Nature, The Healer | Corina Ravenscraft

The world has needed healing for a long time, but especially now, in the midst of and in the aftermath of a global pandemic. This quarter’s issue of The BeZine deals with A Life of the Spirit and Healing. How do we heal ourselves from all of the changes Covid has wrought? How do we heal the rifts, the division, the stress that the pandemic has brought to us all? If nothing else is apparent, Nature has proven to us that She has the means and ability to end us. But She can also heal us.


Japanese people have long practiced shinrin yoku, or “forest bathing”. There is even a Japanese Society for Forest Medicine. The chairman of that group, physician Qing Li, has written a book called “Forest Bathing” and he points out: “The country’s two major religions, Buddhism and Shintoism, consider forests mystical. “For Zen Buddhists, scripture is written in the landscape,” writes Li. “In Shinto, the spirits are not separate from nature, they are in it. They are in the trees, in the rocks, in the breeze, the stream, the waterfall.”

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Image by
Wendy CORNIQUET
from Pixabay


Japanese people have long practiced shinrin yoku, or “forest bathing”. There is even a Japanese Society for Forest Medicine. The chairman of that group, physician Qing Li, has written a book called “Forest Bathing” and he points out: “The country’s two major religions, Buddhism and Shintoism, consider forests mystical. “For Zen Buddhists, scripture is written in the landscape,” writes Li. “In Shinto, the spirits are not separate from nature, they are in it. They are in the trees, in the rocks, in the breeze, the stream, the waterfall.”

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Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay


If that isn’t enough to at least pique your interest, there are dozens of articles and research papers published about the very real benefits to humans of being in and around nature. An article in Psychology Today about how the healing works in nature says, “Nature also frequently provides positive images for meditation. Just as winter turns to spring, one’s self-healing capacity can move from sickness into health. The restorative quality of nature and your own body is an important image to hold onto throughout your health and wellness journey.”

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Image by kordula vahle from Pixabay


Consumer Reports even recommends getting outside in nature to get well! Time Magazine did a post about the healing power of nature. The University of Minnesota discussed studies about how nature impacts our well-being. Yale University focused on studies about How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health and asked/answered the question, “How long does it take to get a dose of nature high enough to make people say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being?” The answer is: Precisely 120 minutes.

If you’re still at all skeptical, I challenge you to get outside and wander the woods, the parks, the beach…anywhere that you can “get back to the Earth” and sit quietly, just enjoying this beautiful planet on which we live. You never know…it might help you heal in more ways than you expect.


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©2021 C.L.R.
All Rights Reserved

Gravy

When I first started college, I was ambitious. I was going to major in Computer Science, double major in Biology, and do it in three years.  I never actually got to take that first Bio class but I was still going to double major, this time in Accounting.  It turns out that accounting is really boring.  Okay. So I’ll stick with Computer Science and do it in three years. Which means I needed to take 20-21 credits a semester – which is a lot, and I was going crazy with all the work.  I suddenly understood why people looked for easy A’s.

Then I heard about Phys Ed courses.  Only one credit, but they were easy.  In the Fall I could take skiing.  During Christmas break we would go to Canada for a week and ski, and I’d earn a credit.  It was fun!  For another credit, I could take more skiing in January during Intersession, the period between Fall and Spring. In the summer I took Tennis. In the Spring I took Fencing.  Even one credit at a time adds up.

Then a three-credit course caught my eye – Wilderness Survival!  Now, I’ve always been interested in my own survival.  I had never been in the wilderness, but I thought I should take this class, you know, to increase my odds. Unlike the other courses, it met as a class, but was still fun. Over Thanksgiving break, we had to go to my teacher’s acreage in upstate New York  to demonstrate what we’d learned.  We were allowed to bring a sleeping bag and some clothes.  No tent, no foam pad, nothing else.

I borrowed a sleeping bag and went. That first night we’re paired up, me with a guy who is quiet, but nice, and then we’re given boundaries within which we can make camp.  We gather firewood and make this big fire. We get in our sleeping bags and it’s toasty.  No problem – we got this!   

…Until the fire goes out.  Then I wake up and I’m cold.  I am shivering. My teeth are chattering and I know I should rekindle the fire.  But that means exposing the top half of my body to even more cold, and no way I’m willing to do that.

