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The Prairie — The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

*This post inspired by Teacher As Transformer post I read today I needed passion, beauty, and ‘idling’ while I pretended to learn new things, today. I’ve spent too long on the ‘work I learned long ago how to do/improve upon’ in databases, websites, clean-up of outdated data…… compilation of reports, checklists, etc., to aide my […]

The Prairie — The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

TamrahJo was kind and referenced that my post inspired her. When I looked at her post several days ago, I was inspired. I love her line of needing passion, beauty, and “idling.’ The word idling captures so much of what we need in our lives. We need the time to just be in each ensuing moment.

On top of the wonderful poetry and prose that reads like poetry, TamrahJo shared beautiful pictures of nature just being, in this case prairie scenes. Sometimes,beauty lies just outside our door and is right there for us to revel in on a daily basis. Many years ago on a beautiful day, Kathy and I were getting ready for church and as I stepped outside something move nearby. I looked up and a cow moose stood about 15 feet from me. I held my hand up to signal for quiet, as Kathy stepped out, and we stood and watched this beautiful animal eat shoots from a willow tree, watching us as we watched her. We stood there for a few moments and went quietly to the car. The moose continued to do what it was doing, being a moose. I turned to Kathy and said. “That might have been church today.” We still went, but the beauty and majesty of that moment remained with me over the years.

We lived in that small town for two years and our oldest son was born while we were there. Living in an isolated, rural setting in a mountain valley served to slow me down. Years later, I would find the same process happening at Gonzaga University in the summers. It took a week or two to bring myself back into the moment, to just be. The campus is a lovely setting and I walked in the river valley and on other trails on a daily basis.

Sometimes, things happen in serendipitous ways. We went to a concert and the main act was terrible, but the opening act, Corb Lund, was terrfic. We have seen him several times since and have a couple of CD’s. This song has become an anthem for opposing opening up coal mines in the southwest corner of Alberta where Corb lives. It has beauitful imagery in this particular version and speaks to the need to think about the actions of today and how they might impact the future. The song speaks to how often we overlook the extraordinary of everyday life and what is outside our doors.

I leave you with a Wendell Berry poem: Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

12 responses »

  1. This had a calming effect on me as it made me realize that I need to relax a little more instead of trying to please everyone with every request. Those moments when I take a drive on the back roads and enjoy the world around me are my happiest moments.

    • I experienced the calming as I read the poetry and viewed the images on TamarahJo’s post. Sometimes, the path less traveled is the one with the most enjoyment to paraphrase

  2. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary…not to leave a huge wake behind…wonderful thoughtful words for these times Ivon…happiness your way ☺️💫 smiles hedy

  3. Thanks Ivon- for the share – I’m not certain just where my future path my ‘gifts to give while I’m here” lie, just now, but I do know this – I question much in both past and current industries I work in, volunteer in, earn my daily bread in – and yet – a moment spent to simply ‘idle’ in my backyard, or say, “I’m taking a Sunday afternoon drive/walk” or putting words (whether my own or the works of masters greater than I) to pictures of the history/my captures of history or pictures taken by folks I know, to share, the things that calm me down and remind me, always, to stop and think – –

    I’ve spent most of my working life streamlining to increase my employer’s bottom line, or streamlining to save tax payer dollars while increasing customer service, or helping small biz and non profits accomplish much, on a shoe string budget –

    And I’ve learned, to be very, very good at the things I do – the things I toss out and say, “nope, you don’t need that, just now, get this fixed, take the savings and invest in this/that shiny cool thing later – ” etc.,

    But mostly? My soul and heart are calmed the (insert curse word) down, while I wade through, best as I can, the arguments, the fears, the needs for encouragement, the mind-numbing work to try, in one area of mankind made world, some order & beauty out of chaos – to streamline the ‘need to do’ list, so others, too, are freed up more to choose –

    “Are you going to spend all day on your to-do list – or are you going to whip it out, and then walk out your back door and realize – the soil beneath your feet and it’s condition, is the result of billions of years of Mother Nature and/or, the result of one moment, of ‘do this, for profit, and we’ll deal with the fall out later….”

    Somewhere, in all of it, lies the path forward where my diverse worlds connect – the things I love and the things I’ve learned to get good at – and I can’t tell you, right now, where this current journey/path will end up, or what it will look like – but I do know this – –

    The minute I ANCHOR any possibility,option, suggestion against the back drop of Mother Nature, and the ecosystem we all depend upon, for our very lives?

    All the sudden – Folks get it – and sometimes, one needs only speak to the heart’s desire of wide open spaces, :). And once the heart is ‘called to action?” – – well – the rest of the story just rather plays out, right?? :D. Thanks again, for your kind words.

    • You are welcome. We do live in “diverse worlds” and it can be challening to let them interact and move fluidly between them. I think, as we age, we can gain insights into just being. Perhaps it is realizing our mortality is fragile and the path forward always holds mystery, which is good.


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