I recently read Cultivating Delight – A Natural History of My Garden by Diane Ackerman. It was a delightful read and went well beyond her extensive knowledge of gardening and into insights on human nature. She takes the reader on an adventure through her garden and the wonderful mysteries of nature by season. I learned quite a lot from this book and will be referring back to her insights and wisdom as time allows. Her detailed descriptions made me feel as if I had been transported into the environment that she was describing. I bought my copy used through Abe Books, my personal go-to resource for small booksellers. I highly recommend Cultivating Delight to gardeners and lovers of our natural world.
I frequently review my journal entries. The one I ran across today and wanted to share is about listening to the melodies of rain in her gentle purity, and within one’s surroundings. I love sitting on our screened porch that overlooks our back yard and property, ensconced in the sanctity that is our own grove.
Woke up to the day’s cleansing rain. The birds are mostly quiet although I can hear some, including the chatty one [who I later learned is a Carolina Wren], through the sounds of the rain hitting various objects.
The rainwater is flowing through our yard along its usual route but also within the small riverbeds I dug this week. I will rock these in to provide some guided flow and protect our yard from further erosion. I can watch its distinct flow and know where to help it along its natural path.
The rain, if we listen, creates its own symphony. Pinging as it hits our aluminum patio table. Thudding with a deeper tone as it falls upon our woodpile tarp and grill cover. Sounding like a gently running brook as it nourishes and replenishes Earth Mother, and our precious and sacred water supplies of the Chesapeake Bay watersheds that sustain life. There is naught a breeze, so rain is coming straight down to Earth Mother and her beings.
Our birdbath was still full from the last rain and I had the honor, pleasure of watching a robin fully soak Friday when aerating our yard. Robin rolled around as I crouched and remained still, not wanting to spoil the moment and interrupt its [her] cleansing and nourishment. …
If humans make and/or take the time to listen to the sounds of nature, we can learn more about living than most books can teach, and certainly reflect on our own actions and perhaps become better humans…if we listen and observe. Time away from the constant blur of multimedia and social media is critical to our well-being and survival as a human race. A human race that has become hurried, impatiently demanding everything now, acting with disregard and disrespect to other humans and the creatures of nature – all of whom are living beings with whom humans share this planet called Earth. So, carve yourself out time to sit, listen quietly and observe the wonders of our living Earth. Breathe them into your mind’s eye and replenish your own body, mind and soul; be cleansed from the detritus of humans.
I have not written anything on my blog since late May and my entries have been sporadic since late spring hit and with it the abundance of yard work. Then I flew back out west to help my family. Life has been busy for us but that is okay.
Nearby…too close…developers have cut/are cutting down all of the trees, clearing yet another area for more stores and townhomes. This work began while I was out west with my family and I asked my wife what is going on when she picked me up from BWI. It is not only going to add to our traffic backlog but create worse results for our friends in nature. They are destroying more of Earth Mother’s habitat for her living beings outside of the human race. Too many people do not comprehend how important the trees are to all life on our planet that has been gifted to us and that we are destroying them on a daily basis. I doubt that the construction workers with their big machines asked the trees or said even a quick prayer of thanks and apology before they felled them all, clearing the path for the real estate developers. The industry of humans involves wanting more and more, well beyond what each of us really needs. We waste our natural resources that provide for our daily lives. Trees are the filters of our planet. They give us oxygen.
In my daily somewhat random readings in Earth Prayers, the pages opened this morning to a poem that is relevant to the disturbing mass felling of trees in the section entitled “Healing the Whole.” We must be better stewards of Earth.
Let the Trees be consultedJohn Wright, in Earth Prayers from Around the World – 365 Prayers. Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth, ed. Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1991), 105.
before you take any action
every time you breathe in
thank a tree
let treeroots crack parking lots
at the world bank headquarters
let loggers be druids
specially trained and rewarded
to sacrifice trees at auspicious times
let carpenters be master artisans
let lumber be treasured like gold
let chainsaws be played like saxophones
let soldiers on maneuvers plant trees
give police and criminals
a shovel and a thousand seedlings
let businessmen carry pocketfuls of acorns
let newlyweds honeymoon in the woods
walk don’t drive
stop reading newspapers
stop writing poetry
squat under a tree
and tell stories
I vaguely recall that I read something by Willa Cather…decades ago. Like many of us, my life became focused on other missions and their recommended or relevant readings. Furthermore, I generally have not been focused on American literature. That is changing as I continue to evolve and broaden my scope. I will read all of Willa Cather’s books in due time as her work is revealing and so descriptive of the Native American Southwest and other adventures that pioneers endured in settling America’s breadbasket, where I grew up.
Within a few phrases I realized why Claire Messud referenced Death Comes for the Archbishop in her book that I briefly discussed in a prior post. I was hooked and could not wait to keep turning the pages. Those of us who have visited our American Southwest, especially New Mexico and Arizona, understand the awe of the desert landscape and its reverberating energy…Native American spiritual energy that is unmistakable in its mystical, pure, and raw forms. When I visited the Grand Canyon in 2002 and arose early with my friend to watch the sunrise, it was a priceless moment, an exquisite example of nature’s splendor. More recently, when my wife and I visited Sedona, and when I visited Taos, the energy was ever-present, tingling one’s senses with its wonderful vibrations. Each time I go to the Southwest, it calls me to be there and live among the ancestors.
Willa Cather paints a beautiful and picturesque scene with her words, strung together like an artist, perfect in their description and ability to transport the reader into her book, a vibrant movie reel in one’s open mind. I share a passage below that popped out when my book simply fell open to its pages. Cather painted the natural yet deliberate array of the vast rock mesas, the grandeur of the Indian pueblo at Ácoma, New Mexico.
In all his travels the Bishop had seen no country like this. From the flat red sea of sand rose great rock mesas, generally Gothic in outline, resembling vast cathedrals. They were not crowded together in disorder, but placed in wide spaces, long vistas between. … The sandy soil of the plain had a light sprinkling of junipers, and was splotched with masses of blooming rabbit brush,—that olive-coloured plant that grows in high waves like a tossing sea, at this season covered with a thatch of bloom, yellow as gorse, or orange like marigolds.
This mesa plain had an appearance of great antiquity, and of incompleteness; as if, with all the materials for world-making assembled, the Creator had desisted, gone away and left everything on the point of being brought together, on the eve of being arranged into mountain, plain, plateau. The country was still waiting to be made into a landscape.Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927; repr., New York: Vintage Classics Edition, 1990), 94-95.
Come one, come all and join Willa Cather to vividly explore the adventures of America’s construction. Through her illustrations, find rays of light and rainbows that shone and glittered, in the bitter and destructive wake, of those who were strong and fought for the right to live, and the missions who understood, respected, and supported their way of life. Reminisce in the stars that shine down upon us in our own worlds.
I have wandered for long enough.
Tried to belong where I did not fit in
Always uncomfortably out of place.
Formally- and self- taught
Educated and career-oriented.
It is time to seek my spiritual path
One that I know suits me…my ancestry.
Deep inside I have always known
Always been at one with nature and animals.
I have many books, my skulls and stones.
It is time for me to enter the grove
To seek my enlightenment, enchantment of my soul.
I begin this journey without fear…
My journey to who I am supposed to be.
I ask Earth Mother to welcome and embrace me
Cleanse me and open up my senses
So that I may comprehend, heal myself, and
Potentially help others heal.