Lucky for me, my buddy has awakened and is also freezing, and is willing or desperate enough to try to start the fire. But he is shaking so much that he can’t light the match. It isn’t happening. He finally gives up and we put on every piece of clothing we have. Even with a sleeping bag between us and the earth…the earth is very big… it feels like there is nothing between it and our bodies.  It feels like the earth is trying to suck every ounce of warmth out of us, and it’s succeeding.  We want to get together to hold our body heat in. But now it’s windy and we need to shelter behind the tree.  This means settling into the troughs between the big roots, but they’re too narrow, so we have to separate.  We do and, amazingly, we sleep. 

I wake up. I don’t open my eyes, but I can tell there’s light. There’s something on my face. I try to brush it away, but it’s still there.  I open my eyes and it’s snowing. There’s this blanket of snow over everything.  I’m just a lump in the landscape. In that moment, there is incredible joy–because I’m still alive.  I’ve survived the night and this is awesome.   

It gave me perspective.  Hey, as long as I have shelter, clean water and food, everything else is gravy.  I am swimming in gravy and didn’t even realize it! Who cares whether I finish college in three years or four?  

But what I loved most about that night, why I still go out into the wilderness…although it was harsh, it was also incredibly fair.  It didn’t care if I was male or female, poor, rich, black, white, gay, straight – it treated us all the same.  And in this world, that is a rarity. 

©2018 by Chris Spengler

Multiplying Media, four poems by Michael Dickel

19 August 2005
©2018 Michael Dickel

 

Skin Rug poem graphic
Skin Rug
©2018 Michael Dickel

 

Faint White Distance
©2009 Michael Dickel
from The World Behind It, Chaos…

 

Strange Fire
©2012 Michael Dickel

Headphones recommended for the full sound-sculpture effect.

 

 


Graphics, poems, and music ©Michael Dickel All Rights Reserved


[Click on an image to see it full size.]


Sustain What?

by Peter Wallack under CC BY-SA 3.0 license


Some years ago, I spent extended time in the National Forests of Colorado and Utah. Between archaeological projects, I would have several weeks at a time for leisure, exploration, solitude. Sometimes I travelled and searched out places that I hadn’t been to before. Other times I practiced “staying”, or “being in place.”

The area I was in was at some elevation, and there were noble stands of Ponderosa pine, enormous trees that smelled of vanilla and created a very open and inviting park-like setting. One particular day I was out on a hike, wandering outwards from my base camp on various forest roads that criss-crossed and meandered. I remember feeling very alive, aware of my own aliveness, and aware of my curiosity about the trees, the geography, the clouds, etc….one of those days when every individual thing seems like a book, completely open for me to read from, if only I am willing to spend the time.

I had brought with me, almost as an afterthought, a Peterson’s bird guide. Somewhere in my mind I had thought that, as long as I had free time on my hands, perhaps I should learn to make some identifications, improve my standing as a “naturalist.” There always seemed something heroic about those intrepid 19th century gents (and a few ladies) who had adventured to parts unknown and had come back with a clear and precise list (if not a whole menagerie of samples) of what “things” are in the big wide world. Well, me with a Peterson guide felt like being Darwin without the hard work, Audubon without needing a paintbrush. Natural historian, lite.

On this day, I hadn’t gone out doggedly determined to “identify.” But as I hiked, the guidebook rubbed against my butt in my back pocket and gave me a little physical reminder that I could add a pinch of productivity to my high-spirited stroll in the woods. So, when I saw in the distance a little grove of aspen trees squeezed into a little spot between two Ponderosa stands, and I furthermore saw and heard some tiny birds flitting about, I pulled the guide book out. Even at this distance, I “recognized” the birds as chickadees though I wasn’t close enough really to see their markings well. It was just that the chickadee was a fairly common bird, one I that knew, and that these little birds were the right size and were behaving in ways that didn’t surprise me. So, my starting ID was “chickadee.”

I approached further, starting to leaf through the book to find the right section, and even as I got to the correct page, I remembered that there is one species commonly named “Black-capped Chickadee” (Poecile atricapillus) and another one, only slightly different in markings, named “Mountain Chickadee” (Poecile gambeli) which was to be found in the Rockies. Now, I’m from Wisconsin, so the black-capped is the one I’ve been familiar with through most of my life. But now, with page held open, reading the information, examining R.T. Peterson’s carefully drawn marking differences in the book, I felt like my original chickadee ID was not good enough! These birds must be identified correctly!

