Trusting what we have been given?

It is hard to

witness the drought

steal lime green

shrink maple leaves

distort wildflower buds.

When I stand under

the apple tree

white snow petals

drift

around me,

I long to stop time

until the rains come.

Vernal pools

are disappearing.

This scalding gift

kills wiggling tadpoles

by the millions –

froglets not to be –

Frantically, I scoop

a thousand or more,

race to the pond,

make an offering

of reprieve –

Time to Breathe.

Afterwards

I reflect.

Murder by a scorching sun

is part of the story

but not the Whole.

This frog holocaust

is also Nature’s way.

S/he births life,

allows death

to have its way.

 

Working notes: This piece was written in response to a prompt given by a friend/facilitator before we met collectively on zoom (hideous name) – writers who need to keep on questioning and learning… that day I had witnessed thousands of tadpoles struggling to survive as their vernal (temporary) pools disappeared in the terrifying 100 plus degree heat wave in a month when all life is just beginning – May – Unable to stand by when I knew that frogs are the most endangered species on earth, I scooped up about a thousand and released them in a nearby lake, in my vernal pool, and kept a few to watch in a fish bowl knowing that bringing these last few to adulthood will probably give them a chance to survive. Frogs don’t need a heat wave to kill them. As it is only four percent make it to adulthood under the best circumstances. In that one pool  alone thousands more perished under a relentless solstice sun.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t get much feedback from my “non – poem” someone called it -unfortunately even sensitive writers aren’t tuned in to the ways of Nature…at least not like I am. In the scheme of things frogs don’t matter – and yet here we are in the midst of a virus crisis that kills impersonally… I see an intimate relationship between the frogs and people who are dying…

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Reversal

 

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(first sighting of one of the female cardinals this morning)

 

Yesterday a wildflower

unfurled sage

tinted leaves, opened

delicate pearl

petals to a

passionate dawn star…

Its roots of blood

are hidden…

 

In still twilight

I awaken to white.

Wet snow coats

emerald mosses.

Each bare branch

wears a silver shawl.

Evergreens bend low.

The forest is transformed

by frozen sky waters.

 

Crimson cardinals

flash by the feeder,

mama hugs the grass.

Grosbeaks, doves,

finches, chickadees

nuthatches,

serenade those

that listen…

woodpeckers and grouse

drum love songs.

Turkey pecks soaked ground.

 

The waning Flower moon

lightens the powers

of reversal

surprising the stars.

Soon north winds will come

to blow away shivering crystals –

Clouds lift…

Lime green,

cobalt blue,

purple tinted mountains,

sun gold

become center stage.

 

Spring returns.

 

I have be -moaned the problems associated with Climate Change for so long, with so few listening – if any. I am making a shift, (at least on some days) concentrating my energy on seeing the “positive” effects of Climate Change – It is easy to do this when I am present to the moment, and it gives me relief from our dreary socially constructed reality.

Our way – not Nature’s way is ugly in the extreme – even now in a pandemic – the economy before people.

This morning when I awakened to snow I felt joyful although I have never experienced snow this time of year in Maine – Climate Change makes anything possible! At dawn the Earth was peaceful and still  – I wandered through the woods noting the textures of snow covered trees. Later, I watched birds with an equal amount of joy, and got a good look at the elusive female cardinal.IMG_5218.JPG

Now the North wind is blowing, clearing the skies, and my chimes are singing so the effects of the waning wildflower moon are returning us to the season we are “supposed” to be in!

Root Healers

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Before the bears come

chickadees flock to my feeder,

I hear an unfamiliar

avian symphony at dawn –

bird songs a healing balm

for hearts that long…

After years of absence

the barred owl

hoots from forested

green, and gray decaying

trunks hide luscious larvae.

Gentle woodland gods,

Nature’s Root Healers –

Black Bears

will soon awaken.

We are held in

the arms of Nature

Waiting

Two geese fly over the house…

Balsam seedlings sprout from

the forest floor,

bare leaf patches

shrink seed covered snow.

Earth is singing underground.

The sound and sight

of a pristine mountain stream

rippling to the sea

throws me into heartfelt prayer.

I am Home,

my brother’s grave nearby.

It is almost (his) Earth Day…

I have not missed

the croaking wood frogs

or the chorus of peepers

just outside my door.

