Celebrating Summer Solstice 2020

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..

This song was sung at the 2017 Ballyvaugh Summer Soltice Celebration by this Choir.

I was looking for a reading for tonight when I wrote this poem.

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The Mundane That Keeps Me Sane…

A recent entry from my sometimes rather crazy journal/sketchbook.

Hanging Laundry

Bend, lift, snap, pin

repeat

the basket empties

the lines fill

the mind stills

banners of clothing

undulate with the breath

of a June morning.

images by the author

Also blogging at One Sweet Earth

The Darkest Time is Before the Dawn

Courtesy Getty images

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.

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The Art of The Earthworm

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.

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Trespassing in Nuthatch Territory

img_3614There are many species of birds around the acreage of our country home. I feed them and provide some housing but some find shelter in unlikely places. Recently at dusk, we spotted an avian form fly down and slip through a crack in the slats of our well-house.  “That better not be another starling, “I remarked. Starlings harass the native birds and we often block their nesting sites. We investigated but could not see in the dark recesses. With a gooseneck flashlight made for engine repair, I spied a female nuthatch sitting on her nest looking up at our invasive bright light…

Trespass

As I peer through the hole 

enlarged by tiny pecks

the  bird’s white face gazes up 

feathers spread wide over her nest 

eyes pleading

the dark fortress breached

I leave her in peace

holding close a sacred memory

 

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image coursesty marthastewart.com

Rebooting 2020

keyboard-393838_1920Let’s just start over, look back to the resolve we had at the New Year and reframe those goals and hopes into the context of Covid 19.  They may still apply- but if they don’t, convert them into something simpler, kinder, from lofty accomplishments to simply a better state of mind.  My word I set for the year 2020 was “acceptance”, still so applicable but now I am thinking about it in different contexts than I originally intended

At first, I thought that was lowering the bar, but maybe for our culture by slowing down and taking time to reflect we have somehow raised the bar to what’s really important?

  • Being happy with what you’ve got
  • Taking good care of yourself and family
  • Reaching out to others in need
  • Unwinding ourselves to the forces beyond our control

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Pandemic Poetry

Bringing light in these uncertain times is a plethora of poetry being shared.  It’s amazing the power that poetry can have bringing our attention to the matters of humanity. The last of these is mine.

And the people stayed home.

And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply.

Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently. And the people healed.

And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

– Kitty O’Meara.

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The Art of Surrender

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I spent several years working and exploring in remote corners of Alaska as a young woman.  This required transportation in floatplanes and small boats to rocky shores, arctic lakes, meandering rivers

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and remote airstrips.  The weather played an important part in determining departure and pickup times. It seemed that the pickups were often the most delayed.  Maybe that’s because it was the end of a trip when I was tired, cold, and desperately in need of a shower and my own bed.

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An Old Take on Going Viral

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My university education steeped me enough ecology and natural science where I developed a different view about modern humanity and our dismal treatment of our natural environment.  A couple years back I wrote this poem to give myself some comfort (in a sciencey kind of way) that the Earth will be just fine without our presence.  I never shared it until now as it seems so appropriate to the times…

 

 

STARTING FRESH

Beyond the scope of our perceptions

They live, thrive even

Unseen

The precursors of life 

That once rose out of primordial goo

Giving rise to our modern-day selves

In the span of millennia

 

Now they keep house 

In the dark soil

On doorknobs

In the lining of our guts,

Or riding on the currents of air and water 

 

They are the good guys and the bad guys

Working the magic of digestion, decomposition, disease 

Keeping life on Earth in a delicate balance

As they go about their quiet business

While we humans multiply and innovate

Thinking the planet is ours to consume

And ours to fix

 

In the end will come the justice of Nature

Indiscriminate of zealot, terrorist, or model citizen

From microbes, having no other intelligence 

Than the genius of mutation

A plague perhaps, unleashed with a single sneeze

 

Our technology, heroes, and gods will not save us

The Earth will rest, then heal in its time

Nature will learn from her mistakes

And new life will rise

Our presence recorded in a layer of rock

Six inches thick

 

On that note…

Be well everyone and make the most of your social isolation! 


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How to Fall in Love With Poetry in Eight Minutes

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

Robert Frost

His voice made me halt abruptly as I walked my dog down a country road. I was listening to a new podcast on my phone. It was a most comforting, soft Irishman’s voice, padraigotuama_headshot-300x300-1the kind you know the speaker has depth, an old soul worth a listen with total commitment.  That voice was that of Pádraig Ó Tuama, the host of the podcast “Poetry Unbound”, part of the On Being Project  He was introducing himself and the podcast.  Then he began to read the poem  “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade” by Brad Aaron Modlin.  Not only was I was utterly transfixed by the way he read the poem, his interpretation that followed illuminated this piece in a way that I never could have in my own reading.

I came late to poetry, the reading and writing of it.  To be honest there are few poets and poems I really love. I have been guilty of quick reading,  passing over an author’s words like speeding down a road without noticing the scenery. But with Padraig’s reading and interpretations, I am finding new love in unlikely poems.  He pays attention deeply to what the author is saying in each line and then makes the poem come alive to the listener.  After his guidance, he reads the piece again so you can fully appreciate the poem’s magic.

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