Luckily, chickadees are gregarious birds and generally happy to hang around when human company comes. I approached closer, looking to see if I could spot the color of the feathers around the eye. Mountain chickadees have “a black postocular stripe behind distinctive white eyebrows.” Sitting in the grass, looking up, watcing them, my bad eyesight and eye took enough time to confirm that these were mountain chickadees. A triumph of investigative naturalism, right?

Well, no, not exactly. My eyesight isn’t great, to say the least, so it took me some time and patience to really make sure what I was seeing. I sat there nearly an hour, watching the birds (3 of them) flit, perch, sing, fluff, swoop, hop, etc. And so, even as I was feeling more confident in my eye stripe observation, I was noticing that this one (Chickadee #1) had one of his tail feathers skewed a little to the side and that other one (Chickadee #2) was the one that kept going back to that same perch on that aspen tree, etc. It started to dawn on me that if I sat here long enough, if I had the patience of Darwin and the artistic eye of Audubon, eventually I would see each of these chickadees as a totally unique and individual creature. And then, I pondered philosophically, is Chickadee #3 (let’s call him Ralph) best known as (1) a mountain chickadee, (2) a chickadee, (3) a bird, (4) an animal? (And don’t think the list ends there. If we can stretch ourselves to think ecologically, there are much larger categories as well). Or is “Ralph”, the affectionate label I gave him/her and which encompasses what I experienced about him/her while I spent an hour in his/her company, equally as accurate a description of that wonderful animated life? In other words, was Ralph, the animal-bird-chickadee-mountain chickadee more accurately described as a thing that I can place in a category, or as that with which I had a relationship?

_____________

Wherefore this anecdote? What does this have to do with sustainability? Well, the time spent with Ralph had a profound effect on me. It critically changed how I think about the natural world, what it is and what my relationship is to it.

There is an innate human desire to understand. Understand what?….pretty much anything humans come into contact with. We are the animals that delve, that look into, that want to know what it’s all about. This desire to understand has been turned full force on the natural world since the dawn of the human species. But is the desire to understand the same as understanding? Are there good ways to understand and bad ways? Are knowledge and wisdom the same thing? And once understanding is attained does it require some sort of responsibility on our part?

One side of this picture is the human capacity to understand by rationally knowing, i.e. by identifying, labelling, organizing, measuring, connecting the dots. Data and the computing power of our brains lead us to a world of timing, efficiency, and predicting the future – all very useful things when you want to make a good decision. This talent, developed more highly in humans than in other living things, is undoubtedly one of the factors that has allowed us to survive and prosper on this planet. By knowing things, as “things”, they are easier to manipulate, overcome, defend against, manage, control, etc. It is a remarkable skill which, in conjunction with our ability to share information with other humans, not only contemporarily, but also into suceeding generations, has made us the all-time champion of “clever” animals. It has been critical to our power in the world….originally, the power to survive and then later, and only quite recently in our species’ history, the power to dominate natural environments.

On the other side of the picture is understanding by “having a relationship with.” This is understanding that develops through spending time with, observing (without categorizing), accepting, appreciating beings, things and systems for what they are, having affection, and loving. Think about all of the closest relationships you have with people in your life. Whether you are thinking about your spouse, your parents, your child, your best friend or your long time colleague at work, it is highly likely that you would say that you “know” them. But you didn’t get to know them simply by labelling them or by compiling statistics and facts about them. You didn’t do experiments on them (hopefully!) and, while you might think you can predict some of their behavior, you don’t enjoy their company because of their predictability. You know and understand them because you have spent much time with them. You’ve seen them in different moods and different situations. You’ve seen them change. You’ve had fun with them, been angry at them, laughed with them, forgiven them, apologized to them, touched them, given them space….and much, much more. Your knowing them is not so sharply specific as the genome data gleaned from a blood sample or a soil pH reading. Yet, I doubt anyone who has come to know another within the context of working at and living through relationship would ever trade that fuzzy, flexible, unreliable but ultimately personal understanding for a rationally, scientifically precise list of proven facts about their friend.

