Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

April

In Landscape on April 28, 2019 at 10:00 am

When the sun warms and turns to April there is little reason to travel far from home.  Yet spring is the time of year when church, business, and non-profit meetings come out of the woodwork.  Created within each of us, I imagine, is a springgene of sorts kicking in an emotional calling to engage in spiritual search.  Sometimes with others.  Sometimes alone.  After winter’s indoor confinement and outdoors heavy coat and boots and pants and gloves, the light jacket of spring pulls upon an ancient inclination to watch newborn grass break ground, rabbits browsing upon breaking leaves of greasewood, or a hawk catching an updraft.  However, much life has shifted from the body’s seasonal nature; too often we are left with little more than meetings and conferences to fill our post-winter emotional and spiritual needs.

Luck has it my away from home April meetings were canceled.  Allowing springs call to give an ear to wind and an eye to landscape.  Such good fortune should not be wasted but known for the joy to use winter’s learned skills of living quietly and slowly.  In this season of rapid change, a bit of gentle listening and watching may just bring one close as Creation crafts birth, remembrance, and reconciliation. Yesterday’s mundane of cold and motionless explodes in this season—minutes, hours, days—to movement and action.  To miss a spring moment is to miss a multitude of unknowns.  The thought has me turn my collar up against a light but chilly breeze, leave the farm behind, and walk toward the ridge.

The drainage ditch is flowing unhurriedly as I reach it.  A hen mallard slips from the reeds and ten hatchlings furiously paddle behind her. She stops paddling, the current carries her down through the brood to the last hatchling, she groups them up and moves them further upstream away from me.  A good move, the ridge is downstream.  I turn and walk away from them.

To the east a farm still has three-foot cornstalk in the field from Novembers harvest.  Folk have turned cow-calf pairs into the field who now feed on  the dry cornstalk.  Grasses will soon have the height and sugars to become this season’s feed.  Maybe the stalk will be enough, without buying more feed, to get the cattle to grass.  The farmer to the west has stored feed remaining and is busy discing last fall’s cornstalk into the dirt.  With a steady sound of a tractor behind me I reach the old wood-plank bridge that crosses a branch of Toppenish creek.

The creek is high, but its movement even less visible than that of the ditch.  Cresting its banks sometime in the last few days, the creek tells the flood plain of warmer weather upstream.  The road on the other side of the bridge has water flowing over it for the next thirty feet or better.  Crossing to dry road means getting wet.  Just how wet depends if water comes over my boot tops.  I take the chance and hope for no more than two or three inches of water.  A couple steps and I know luck isn’t mine today as boots fill with water who remembers itself as melting snow forty miles upstream.  Fine then.  I’ll count on a decent circulatory system and feet warming boot water.  Soon.  At water’s edge I leave the dirt road and walk downstream.  Finding a piece of ground twenty feet from a small eddy I sit down. Grasses rise above my head. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Marble

In Poetry on July 22, 2018 at 10:00 am

Our ghosts follow us more
often than we think,
or want.

I told my grandmother,
“Get in touch with me after you die.”
If existence after death is real.
I’ve never heard from her.

A church attender
who is trying to figure out
weird religious after-this-life stuff.

“We’ve never been taught to listen differently.
To hear the song of kin long dead.
In the breeze, the bending of a tree,
or sunlight’s twinkle off rippling water.”

Something rolled in the sock drawer
when pulling it out.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Again, the next day.
Rolling.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Reaching back, past the socks—a marble.

Who’d been the marble
of my dead brother
whose birthday was yesterday.

 

Standing Rock 2018

In YCM on June 10, 2018 at 5:52 am

Morning.  Stars filled the night sky when I last looked.  Then a good wind blew.  Moving clouds in.  Then out. Leaving just enough to catch and mix the morning sun rays into a painting a photo could never justify.

Morning and I find myself on 40 acres of the local Episcopal Diocese.  Acres who lie within the boundaries of the Standing Rock Nation. Not all that far from where protesting and water protection occurred just a few years ago.  Like so much, those days of protesting of the Dakota Access Pipeline have been lost in the continual data and news stream filling our phones, computers, and televisions.

Morning comes after yesterday evenings powwow.  The first for the young adults who’ve come to this place.  The evening was a moment of beginnings.  Sights.  Sounds. Dust. Conversation.  A group of non-Natives wondering what and whom and how this landscape is different than their home place.  Dancers, speakers, children.  A different story to learn.  Not new. But new to them.

