The Gift of July

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Thick moist heat bathes

The night in crimson,

Drives bears deep

into sphagnum bogs to dream.

 

Fireflies drift through

Sweet wet grass.

Hidden under leafy branches,

Grey tree frogs trill.

 

Blood red cardinals whistle love songs,

teach offspring to chirp

sharp staccato rounds

at the threshold of dawn…

 

Rainbow light filters

through crystals formed by dew…

 

Kingfisher’s absence

won’t be missed

by transforming toads,

but the drought may crack

the vernal pool too soon

for lungs to form.

 

The doe grazes outside my window

under a blistering noon day star.

Chomping down wild rose thorns,

red deer shred supple grape leaves,

nip bee balm for after dinner mint!

 

Gray foxes feast on treats I leave

beneath heavily perfumed pines.

Grapes, old cranberries, apples,

hunks of fat and bone marrow – perhaps

a carcass entices them in.

 

When mountains fade under clouds

of thick fog Our Lady ascends,

her nimbus shrouded in pearl-

like mist. One night soon she’ll

sing up the Toad Moon.

 

A wave of gratitude swells and breaks.

An emerald sea is moving through me.

Water and air create a symphony –

Breath deep and listen!

The Soul of Nature sounds a joyous hum.

 

Working notes:

I wrote this poem early last July during the terrible drought of 2016 here at my “home” in Maine. I was trying to concentrate on the more positive aspects around the drought  which distressed me so deeply. Not hearing the kingfisher’s cries, the shrinking pools, a brook so low I couldn’t hear her soothing sound, the scarcity of toads – I could go on and on here – left me feeling so helpless – so profoundly depressed. When I returned from Abiquiu, New Mexico a week ago after being away for 11 months I was struck by lines of this poem because the weather conditions in Maine had been totally reversed in one year. We arrived and spent the first week under monsoon conditions with almost continuous rain, lovely wet fog rising off the mountains, and extremely cool temperatures for ‘almost’ July. Kingfisher is back and toads and frogs are abundant, breathing in lovely moist air. My skin feels like velvet.

Flowers are bent double under silvery sheets of rain. I still have lemon lilies. My water barrels are full. Whenever rain falls I feel blessed – here or there – because water is life. The thunderstorm last night reminded me of the heavy rains that punctuated most late afternoons last August in Abiquiu while I was still living on the hill…Here a canopy of green shelters the house from the fiery sun even when it breaks through the clouds as it did this morning when I took the pictures that precede last year’s poem. The thick heavy morning air is still…and a young bear is eating wild strawberries.

In New Mexico the relentless heat drones on although yesterday my friend Iren wrote that two tenths of an inch of rain fell in Abiquiu. Any amount counts and I hope those few raindrops are a precursor of a healthy monsoon season to come. I feel a great thirst whenever I think about that beloved high desert, now another “home” place in my heart.

That global warming is a reality is obvious to anyone who pays attention to Nature’s  Warning Voice but it doesn’t change how heartbreaking it is to live through these  terrible extremes.

Catapulted From One World to Another

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Returning from Abiquiu, New Mexico to Maine split me in two. Part of me is there and part of me is here.

A four – day driving marathon is only important in retrospect because we survived it.

Arriving safely at dusk in light rain gray tree frogs trilled in the leaf laden tree trunks – a sound that I have longed for in my dreams… The drought in Maine that continues in spite of the monsoon leaves my brook two feet below normal – and yet the water flows still, so I am grateful.

The next morning a Luna moth (they only live two weeks in this form and have no mouths to eat) graced the porch window.

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Starving deer girded many fruit trees, ate most of my medicinal elderberry bush, and are presently feasting on fresh grape leaves thick with tiny grapes, but in this world the first summer emerald green inspires the poet in me just as the sound of the brook soothes me into sleep like Red Willow River recently did, the memory of which remains as fresh as the first day I ever heard its symphony.

Phoebes nested above the door and the young fledged about three days after our arrival. I was thrilled.

Last night we went to an art show and on the way home I successfully saved one fat green frog and a nubbly brown toad from extinction – other’s we just couldn’t stop for because other cars bore down on us.

EVERY SAVED LIFE MATTERS.

 

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(Above: Datura from New Mexico that I grew this spring from seed bloomed first morning after our return perhaps in gratitude for light  -it spent 4 days in the back of a trunk).

White pines have new lime green shoots at least a foot long paths are overgrown and in need of a trim. My tree slaughtering neighbor damage has been mitigated by new tree growth… Nature is such a powerful model for survival. “Just keep growing,” S/he intones with every action.

Lemon lilies are late and their fragrance is overpowering in the overgrown field. Around the house, old – fashioned peonies, honeysuckle, my favorite lavender blue clematis, dame’s rocket (early phlox), and deer chewed bee balm (very strong mint) will eventually bloom anyway. My gardens have gone wild and I am simply enjoying what I see. Yesterday, one bumblebee visited and the hummingbirds are here but are fewer in number.

The thick umbrella shade of the deciduous trees that hold us in the arms of this hollow dims the fierce summer sun (or will when it returns) and the stunning feathery ferns are a feast for wild eyes.

A moment of joy flooded me when we saw the little 70-pound yearling, this one a male black bear – one who is a descendant of the kinship group I studied for 15 years. He doesn’t have much of a chance for survival since bear slaughter, “practice hunting” with dogs, begins this week (July) and the 4-month killing season erupts in earnest this August. Folks brag that they have a hundred percent chance of killing a bear in Maine, and they are correct. Yearlings like this male bear are at the greatest risk because they need to travel to find a new uninhabited territory. European settlers have taken over native land with a vengeance – slaughtering Native peoples and any animals/trees/plants that got in their way. Now the bears (like the people who are stuffed onto reservations) have no place to go. This story does not have a happy ending.

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(Above – phoebes ready for first flight)

For this precious moment there is peace here in this sanctuary – although the exploding bombs of the Fourth of July “celebrations” are still ahead.