 

Under threat of Death***

the dark man drives,

his biting blue eyes

seduce the innocent.

I am afraid.

Irresponsibility,

Entitlement,

Obstruction,

Invisibility,

Power reigns.

 

Yet gratitude flows.

A thatched bird’s nest

perches on a ledge

sheltered by grey logs…

Tree buds swell

Hope, and the thought

of delicate wildflowers

birth potential joy.

A brimming toad pond

awaits green frogs.

Lily b sings a Love Song –

his benediction

for this turning.

May the

Root Healers Come…

 

 

*** this dark man has shown up in my dreams all my life as a blue eyed killer/rapist – but here this force seems even more sinister – “man” is an image of the collective killer – male and female – and the C/virus that we have brought upon ourselves in our arrogance and stupidity.

Postscript…

 

Black bears are known by Indigenous peoples as the most powerful root healers of the forest – for good reason – they know how to heal their own wounds – and where to find the herbs that heal… may they come…

Equinox Lament

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We Could Have Listened

 

I made my way

to the river,

heard the song

of a starving body

barely rippling

over black stone.

Man’s* need to

control her flow

may win out this spring

as more ditches are gouged,

and she is flooded

(not in time for

the young cottonwoods

whose roots are too shallow,

but to grow human food

and graze destructive cattle

man must have to eat).

A plague sweeps

through poisoned air

infecting us

One by one…

 

As I round the Bosque

at daybreak

breathing in grasses

sweetened by last night’s rain

crystals hang from bare branches,

the decaying comfort

of moist cottonwood leaves

mutes all sounds

beneath my feet.

S/he* listens as

I give thanks,

witnesses my Lament…

 

We could have listened

to weeping trees,

screaming plants

dying animals

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

Nature tried

to capture man’s

arrogant attention

as he built more walls

between self and other

ignoring mounting

evidence supporting what

Indigenous peoples

have known for millennia:

Interconnection

is Fundamental to Life –

Dead whales

and krill,

the slaughter of all

but three percent

of the Earth’s forests,

missing birds,

unbreathable air,

melting ice –

Some western

gods of science still

protest to no avail.

How many people

Have I heard say

“Oh, it’s sad –

too bad they’re are dying

by the millions”

as if humans were somehow

Exempt.

Unique.

Those of us that heard the cries

were ridiculed.

Branded “ Voice of Doom”.

 

We could have listened

to weeping trees,

screaming plants,

dying animals,

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

Has Nature finally made

her point

with an invisible killer

transmitted by wind

that shrieks

a dire warning?

This rampant threat

will reduce human populations,

with the potential to

eliminate a species

by first destroying

those most vulnerable.

Millions may die

before business returns

to normal in

this Straw Man’s world

until the Next Time…

 

We could have listened.

to weeping trees,

screaming plants,

dying animals,

witnessed holes

in blue sky,

stopped poisoning

Earth’s precious ground.

 

 

 

  • “Man” is used to define the human species as he still defines himself… I wonder what happened to humankind?
  • “S/he” refers to Nature as being inclusive – male, female. transgender –

 

 

Postscript:

I have been witnessing with increasing horror and grief the willful refusal of people to accept that any species except our own is capable of developing awareness or consciousness, has its own teleology, its own reason for being. We use Nature as a commodity; as if every non human species was designed to meet our needs and those of no other.

For much of my life my experiences and my dreams have taught me that all non -human species have awareness and possess an intelligence equal to our own – although intelligence in particular is expressed differently in the rest of Nature. It is clear from a lifetime of observations that all living things lead meaningful lives that we know nothing about. I have endured ridicule and derision for my ideas throughout my life.

It wasn’t until this year that I was finally able to let go of trying to shift the trajectory that humans are on through my writing. Ironically it was my relationship with Nature that helped me understand that I had done what I could. Today most of my writing is focused on the fascinating aspects of Nature making my writing once again a joyful endeavor.

In this remarkable process I finally got it, realizing that I had it backwards.

Nature doesn’t need us; we need her.

It is humans that are in need of deep healing. Nature will survive as a whole although at present many species are already extinct and so many others are dying. The fact that S/he will survive brings me great joy, and for that knowing in my bones I feel deep gratitude.

The difference between me and most people is that I have known all my life how much I needed Nature to survive. It was this need that turned me into an advocate in the first place.