Morning and the sun breaks over the horizon.

Heavens Cry

In Doctrine of Discovery, Landscape on December 4, 2017 at 8:02 am

We have become people who can live without the wild.  We will watch The Reverant and imagine and talk about the wild 1800’s.  We will ride a ski lift, look across vast lands of wild and imagine being wild as we ski alongside hundreds on the downslope.  We day hike in refuges and National Parks and think we are one with the wild.  But we believe we can live without it.

As President Trumps emasculates Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments today, it is hard to imagine him having ever backpacked the high country or the low country.  Though carrying all argumentative swagger boasting style of Teddy Roosevelt, he brings the modern dream of timber rather than trees and oil-copper-fracking rather than landscape.  Though the act is deplorable, the reduction of wild fits the US mindset of a growing-building economy rather than a maintaining-healing-imagining economy.

The loss is more than a loss of wild in favor of land development.  The loss tears at the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of people and animals and plants and soil.  Life, in all forms, live better when the imagination allows for the unknown around the next corner.  Vision of the unknown is something American settlers and American Natives had in common.  Read the rest of this entry »

Full Day Sunsets and Dreams

In Reflections, Seasons on October 1, 2017 at 10:00 am

“It’s been a full day,” is a comment of norm as fall’s setting colors settles into the evening sky.  We’ve joked that this has been a season of maintenance as one farm implement after the other begs attention before returning to the mettle of its work.  There’s been as much time on the stick welder as there’s been irrigating, baling, moving cattle, and harvesting the foodbank garden.  Then when pasture work backs into pastor work, “It’s been a full day” falls into the air as easily as boots fall to floor.

Yet, when it comes to balancing a backyard supper plate of garden vegetables and beef cooked over wood coals and watching the West’s evening color show, there is an ease to the day.  The anxious grandson takes as-little-as-possible time to eat and runs off with the dog.  As they head toward the western lightshow it seems their romp leads them to heaven.  Maybe it does.

I wonder, does the wellbeing of those “It’s been a full day” evenings last?  I like to think so.    Those elders who do not cling to societies claim of forever young and seventy is the new fifty, regularly have a good word alongside one of ache.  They claim those full day sunsets as a gift.  A type of gift that cannot be claimed by the youthful.  Fullness of age lead them to stories of yesteryear, running with the dog, the pleasantries of love and wonder, and for the sly of heart, sex.  Like grandchildren, the forever young often miss simple evening colors while the elders speak of distinctions between subtle smells of the orange sunset and its burgundy kin.

Hours after dog running the grandson will lie flat on his back and dream with the imagination that comes with three years of life.  Soon afterward I follow with a more aged imagination.  I like to think these full days will last until the end of days, whenever that might be.  There is not great necessity that either body or mind be in the best of working order as those days role in, as much as having the fullness of imagination blending yesterday’s work—running with the dog or welding a broken shaft—to the dreams of this full day.

Perhaps the mettle of an elder’s grace is no more than that: to have the imagination to dream.  Whether our age is 3 or 103, whether we run with the dog or sit and watch the dog run, whether we balance our plate on our knees or have someone feed us, as long as we dream of sunsets and full days we know pleasant stories of love, wonder, and—surely for the sly 103-year-old, sex.

Water Holes

In Reflections on February 12, 2017 at 9:00 am

161231

“A man that travels horseback needs to remember where the water holes are, but a man that rides in a train can forget about water holes, because trains don’t drink.”  Woodrow Call on attributing Charles Goodnight’s bad memory to his riding of trains—from Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry]

I returned to the rental car after having supper.  Belinda and I were visiting her mother.  Though we knew this landscape well some thirty-five years ago, the population is three times greater today.  My landmarks are gone, so I chose to use the GPS on my phone to get us to the restaurant.  As we loaded in the car after supper, I pulled out my phone to use the GPS to get us home.  I tried to do that without bringing attention to myself—I didn’t want to admit I had only listened to computer spoke directions and hadn’t paid attention to how I got there.  However, my mother-in-law is not one to let much go and way too attentive.  She asked, “What are you getting that out for?,” with that smirky smile she saves for when she knows she’s got you.

“I need it to get back home,” I said.  That gave her the fodder she was looking for.  From parking lot to home, I was on the receiving end of ribbing concerning phones and a society that no longer knows how to pay attention to the world around them.  I looked in the rearview mirror a few times, but Belinda gave no shrift either, she smiled and laughed all the way home. My ribs hurt by the time we got back.  Not so much from the poking, but because I agreed.