I do not want to denigrate the first way of knowing that I outlined above. I am deeply impressed and appreciative of the human mind. My own life and all of our lives have been enriched by the many minds that came before us to a degree that is hard to fathom. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and I thank them. Yet our over-reliance on this side of the picture of understanding has led us to a crisis, one which I believe we will not be able to overcome unless we invigorate the other side of our understanding. It is in relationship that our rational knowledge finds its proper place. Knowing in relationship requires that we begin to know ourselves better as well and this is the starting point of taking true responsibility for how we live.

As I see it used, the concept of sustainability sets up its own conversation in a way such that measurement, categorization, quantification, efficiency and acceptable loss are of prominent importance. The playing field of the debate is already chosen. There are quantifiable “bottom lines,” be they measured in dollars, board feet, number of mouths fed, acreage, species mix ratio, etc. It is my assertion that any question posed this way can only, at best, lead us to be better “managers,” when, in fact, it is not poor or inefficient management that is the problem. While collections of data and analysis can certainly be useful, they are completely silent on a far more crucial question. That question is this: Where do we get the wisdom to decide if, when and how to use the power that our “clever” knowledge has made available to us?

The ultimate decisions that will matter will not come from managers that “manage the world,” whatever that phrase could possibly mean. What is needed is the wisdom to manage ourselves, first as individuals, and subsequently in the context of community and culture. What needs to be “sustainable” is not something outside ourselves but a way of life that starts inside ourselves, that includes gratitude, acceptance, contentment, humility and responsibility.

My encounter with Ralph, the mountain chickadee, now as I think about it these so many years later, was importantly an encounter with myself, with my own biases, a desire for control, a mindset…and then, luckily, a moment when I found the world to be bigger and more unique than my mind could contain. I loved the world then, not because I was able to pin it down, separate from myself, but because I understood that I was part of it.

© 2018, Steve Wiencek

The Music of the Conch Shell

The conch sea shell is a reminder always
of where it is she really belongs

of small hands holding the beauty
of ocean waves within its’ confines
hugging her ear & she in awe and wonder

even now when she cradles it closely
and listens longingly and intently

she can see the waves building high
coming to crash along the sandy shore
where seabirds add calls to the score

to a music with a wondrous crescendo
the color of sea salt spraying her skin

the wind picking up the string section
with soprano highs & contralto lows
& a sky of variegated blues the backdrop

connecting the ocean stage to the horizon
unseeing of the stage hands hidden below

but bringing memories of dolphins dancing
upon the ocean stage & the magic of whale song
whose singing plays the melody all the while

she knows with utmost certainty she will return
to the place where she really belongs

© 2017 Renee Espriu

The Music of Prowess

The sound resonated deep and loud
like a bull moose announcing
his prowess in a distant forest
under tall aromatic evergreens

for each time it reached her ears
she realized how close the notes
of music came from the bedroom
of her oldest daughter playing

the oboe she toted home of a day
whose length was as tall as she
that the teacher announced to her
no one really wanted to play

so her pondering how it happened
a tiny girl could have enough air
evaporated as she balanced the oboe
on the floor when she sat to exhale

© 2017, Renee Espriu

A Life

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The weather has turned frigid; this follows last week’s record shattering warmth. It has been an up-and-down sort of winter, which is, increasingly and alarmingly, the norm.

I grew up in a farming community on the plains of the Midwest. We spent a lot of time outside, and learned early to keep an eye on the sky. After all, blizzards, ice storms, and tornadoes were the norm, and each was dangerous as well as exhilarating. By the time I  reached eighth grade I was a devout student of climate science and meteorology.

In spite of my love of science, during my undergraduate studies I was lured into becoming an art major. This was a surprising turn, as I had imagined myself studying ecology. Sadly, both the ecology program at the university was less than engaging. The art department was vibrant, as was the religion department, and I spent my undergraduate years firmly settled in those disciplines. I also took literature, writing, and theatre courses, much to the dismay of the art department faculty who firmly believed visual artists should draw rather than write.

My first turn in graduate school was in visual arts, although I spend a good deal of that year in the microbiology and electronic music labs. While the art faculty could not fathom what I was doing, they proved surprisingly supportive.