Sadly, we humans don’t seem capable of living sustainably. (The exception, of course, refers to Indigenous folk who developed a culture based on shared resources and sustainability; pockets remain) I am just as much a part of the problem as anyone else, although I do carry awareness of my complicity and grieve deeply.

There are many ways to look at the current pandemic. Many see it as the “enemy,” Nature at her worst – The “man against nature paradigm” is alive and well. Personally, it is as frightening to me as it is to others… I do not want to die from this virus and I am one of the people at the highest risk –

But I am also aware that Nature is ultimately focused on the big picture (although she also has a deeply personal aspect), and the human species is a failed experiment as of now. Nature exemplifies the necessity of Interconnection and Community. Humans have refused to hear her anguished cries…and so I see this pandemic as a “natural event” – a way to begin to redress the horrific imbalances that we have created as humans at the expense of all of Nature. Nothing is personal here. Human induced Climate Change will no doubt do the rest. How ironic. It’s only a matter of time.

Today in the northern hemisphere we celebrate the turning of the seasonal wheel into spring – the vernal equinox – normally a joyous time for many – but not this year. Instead, we are fearful and isolated in our homes … Outside my window the wind is howling and churning up so much dust that with emphysema I don’t dare go out. The raging wind also seems to be reminding me of the spread of this pandemic through polluted air, which fueled the writing of this prose and post. In this area BLM was supposed to begin its first of its seasonal controlled burns of New Mexico’s forests today – yet another irony. They will have to wait for the wind to go down to begin burning even more trees and spewing up more pollution. The lungs of the Earth are disappearing by the Billions.

The Portal: How Do We Know What We Know?

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My favorite part of the Bosque

 

Every morning I walk to the river in the velveteen hour between the vanishing blue night and the coming of the first scarlet, pink, lavender, purple or golden ribbons that stretch across the horizon. Sometimes clouds with heavy gray eyelids mute first light. Either way all my senses except that of sight are on high alert; a deep peace embraces me in the dark. My body knows the way. I murmur to the willows as I pass through the veil and under their bowed bridge. Their response is muted, a song beneath words.

 

At first my footsteps are barely audible on the narrow serpentine dirt path but as I pass by the river I note that she too is singing; and my senses quicken. If the Crane spirits are with me I hear the first brrring of Sandhill cranes as they take flight. “Freezing” I am crane struck; the involuntary need to stand still is overpowering. Body -mind viscerally absorbs Oneness as I breathe in a multitude of crane songs or perhaps only that of a few. Now my eyes are suddenly open, straining to see the familiar brrring materialize into startling graceful heads, necks, and stream lined bodies…. I note the shimmering waters beginning to mirror blushing pastels or the gray smoke that stains the horizon. Sometimes these hues deepen into rose, blood orange, or scarlet.

 

The rusty creaking gate opens the portal to my refuge.

 

Papery heart shaped leaves crunch under my feet, cottonwoods, junipers, cattails, and scrub reach out to touch me with feathery or wiry fingers, perhaps thorns; I am serenaded, slipping into a light trance. I begin to round the Bosque feeling the earth moving under my feet. Listening for the voices that come through image, sensation, silver filaments threaded through thin air. Illuminations, and occasionally, revelations erupt like volcanoes. A profound inner silence soothes me as I follow my feet, touching smooth branches, prickly juniper twigs, ribbed trunks in response, raising my gaze to marvel over the shapes of bare trees branches, cross – hatched, twisting to reach the sky to bring down the rains, perceiving each unique pattern as if for the first time, flooded by awe at each turning though I know the shapes by heart. At this time of day the Bosque is humming her collective love song without interference and it is possible to discern each voice. As I walk through the inner cottonwood path, sometimes surprising a rabbit or two I can feel this particular family of cottonwoods rising up to embrace me. Listening to their collective voices strumming a song that speaks to Love without Boundaries, I offer my gratitude for ‘what is,’ this moment in time.

 

Working Notes

 

Almost every day I walk down to the river in the early morning twilight, that space between worlds. But it is not primarily the river that calls me these days, it’s the Bosque, and once I have entered this refuge I feel an eerie sense of Becoming One with All That Is.

