and Bill Finley

When I lived on the East Coast,
I usually took a week-long winter vacation
at the beach.
It was easier to see the great expanse,
the austere lines
of the ocean
without so many people
in the water,
along the shore.
Bundled up
for long, cold walks on the sand,
alongside foaming,
thundering waves,
I savored every delicious moment.

The prairie in winter
is like that too—
except that the waves
are made of grass;
ocean water dried up here
millions of years ago—
leaving the great expanse,
the austere
and sublime curve
of prairie.

So it is not a surprise to me
that East Coast friends
come to visit
in the autumn,
and this year,
winter.
From the embrace
of the straw bale hermitage,
they can look out its south-facing windows
at the curve
and the spaciousness
of the prairie;
watch the grasses bow in the wind;
listen for the coyote,
see Seagulls—I mean Red-Tail Hawks—
soar in the endless expanse of blue,
hear their plaintive call;
breathe in the depth and exquisite beauty
of winter’s night sky.
And then,
come in
from that cold north wind—
to a fire,
a bowl of soup,
a cup of tea
and the welcoming cheer
of prairie friends
eager for the warmth
of those engaging conversations
from which no one wants to leave
the table;
for it is much too long
between
communions.

 

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I wish
I could deliver
the night to you.
I don’t want you to miss
it.
Sparkling Venus.
Crescent moon
seeped in light.
Neighbors they,
early in the evening.
And then,
when they have gone out of view,
a full cast of stars
scattered deeply;
the Milky Way,
a banner of inconceivably beautiful reality—
ours—
stretched out
forever.
Go out.
Tip back your head,
spread your arms wide,
breathe,
get drunk.

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Meeting the Pygmy Goats

A Grandmother
with Swedish heritage
came to Turtle Rock Farm
this week
with her grandchildren.
It was their annual
“Mormor Camp.”
(Mormor is one Swedish word
for Grandmother.)
Mormor Gala is from Norman,
her grandchildren are from Texas.
She wanted to give them
“a healthy dose of nature”
during their spring break.
It was lovely to have them here.

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Being with the Alpaca

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Feeding the Alpaca…

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…and Scooping Alpaca Poop

They went with us
on a long nature hike,
helped us feed animals,
walked the labyrinth,
sat with us under a spectacular
night sky
to watch the stars.
On their own,
they played hide-and-seek
over a wide area of the farm
and explored further
and further each day.
“You can walk out the door
and go a long way,” they said.
“It’s a big space.”
Watching the stars with us,
they told us
they had never seen that many.
On hikes,
they discovered lady bugs
and looked at them closely
with jewelers’ loupes.
They found animal tracks
in creek beds,
delicate bones
on the prairie.
They stayed in a house
with passive solar,
a composting toilet
and walls made of straw bales
and mud.

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Discovering a Turtle Shell
(and learning about a drought)

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Identifying Animal Tracks in Doe Creek

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Using a Jeweler’s Loupe to get a Close Look
at a Lady Bug that Landed on Grandmother’s Arm

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Learning About Growing Red Wiggler Worms for Composting

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Getting to Know a Chicken

To see children
comfortable in nature,
encouraged
to freely explore the natural world
that is their home—now
and forever—
brings hope;
hope that what they know
and love,
they will care about.

We honor
you Mormor Gala.

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Gala and her Grandchildren on the Country Road

 

It’s different—
colder,
more moist,
thicker,
fresher—
the smell of night
in winter.
Gone is the lingering
scent of dust and heat
from summer’s day.
There is still dust
here
this winter;
and, regrettably,
no moisture.
But at night
in the cold,
somehow
the air
smells
fresh
and alive
and clean
and damp.
Stars,
shining white and clear
in the dark sky—
even with a slice
of bright moon—
are sparkling
company
in the deep quiet,
the balm,
of winter’s night.

Women on the Prairie Retreat

Friday evening,
during the Women on the Prairie Retreat,
we hiked up Zig Zag Lane
to the hilltop
and watched Earth roll up
and sun disappear.
In the night,
guests were surprised
that they could see
layers upon layers
of stars in the black sky.
In early morning,
we went out to watch Earth
somersault over
and the sun reappear,
in the eastern sky.
Hues of gold, orange, pink
weren’t the only showings in the sky.
In the evening,
we watched two Night Hawks
climb  high,
dive bomb one another,
then rise in flight again,
and again.
In the morning, we watched
Turkey Vultures glide,
the Great Blue Heron’s elegant flight,
a lone Scissortailed Flycatcher
and an unusually silent Mockingbird.
The giant canopy of sky
enlarges life
here on the prairie.
And it has been especially engaging
this year.
In February Venus and Jupiter
formed a bright triangle
with the dainty crescent moon
in the western night sky.
At the beginning of May
the moon came its closest this year
and, being full,
looked breathtakingly big, and beautiful.
Sunday night,
just as the bright orange ball of fire
floated above the horizon,
moon floated across too
and we gasped at the beauty
of seeing sun and moon together
in a solar eclipse.

Solar Eclipse from Turtle Rock Farm

And the year’s sky spectacles
are not finished.
June 5,
Venus will transit the sun.
This will not happen again
until 2117.
There’s information
about when you can see it in your area
and how to protect your eyes,
here.
Earth needs our attention—
and, it seems, knows how to get it!

On the Eve
came the Christmas promise:
“Love.
Peace.
Let it Come.”

We have entered the Christmas season:
twelve days of receiving…

The Fourth Day of Christmas
we stood with friends
at a funeral
as they remembered,
reflected,
made sense,
grieved,
laughed,
comforted,
connected again.
We received the soul-soaring beauty
of an unexpected Christmas concert
as prelude;
the stunning, in-your-face brightness
of the late afternoon sun
as finale.
All day, we stood in the safe space
that we know within,
that we know on the earth.
And as we drove east,
towards home,
clouds streamed blue and gray in the north,
as the sun turned clouds in the west
orange-pink.
When day was done
we stepped into the crystal cold air
and wept gratitude into the starlit sky,
still black, because the moon
is new.