After a few years in the work world, I found myself studying cross-cultural approaches to counseling, and deeply engaged in learning from Indigenous teachers from many traditions. Following several years working as a clinician in both inpatient and outpatient settings, I returned to school to study environmental studies. Once again I found myself at the nexus of several disciples, including ecology, anthropology, and psychology. It was a heady and hearty time! I went on to teach art, ecology, anthropology, and psychology, often interwoven, at a small college for over thirty years.

Now we seem to have entered a time of gathering darkness, an era in which the arts, ecology, climate science, and cross-cultural studies are viewed with suspicion, and, too often, outright hostility. Perhaps most distressing is is the realization that Native values, culture, and lands are again under intense attack.  I guess we should hardly be surprised at the hostility shown these realms of knowledge and experience; after all, each is remarkably subversive to any agenda that would produce normative hierarchies and simplify the world, and that gives preference to ideas about cultural and racial superiority.

Lately, I find myself struggling to address the attacks on these systems of knowledge , and ways of living, I treasure. I  imagine things will only get worse before they get better, even as I hold out hope that they will indeed improve. For now, I do my best, although that is not enough to stop the darkness from growing. I try to keep in mind the words of a much beloved teacher, “The world is as it is, do only what you can.” Still, I would that I could do more.

The Nature of the Beast

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My stepfather thought he’d make a man of me by shipping me West one summer to work on his ranch in Southwest Colorado. He told me I needed to learn the way of the world, the natural order of things in which Man, or least my stepfather, sat at the top of the mountain.

And so I was sent to help Waini Muatagoci, who the other ranch hands called Luke Two Moon, which is what his Ute name translated to. Two Moon was from the Weeminuche Band of the Southern Ute tribe who once ruled this part of the Four Corners before the whites “subdued” them and, in turn showed them the way up that mountain my stepfather talked about. Just nowhere near the top.

Yog’yuvitc, brother coyote, he’s been here since before my people arrived in the before times, young Ben. Coyotes would take deer and elk and the calves of kutc-um, the buffalo. But it wasn’t until the white ranchers came that coyote has been hunted like this, just to be rid of him on the ranches,” Two Moon said as we rode the trap line set out to take down the coyotes that had been killing calves of my stepfather’s prized Herefords during the calving season.

“I guess Hal’s barbed wire fence is only good at keeping the cattle in and not the coyotes out,” I said, half-joking. Hal was my stepfather, Harold King.

“No. Mr. King thought he could scare them off the ranch by making big noises. Coyote ran away, laughed at him and then came back for more calves. He sent us on hunts, but there are more of them than there are of us and this is a big spread. So now we set traps and kill coyote without even seeing him. It’s a dirty and cowardly thing,” Two Moon said.

Up ahead we saw a thin gray form lying on the ground. It was my first view of a coyote and later I wished it was my last.

The animal’s bloody leg was in a hole, its mouth open as if in a silent scream of protest and it’s eyes were open in defiance, fear…maybe even accusation. I couldn’t look at its face long enough to tell.

“So now you see Mr. King’s ‘enemy,’ this scrawny thing lying here in a pile of skin, fur and bones. Help me get him out of the hole so I can reset the trap, young Ben,” Two Moon said.

I put on my gloves, pulled down my hat and jumped off my buckskin and tried to put aside my disgust. I understood the problem of the coyotes coming through the wire and taking calves, but I wished there was better way to keep them under control besides killing them in such an inhumane manner.

“This is just wrong,” I said.

“As far as the ranch goes, you’re wrong, young Ben. But you’re also so very right.”

In the next hour we found four more dead coyotes, their legs caught in traps set in holes and hidden from them, save for the bait that drew them to their abrupt capture and slow, agonizing deaths.

“As long as there are so many cattle here, breeding and calving so often, there will be coyote hunting and taking the babies,” Two Moon said. “It is as it has always been. Mr King is just providing many more opportunities for coyote to prove his rightful place in our Mother Nature’s order.”

At the next trap in the line, which sat at the top of little rise near the southern boundary fence of Hal’s spread, we didn’t find a coyote carcass. No, what we found was even more grotesque than the twisted form of a now-dead animal once wild with pain and fear.

Two Moon asked me to check on the trap set and bait, so I jumped off my buckskin and carefully reached into the hole. Two Moon must have thought I got bitten or the trap snapped and my hand barely escaped its vicious jaws, but he’d be wrong on both counts.

I looked at my glove and showed the blood to Two Moon.