 

Bosque derives its name from the Spanish word for woodlands. This diverse habitat is found along the riparian floodplains of streams and river throughout the Southwest, especially along parts of the Rio Grande. I am fortunate to spend winters on one of its tributaries, Red Willow River, and to have a dear friend and kind neighbor who cares deeply for this particular Bosque which is located on the boundary of this property. The little forest is full of Cottonwoods, Mexican Privets, Junipers, Willows, Russian Olives, Apache plume, Cattails and many other bushes, plants, and grasses that parallel the waters and are still receiving, what I hope, is adequate moisture to feed thirsty roots and a complex underground fungal network…

 

For me the Bosque is a magical place full of wonder; a true refuge – a place of shelter and protection from the ravages of sun and wind. It is also a sanctuary, a holy place where the veil of Nature is thin, allowing for both underground and above ground communication, some of which occurs through scent and touch, sensing and feeling. Occasionally I will hear a word or two emerging from a place inside and outside of my body. Other times our conversation occurs telepathically (instant knowing). All my senses are engaged – my body/mind, though I must stress that the latter aspect must be emptied of rational thinking or chatter in order to hear those voices. Seeking that trance state with focused awareness puts me in that mind- still place. The Bosque knows I love her and that I see her in all her complexity – this seeing is an inner state and has nothing to do with sight in the usual sense. I believe Love helps open the door. I also keep an open mind and am a receiver by intent as well as by nature, and I think developing this ability with awareness contributes to our daily conversations.

 

It was not always this way, although I fell in love with the Bosque the first time I entered it. It takes time and attention to develop an intimate relationship with place, and only after four years have the Bosque’s inhabitants begun to speak to me. Even now, virtually all of our exchanges occur only during the pre-dawn twilight hours. Stillness, inside and out, appears to be another critical key that opens the door.

 

Engaging intimately with place then requires time and attention, repeated contact, an intention to communicate born of love (and at least in my case a deep need for reciprocity), the use of all bodily senses, a quiet but open mind, an ability to receive, stillness, and silence.

 

All of Nature sings a song of creation and destruction, one that is predicated on joy as well as sorrow. I think we must be willing to embrace both aspects of this process in order to be fully present for this song to keep on singing. What I don’t mention in the prose above is that in the Bosque I also receive messages about the cottonwoods struggling mightily to survive ever-increasing drought.

 

 

Natural History Postscript:

 

Scientists are just beginning to learn something about how plants communicate, even over long distances. The complexity of this communication is as yet poorly understood but involves both underground networks that connect trees/plants to one another, and communication that occurs above ground through the air.

 

Here’s a great example of what happens underground. Coyote willows, which are abundant around here and in the Bosque sprout from a single root system that scientists call cloning. What this means practically is that clusters of willows are related – they have an identical genetic structure. Some of these willow clones are more than 1000 square feet in size; other smaller clones also thrive in different places. Cottonwoods, Aspens, and Poplars, the other members of the Willow family also use the same strategies for reproduction. 88 percent of cottonwood reproduction occurs through cloning, so all the trees along the property line on this property are also related, as are the cottonwoods in the Bosque. On that inner path in the Bosque the sense I have of being embraced by these trees is the strongest, and I think the reason for that is that this spot is a kind of epicenter for the rest. The Willow family by the way is relatively young – only about 100 million years old. All members have symbiotic relationships with other plants.

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(Coyote Willows and Cranes – Bosque del Apache)

 

How do we know what we know? Mystics, visionaries, Indigenous peoples, poets, and naturalists have “known” that trees and plants communicate between themselves and with us for a very long time even though we have rarely been believed. Now we have proof that interspecies communication occurs at least between plants, even if we still don’t believe it can happen with us.

 

 

Uncovering What’s Hidden

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( I call this native grass Grandmother’s Hair)

 

Shame

is the shadow

of being unloved,

unwanted,

rejected,

strung out on need.

 

Shame paralyzes;

slamming into reverse

actions that would

create new intentions

including hope

of love.

 

Shame blots out

Personhood,

snapping the thread

of interdependency.

Plant Consciousness

restores it to life.

 

 

Postscript:

 

This morning while walking through the Bosque marveling over the sight of bare trees against a pale pink sky, I heard the brrring of crane presence.

Offering up the dream that had so distressed me, I received an instantaneous response from the ground beneath my feet.

“Look at us! We are all dependent upon each other,” the grasses murmured.

More cranes flew by.

