Apr 3, 2022
“Time flows in a strange way on Sundays.” ~ Haruki Murakami
Dear Poetry of Nature Friends, Happy Sunday. May your day flow, and may you feel softened and fresh in early spring. In my neck of the woods, Sunday is always the quietest of days. I love immersing myself in the Sabbath of Sunday Stillness. How is early spring shaping up in your neck of the woods? The dance of plants surrounding our home roots and fills me with light and fecundity. The sexy love whickers of a Flicker pair draw my heart and attention. As they pursue each other, I feel love at play on breathtaking, red-shafted wings. The Band Tailed Pigeons have arrived home. If one Steller's Jay is present, the pigeons will come to enjoy the banquet I offer. Wuh hoo, wuh hoo, wuh hoo, wuh hoo - their round gentle cheers drift down from the canopy. A female Rufous Hummingbird has arrived! Little Bit, a male Anna’s Hummingbird has returned. We were blessed to watch him grow up last year. This year there is also a shining copper and ruby male Rufous Hummingbird. These three keep Zip extremely busy guarding "his" nectar bars. Zip is a male Anna's who's been with us for two years. The Mountain Quail have just returned to us! We last saw them and their two grown chicks late last October. We were treated to a rare sighting on December 30th, when the Mountain Quail pair came to forage in the snow. We’re so grateful to see them once more. We hope they’ll raise another family here.
Blaze licks rain from her daughter's forehead
Blaze, with one of her yearling daughters, waits out a spring shower beneath the thicket. They shimmy the rain from their coats, then Blaze licks the rain from her daughter’s forehead. Blaze stretches, and I admire her perfect cat-cow pose. One of the 10-month-old twin bucks visits. He’s patchy, his summer coat is coming in. I see that Chipmunk is awake and my eyes can’t help but race along her sleekness as she forages in the rockery. There’s endless life and beauty. There is hope. I’ll take it all! Early spring reminds me of Ada Limón’s spring poem, “Instructions on Not Giving Up”.
Instructions on Not Giving Up More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees that really gets to me. When all the shock of white and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath, the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin growing over whatever winter did to us, a return to the strange idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then, I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all. ~ Ada Limón
I feel the lushness of early spring blooming in Limón’s poem. I appreciate her opening images: fuchsia funnels breaking out / of the crabapple tree...the neighbor’s / almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving / their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate / sky of Spring rains. I especially love rainy spring days like these, so near and dear to my tender pluviophile heart! Don't you love how Limón brings us close in to the flowering, fresh greenness, and light of the Maple that inspired her poem? I feel like she unfolds this in my heart too. It’s an honest, healing poem: Patient, plodding, a green skin / growing over whatever winter did to us, a return / to the strange idea of continuous living... Like Limon's Maple, my beloved Western Flowering Dogwood unfolds. Her flower petals are just beginning to fill in. The flower domes expand and follow Sun’s path across the sky. Every year, I find so much hope, heart, and light in my Dogwood. Her leaves unfurling like a fist to an open palm, welcoming the light, despite / the mess of us, the hurt, the empty…the war raging in Ukraine, climate change reacclimating Earth, the growing polarization in the US, the pandemic and Omicron BA.2 still in full swing. I feel like the collective unconscious is full of grief, brimming over.
"Fine then, I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all."
I invite you open yourself to early spring, to the greening, freshness, and light it brings. What are you saying, “Yes!” to? Can you say, “I’ll take it all”? As a way to open you to Ada Limon’s poem and early spring, I offer you these sentence stems as possible prompts: “More than…” “What really gets me…” “I’ll take it…”
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Sunrise in a dewdrop "The place you suffer from is the same exact place where you care desperately. It's the same place that inspires you to ease someone's pain however you can. And it's the place that you vibrate with the insane beauty of this world." ~ Susan Cain TED Summit 2019 - The hidden power of sad songs and rainy days * * *
After the rain shimmy, I admire Blaze's cat-cow stretch. Her 2 year old daughter is behind her. Her yearling daughter's rump at the right.