“You all right, boy? Trap catch you?”

“No. Come on down and take a look in here,” I said.

Two Moon’s feet hit the ground in a silent puff of dust and he walked to the hole, kneeled next to me, peered into it and withdrew the bloody trap. In its jaws was the severed leg of a coyote. Actually the lower leg that had been gnawed off by the trapped coyote. Two Moon’s face took on an expression both resigned and disgusted.

“You’ll see this happen from time to time, young Ben, when brother coyote will not wait to die on the Man’s terms. He would rather die free, no matter the cost in pain and suffering. My people were the same way., fighting the whites, even though we knew we were whipped, all the way ’til 1923, when Chief Posey took on the Mormons one more time up in Blanding. They killed him,” Two Moon said matter-of-factly as he opened the trap and let the grotesque talisman of a perverted sense of freedom fall to the ground.

“May I have that, Two Moon?” I asked.

The old Ute shrugged and said, “Why not? It’s not doing coyote any good now and the dead ones on the pack-horse don’t need it, either.”

He reset this trap just as he had the previous ones and the seven more in which we found coyotes of both genders and all ages until we came to the end of the trap line.

“If Hal wants me to check the line tomorrow, do you think I should check the sets on the way back to the house, Two Moon? Just so’s I can remember their location and order?” I said.

“Ya know, that’s probably not a bad idea, young Ben. I’ll leave you to it while I bring these back to the big house for burning,” Two Moon said. “I think your idea’s a right good one.”

As Two Moon road back to the big house he sang, in what I assumed was Ute, a tune that swayed in the wind behind him.

I tripped every trap on the way back. I knew the calving season was still months away and I’d be back East by then. No more coyotes would die like that while I played cowboy. They’d have to find another way to control the coyotes.

My real Dad had been a conscientious objector and Draft protester back in ’67-‘68. Yet he went on to win a Silver Star in Vietnam as a life-saving medic and came back to protest the war and racism and whatever other injustice he saw in American society right up until he died in ’86.

Hal wanted me to be a man by his definition, if not in his image. I’d already decided to be the man Dad would want me to be.

As I tripped the last trap, I heard a coyote howl in the distance, saw it in silhouette against the moon as both rose over the ridge south of the big house. I yip-yip-yeowed right back at it and it echoed my call. I’m sure it had no idea what I was doing, but liked to think it understood my eastern accented message we were in solidarity against the Man.

I hope…no, I know Dad would be proud of me.

First draft of a story I wrote based on the theme of “resistance.” I’m not one to write political protests or satire, and I’m pretty sure I’ve buried my take on the subject much too deeply beneath the allegory of keeping el coyote from ruining the ranch. But, I don’t have the answers when one beast wants in, while the other will do anything to keep him out.

© 2017 Joseph Hesch

the splendor of blue

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i planted seeds of lavender,
tiny things in the palm of my hand,
then the black soil and water,
patience . . . . and waiting
for the first signs of life,
the need for care and love
’til the splendor of blue,
the comforting fragrance,
a gift for the bumblebees and me

Utsökt blått

jag planterade frön av lavendel,
små ting vilande i min hand,

svart jord och vatten,
tålamod……väntan,
på de första tecknen av liv,
skötsel och kärlek,

och så….det utsökt blå,
den tröstande doften,

en gåva till humlorna och mig själv.

– Inger Morgan

© 2016, poem and photograph, Inger Morgan

The Silence in the Garden

for Dilys*

No rule forbids speech but no one’s talking. Quiet
grows from dark densities between boughs,
from heart-shaped leaves covering the ground,
their tight creamwhite umbrellas, flows

from spheres, spirals, hollows, undulations.
We come upon a hooded figure, trace spaces
that so poignantly speak her body. With hands
in a scoop that’s river, wordlessly we unlace

the emerald hair of splayed weeds, silts
where fleshy roots bed, black threads
squirming from eggs. We don’t need to name
the moment when twined swirls of bronze read

as petals unfolding outwards – corollas
frail as small birds’ wings and as strong –
or the moment when a surge beneath the lid
makes the box of possibility spring

open. As if placing shoes outside a temple
we left our voices in the street by the gate,
entered another language. And now, sitting
by the untroubled waters, we dip feet.