The shadow of undeserved shame vanished – it’s illusion shattered.

I walked on…

 

Postscript:

 

Richard Powers, the author of The Overstory believes that humans need to cultivate a “plant consciousness”, that is, an awareness that cultivates the reality that all species including humans are interdependent. Trees, for example provide us with the oxygen we need to breathe, offer their offspring and other trees minerals and water so that they thrive; Deciduous trees send evergreens extra carbon during summer reversing the process in the fall. Trees and plants have thrived for 400 million years because they are connected by underground networks that support one another in times of need.

 

Humans seek commodities instead of cultivating genuine relationships; this universal greed and indifference has brought us to the edge of human extinction, and still we do not see.

Matricide in Spring

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Buttery yellow petals

open to

a warming sun.

The snow seeps deep;

parched soil receives a gift.

Crocus sing!

 

Harbingers of spring

diminutive tuliped cups

break ground in January

-blossoming earth stars-

temperatures

soar and freeze –

I marvel at such tenacity.

 

Persephone rises…

Freed from her oppressor

her joyful mother

celebrates as the Earth

swells buds on every branch.

Migrations begin…

 

My mother died

in April just as

the frogs began

to croak, laying

strings of jellied eggs

across still waters.

 

Matricide in spring

makes her presence

known as each

cell of my body

grows weary

from weeping.

 

I live my mother’s hell

strung up by the neck –

Forced to repeat the pattern

I turn away from

this tortured body,

combing the Earth for light –

With a prayer

to the Crocus Goddess

to help me heal the split.

 

Working Notes:

 

The goddess of spring is a flower. Mythic stories abound with this truth – For example, Persephone’s return to the earth -body is heralded by one of the first flowers of spring – the yellow crocus, which also happens to be one of my favorites.

 

Once I loved this season of light, but as I have grown older, the sun hurts my eyes, and except for the momentary joys I experience participating in Nature’s renewal I feel increasing bereft during this season.

 

Baffled, I am gradually learning to see.

 

When my mother died I hoped that our torturous relationship had come to an end; I forgot that my mother’s cells live on in my body, as mine once inhabited hers (Science backs this up).

 

Like my mother, I was socialized into a culture of mind-body splits. (A woman’s mind is always suspect; a woman’s body is always objectified; sexually, any woman – of any age remains the object of the pornographic male gaze).

 

My mother was male identified, and taught me to be the same. I learned to privilege men over women.

 

I also learned to despise my body just like my mother did.

 

In this process I lost access to me because it was this body that held the truth of who I was.

 

My dreaming body helped me see. My love for and identification with Nature eventually saved me. Becoming a woman’s advocate helped me begin to understand woman’s suffering; opening the door to dealing with my own pain, and eventually that of my mothers. I began to ask questions about how the mind – body split operated in me.

 

After my mother’s death in 1993 (at first I felt relief) I was able to forgive her for not being capable of loving her daughter because she despised the woman in herself. I hoped that I could move on.

 

Instead, I began to suffer the most crushing depression each spring. It has only been recently (thanks to an article by Carol Christ) that I was given access to the insight that this cyclic descent of mine is attached to matricide.

 

What is matricide? Definitions vary but the general idea is that the mother is murdered by her own daughter (or her own son). I grew up witnessing my mother’s hatred for mothering, my mother’s hatred of her own mother, and lived my mother’s lack of love for me, eventually coming to hate her for her indifference.

 

Even though initially I reactively adopted the other extreme- Mary – self sacrificing ‘mother of god’ as my ideal as a child/ adolescent/young adult (hardly a solution) unconsciously I carried mother hatred in the cells of my own body.

 

When I became a mother I turned that hatred on me; the results were devastating.

 

The most frightening aspect of this intergenerational matricidal pattern is that it lives on through both of my children whose hatred for me mirrors that of my mother’s hatred of herself, her daughter, my hatred for myself and the five year period I went through towards the end of my mother’s life when I actively hated my mother too…

 

Each spring I fall into the Abyss – I am forced to re-live the horrors of matricide and how it continues to affect me today through depression.

 

I may not be able to shift a pattern that is both personal and cultural but I have done the necessary work to deal with my own issues around matricide and most importantly, have forgiven both my mother and myself.

 

At this point in my life I pray for a keen awareness each spring. It is only when I can hear those murderous voices rising that I have a chance to deal with them.

