We are among the lucky. Thus far we have only lost power and internet service. There is a fire a few miles away but it seems to be holding. My heart goes out to those who have lost everything and the 500,00 who have had to undergo the stress of evacuations.
As Oregon Burns
A dry wind howls from the east
We extinguish the candles
and do not sleep
As Oregon burns
A black cloud draws across the sky like a flat curtain
If you have country property here in my corner of Oregon, you have probably noticed an explosion of small mammals, including ground squirrels, rats but especially voles this year. Rodents have population cycles peaking every few years and then falling after the predator population catches up to them. This is a banner year for voles
Voles are rodents, bigger than mice with smaller ears and short tales. They are chiefly vegetarians munching on roots, nuts, young plants, and bulbs. They are proficient tunnelers. You don’t want them in your garden.
On the positive side, they aerate the soil and distribute nutrients in the soil layers. My inner biologist recognizes their role in the great circle of life but my outer gardener is extremely frustrated. I am perhaps the first person to write a poem about vole holes?. Adding a bit a humor has made the situation in my lawn more tolerable.
Just when I thought the world couldn’t get any crazier, it has. The issues confronting this country (and the world beyond) makes one tempted to roll over on ones back, legs up in defeat. I need not mention them. You all know- especially in the USA.
This enormity of disasters makes one wonder- is it all hopeless? What good can I do that will make a difference? I’ve been thinking all this week about this question “why bother?” This is what I came up with…
Take note…none of the great sages, prophets, and saviors ever became enlightened by being busy. They renounced their worldly possessions, headed out into the desert, sat under trees, and retreated to caves high up in the mountains. They fasted, prayed, and meditated- basically doing nothing for extended periods. In this solitary, inward experience they became one with themselves, nature, God, and ultimately fulfilled.
In contrast, our culture encourages productivity. The more we achieve, the more we are valued even to ourselves. We are always heading towards something -graduation, career, children, children leaving home, retirement, and acquiring more stuff. We were never encouraged to just BEand Be with our be-ness. Therefore a great deal of our society thinks happiness is always beyond the next bend. For example- “When I______________(fill in the blank), I will be happy.
Being a victim of this frame of mind, I started my sheltering in place journey with a “Super- think of all the things I can get DONE!- writing art, gardening, fitness, etc.”. Then I started to go crazy with all these added expectations.
I concluded that productivity is overrated. You get something accomplished and then 3 more things go in the queue. The carrot remains out of reach. What I needed to do was slow down and find a nice cave to curl up in with no paper to write a to do list on. Savoring the moment is where it’s at. It’s likely we won’t get this type of “opportunity” again.
Now I have granted myself a time to go “fallow.” I haven’t gone off the rails, nor am I enlightened, but I have lowered my expectations. Oddly, this takes a bit of mindfulness. Old habits die hard, but overall, I am happier and enjoying the ride alot more…
It is the longest day of the year, the first official day of summer on the modern calendar. In a couple of hours, my three friends will join me in a summer solstice celebration. We will have a bonfire behind my house, share some readings, reminisce, and enjoy each other’s company as we have for many summer solstices. We all agree that the most memorable summer solstice was during our trip to Ireland in 2017 when visited Ballyvaughan small town in county Claire on the W. coast of Ireland. There we gathered with the locals in their church with a rousing celebration of songs and readings, a memory that still resounds within me to this day.
The Summer Solstice is when the earth is tilted closest to the sun during its orbit, Midsummer, as it is referred to in the northern climes, the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream when magical things can happen..
I was looking for a reading for tonight when I wrote this poem.
November 2016 when our current “Toddler in Chief” was elected president was a dark time for the United States. We have continued our plunge into more darkness since then. The only good thing that came out of it for me was that I started writing- copiusly. This blog was born soon after in January of 2017. I knew nothing about blogging but just started to blog because I had to. Some 412 followers later I went back to some of those original posts when I had no readers, let alone any followers.
These two poems still apply now, when George Floyd, a black citizen was brutally murdered by a police officer for no reason this last week. The resulting protests and violence is a symbol of our country having enough- of racism, inequality, Covid 19, and the policies of our 45th president. Out of the ashes comes new beginnings. Let’s hope it’s soon.
This is a departure from my usual content. I just posted this on my other blog, One Sweet Earth but I thought it might be of interest to my readers here with an added poem…
I have always been fascinated with the unseen world of nature that exists beneath our feet or is too small for our eyes to see. Some years back on a forest field trip for my 6th-grade science students, the guide pointed out small mounds covered with small bits of debris on the muddy parts of the forest floor. I’d seen these before, never giving them much thought. “Those are earthworm middens,” she said. HUH? How did in all my years of natural science and ecology did I miss this one?
The guide informed us that earthworm middens are the entrances of earthworm burrows. The reason they are built up like little volcanos is they pile their casings (poo) outside and alternately store bits of organic material at the entrance to later come up and feed upon. In January I came upon in one in the yard with a magnolia leaf sticking straight up from the entrance like a rock from Stonehenge. It appeared that this leaf was too large, tough for this worm to manage.
This is a rehash of a post from 2018 with some new modifications for the times…
It shouldn’t be that difficult. Most people open their eyes, pop out of bed, and voila!- on with their day. For me, making the transition from Dreamtime to wakefulness is a sacred ritual. This can sometimes take up to an hour. Even when I was working full-time I always allowed some time for this. Now with COVID 19 & sheltering in place, there seem to be no people to be held accountable to, nor yoga or pool schedule to meet and no medical appointments. Now I am left up to my own motivation. It’s gotten to be more difficult not to be tempted to sleep in.
First step- avoid reading or listening to the news. I fail to see the point of starting the day feeling depressed. It’s curated to produce nightmares. (Plus, there is a dearth of good news to be had even though I know it exists.) My phone is in silent mode or better yet turned off.
Place my 15-year-old dog, Bandit on the bed. He makes me smile. Then have to free the “wild hamsters” that populate my head and if I don’t get rid of them my day seems chaotic. Essential to that process is to brew a cup of tea, heat up my “hottie” for my tight back, and do a quick meditation.
I spend a few minutes in my planner thinking about my goals for the day or week. I have been finding that scheduling joy into my day can really help to keep the lonely demons away. Anything from reading a good book, walking the dog, gardening, phoning a friend, or watching a movie IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Then onto my journal where I may write anything that’s been lurking in my mind, a poem. Finally, I add a funny daily doodle in my planner for fun.
Now I am ready to transition from human being to more of a human doing with a foundation of centeredness that I hope to carry with me throughout my day.
Next step- remove body from bed and get to living in this simplified yet complicated world.