Written after visiting Sculptor Barbara Hepworth’s garden, St. Ives

© Myra Schneider

This poem is from Circling The Core, Enitharmon 2008 and featured here with the permission of the poet and publisher.

* Dilys is Dilys Wood, an accomplished poet and anthologist. She is the founder of Second Light Network of Women Poets.

Regicide

image

The tide is out way downstream
in the great harbor, so the reed-ringed
pool at riverside here is wading depth
for a single spindly-legged heron.
She picks her way around, slowly folding
her leg up then extending it to wakelessly
enter the water in a slow-motion
hunter’s march toward the center
of her soggy dining room. All the while
she searches mightily for crabs and shiners
in its strangely sheened shallows.

Her movements are hard-wired
through uncountable generations
of her kind for whom the Hudson
has been home and larder.
They all walked the same gyre as she,
striding toward the middle of the pool
in successively smaller circles,
as if attached to an ever-shortening string
winding ‘round a pole to its mid-pool end.
But an intruder has claimed the throne there,
and she nervously diverts her attention between it
and the scant dinner darting just beyond her reach.

Blue and broad-chested, the interloper
carries a scent familiar to her now, always
in the air but never so strong as today.
A darning needle hums through the heat,
as a barge glides by, its wake shaking
the outsider to life. Fearful, the natural hunter
beats its wings and surrenders to the leaking
fuel drum that scatters swirling rainbows
across the water and its venom to the
muddy bottom of this realm where once
ruled lean grey princes and princesses.

©2016,words and photograph, Joseph Hesch

Dawn Chorus

It starts with one.
One skylark singing.
One Carson warning.
Then the robins and blackbirds join in.
The early birds, like Carson.
Then the wrens and warblers
as the daylight warms them.
Listen.
Can you hear them?
The warning calls are warming up as well,
strengthening their numbers
as the bird song
dies away.
Listen.
Listen.
Can you hear them?
Listen.
Don’t sleep.
Don’t wait
to hear
the silence.

© Lynn White

First published by Ealain, Extinctions Issue 7, April, 2015

Trespass

This is a series of haiku I wrote reflecting on people who trespassed into a bird sanctuary so they could get the “right” photograph. The photos were taken across two days at the same location. Both days, there were people stepping into the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge off-limits area. Hiking guidelines here.  Shalom, Terri.

 

footsteps trespassing
coastal bird sanctuary
seahawk stands guard

 

seahawk

disturbing the shore
stopping to examine shells
pocketing the forbidden

voyeur

ignorant touches
disturbing nature’s balance
the seahawk is gone

all_gone

Photo and haiku by Rev. Terri Stewart. Covered under Creative Commons licensing: (CC BY-ND-SA).

~ Last Call ~

moho_braccatus
Image borrowed from Wikipedia (Public Domain) “Adult and Juvenile Moho Braccatus”, also called The Kauaʻi ʻōʻō Bird.

A sweet, cheerful song no longer heard,

The species who sang it, now gone.

EXTINCT now labels this beautiful bird.

The O’o Bird’s sad story is done.

We’ve burnt all the trees and drained all the lakes,

Chasing the money, whatever it takes.

We’ve polluted the rivers and trashed all the seas,

Butchered the elephants, poisoned the bees.

We’ve strip-mined the mountains,

Fracked the stone, deep below.

Buried black tons of sludge

With that “clean” nuclear glow.

We keep building cities,

Crowding animals out,

Pour concrete slabs to dam rivers,

And then whine about drought.

We’ve been warned about Warming,

Money calls it a ‘hoax’.

But ALL the life on this planet

Pays the price of those ‘jokes’.

What will it take to change Mankind’s ways?

Can the world survive human beings’ greedy thrall?

Perhaps, like that bird, we’re in our last days…

And the Earth can recover once we’ve sung our last call.