 

Developing the capacity for endurance has helped.

 

 

 

 

PS – My beloved spirit birds the CRANES BRRR in the next field as I write these words – Nature is listening, and I am not alone.

The Dark Side of the Moon

 

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moonseed

 

 

I am cocooned

by the dark of the moon

lulled to sleep by breathing trees

sheltered under a velvet night.

The Great Bear is sleeping

behind Black Mountain

imagining new beginnings.

Overhead a bowl of cracked stars

coalesces into patterned forms.

Ancient images appear…

The Little Bear and Gemini Twin

envision Bigger Dreams.

 

When the moon is full

the sky is lit all night

for days…

disrupting Dawn’s

midnight turning.

Smudged by opaque glaze

Moon annihilates the stars –

A solitary sightless eye

cracks cottonwood branches

into dying fragments,

Trickster Rabbit,

constellates Human Shadow.

Too much light

floods even protected spaces.

Disturbed and restless, I awaken.

My dreaming body

has lost her Memory.

Stories disappear.

 

Postscript:

 

There is something about living in a land that celebrates an empty deep blue-sky bowl and a harsh white sun as being ‘wondrous’ that I find disturbing. There is a kind of monotony associated with these endless blue wind rainless days that leaves me enervated and wired at the same time. They attempt to keep me dis-embodied – “de –pressed” psychically, and hovering outside my body.

 

(I compensate by spending as much time as I can writing because this art form keeps me firmly anchored in my body.

 

And I walk embodied, especially during the pre-dawn hours, when the trees and scrub “talk.” This morning I apologized for not paying close enough attention to what the plants had to say when words rose unbidden from inside and out raising the hair on my arms. “You know now,” they commented tersely).

 

It has taken me a long time to recognize that I am suffering from a deluge of light not just during the day, but also at night living here. For most of the month the sky is lit by some kind of moon – glow… and star -fire is absent or greatly dimmed.

 

Walking under an open sky full of stars is a gift, one that I have never taken for granted. Star gazing, especially during the frigid winter months in the Northeast has been my passion for as long as I can remember… (In Maine I keep my northeastern field open just for that purpose). Here, my favorite constellation is mostly hidden by a barren reptilian mountain…

 

I used to honor the passage of each full moon but these days it is the dark of the moon I acknowledge and celebrate. I look forward to the dark of the moon because during this time it is much easier to stay in my body, to sleep deep and well, and to star gaze…

 

Personally, this reversal mirrors other radical reversals I have experienced within the last two months…

 

Indigenous peoples have honored the dark of the moon as a powerful passage (root vegetables are still planted around or at the time of the dark of the moon), but until I came to New Mexico I never thought about what really happens at the dark of the moon. A birthing occurs following a night of total darkness. A moonseed comes to life as an invisible sliver, and a new Earth cycle begins…

 

It is February 1st and tomorrow, or somewhere in this general period, Indigenous peoples across the globe celebrate “First Light” the precursor to spring.

 

In this country some still celebrate groundhog day…When the groundhog emerges if he sees his shadow spring is still six weeks away (here this story has no meaning for obvious reasons). But the point I want to make is that the groundhog was first a bear, and throughout central Europe chained bears were forced to walk over scalding coals throughout the countryside to make the crops grow. How the bear became a groundhog is a mystery.

 

I too acknowledge this turning, though for me it is tempered by knowing that soon the days of fierce white light will stretch into what seems like “forever” and I will have to work harder than ever to stay embodied.

 

Although here in New Mexico the Great Bear constellation mostly remains hidden, the Big Bear Moon will be full next week…

 

One problem with the full moon is that it promotes a dulling of the mind and senses – actions without awareness/accurate reflection are a normal part of this monthly turning.

 

The Indigenous (throughout the world) myth of the rabbit living with his grandmother embraces this idea – the rabbit as trickster aspect dulls the grandmother’s wits and muddles her senses – if only temporarily.

The Cloud Person is a Crane?

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(On the way to the Bosque…)

 

Meandering through

heart shaped

Cottonwood leaves

crunching under foot

Dream words surface.

“The Southwest is Drying Up.”

Didn’t I know that?

There must be more to this story…

 

Beneath trees and scrub

a rustling root thought:

If only I could feel

what I think I know –

clear this conditioned mind.

