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There still will be mornings
warm enough—
with blanket,
jacket,
hot tea—
to sit on the porch
and watch everyone
wake up.
But not many;
there’s a better chance
for front-porch sitting
later in the day,
when it’s still warm enough
to watch the birds
come in for
supper.
Winter birds aren’t eating
from the feeders yet,
even though
the Cornell Backyard Feeder Count
started this week.

It’s a transition time,
from spending much of the time
outdoors,
to coming in
and watching the world
through windows.
I’ve hung and filled birdfeeders.
I’ve brought in the porch plants
and rearranged indoor chairs
so they face windows.
There’s a sadness
to coming in.
But the seasons
are part of a cycle
of life and death
and knowing that
is gift too.

 

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This morning,
set the tone:
a freeze
that warmed quickly
and turned everything
from white
to gold.
And now it seems the tone
for this whole day
is muted, soft yellow.
It’s in the rose blossoms,
undamaged by morning’s bite—
still, the prettiest of the year.
It’s in the Hackberry leaves—
yet to let go from dark branches—
stirring in the breeze,
and blanketing the ground below,
where they’re on their way
to feeding the soil.
It’s in the now-and-then gentle tones
ringing in the big windchime
hanging from the thickest Hackberry arm.
It’s in the light—
yellow barely, dimmer sunny than bright.
It’s in the bowls of water
under the tree,
quivering in the air,
mirroring patches of blue sky
and the yellowing leaves above.
I hear the descending high cry
of a Red-Tailed Hawk,
then see its shadow
and finally watch it float,
wings golden in the sun.
Guineas squawk out at the barn,
having made their mid-day rounds.
The chicken flock
is making its rounds,
pecking in grass,
scratching in the fallen yellow leaves,
stopping for water in the bowls.
I just poured wet yellow leaves
from each bowl
and refilled with fresh water.
It’s a small thing,
a routine thing.
But, somehow,
on this mellow day
filling bowls with fresh water
so dogs, birds, guineas, chickens,
maybe a turtle,
can drink
seemed a soft task,
a welcome task,
a gift returned.

If I sit perfectly still
long enough
the Juncos
and Goldfinches return to the feeders
and the leavings on the ground
where the Red-winged Blackbirds have eaten the big pieces.
The bigger birds now
sit fretfully in the tree limbs,
seemingly uncertain about landing again,
then fly to the tree-top and talk to each other
in quick chirps.
I watch a Black-capped Chickadee couple.
They never go to the feeder
at the same time;
they take turns:
one goes for a bite
while the other watches.
Perched on the tube feeder,
she seems to spit out the seeds
that she doesn’t want.
When she gets the one she does want,
she flies off with it.
They seem to more easily
make choices
sitting momentarily in the flat platform feeder.

I sit perfectly still
(no photos today)
and get to look into the tiny, round, clear, black eye
of a Goldfinch perched for a drink
on the water bowl.
I sit perfectly still
and get to see the soft pink belly of the Woodpecker
hanging from the suet feeder.
Meadowlarks, their bright yellow breasts
aglow in the sun,
serenade from atop the Hackberry tree.
I listen blissfully to their sweet, lyrical whistle.
Off in the distance,
I hear a flurry of honking
as Canada Geese and Snow Geese,
probably half a mile away,
shift on a pond.
I think from now on
I will recognize the “Dee-dee-dee-dee”
of the Black-capped Chickadee.
From the barn,
once in awhile,
there comes creaky conversation
from Guinea Hens.
A breeze,
cool in the late-afternoon sun,
stirs the wind chime
into soft song.
It is very quiet.
It is deeply tranquil.
Pacas munch on fresh hay.
Goats sit still
in the sunshine.
A yellow-eyed black cat approaches silently,
then changes her mind
and walks away from the birds.
Maizey, asleep in a wicker chair
beside me on the porch,
sighs.
Something inside me
gives way.

Every moment spent watching,
listening to,
the natural world
is balm.
Being still, empty and aware in nature
brings answered prayer:
taking me beyond myself.
All this is going on
on the prairie—
the movement,
the song,
the quiet —
all the time.
Cardinal, afire in the golden light,
tells me so:
“Right chere, Right chere, Right chere.”

 

Comes a gentle rain.
I move the Boston fern from the front porch
out into the rain
and, as the wind is not blowing the rain much,
I take a moment to sit on the porch
and listen to the dripping,
the soft soothe of rain on the tin barn
where, suddenly,
the Guineas are raising a ruckus.
Donning boots and jacket,
I move myself
out to the barn
to check on rabbits and hen and Guineas.
They’re sharing space now
and doing all the exploring
and testing,
making the thumping, pecking, growling, cackling
statements to each other
that creatures do when they first meet
and figure out how to live together.
Little Red Hen
pecked at Jolie this morning
when I opened all the gates,
but Jolie held her own,
once dashing right between Little Red Hen’s legs.

The rain on tin is loud in the barn
and Guineas are pacing on straw bales
atop the rabbit pen
when I arrive,
then fly down into the bigger pen
where rabbits can’t go.
Everyone seems fine.

