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By Silver Grey Fox




This morning driving along a section of pines

the roadside vista reminds me of my glimpse

of the piney woods sections outside Houston

in Texas with the mixture of pines and shrubs

and the temperate nature of the forested area.

Then, rather suddenly I notice a bald eagle,

its white head distinct above its black raven-

colored body, sitting atop a solitary pine.


And, for a moment I pause on a turn-off

to observe its falcon-like instinctive pattern

of behavior when searching for and seeking

prey. Only for a moment, so it seems, am I

privy to its activity as it circles, then swoops

down earthward to snatch what I can’t quite

see until it climbs back above nearby brush.


Then, there, visible in its talons, is one of the

larger snakes I have seen in this section of

South Florida. Oh, sometimes I wish for the

spontaneous nature of such feathered creatures–

for the eyesight, for the instinct, for the ability

to move so gracefully at times and then also

having the speed to so naturally snatch its prey.


Ah, with the eagle nestled back somewhere

now in this piney woods to enjoy its catch,

I continue my drive back into my morning’s

activities—banking, shopping, laundering…

a far cry from my moment’s enjoyment with

the eagle sighting. Such is our connection,

my bird and I, such is our likeable difference.




_________________________




About Silver Grey Fox:

As a writer-poet, I continue trying to gain an understanding of the enigma that is mine and that which was the late Theodore Roethke’s own. He once said, “What I love is near at hand.” Thus, there is so much yet left to be explored; plus, as he noted, “Being, not doing, is my first joy.” What with nature’s beauty all around, and my continuing to reach out and touch, feel and appreciate such, along with having opted to re-open myself to love and life, I continue seeking to more fully define my identity, so I write and write some more.


_________________________


Links Of Interest:

On Theodore Roethke — Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) — Poetry Foundation

On Gary Snyder — Gary Snyder (b. 1930) — Poetry Foundation

On Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones — Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones Bio

On Black Holes — Black Holes — NASA Science Astrophysics


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, February 28th, 2013


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DUCK EGGS IMG02219-20110427-1152 auto color

Duck Eggs, processed version of Nesting – 17/52, Week 17 Jump-Off, BlackBerry 52, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, April 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


A mallard has taken up residence outside the door of a busy commercial building I visit each day. She sits on the eggs at night. By day, the human foot traffic keeps her away. So she covers the nest with down and dried umber leaves. They blend easily with the gravel and cement. Adaptability. The humans who inhabit the building keep watch over her eggs; smokers on break are eager to depart the latest news. I watch and wait in silence, hoping for a hatching of ducklings in the middle of a wintry Spring.


The original photograph was posted as the Week 17 Jump-Off for BlackBerry 52. Lotus and I will respond to each other’s BlackBerry photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, April 29th, 2011

-related to post: Of Thirsty Snakes And Ducks With Dry Bills

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By Teresa Williams





Swans



Boethius said: The now that passes produces time,
the now that remains produces eternity.


Small ration
of eternity:
the circular web
dissolves; morning
the fog
passes over the lake
and silently hovers, while
the mother
with the child in hand
points to the white circle
forming
in the dark waters
and in a hushed tone says,
that sometimes
moons
come down from the sky
wanting
to float: the waters rise
February’s frosty waves.

The moons
circumambulate the lake
whispering
whispering and wanting
with each round
a fluency
more motion
a buoyancy
anything
to slake their thirst
anything
to carry them
beyond
the static sky
beyond
the boundaries
of the circle.


_________________________



Two Coyotes at Dawn


Blue light from the edges illuminate the street
like an aura,
like phosphorescent water, magician
of its spreading hue, of its
rise
and soft dissolve.
A moment later and another still
it touches the trees.
Its slow moving stillness
surrounds dense shapes,
wall, sidewalk, shrub,
crack;
a return
to its immanence.
Up ahead,
a flash
amber heat, wild fur. Then another,
less an apparition,
than the first. For a moment,
its green ember eyes burn. Time
falls open,
a desert floor climbs up, inverts itself
in the oasis of sky.
Thunder.
Wisp of smoke.
Standing in the street. She’s gone.
House, porch, maple tree.
Electric lights
Door.


