Songs Pray

Dew holds tight to the bushes and berries
Its grip loosened by the soft caress of dry cloth
Mornings these days are early and damp.

Flower faces reflect the sun’s smile
Standing tall above them all
a perfectly pink Phlox bloom
I pause to savor the sniff
Heaven dreams of a smell so sweet

In the patch worry rests
You can hear songs
Ancestral songs
The kind that come on their own
The kind that sing themselves
The kind that pray

Hollow bones hold the songs
I sing the praises of mobility and ruby red raspberries
Oh, the voice may crack and pop
But it carries the tune well enough

Handfuls of delight dangle from the tips of grateful fingers
I’ll harvest all I can from this juicy life
Fill my bucket and then some
Before I’m dead ripe

Summer Feelings

Summer’s breath has been hot and heavy these past few days like an agonizing slow exhale that is forecast to reach into next week. All day the heat’s stronghold builds. My bodies profuse sweating the lubricant that allows me to penetrate its walls.

As I halter up the horses, a faint breeze offers a welcome but fleeting respite from the oppression. The horses walk at a leisurely pace down the path towards the lush field of belly high grass. Not a wrinkle of worry on their brows. Every voluptuous curve on their form moves like a gentle rolling wave disappearing into the sand. Summer is a time of loose fullness. More than bodies soften.

Growing up we didn’t have air conditioning. My Mother used to tell us when the heat and humidity of the day carried into the night and kept us awake, it was because we could hear the corn growing in the fields. The grumbling over sleepless nights instantly turned into gratitude. The saying still holds true. All around in the heat of summer things are growing. Including parts of myself.

Every season offers us gifts. We need to learn from nature how to be in harmony with each season. It’s especially difficult during times of extremes when the human minds twist nature’s wisdom into whining. When Mother Nature is in control, stay in the flow. The challenge is to turn inside if something outside makes us uncomfortable. It’s how we were designed to grow—from the inside out.

Today I feel summer feelings (inhale).

Breathing it all in

Sky Kiss

Father Sky came down to kiss Mother Earth this morning
Reassured by the sacred union,
the hard worry in my heart softened.
The affection walked beside me around the field.

I let it inside.

Opened wide and deep,
my lungs embraced the cool moist air.
Momentarily I held its love,
Then gradually I released it to the life around me.
Going, going, gone.

Life is Ceremony

Isn’t life ceremony?
Breath it’s prayer,
pain and suffering the sacrifice
to grow souls;
love it’s healing,
hope it’s saving grace,
gratitude the great amplifier of joy.

Every heart a doorway
to the lodge or church or
temple that lives there.
Find your way to a seat; any seat will do.
Sit quietly and listen for a voice.
Even if nothing is heard, something is felt
that makes you better.

All around us medicine; you are medicine.
Not all medicine tastes good,
but it all does some good.

Partake in the communion with nature,
worship the ground you walk on,
have reverence for all life, everywhere.

A beautiful ceremony lives in you.
Bring it to life.
Don’t hold on to the gift.
Give it to the world.

You will make missteps along the way,
but the ceremony goes on forever.
It is still happening.

A minute ago, a glance at the woods outside my window was clear and now tiny white specks are falling from the sky like powdered sugar shook through a sieve. All I see is covered in a dusting of tiny white specks. There is a soft sweetness that comes over me when I watch snowflakes that fall in straight and true lines from above.

The snow comes after a sharp cold snap. The bitter cold reminded me to appreciate the warmth in life. In words, deeds, the saffron orange flames lapping at the wood stove glass and snowflakes floating down like powdered sugar.

Below is an excerpt from the book I wrote, Sweet Wisdoms. The piece was written during a grueling period of below zero temperatures that stretched all living creatures to the limits of their breaking point.

Keep a warm heart in a cold world and you won’t become a bitter person.

Cruel Cold

Here in Wisconsin, it’s freeze-your-nose-hairs-together and turn-your-whiskers-frosty kind of weather. As I make my morning rounds of chores, I keep pulling my hat down and my long underwear up! You can feel the landscape’s bones on these sharp cold days. I delight in the simplicity of winter~ stay warm. Bitter cruel cold, you can’t make me a bitter cruel cold person!

Two Buckets Full

An empty kindling bucket lead to a lesson in mindfulness this morning. It didn’t take long to remember how attentive and alert you have to be when your splitting kindling with a hand ax. I never lost awareness of where my fingers were or the steadiness of the piece of wood that the ax was about to come down on. After filling two kindling buckets I was darn near a Buddhist monk!

