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Category Archives: Nature in All Its Glory

Voice of The Inanimate

Voice of The Inanimate.

Last night, I pressed Our Grandmother from Eddie Two Hawks. In my comments, I mentioned Wendell Berry and the way I understand place in his writing. Wendell Berry’s work is used by the deep ecology movement which in many ways is not a movement. It is a way of life. For years, I critiqued the environmental movement as a corporate movement with many of the same characteristics of the business they criticized. Wendell Berry, similar to all good farmers, values the land. He speaks about as if it were living. It is not separate from us, but a part of us. When I think about this, it makes local and community environmental work incredibly important. It decries the corporate pillaging that goes on both sides of the equation.

Wendell Berry speaks of the land as a living and animate thing. This makes sense. The plants we grow happen in the healthy, which comes from the same root as whole, ecosystem. When we see ourselves embedded in this ecosystem and not overloads, it changes our relationship with nature. Alex commented the word nature comes from a word meaning birth. When certain parts of the ecosystem are damaged made, unwhole and unhealthy, the birth itself cannot be healthy.

Each contribution we make adds something to the world we live in. It is when we see ourselves as part of the world and nature that we make the greatest contributions to community. We are stewards, serving the world in loving ways. This is another analogy for the thinking of the world as grandmother. We treat our grandmothers with love.

Our Grandmother

Our Grandmother.

This is a wonderful quote. When we think of our grandmothers, we think of someone we want to treat with respect, dignity, and integrity for their wisdom. Mother Earth is the same. She possesses so much wisdom that when we are open and see ourselves as being one with the world we receive that wisdom.

Today, Kathy and I talked about place the Wendell Berry speaks about it. When we feel we live in a place, it means something profound to us. We think of those places not as out there, but very much in us and us in that place. We find community in those places because we have much in common with the others who live, animate and inanimate.

The Way Sunshine Smells

We picked dandelions and put them on the kitchen table in a mason jar. My mom would take them and put them there not saying they were weeds. Members of Kathy’s family ate dandelion greens as a salad. As our boys grew up, they picked dandelions and we put them in vases for a few days as the dandelions gave up their prime moments and shared the way sunshine smells.

Tamara Madison wrote this poem about daffodils not dandelions. It reminds me of the wonder we live in. Nature is transient. It moves at its pace and sometimes we pay attention to it. In a world filled with busyness, it is hard to realize we have little control over what happens outside our self. We control our personal responses to the world and its phenomena, human and non-human. When I reflect on what is was like to be a child and the many things I did not take for granted, it points out the transience I live with and a way to approach it. Daffodils and dandelions are the way sunshine smells and honoring me with their presence, as I honor them.

Ten daffodils stand in a pasta sauce jar
giving up their moment of prime
to brighten this cluttered kitchen table.

Yellow lovelies, I am honored
to have you here. Outside you’d be
just another bit of the great flowering world,
but in my kitchen, among the papers,
the bottles, the bananas growing tired
in the bowl, you are amazement itself.

Outside amid the orange blossoms,
the roses, the sweet alyssum,
your light scent would be lost.
Here, you turn this morning kitchen
Into a festival of fragrance – you
are the way sunshine smells.

Rhubarb

We have rhubarb in our backyard and it yields fruit through the summer. Kathy and I grew up where rhubarb was inexpensive and plentiful. It made great pies, jams, canned fruit, and was edible, with sugar, when eaten raw as it is tart.

It is interesting to note how, as we age, we notice things that seemed less relevant earlier. Larry Schug reminded me about rhubarb. I took this particular plant for granted as I grew up, but they create miracles as do other plants and animals in our world. Rhubarb provided an inexpensive dessert and snack that, as I recall, seemed available year round in some form.

When I reflect on nature, I see miracles and the ordinary is more powerful than when taken for granted. Nature is a great provider and takes care of human needs in ways that are not always readily evident unless I take time to see treasures provided.

By April, sour red stalks
push elephant-ear leaves
into near-earth atmosphere.
Rhubarb plans ahead,
years, decades even,
lives sustainably on the interest
of sunlight stored under ground,
having folded up its solar collectors
in September,
when the days grow too short
to make sugar.
See how simple is a miracle.

Tewksbury Road

There is something about walking in nature that stimulates all the senses. I come alive in those walks and feel energized. We walked the North Saskatchewan River Valley two years ago during Autumn. The leaves turned colour. Over time, I smelled rich decay as Nature continued in her life-cycle.

Nature celebrates her Sabbath. It is a time of renewal emerging from what was alive. She never wastes.

John Masefield described a pastoral scene I imagined in a multi-sensory way. There is a universality in these scenes that touches the spirit.

It is good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where,

Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither or why;

Through the grey light drift of the dust, in the keen cool rush of the air,

Under the flying white clouds, and the broad blue lift of the sky.

And to halt at the chattering brook, in a tall green fern at the brink

Where the harebell grows, and the gorse, and the foxgloves purple and white;

Where the shifty-eyed delicate deer troop down to the brook to drink

When the stars are mellow and large at the coming on of the night.

O, to feel the beat of the rain, and the homely smell of the earth,

Is a tune for the blood to jig to, and joy past power of words;

And the blessed green comely meadows are all a-ripple with mirth

At the noise of the lambs at play and the dear wild cry of the birds.

Nature’s Secret

Grace Holmes wrote this poem. I was unable to find a link to the poet, but wanted to share the poem. If someone has a link, I will edit and add it.

The poem reminded me of Alfred North Whitehead‘s thinking. He suggested we only need to look at nature and find general patterns for life. Nature reveals patterns when we take time and observe living in nature.

There’s a secret with these rugged hills, whose slender tops are gray;
There’s a secret with the wild flowers that bloom along the way;

There’s a secret with the roaming clouds that change the changeful sky
A secret have the busy winds, that chant and moan and sigh:

A secret has the moonlight, that touches land and sea,
A secret is between the stars that blink and you and me.

Ah the secrets! can you count them? so numerous are they!
Ah the secrets! can you find them out? can you find them out, I say?

I knew that some sweet secret ‘twixt my garden flowers grew.
But I said, I know, I feel, it is not for me, or you.

I felt there was a secret with the wondrous charming sea,
But again I shook my head and said, that secret’s not for me.

Yea, every where I turn my eyes on nature living show,
I feel there is a secret that ’tis not for me know.

i thank You God for this most amazing

e. e. cummings was a poet who loved playing with language and its rules. We see this where he makes up words and excludes capitalization except for two words.

Poetry allows me to explore the world in new ways such as watching for the leaping greenly of trees and all those things which are yes. It is in the cracks that appear in poetry that light shines through.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

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