Thursday, March 26, 2020

I Didn't Think to Ask for Woodcocks



I didn't think to ask for woodcocks
nor the fox

nor the merlin in the front yard
nor the fox sparrows in the back,
nor the tundra swans
nor the bald eagle who sailed through the yard
with some unfortunate prey clasped 
in its talons.

I didn't think to ask for for the toads
and tadpoles
and spotted salamander eggs 
in the derelict backyard pond
we inherited,
nor the robins who prefer its wildness
to a domesticated bird bath.

I didn't think to ask for the two 
solitary columbines
nor the ancient clump of peonies
that somehow survived the carnage
of the previous owners,
nor for the softest soil
I have ever worked.
Or that my vocation as gardener
would bring redemption to 
this bit of land and 
blessing to those who loved it
before me.

In this frightening,
new, collective social 
isolation,
and while missing those I love,
I didn't think to ask for 
the myriad young trees and shrubs 
that will soon surround us
and are fast becoming 
friends.

For all I didn't think
to ask...

Thank You.



Friday, March 6, 2020

Contemplation Beside a Salamander Pond


Up early, I headed
for a handful of hidden ponds,
hoping for wood frogs.

Like the monochrome of a pencil sketch,
or the patina of ancient pewter,

grey clouds and tree trunks, 
bare branches, rocks and dried leaves, 
stretched in all directions.

The ponds were quiet
with no wood frogs clacking,
no frenzied mating energy
expended. But,
upon closer inspection,
there were eggs, thousands of them,
or maybe millions,
laid on submerged twigs and leaves

in the nights before. 

Captivated, I turned my attention
to what was there...
leaves visible on the pond bottom,

tall trees reflected in still water, 
a teasing bubble as something
swam to the surface...

something long and sleek,
something black with yellow spots,

something gracefully twisting and turning
as it descended, head down,

back into the depths. 

Through binoculars and taking a closer look 
beneath the water,
what had looked like nothing much
became alive with the slow-motion movement of
spotted salamanders, 
creeping, gliding, crawling 
over and under decaying debris,
going about their mating-season, 
daytime rest.

Grateful wonder.
Enfolding stillness.
Unfolding contentment,
Contemplation of what is
rather than disappointment with what isn't.
Truly, is this not what I had really

come seeking?










Sunday, February 16, 2020

Communion


What was that wild emotion
as I stood grinning,
gazing up into the bare trees
and balancing on two legs and a walking stick
so as not to topple over?

What was that exhilarating sense of freedom
as I gazed at their dance,
me tethered to the ground,
them swaying far above,
blown back and forth by 
every gust of wind?

When I prayed
(something I had never asked before),
in Your kindness 
You blew a breeze 
that gently lifted every twig,
a whisper that rippled through the woodland
and then was gone.

What was that glad response 
emanating from my deepest self?
That continues on in the memory 
of the moment?

Wonder,
Awe,
Joy,

Gratitude.



Thursday, February 6, 2020

Settling In


Moving and moving on is a tumultuous endeavor.The physical work of relocating belongings is over but the soul work of transferring affections and identity and sense of belonging is ongoing.  

Rather than filling this space with words I'll offer pictures of the beauty I am finding when I look for it. These scenes are  a couple of miles up the road from where we live and make for lovely walking.


The woods here have a different make-up from the ones I rambled on Maryland's Coastal Plain. In this Pennsylvania Ridge and Valley region the hillsides are carpeted with low-growing blueberries and the understory is a mosaic of mountain laurel and witch hazel and, in places, acres of young pines. 


Moss is plentiful in open glades, a surprising woodland chartreuse that I am rather sure I would not choose in an indoor setting, 



and sometimes disguises the remnants of another time.


I will surely have further reflections as I settle in and accept the invitations this new land offers. I wonder at what unknown adventures await, beckoning me towards what I cannot now see, towards the One who brought me here and even towards a deeper knowing myself. Gratefully, I wonder.







Saturday, December 21, 2019

Benediction


Some years ago, my mind in tumult,
I came to you, 
and you bowed, 
or was it a curtsy?
Dressed in green (or was it gold?)
your nimble limbs swept toward me
when there was no breath of wind,
beckoning and offering blessing 
in your wordless way.

The winter woods around you are seldom silent, 
usually filled with chips and twitters,
unmelodious whistles, squeaks and squawks.
But today there is music - 
the single, lilting phrase of a hermit thrush,
promise of hope for what is beyond
this frozen moment,
promise for the future.

On this end-of-year solstice morning
I have come seeking you.
Clothed in soft-browns and silver,
limbs stiffened in the cold,
you move less easily now.
And yet, again I have come.
I have come for your benediction.
I have come to say goodbye.



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ten Years of Old Floors (Reflections on Leaving)


Ten years of old pine floors and wavy windows
that let the outside in,
secrets held in unknown histories.
Walls that were, doorways gone.
Rooms and roof lines gained and lost, 

mysteries beyond unraveling.

The marsh is clothed in browns and tans,
as when we first arrived,
a muted promise of discovery.
The years have changed it.
Populations of cattails, wild rice and jewelweed

jockey for position.
Like life itself, 

never static.

Ten years taller are the trees. 
Sycamores and yellow poplar scrape the sky,
finger-twigs stretching toward the clouds,
while beech and holly grow together in community,
thin places where the Divine stoops low,
meeting me unexpectedly.  
And yet...some are gone, 
remembered only by their fallen remains, 
ghosts among the living, 
reminders of an earlier time.
I miss them.

For ten years we have been gifted.
Gifted by an old house with old pine floors, 
by trees and fields, woodlands and water;
Gifted by life itself, 
and ten years of memories,
of blessings and of growth.
Ten years of gratitude.

Thank You.





Friday, November 22, 2019

Molting


Every fall she appears forlorn, bedraggled, 
with feathers missing and
bare patches on her rump,
surely cold and damp without her full plumage, 
which is yet to come.
A time to endure 
and hope for renewal.

Massive skeletons against the sky, 
they stand stripped, devoid of color,
foliage shed.
Perhaps it doesn't matter whether
by the gale's force or a gentle letting go;
The outcome is the same, 
entailing a long winter's wait 
for green and new growth 
to resume.

They float on the river, 
waterfowl bound to the earth 
for a season.
Unable to fly, 
they must bide their time and watch,
vulnerable, 
eyes on the sky they
cannot inhabit until 
new flight feathers emerge.

Browned and brittle,
stalks that were supple and green 
stand drying in the cold.
Goldenrods and asters, 
yellows and purples blanched to tan, 
holding pale, fuzzy seedheads 
soon to be 
dislodged by the breezes, 
sowing promise
of life to come.

Molting, Shedding, Waiting.
Emerging, Sowing, Hoping.

Believing.
Thanks be to God.