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There’s something about an old
Cottonwood tree…
They’re tall, which is rare
on the plains.
They live near water—
pond and creek—
which is necessary
on the plains.
Their bark is deeply furrowed,
their trunks,
substantial.
The leaves
draw me,
compel,
bedazzle—
more heart-shaped
than her Aspen relative,
dangling in the wind.
On calm days,
I can hear a distinctive,
gentler,
rustling.

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Here at the city place,
along Deep Fork Creek,
there stands an old Cottonwood.
Tall—
its trunk,
forked,
vine-covered.
A gash,
from a fallen branch,
has healed over,
leaving her inner veins
exposed.
Her leaves
wiggle,
hold light and shadow
aflutter
in the breeze;
the upper reaches of her tall trunk,
rooted in the red clay,
barely sway.
I don’t know how long
this tree has stood,
captured carbon,
released oxygen,
housed birds
and insects,
fed the creek’s riparian zone,
shored up the steep banks,
created shade
and beauty
here in the neighborhood.

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I am a new part
of her community.
Grateful to sit
in her shadow
and light,
breathe with her life.

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At the Buffalo Wallow

This is the week
that Irving Middle School
in Norman, Oklahoma,
engages their eighth-graders
in a week of environmental awareness
during educational activities
and field trips.
On Monday,
at the invitation of teacher Mary Lee,
16 eighth-graders
volunteered to come to Turtle Rock Farm
for the day
and learn about
sustainability
on the prairie.
It was chilly and drizzly when they arrived.
But there was not a whine or a complaint,
despite wet shoes, gnats and damp prairie grass
as they hiked along Doe Creek
learning about a prairie eco system.
They learned about a riparian zone,
buffalo wallows,
the flood and drought extremes on the prairie,
root systems of perennial and annual plants.
They saw Alpaca,
cattle,
the hens,
the rabbit,
the guinea hens,
the dogs and cats,
red wiggler worms.
They learned a lot about all kinds of manure
and its value
to the soil.

Then they learned first-hand
about gardening,
gridding and planting three
of our four-by-four raised beds.
Ann taught them about
the value of growing a garden in raised beds,
composting,
and the joys of harvesting
when she invited them to pick strawberries.


We enjoyed their visit
and once again
found hope
in their willingness to learn,
their budding concern for the natural world
and their eagerness to live helpfully.
At the end of their visit,
circled round to share about the day,
one student said she was going to encourage her family
to garden without pesticides.

Picking Strawberries

It was 2 p.m.
when they drove south,
into threatening skies.
It was suppertime
when we learned that tornadoes
had hit their community.
We learn from Mary Lee
that some Irving School students’ homes
were destroyed.
It’s not the kind of environmental awareness
planned for this week.
We send our prayers.