I return to the porch
as the skies darken
and there is thunder,
far off to the East.
The air chills a bit
and the rain seems to be coming down harder.
I hear Little Red Hen
raising a ruckus now.
I leave them be
and as a kitten scurries from barn
to porch,
I just breathe,
let myself be
and listen
to the rain.
Until
there is a commotion
and Joe races across the yard.
I go again to the barn
but everyone’s fine.
Then I get a call from my sister
that the blue tractor needs to be moved into the round-top barn.
I move the tractor
and in the process see how much wonderful rain water
is flowing off the downspout of my house
into the flower bed.
I feel an urgency to capture it.
Why hasn’t this ever bothered me this much before?
Getting more and more soaked,
I manage an engineering feat
unlike me
but realize even this clever entrapment
is only going to catch
a limited amount.
I bring the buckets out to catch more
and vow to order a rain barrel
today.

I’m soaked to the skin
and reluctant
to come in
out of the rain.

It’s a coolish evening
considering that the heat index was 109 degrees at 5 p.m.
A breeze from the west
has cooled
and so I take a book to the porch
and situate a wicker chair on the west end
to catch the heavenly air.
But everyone’s out
and soon I put down the book;
there’s too much to watch:
the black kitten and the calico
tumbling in the grass.
Two guineas trying to get across the fence to one another.
Both on the outside then,
they venture carefully out a ways
then scurry back
(just that morning, their first morning out
they’d had a scare from Joe and Maizey.)
Now they venture out again,
a little farther,
then scurry back.
Meanwhile,
two skunks scuttle through the pen outside the barn
and right into the guineas’ pen
where water and food await.
The paca boys have cooled off enough
to chase each other.
And, while I wasn’t looking,
a feather moon
and Venus
appear in the west
brightening
against early evening’s
blue sky.
There will be stars.

Ah, breakfast on the front porch.
It’s been too long.
Before me:
hostas
purple salvia
bright yellow yarrow
lavender
pink roses
purple blossoms on the sage.
There is sunshine.
The windchime rings,
the laundry blows gently, silently, in the breeze.
Doves coo.
Larks sing.
Cardinal calls: “Right-cheer, right-cheer, right-cheer.”
And Mockingbird rushes through her repertoire without ceasing.
Barnswallows do their amazing acrobatics
effortlessly.
The Paca boys sit next to each other
in the pasture,
chewing.
Kye, the big dog,
sleeps beside me
and Hairy the long-haired cat,
having cleaned up the bowl that held my oatmeal,
snoozes halfway upside down
on a chair next to me.
I watch two Mockingbirds
cross the yard.
One hops and then moves forward,
its tail waddling like a duck’s.
Then the other catches up,
tail waddling.
My heart delights.
I get a quick glimpse
and hear the buzz
of a hummingbird
for the first time this season.
My heart rises in hope.

A lot has been done lately
and in the process,
I’ve become
somewhat
undone.
This morning
on the porch
in the gentling;
noticing home,
watching the neighborhood;
gathering,
collecting,
relocating my Self
in it,
the love in my soul rises again.
There have to be days like this.

It’s a blustery spring day.
Horizontal rain,
though light,
first thing.
I had hoped to be able to take to the porch
for my first springtime morning contemplation.
There was no escaping the wet
even on a wide porch.
And once I’d settled in at the window,
I was reluctant to go out
and feed the animals.
When the rain stopped, I did
and it isn’t as uncomfortable
as I had expected.

The porch is a “thin place” for me.
A place where I can quite easily
be overcome
by the really real,
from within
and without.
So I’ve been looking forward
to warmer weather
and my morning sit.

Turns out, a thin place this winter
has been the alpaca pen.
No doubt,
for one thing,
because of the paca boys themselves.
When Darcy chooses to stretch his neck my way
and touch his soft nose against my cheek,
there is a happy stirring in my heart.
Biak,
who never kisses anyone,
ever,
and might kick you if you touch him,
nevertheless
is the one I can commune with.
After I feed him his treats,
I stretch my neck
into his face,
an inch from his soft nose,
inches from his huge black, glistening eyes
and, while he munches the last,
I look straight into them
for several moments,
and enjoy looking deeply at each other
before he turns away.

Strangely though,
it is scooping the boys’ black beans
and putting them in a bucket
when I most am overcome
with love and,
sometimes,
wisdom.
This morning,
was one of those moments.
Confounded by the ways of the world,
(have you read the stories of hate lately?!!)
weary of
and resistant to
further efforts to try to change the world,
I was contemplating
our time here on this planet.
Worn down,
I let myself slide dangerously into
the question:
Why?

Then, as I scooped the alpacas’ beans,
now turned to mush in the rain,
the word came:
Enjoy!
I had to smile at the irony,
the timing.
And something inside me
took a break;
something lightened up:
keep scooping the muck;
just change your focus:
Enjoy!

The beans are bucketed,
ready for composting.
Going out now
to hang clothes on the porch.
It’s one of the things I enjoy.
And,
it’s one way I can help
the world.