Early Spring Check In How can early spring inform your connection with your neck of the woods? How are you deepening and strengthening your Nature practice and poem-making? Please remember that Poetry of Nature is a wonderful experiment, all of us connecting, or reconnecting with our true Nature. What trees, plants, birds, and animals are you noticing. Who is noticing you? Geoff and I would really love to know! We want to read and enjoy your poems and creative writing. We'd like to see your photos. We want you to feel free to share your poems, discoveries, and connections. We would also like to know: Is there something you'd like more of? Or, less of? We invite you to respond to this email. You can also post your poems, photos and ideas in your private virtual community, here. Your sharing strengthens us all. * * *
"And it has already turned out."
“Always we hope” Always we hope Someone else has the answer Some other place will be better, Some other time it will all turn out. This is it. No one else has the answer No other place will be better, And it has already turned out. At the center of your being You have the answer, You know who you are And you know what you want. There is no need To run outside For better seeing. Nor to peer from a window. Rather abide at the center of your being; For the more you leave it, the less you learn. Search your heart And see The way to do Is to be. ~ Lao Tzu
As early spring shines forth, I offer you Lao Tzu’s poem that remind us to come home to our shining, spacious selves. To return to center and honor our hearts. What shines to you from Lao Tzu’s poem? Where do you feel the answers within? I offer you these sentence stems to explore: I search my heart… At the center of my being… For me, Lao Tzu reminds me that this moment is all there is. We’re all on this soul journey to our center, to our hearts. I am grateful to be on this journey with you. Please read on for Geoff's Ponderings. Spring blessings and blissings, NanLeah * * *
"Stand tall, no matter height, how dark your skin Your spirit is all colors within"
Geoff Oelsner’s Ponderings Dear PON Friends, My wife Leslie and I have just returned from a two week visit to our daughter, her husband and our two year old granddaughter, Robin. Being with them has opened and softened our hearts. Here’s Robin, along with her dear Daddy’s nose, a few days after we celebrated her second birthday:
The beauty of spring simmers above, below and about us, even as the waves of collective anguish NanLeah writes of beat on our hearts’ shores. Our tears are prayers. We sit in meditation to enter and abide more fully in that quiet place where all is ultimately well, that tender center where compassion and creative response can be found. This month, I’m excited to commend the work of two exceptional poetesses to you: Joy Harjo of the Muscogee Creek Nation, the present poet laureate of the United States, and the late Denise Levertov (1923-97). Both are visionaries of awakened trans-temporal and spatial awareness; both confront the tragic elements in life head on, particularly Harjo; both offer poetic medicines of deep-reaching honesty and high reverence for Creation. Here’s an excerpt from the last half of one of Levertov’s later poems titled “First Love,” from the exquisite book Denise Levertov: Selected Poems (New Directions, 2002). Very much like the first half of the Walt Whitman “There was a child went forth every day” poem I shared with you last month, it sings the innocence and timelessness of the Child Spirit in us all:
“…From a bare patch of that poor soil, solitary, sprang the flower, face upturned, looking completely, openly into my eyes. I was barely old enough to ask and repeat its name. ‘Convolvulus,’ said my mother. Pale shell-pink, a chalice no wider across than a silver sixpence. It looked at me, I looked back, delight filled me as if I, not the flower, were a flower and were brimful of rain. And there was endlessness. Perhaps through a lifetime what I’ve desired has always been to return to that endless giving and receiving, the wholeness of that attention, that once-in-a-lifetime secret communion.”
And here’s a poem from Joy Harjo’s book An American Sunrise(W.W. Norton, 2019). Though she’s writing for her Native American brothers (and, I am sure) sisters and their future generations, we can draw strength for our uncertain earthly journeys from her words as well:
For Earth’s Grandsons Stand tall, no matter height, how dark your skin Your spirit is all colors within You are made of the finest woven light From the iridescent love that formed your mothers, fathers Your grandparents all the way back on the spiral road– There is no end to this love It has formed your bodies Feeds your bright spirits And no matter what happens in these times of breaking– No matter dictators, the heartless, and liars No matter– you are born of those Who kept ceremonial embers burning in their hands All through the miles of relentless exile Those who sang the path through massacre All the way to sunrise You will make it through— ~ Joy Harjo
May it be so for us all, my friends. With love, Geoff