_________________________



Tarot


I don’t know if moon sounds like an owl
Or if owls reveal anything
about the moon.
I don’t know if haunting incandescence
can roll into my room
in this way.
But I did hear the owl speak
through the moon
last night.
And I heard a profound conclusion.

The sun was not there to confirm it
or verify it or surpass
what was spoken.
And the screeching did not ascend
like the sun’s daily rising.
No, it was not like that
nothing resembling the clarity of fact.
Only this

sound

falling

from one world
into another
and I know what was heard cannot be said.


_________________________




About Teresa: Teresa Williams is a psychotherapist, poet and translator in Seattle, Washington. She has been writing and trying to live poetry for as long as she can remember. Her love for travel and the Spanish language has called her into translation work. She is also an active member of Grupo Cervantes, a bilingual writer’s group and literary community in Seattle. Teresa’s poetry has been featured at births, weddings, funerals and several talent shows held by the closest of friends.


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Out of all the agreements, this is one I strive to keep. It’s also the hardest. I woke up from a dream in the middle of the night. I dreamed about Ely, Minnesota, the deep forests of the North Woods, where most everything is impeccable with its word. The black bears, Lily and Hope, are busy being bears. They hibernate in Winter, fluctuating between restless activity and long naps. They may have cubs in January. It’s not something that is up for debate. They emerge in the Spring and seek a mate, roam the forests of red and white pines, gangly cedars, and rough-hewn milkweed, and pluck fruit off of agile chokecherry trees which they bend across the path and navigate with their tongues.

In my dream, I was walking through the woods, similar to the nature walk back behind the Bear Center on Saturday night. It was humid and wet, the ground soft underfoot. A long line of people skirted the trail through tufts of mosquitoes; they quietly listened. What I’ve learned about impeccability is that it is different for each person. If you are a bear researcher, you report back to the public from the angle from which you study the bears. Each person’s approach is different. One is not less impeccable than the next. They may start out with different beliefs, seek to prove or disprove them over years spent in the woods, watching and recording black bears.

I was thinking about how that applies to every day life. We tend to hang around people who are most like us. It takes great effort to understand those we might disagree with. To be willing to have our opinion changed, based on fact, based on what is right — that’s a form of impeccability. To deep listen. Again, impeccable. It takes work to listen to what people have to say without already forming what your response will be when they are done speaking. There are many different versions of right and wrong. Not black and white. Gray. If you get to know the facts about any one subject, person, place or thing, there is a lot of gray.

I learned at the North American Bear Center that what might have been believed true of bears 20 years ago, may not be true now. With more research, comes a deeper form of truth and understanding. With age comes wisdom. The same is true in my own life. I recently ran across an old journal from the time period when I was turning from 21 to 22. I had recently moved to Montana from Pennsylvania and my life was topsy-turvy. Over the course of a year, I ended one relationship, began another with a woman who had a toddler. That relationship would end in three years. The toddler is full-grown; I’m only a blip in his life.

What I believed when I was 20 is not what I believe now. The way I was impeccable with my word is not the way I try to be impeccable today. I work harder now to not make commitments I know I can’t keep. I also fail. But I feel more willing to accept the failures. By fessing up. Apologizing. Asking for forgiveness. There can’t be too much forgiveness in the world. There can’t be too much love.

I’ve learned the hard way that impeccability is something that is earned over time. It doesn’t show up on your doorstep and beg to be let in. It is proud, strong, forgiving but demanding. The white pines are impeccable. They catalogue the seasons and provide protection and nurturing for black bears in the North Woods of Minnesota. The lumber barons who nearly wiped white pines off the face of the planet? I wouldn’t call them impeccable in their commitment to the sustainability of our world. But things are more complicated than that.