It only takes a few minutes of mindful motion to feel a peaceful energetic recharge. Not only does it balance the mind and body but it can make you more aware of when you are becoming imbalanced.

An empty life can fill with meaning as painlessly as two kindling buckets with a mindful practice. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself like the wonderful children’s book, “Have you filled your bucket today?”

You don’t live life standing still. Witness its sacred motion and it won’t pass you by.

Apples and Onions

Rainy fall Saturdays put me in the mood to bake. It’s the rest year for our apple orchard but hidden among the Wolf River and Cortland branches I managed to find a five-gallon pail full. Enough for a batch or two of applesauce and a family favorite, Apple Cinnamon Cake. I don’t know of anyone whose dull spirit isn’t polished to a shine when the scent of apple and cinnamon greets them at the door of home. Perfect choice for the mood my relative, Weather, is in.

While the apple cake was baking, I decided to string up the onions I had laid out on the dining room table to dry for a few days now. I hang the onion string in my kitchen. Easy access and I think they are pretty.

I struggled with tying them at first. But then I began to tie them like my prayer ties. A loop knot slipped over each dried tip. Each onion is now a prayer for our family; good health and well-being, peace, joy, laughter, abundance, good relationships. I’ll probably wonder which prayer the onion I’m using is and cry while I’m wondering. The purest form of prayer is crying.

As I stood back to admire the onion prayer tie’s prettiness a teaching came. I’m going to have to use whatever onion is at the end of the string. No picking through them. Just like life you have to take it as it comes. One onion at a time. Layer by layer.

Bee Kind

Honey Haiku

Thick drop of honey—
What flower do you taste of?
All of them at once.

Like a river of sun, the honey pours from the extruder’s spigot. I’m preoccupied licking sticky places on my hands and forearms but I pause to be fully present during this glorious moment overflowing with gratitude.

From a summer of frequent rain came unrelenting blooms. From unrelenting blooms came an abundance of life’s sweetness. I taste it in friendship, in a sunrise, in a soft-spoken word of encouragement, in a door held open, in a smile… kindness sticks sweet to everything it touches. Bee kind.

* If you look closely at the featured image you will see the honey bee on the sunflower 🙂

Pie Potential

Early in its life a rabbit nibbled away the tender bark at the trunk base. Exposing a swath of naked wood, the length of a fully extended rabbit body nearly all around the tiny trunk. I did my best to care for the wound. No apples this year but she lived.

A late Spring cold snap brought snow. Delicate blooms fragrant and supple the day before were now vacant of scent. Frozen stiff. Some leaves anxious to begin again followed the sun’s subtle cue to unfold. The cold hardness of the world nipped the new growth. When touched the scarred tips disintegrated into a brown powder. The potential to taste pie crumbled like the dry brown leaf tip pressed between my fingers. I witnessed the vulnerability of opening. I witnessed how not to let the hardness of the world stop you from growing. No apples this year but she lived.

By all appearances last summer seemed to be the year we’d taste pie! July brought pests of biblical proportions, hell-bent on devouring every last tree in the orchard. The August sun melted summer’s green into the earth. Each day the mother tree struggled to continue her simple life. Beneath her laid the enormity of her sacrifice to do just that. Dozens of immature apples carpeted the ground. To sacrifice is to make sacred. I knew one day I’d harvest apples. The only question was when. The horses appreciated the taste of apple. No apples for pie this year but she lived.

Last week I made two pies with apples from the Prairie Spy tree in our orchard. As I peeled and sliced the sweetness of life in my hands, I reflected on the tree’s many teachings over the years. What I saw was pie. Potential In Everything life takes from us to give us what we need to grow.

And that first bite…heaven never tasted so good.

Hay Day

It has been an unusually soggy summer here in Northeast Wisconsin. Both in rain and humidity. Instead of making 2nd or 3rd crop this time of year, most farmers are just getting off 1st crop. The worry that comes with the struggle to harvest hay was getting real. That was until a four day break in the weather was forecast two weeks ago. How quickly lack can turn into abundance if we are willing to cease the opportunity….even if it means a whole lot of hard work. The inspiration for this piece.

Bronze skin leather tough
Drenched in salty drops
Thirst burns
I drink in the sky

Prayers pour out of my heart
Machinery and God be merciful
Long windrows lay ready to make perfect hay
Keep breakdowns and tears of dark clouds away

Bound tight with twine square bales bulge
Full wagons waddle over the bald field
Each one—together—enough
Winter’s hunger aches for your green

As stars usher in night’s moist breath
I walk up to the house feeling spiritually quenched
Exhausted muscles and mind rest peacefully in gratitude’s joy
Hard work fears me