IMG_3264

Glorious Summer Days at Turtle Rock Farm
Our July 2015 Newsletter

Summer seems more prodigious
this year.

DSCN7385Zig Zag Lane

Besides the explosion
of plant growth,
thanks to uncommon rains,
this week I notice
there are more Cicadeas
than usual.
There are gobs of shells
on the porch posts
and the serenading in the trees
is much louder than usual.
Too, Mulberries
are thick,
and more flavorful
than usual.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
DSCN7396
DSCN7381

And now we know,
there are four
tiny, fuzzy-headed
Phoebe peeps
in that little nest
on the front porch.
Mom,
and Dad I think,
are attentive—
sitting closeby on a Hackberry branch
and constantly delivering worms,
which are easy pickin’s
after the rains.
The wee ones eyes haven’t opened
yet
and they have little control over their bodies,
falling on each other
in that crowded nursery
as they try to queue up
for the next worm delivery,
their orange beaks
agape.

DSCN7397
DSCN7393
DSCN7398

DSCN7394
DSCN7405
DSCN7400
DSCN7406

DSCN7383

Greenest Days at Turtle Rock Farm
Our June 2015 Newsletter

Steady, all-day rain
has a hint
of romance about it.

I remember
riding a train
from NYC Penn Station
out to New Jersey
to see a dear old friend
on such a day…
The world seemed
to slow down,
grow a little softer.

Even after several days
of rain here at the farm
long ago,
I remember…
the day when the flood waters
inched their way closer
to the old barn
(that has since blown down
in a tornado) and we wondered
if, for the first time
in memory, water
would reach the barn.
Even that day,
rain seemed to round
the sharp corners
of the world
as we stood in rubber boots,
in a soft rain,
helpless, yet at ease,
watching water rise.

Now, after years
of chronic, exceptional drought,
here in Oklahoma
rain has fallen in record amounts
and there is chronic flooding.
We aren’t complaining
much. We value water more
now, even
in extremes. Wiser,
we know, drought
will come again. (More than 18 inches
has fallen so far in Oklahoma City
this month; more than 10 inches
at Turtle Rock Farm.)

A few days ago,
strolling through a flea market
on another unseasonably cool,
rainy day,
I met a woman who asked,
a bit hesitantly:
“Do you like the rain?”
Her question seemed odd
for some reason. I smiled,
perhaps a bit quizzically.
Turns out,
she’s taking a sort of informal poll,
to confirm an observation:
“It seems like people who wear sweaters
love the rain.”

Even knowing
there would be big
biting mosquitoes—
not so present during the dry years—
I set out on a twilight walk
across the lush green prairie.
Grasses are already thigh-high.
I wonder
who has been making
a narrow path
through the thick greening
and find the answer
when an armadillo and I
surprise each other.
Milk Thistle is just blooming
(those tall, beautiful purple flowers—
prolific,
invasive—
will be have to be mowed.)
Last year,
for the first time in forever,
there were almost no sunflowers.
This year, they blanket
giant patches.
The impact of water
on parched life
is astonishing.
The creek is flowing,
ditches are filled,
water stands in low spots.
Mosquito clans whirl round
my head, but cooling night breeze
and my waving hand
keep them from landing.
My shoes get wet
as I jump not quite far enough
over creek and puddle,
and I am glad.
As the light vanishes,
Venus and Jupiter,
high in the inky blue western sky,
glow brilliantly.
I stand in awe.
And listen
to frogs.
And breathe
in the cool, loamy air.
Then, there,
along the road,
the golden blinking lights
of summer.
Summer?
Seems way too early,
too cool,
too wet.
But there they are:
flashing in the darkness,
fireflies.

 

We feared
that the Big Pond
might dry up again,
this summer,
as it did four summers ago.

pond drying out

Last summer, it was way down,
again—water less
than two feet deep.
Pelicans stayed about 10 days,
feasting on easy-pickings.
Algae blossomed,
fish died.
We couldn’t water gardens
(the pump was above the water line.)
We didn’t swim.

DSCN5560
DSCN5575

DSCN4533

As spring came this year
and the best chances for rain—
May and June—
approached, we weren’t sure
we had the energy
for dashed hopes,
as last spring,
big rains never came.

But they have this year!
And for all our friends
who know the pond,
have grieved the drought with us,
who share our love and concern
for that beautiful pond;
for those who’ve asked how it’s doing,
look:
it’s full,
overflowing!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Evening Clouds the First Night of This Week’s Storms in Oklahoma

It’s raining again,
early evening. Yesterday, .3;
now, more. I decide to stay with it,
on the front porch, appreciate it deeply,
considering the drought these last
three, four years—maybe still,
don’t know. Five days ago,
in south Oklahoma City,
there was historic flash flooding following
an outbreak of tornadoes and torrential rain—
up to nine inches, maybe more.
Flood and drought
is the natural cycle on the prairie.
We humans have long ago forgotten
that.
But it does appear now
to be extreme: “exceptional
drought,” recalling for us,
hand-me-down memories
of those Dust Bowl Days;
just now too, more intense
rain, flood. I calm myself
on the front porch,
taking in the long-awaited, cherished
moisture,
ready to absorb the sound of rainfall,
(crashing thunder would come later
in the evening, with 1.7 inches total
for the day)
and set my sight on savoring the lush green,
the huge puddles. And then,
just as Earth is about to hide it,
the sun bursts through! Golden light
yanks me from the porch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Light rain falls,
but I go out
and watch the river-like torrent
rushing through the pasture. Doe Creek
is out too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
And then,
in the cloudless eastern blue sky,
a full rainbow. I can see
its complete expanse
and as the western sky turns golden
the rainbow in the east brightens
and glows for a long time,
as if it were stable,
permanent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is that I am to stay with.
There is distant thunder.
The wind picks up again,
from the east—
the direction of the rainbow.
I stand in the road
for the best view,
of lush spring grasses
and wet, golden, dried tall grasses;
listening to frogs sing
and listening to the rainbow—long a sign,
messenger,
to humanity.
One tradition says that the rainbow
is God’s message that any future floods
would not be at the hand of a supernatural
divine one. Hmmm…if so,
must be us, then. Indeed,
coyote howls sound
like a siren,
and rainbow shouts silently:
“RESPECT THE EARTH SYSTEM!”