There was cloud cover when
we set out, and so the night
was darker than we expected. Light
from flashlights shown
our way across the rickety crossing
at the spillway
and on the mown path
across the dam. High thickets
of sunflowers
created a ghostly green gauntlet
on each side as we passed.
Once we crossed the pond
we doused our flashlights
and walked the path
Ann had mown through the prairie.
We fell into silence
as we walked. Still,
clouds covered the full moon—
full blue moon—
but they couldn’t cover
its white light.
At the top of the prairie,
there was enough light to see
where to enter the labyrinth;
the tall grass walls reflected
enough light
to see the darker path,
make the turns. We walked silently
still,
brushing palms across tall grasses,
passing each other,
following the path,
moving parallel for awhile
before one or the other
made the next turn—friendly,
familiar,
ghostly figures along the path.

Debra had entered the labyrinth first.
She has been a friend for a long time,
through many joy-filled and
tear-filled times. It was she who
first asked if I wanted to walk the labyrinth
in the light of the full moon. That thought
had never occurred to me. Of course
it would occur to Debra,
so steeped in Earth’s beauty
and mystery. As always, there were
mutual insights: she thought moonlight
was the only light under which one
walked the labyrinth. The day she called
to tell me her beloved Danny had died,
she asked me to go out
and walk the labyrinth, which, of course,
I did, not knowing how
that could possibly help.
Here we are
again. This time accompanied
by another dear friend, Rachel.

Debra reached the center first.
Cloud cover had cleared,
and formed an interesting pattern
of stripes, curved gently,
pointing north. Maybe that’s why
everyone laid down in the grass
facing north, eyes
to the sky.
Higher in the east now
the full blue moon
shown bright and clear,
its face glowing.
Silently, we watched stars
and moon
and clouds;
felt the night air cooling.
Safe
inside a bright circle
for a little while,
with stars and moon,
grass and cool air,
dear friends.
We lingered long.
Slowly then
we made the turns
that took us out,
walked down through the prairie—
the quietest of times on the prairie,
when the wind is stilled,
the birds sleeping—
back across the dam,
through the dark flanks of sunflowers,
and home
for ice cold watermelon.

This I know:
There are things
you can only experience
in the darkness—
and by the light of the moon.
The labyrinth—
in moonlight
or daylight—
will take you in,
hold you safely for a little while,
and send you on your way again.
It is necessary
to walk with friends on the path,
at every turn.

DSCN7683Debra and Rachel at prairie labyrinth

Supper was light and cool—
gazpacho with homegrown tomatoes,
black bean salad, humus…
together, we cut up a cantaloupe,
candy-sweet,
a perfectly ripe watermelon and made smoothies.
It was 7 or so,
the breeze had cooled,
when we set out on the road
walking to the labyrinth.
Conversation was effortless.

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We stopped to notice a zillion grasshoppers,
one swimming in the creek;
Indian Blanket, Hollyhock, Flax blooming
on the pond dam.
At the labyrinth we stood amazed
at the beauty there, atop the prairie.
360 degrees of soft green,
in late July
in Oklahoma.

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Earth would move up in front of the sun
soon. We walked our intentions around
the outside of the labyrinth,
then each entered.
Grass wall is thigh-high;
white flowers too.
Small pink-lavender ones
shorter, in the short grass.

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Each at our own pace,
in silence,
we follow our feet around curves
and switchbacks, passing
one another, into the center,
under a wide, wide, wide bowl of sky,
in the middle of a circle of prairie,
tree-lined creek, cattle
grazing,
silence still,
golden light.
Silence still
going out,
back toward the reasons
we came here
to seek solace,
direction.

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Watching the sun disappear then,
light shimmer on the pond,
Nighthawk squawk and swoop,
it was good to be together,
friends,
here.

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As we walked down, back,
slowly,
we stopped to watch 10 white cranes
take places for the night
in the Cypress trees
on the islands in the pond.
And then we noticed
a dark hunch
alone
in a dead tree,
high,
its back to us,
but no doubt:
a Bald Eagle.

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It was dark by the time
we made it back to the front porch
of the farm house.
They gathered their things
and left for their homes.

 

 

I wondered if it would be too warm,
too still,
even in the shade of the Mimosa,
at the end of a warmish day.
But there was a breeze,
and the perfume…
So we set the table
in the shade,
beneath the flamboyant pink blossoms,
and gathered round
for our annual potluck,
these dear friends
who weekly, freely, share
around thoughts and feelings
that ring with the resonance
of meaning.
Years of sharing deeply
has formed a beloved community.
Reluctantly, we abandon our weekly gatherings
for the summer,
but only after sharing a meal—
a delicious meal,
lovingly offered,
fully appreciated.
We were lingering at table
when the sky in the north grew dark
and the wind changed
and the temperature dropped 15 degrees
while we scrambled to bring everything inside
(feeling extremely fortunate
at the prospect of rain, two days in a row!)
Settled again
on the front porch,
we watched the storm arrive,
stayed in place
even though we wore summer clothes
and the north wind brought chills—
welcome chills—
then rain. The air grew fuzzy and soft
with rain.
Our conversation rang again
with meaning (we just do that!)
but now was laced with spontaneous outbursts—
“ah, that smell!”—
that otherwise had nothing—
“oh, that sound!”—
to do with the subject—
“oh my, what a lovely rain!”—
at hand.
Or, perhaps, the uncontrolled exclamations
did.
Eventually, as the chill settled,
a cup of hot tea
seemed fitting—
along with (why not!) a chunk of the first—
luscious—watermelon
of the summer.
So glad humans are not
in charge; so glad when we stay
open
to life’s surprises.
We couldn’t have ordered
a lovelier, richer day.

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All summer we have watched this watermelon grow.

It has gotten bigger and bigger.

Then it stopped getting bigger

and started getting ripe.

We kept watching it.

Showed it to our guests.

Everyone thumped it.

Said it looked good.

We would ask, “Do you think it is ripe?”

All answered, “I don’t know.”

The thing about watermelons is

once picked, they don’t get riper.

You have to pick them when they are ripe.

But who knows when they are ripe?

No one here knows for sure.

So we kept waiting

until today.

We picked it.

It’s 21 inches long.

We still don’t know if it is ripe.

We haven’t cut into it.

Maybe we will get brave tomorrow.