Maybe they were impeccable with their word to those they did business with, to the communities they helped build and make thrive. I don’t know. I don’t share their values. But I shy away from condemnation. I try to understand their shortsightedness. Sometimes it’s just greed. Pure and simple greed that drives people to break their word. Fortunately, I still believe that it’s not the greedy who shall inherit the Earth. But I’m not so sure it will be the humans either.



-Related to Topic post:  WRITING TOPIC: THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

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Howling Reporter newsletter, Memorial to Raven, image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo of Raven © 2009 by Jan Ravenwolf, all rights reserved

Raven, Howling Reporter (Summer 2009), image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Jan Ravenwolf. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
There on the cover of the new issue of the Howling Reporter was a giant close-up of Raven, his muzzle tinged with silver, eyes piercing, posture regal. My eyes drifted down to the right-hand corner, RAVEN 04-04-95 – 04-12-09, and I called to Jim. “Oh no! Raven died.”
 
We have Ms. Kimball to thank for the fact that we got to known Raven. Dee’s 4th grade teacher assigned her students and their families to take a field trip somewhere they’d never been in New Mexico. We picked the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, west of Albuquerque, through the Navajo village of Ramah and down a long gravel road, in the isolated mountain community of Candy Kitchen.

It was a Friday in January, 2006. We stopped for breakfast at a mission-turned-art-gallery in Grants, then hit the Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave in the Zuni Mountains. We marvelled over Inscription Rock—at the El Morro National Monument—where travelers have been leaving writings in the soft sandstone for centuries. But the best treat of all was seeing the wolves.

We arrived late in the day, and as we scrambled out of the Subaru into the winter air we heard a chorus of howls coming from what seemed like all directions. Thrilled by the eerie wailing, we rushed the front door of the hogan that housed the visitor information and gift shop.

Next tour was at 4p. We wandered the warm cave-like space, letting the girls each pick out one item. Dee chose a small pouch of wolf hair, Em a frog fetish.

A young woman named Angel was our guide. We were the only people on the tour. We started with the oldest wolves, in the earliest enclosures, the ones that went in when the sanctuary was young and could afford only to set aside small areas for the wolves. Over time, as the sanctuary grew the enclosures began to encompass the natural surroundings. Raven’s area was expansive and incorporated trees, brush, and rocks that were already in the spot where the enclosure was built.

Angel told us how each animal was characterized by how much wolf content it contained. Some were pure wolf; high-content wolf-dogs were mostly wolf and low-content wolf-dogs mostly dog. We even met a pure dog that a previous owner had mistakenly identified as a wolf-dog and abandoned. Raven was a black Timber wolf, ebony in his youth but increasingly silver around his face as he aged.

A lanky man with disheveled brown hair, I think his name was Ian, joined us as we admired Raven. Raven was imposing yet friendly; he came to the fence to see us. “Want to howl with Raven,” Ian asked. “Yes, yes,” we chimed. “OK, on the count of three.” Ian started howling, then Raven, then we joined in, the steam from our breath rising like smoke above us.

Ian asked if Jim wanted to formally greet Raven. “Sure,” Jim said. Ian walked along the fence line with the black wolf, so closely that Raven’s fur touched Ian’s leg and hand and vice versa. “See, we’re rubbing fur,” he told Jim, “You try it.”

Jim walked to the fence and stood waiting. Raven, understanding what was happening, walked to Jim and rubbed his fur along Jim’s leg, then circled back and did it again. “Cool.” Jim was grinning when he turned in our direction.

We left the sanctuary reluctantly, as the light was leaving the day. Driving home in darkness, we said hardly a word. Raven, the other wolves, the entire field trip left us full and content. 