My body,

Earth’s body

echo identical

Truths.

One encompasses the whole,

the other a fragment.

 

Something is walking beside me.

 

To feel a cloud

Presence hovering

is no illusion.

Still air moves with me.

 

Something is walking beside me.

 

The Heart of Nature

strikes a primordial drum –

sings a song of Belonging.

Midnight fades..

Dawn breathes pale pink and gold…

Even in my yearning

a prehistoric Crane cries out:

“A Cloud Person

Loves you.”

 

 

Working Notes:

 

“This is a great poem even if it isn’t” I heard myself say!

 

Laughter bubbled up.

 

True, I realized because poetry arises from the heart…and always addresses truth of one kind or the other. That’s what makes it great.

 

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Yesterday in the Bosque while walking through the scrub and under the cottonwoods I gradually became aware of a presence of some kind that was hovering around me like a cloud. I heard and saw 2 beloved cranes that I consider my spirit birds – whatever that means – and was feeling quite thankful in general. I never feel alone in the woods at home or here the Bosque but this feeling of personage was different – almost like someone invisible was walking with me. And  I have never experienced this feeling before with so much awareness. What was this presence? The trees, the air, the fact that the Bosque is my refuge? My own soul? Possibly spirit? I don’t know but I trusted its beneficence…

 

This morning I also had a dream that said the “southwest” was drying up – since this is obviously the direction we are going in – the dream couldn’t have meant that unless the Earth is reinforcing what I think I know? And I doubt that. I was thinking about this dream while in the Bosque noticing again that walking early in the morning seems to lessen what feels like a negative dream effect.

 

Finally, after writing this poem I believe I unraveled the meaning behind the dream I had this morning.

Daughter of the Cranes

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When I see them

I enter the Dreaming.

In the background

a jagged coat of barren

reptilian mountains

frames bountiful bodies

standing on stilts as

undulating necks,

crimson crowns

beaded eyes

dive below the surface

in search of last year’s grain.

Each deliberate step is taken

in syncopated rhythm

with those of nearby neighbors

Each three toed talon

pierces still waters.

 

Ruffling six foot wings

clasped close to form,

serpentine ropes dip and sway.

Cranes leap into thin air

when encountering old friends.

Parachute back down.

Relaxing into the calm mirror –

each one casts a silvery shadow

trilling, rattling, rolling, whirring,

brurrring with excitement

when greeting relatives.

Circling around before

making their descent,

cranes bounce off the field

as they land!

 

Always in communion

the echo makers converse

with others in nearby ponds

in the hushed chamber

of the lowlands-

a Bosque of Cottonwoods, lakes,

and reeds –

Cranes are always listening.

 

No wonder one can trust them.

 

As twilight deepens,

they fall soundly asleep,

thin billed domes

nestled deep in warm flesh,

scaly feet sunk under oozing mud.

 

They dream an ancient language

tapping into fields

of primal patterning

Indigenous knowledge

Earth’s current keening.

Cranes know that

only by attending will they survive.

During the night,

One bird stands sentry…

 

Next month

they will begin

the great migration

a bi -annual flight made

year after year for millennium.

Cranes return to the same locations

thousands of miles traversed when

‘North Country’ calls them home.

 

Upon arrival, the birds

paint their plumage brown

blending into last year’s

wetlands to escape detection.

Mothers hover over two eggs

sinking onto nests

braided out of reeds.

A most attentive Protector

scans horizon and sky.

Nearby.

 

One chick might

survive to make the return journey…

 

But for now

these sentient Beings

celebrate community

by the thousands,

feeding in harmony…

 

The tranquil ponds echo

with a symphony of sound so

compelling, so enchanting

that I am swept

into the Heart of Creation,

folded into feathery down,

cupped by Primeval Wings

fringed ashen cloaks –

immersed in Natural Grace.

 

Working Notes:

 

The Sandhill cranes are called the “Echo Makers” by the Anishinaabe who are culturally related Indigenous peoples that live in Canada and the United States. The tribes include the Odawa, Chippewa, Ojibwe Potawatomi, Cree, and Algonquin peoples.

 

There are seven primary clans of the Anishinaabe people; loon, crane, fish, bird, bear, marten, and deer. Note that birds as a whole are included separately. Traditionally, the Loon and Crane Clans worked together as leaders and eloquent storytellers respectively.

