Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In the Earth

At my recent college reunion, by friend Dawn was raving about my blog, and I was thinking, "Yeah, and I haven't posted on it in about a month. If you're a loyal reader, and this has caused you any grief or distress, I apologize. We've been taking advantage of some fabulous spring days to dig a garden. A lot of our churchpeople have taken that act as a communication that we are not going to be moving this year. As far as I know, they are correct.. I'm planning on harvesting what I'm planting. Perhaps it's being in the earth so much, or perhaps it's our recent acquisition of the ReNew VBS and how I've been impressed with it, or maybe it's just the beautiful weather we've had here in what we call "Green Country," but I've been "keyed in" to the natural world lately.

Last week I wrote my sermon from the front porch, listening to all the birds sing in our sweetgum trees, (because we now have wireless!!!) and I think my "attentive participation" in the Spring is making a difference in my spirit. The robins that hop around in our yard looking for bugs came right up to my feet, unafraid. There is something profound about not causing fear in a wild animal.

I think the way we are shaped by our surroundings is fascinating. I'll never forget the time I got to spend at a workshop at Ring Lake Ranch with Belden Lane on that topic. He wrote a book called "The Solace of Fierce Landscapes" that really resonated with me. I've always enjoyed mentally fishing on the stream that is formed by the merging of ecology and theology. I've had great opportunities to plumb those depths. (thank you, Lilly pharmaceuticals)

One thing that the winter does for me is give me enough silence and stillness, with only the constant sound of the wind, to re-acquaint myself with the wildlife and plant-life that comes springing back around. When I lived in Los Angeles and would come back to Arkansas in the summer, it would baffle me how green everything outdoors was. So, in the same way, winter annually lulls our eyes and ears to sleep only to have them awakened again, refreshed and renewed.

So, in the spirit of Belden Lane, beautiful weather, birds chiriping, and Earth Day, I introduce you to my surroundings:

First are our two big Sweetgums.  They give us a workout in the fall and winter with all the balls they drop, but they give nice cool shade in the summer, and I like to hang my dartboard on the closest one there.  They rise to about 40 feet or more.

Lao-Tzu enjoys the empty lot to the south of our house.  There's always something to prowl around for out there, and that makes a cat feel worthwhile, I suppose. (Although she's gotten stuck in Lloyd's skunk traps on occasion)

There are four pecan trees in the big lot to the south of our house.  We enjoy finding pecans and munching on the ones that don't have wormholes.  I can occasionally practice with my pitching wedge in the lot when it is mowed.  (It is not right now)

Even further south is a cow pasture with some Black Angus cattle owned by a church member.  One time we got 1/4 of a cow from him.  This made me feel sustainability superior to everyone else.  That is, until we left the freezer unplugged for a few days, and had to throw a good bit of it out.  (Palm to forehead at that memory)

Looks like our little birdhouse in the maple tree in the front has an occupant.  There are also a pair of huge barn owls that make their home in the top of that tree.
(I have a picture, but I can't find it.)  This is the prettiest maple tree in town in the fall. It turns a brilliant golden color.  (See!)

Last but not least is our fledgling garden that has been the source of much dirt in my fingernails over the past week or so.  I hope it isn't too late to plant lettuce, b/c we have some of that, peppers, onions, tomatoes, strawberries, squash, and zucchini.  I'm hoping the best for our garden, and I think we'll have plenty to share with friends.  As Wendell Berry says, "One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race." 

Soon I'll be putting up some lattice work on our porch to give some more shade and privacy on the west.  Then we'll be maxing AND relaxing.

I hope you've enjoyed your little tour of my yard.  It's not glamorous, but it's beautiful in a humble way, I think.  As Wendell Berry also says,"I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle." 

(Boy, the new formatting thing really didn't work on those photos--any pointers blogger geeks?)  

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