****

A few days of good mountain weather opened up toward the end of the summer.  I grabbed hiking gear and headed to the Goat Rock backcountry.  While Mount Rainer and Phato get most of the attention from the lowlands, the Goat Rocks are a dynamic, assessable land that speaks to the everyday.  The Pacific Crest trail gives wonderful mountain(s) views around one bend or another, but off trial you are sure to run into elk, mountain goats, and more than a chipmunk or two.  One never has to go far from the trail though to find an outcropping view of a lower valley that gives the feeling the Creator made this place just for you. Read the rest of this entry »

Of Cornfield Surprise

In Landscape, Reflections on November 27, 2016 at 10:00 am

161127

Sage and I were walking toward the refuge.  Only a mile from the farm, the distance is just enough for the dog and I to have worked the kinks out of the legs before settling in for a good walk—that is saying more about me than Sage who is not quite of two years yet.  We were a quarter mile from the farm, walking along our neighbor’s cornfield, when visited.

The harrier is not one of the largest hawks in the valley, but for its size it has a rather impressive wingspan.  Males, gray in color, have a rounded shape tail with an unmistakable black band.  Unlike many other birds, it is the female who is more colorful and attractive—to my eyes not the birds.  Common to the farm, harriers like the low vegetation landscape that allows for a weaving pattern of low flight hunting.  They are a great benefit to managing the vole population in the hay fields.

We walked the cornfield’s west end keeping fifteen feet between the nearest corn stalk and us.  An early cool morning, the distance allowed us to walk in sunlight dropping off the cornfield’s edge.  Sage kept her nose to ground picking up scents of last night’s nocturnal critters.  She dashed in and out of cornrows, returning now and again questioning why I would not join in on the fun of following scent.

It was during one of those visits when a harrier dove off the cornfield edge and almost ran into us.  Sweeping hard to the south, the hawk was close enough to detail feathers on its gray belly.  I don’t know if hawks jump, but the waggle it made in it tough southerly turn seemed akin to the jump Sage and I made.

He quickly leveled out a few feet from the ground.  Sage watched him for the full length of a moment and then ran off nose to ground.  I took a breath.

In seconds the hawk was over the wild area it would take our non-flight legs to make.  Banking to the west he circled to the north, crossing the winter feeding ground of a neighbor and a disced wheat field before heading south.  Keeping five feet above the ground, he flew by a few feet off our right.  As he slid by, there was the slightest twist of his owlish face.  Perhaps it is a stretch, but I think not, we looked each other in the eye.  Meanwhile, with nose to ground Sage was busy checking out a pile of crusted over coyote crap—with little less wonder than my own.

Morning Walk

In Reflections on October 16, 2016 at 4:57 pm

161016

Hay is in the barn.  Baled, hefted on to the flatbed trailer and into the barn less than an hour before the first fall drencher.  Though we have had a few weeks of fall per the calendar and roughly the same per seasonal coolness, it has been summer work all along.  Now with last hay baled life feels like autumn.

The dialect of the early morning fall sky is different from that of summer.  One last watering of the hay field calls for a 5:30am walk to move irrigation line.  Summer speaks of light and long morning shadows as it rises above the eastern horizon.  With a flashlight in the back pocket, a sliver of moon in the dark morning sky and a milky star mass, between southern Orin Belt and northern Big Dipper, settling just out of reach, it is surely fall.

Morning dew soaks leather boots in the morning hour and darkening leather assures damp feet.  It seems it were only yesterday when one could walk barefoot at this hour without a hint of dampness.

Animals who were feeding a month ago at this hour are lying in the field.  After resetting the irrigation line and starting the pump, a few have raised their head and are chewing cud.  No one is in much of hurry to rise.

Returning to the house on a fall morning is worthy of celebration.  Prior to leaving the house, beans were ground and water placed in the coffeemaker.  The walk from field to house is an eastern one.  A hint of sunrise red in the dark sky cause eastern stars to vanish.  Yet it is as if those same stars have visited the house and their illuminance is beckoning through the kitchen window.  The square widow of light welcomes one home.

Sage Steppe Fence Post

In Poetry on June 26, 2016 at 8:00 am

160626

sentinel of sage and
cow, knows not fire
destruction, rather metamorphic wisdom

Wise Fence

In Poetry on May 29, 2016 at 8:00 am

160529
sage leans into fence
whispering wisdom, lean ear
to wire and listen