 

These tribes have a wonderful tale about a girl who is standing alone in a mountain meadow when the Sandhill cranes are passing overhead on their journey south. They circle around the young woman and gather her up in their great gray wings and fly away with her. She becomes a ‘Daughter of the Cranes’… and this is why before arriving at their northern location each spring the cranes circle around before they land. They do this in memory of the girl.

 

When I first read this story I recognized myself. I too am a Daughter of the Cranes.

 

Many Indigenous peoples believe that humans were once cranes and will be so again…

 

Postscripts:

Cranes are receivers; they are always listening. Most westerners lack an ability to receive or to listen because most do not inhabit their bodies with any degree of awareness, if at all (this includes folks who spend time outdoors using the land instead of listening to her). The price for this inability is a split between body and mind, one that privileges mind, while dismissing body as irrelevant except as a machine. This makes humans very difficult to trust. It should be mentioned that because our feelings are carried in our bodies when we lose access to them we lose ourselves as well as being unable to be emotionally present for others in a meaningful way.

 

Being with Sandhill cranes allows me to enter their world in some non-ordinary way. I experience this oneness the moment I enter their field of influence; and the haunting crane calls – whirs, brring, trills, trumpeting – contribute to, and intensify this oneness. Whenever I am with them I am fully in the present moment. Nothing else matters. Although they are birds of the air I experience Cranes as being able to bridge the false western dichotomy that splits earth from sky to embrace/embody the Spirit/ Soul/Body of all there is.

 

Cranes are also prehistoric birds, 60 million years strong. It seems to me that they have access to truths on a level we can’t even imagine. It doesn’t surprise me that it is believed that they foretell the future or act as guides between worlds… They have for me.

 

Field notes of one of my crane experiences appear below:

Notes from Bosque:

“We found the cranes nearby and we left once and returned this time staying until sunset glorying in “the Echo Makers” – cranes coming in from all directions, one family at a time, and oh the sound was hypnotic – the air was still – the water like glass and the cranes were walking about feeding, brrring, trumpeting, rumbling, parachuting down with cupped wings onto the glassy water and leaping into the air calling to each other, welcoming mates and family. There were 3 areas – the first just to the front of us – one to the far left, and one far behind the larger pond all reflecting silvery light like a mirror -and with groups flying in for about two hours, some circling and dropping in front of us, some going to the left, and all in conversation – brrring, bugling, whirring – the sound was amazing and the birds in front picked their way through the shallows with heads sunk into mud, some in pairs and some isolated but all so peaceful – how did those flying in decide where to land? Great circular descents with those feathery fringed wings spread and legs dropping below them toes spread – they cushion landings by hopping back in the air – one was with a group that kept on flying towards the cranes gathering on the far left, but after a loud brrr from the ground, this one turned around in mid air and landed squawking. Another smaller crane immediately joined him and then another – do some fly separately during the day to different feeding places and then land on their return when they hear their mates/ family?…And all the time this intoxicating sound is resonating through my body. I am One with the experience of Crane, totally embodied, my mind recalling lore and mystery – “I love you,” I cried out at last to the darkening sky when we left. I loved it that the cranes were separate from the geese because I could hear “the Echo Makers” so clearly, each group’s conversation merged into a collective symphony and it wasn’t my imagination that the music came from every direction including the sky. We started out with about two dozen cranes and by the end of the day there were hundreds- maybe thousands, and oh yes, so many stayed out of the water huddled up on the far side of the marshes…. by nightfall my impression was that I was experiencing a world composed of these ancient birds, still waters, and sky and nothing else. Oh, those gray robed monks who stand in such stately grace – and when we left even more were flying in – it’s so open that even deep twilight is kind to the cranes. They must “see” through silver mirrors…..the sky reflects above and below – when the cranes move through shallow water they use a precise high stepping walk that seems so deliberate that one has the impression that it is has a syncopated rhythm especially when two or more cranes “high step” together. When in flight both head/neck and tail seem somehow equal in length and my impression is that in flight they appear white underneath…”

I haven’t heard the one group of 14 cranes that have stayed in Abiquiu for the winter for a few days. But whenever I write about them they come. As soon as I stopped this writing I heard them brrrring in unison -They reinforce the (heretical) truth that we are all interconnected and have the ability to communicate telepathically.