~ C.L.R. ~ © 2016

– Corina Ravenscraft

Another Kind of Beauty

Big_Sur_June_2008on the Atlantic Seaboard they’re paralyzed under
the weight of snow drifts, the detritus of blizzards;
their stark bare branches of oak, elm and maple
etch dark veins into an icy-gray cast-over sky

on the West Coast we’re breaking out magnolias
and blades of tender spring grass are unfurling;
the slight warmth tempts us to pull early spring
like a wool blanket around us or perhaps a blessing

along the stretch of Big Sur the sea strikes stone
and the air explodes, bright and wet with spume,
the green-patinated brine salts our mouths;
above us cloud turrets mimic white-capped waves

standing here, consumed by an unutterable infinity,
our hands and eyes and mind are in cahoots to
imitate nature in the most apt way they’re able,
with our sketch pad, pen and colored pencils

a quick wingless flight into that dancing sea and
we surface with visions grasped tight in our fists,
our eyes are blinded by palette colors, our pencils
bear witness to the gift of another morning,
another kind of beauty; undulating, animated
and so unlike the silent white majesty of snow

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; public domain photograph of Big Sur 2008 via Wikipedia

cloud watching

file0001128026195the open sky

,,,,tufts like spun sugar . . .

white with sunlight

layered on an endless blue blessing

free-form

and unbounded

.       idly floating . . . waiting on nothing

not the brightness of day

nor the cool calm night

….present with our pleasure

 . . . we eye one another

my silent mind

                      their silent flow

. . . . . . occasional storms 

. . .mostly languid though . . .

                                                            peaceable

. . . as the blue upon which they rest

                                            cresting

their charism weightless as sea foam,

they brush my imagination

                       at the matrix of our shared meditation

©2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reservedPhoto courtesy of morgueFile

All Things Are Connected

The chief of a certain village had many advisors.

If there was something he wanted done, he would order it done, and it would be done.”Is it a good thing?” the chief would ask. Whether it was a wise decision or no, his counselors always agreed.  Those who did not were beaten.  There was one counselor who never said ‘yes’ and never said ‘no.’  This counselor would consider the matter and reply, “All things are connected.”


One night when the chief couldn’t sleep, he became aware of the noisy croaking of the frogs in the nearby marshes.  Once it came to his attention, he found himself listening for it each night.  The sound annoyed him so much he ordered all the frogs killed.


“Do you agree with my plan?” he asked.  His counselors all agreed, except for the one, who warned, “All things are connected.”  “Pah!” said the chief, and that night he sent his people to the marshes to kill frogs.

They killed frogs and they killed frogs until there were no frogs left to kill.

“Ah,” said the chief. “Now I shall be able to sleep.”
That night he slept very well, and for many nights thereafter.

But one night he heard another annoying sound.  “Zzzzzz…Zzzzz…Zzzzzzzzzzzz…”

He summoned his counselors.  “The mosquitoes are worse than the frogs!  Why didn’t you tell me they would rise in swarms and eat us alive without the frogs to eat them?  Tonight I will send my people to the marshes to kill all the mosquitoes!” So they killed mosquitoes and they killed mosquitoes. But as many they killed, there were many more left. The mosquitoes made life so miserable that everyone left their fields and homes to start new lives far away, until the village was deserted, except for the chief and his family.


All day long the chief sat alone in his hut, swatting mosquitoes and muttering, “All things are connected.” But it was too late for the frogs. Too late for the village. Too late for the chief.  Finally he too moved away.

The wise understand that all things are connected…

By the ground we walk on…

By the air we breathe…

By the the water we drink…

By the rhythm of the heart.

All things are connected…

…and hang by a delicate thread.

Where is the balance between give and take?

Can we learn the difference between just enough…

…and too much?

All…

…things…

…are…

…connected.

What kind of world do we want to leave our children?

The answer is in our hands.

All words and images copyright 2016 Naomi Baltuck

 

The Hoopoes Are Back

The hoopoes are back,
even though
the walls and holes they liked to nest in
were destroyed by human nest builders
four years ago,
when there was a housing boom
and money to be made.

The hoopoes are back,
even though
the new holes and rubble they liked to nest in
were destroyed by human nest builders
three years ago,
even though,
there was no market for nests
and no money to be made.

The hoopoes are back,
even though
the new holes and rubble they liked to nest in
were washed away two years ago,
as the walls that stopped the storm flow
were destroyed by human nest builders,
to prepare the ground for money to be made.

The hoopoes are back,
even though
their nesting places are hidden, buried
under growing mountains of rubble brought
by the human nest builders a year ago
as there is no demand for human nests
and no money to be made, except from rubble.

Hey, the hoopoes are back! I’ve seen them!
The hoopoes are back!

– Lynn White

First published by Furry Writers Guild in Civilised Beasts Anthology, 2015, Weasel Press