 

Raven and Sanctuary Director Leyton Cougar, image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Phil Sonier, all rights reservedThe next day, Saturday, Jim went to Western Warehouse to buy a new pair of work boots. He saw a crowd near the entrance to the Sunflower Market next door. As he approached he suddenly noticed a big black wolf on a lead, straining through the crowd in his direction. People moved aside to let the wolf stare, like a pointing spaniel, at the thing grabbing its attention. Raven, recognizing Jim’s scent from the day before, wanted to say Hello.
 
“Raven’s at the Sunflower. Hurry, they’re leaving soon.” It was Jim, calling on the cell phone. Em and I arrived just as Raven’s handler and director of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Leyton Cougar, was loading Raven into a white van. We pulled up next to the van and jumped out of the car, explaining that we’d met the wolf almost exactly 24 hours before. Leyton let us pet Raven while he finished loading the van. Raven licked Em’s face.

We saw Raven a few other times during his ambassador trips to Albuquerque. The last time I saw him was at Whole Foods. By then he had retired from big engagements. Someone said that he’d become sensitive to loud noise and crowds. I came back to the house gushing in dreamy tones about Raven. He had the power to make you fall in love every time you saw him.

We all cried as we read Leyton’s tribute to Raven in the Howling Reporter. Angel also wrote a moving piece, as did others who had the honor to live and work with this amazing creature. We learned that Raven came within days of being euthanized at the age of two, after his owner suffered a heart attack and couldn’t pay the cost to transport Raven to the sanctuary. A visitor to Candy Kitchen, hearing the plight of a wolf that would be put down if someone didn’t intervene, wrote a check for her last $400. Because of her, Raven was able to live twelve more years and teach young and old about the true nature of wolves.

Jim and I will make a donation to the sanctuary in Raven’s memory. We hope you’ll learn as much as possible about this incredible place and consider visiting it some day if you ever get a chance.
 
 
 
 

Raven, image reprinted from website with permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Angie Albrecht, all rights reserved

 


He was almost two years old when we met. He had midnight black fur with silver tips and a white flash on his chest. His presence was commanding. His eyes, like amber fire, reflected his energetic, electric personality.

I will never forget our first encounter and the shiver of fear that ripped through my body as he grabbed me by my right arm—the same arm that just three years prior, had been ripped open by an angry wolf-dog, who put me in the hospital for eleven days.

Raven didn’t hurt me that first day. He gave me something…or perhaps he flipped a switch inside of me. Whatever it was, it began something beautiful, a unique relationship between a man and a beast. Raven was born an ambassador for the wolf world. He was the go-between, sent to teach humans the truth about wolves. He dispelled the myth that wolves are the big bad beast that will run amuck and eat your children. They are family oriented social creatures who love and respect each member of their pack. He told the world that wolves are not a threat to man and are a necessary, intrinsic and intricate part of nature and our ecosystem.

~Leyton Cougar, Director of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, excerpted from the Howling Reporter newsletter, with permission




Raven & Leyton's Last Day, image reprinted with permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, all rights reserved

Raven & Leyton’s Last Day, image reprinted with
permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo
© 2009 by Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. All rights reserved.





To read the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary memorial to Raven, click here. To meet the sanctuary’s wolves, click here, and here to meet the wolf-dogs. If you’re interested in making a donation in support of wolf rescue and care, please click here.

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American Green Tree Frog, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

American Green Tree Frog, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Is green Envy’s hue?
Or simply bumps on the skin
of a scared tree frog.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Post Script:  Can’t seem to get moving this week. After we had to let Chaco go last Thursday, the only thing that seems to sooth me is Nature. Hence, the American Green Tree Frog. On Summer Solstice, Liz accidentally brushed this little guy off a glass table filled with blooming plants; she thought it was a leaf. When she screamed, he suddenly leaped off the tip of her palm and on to the deck. After the initial shock, I caught him in a glass coffee mug so I could safely let him go in the garden.

 

Eye To Frog Eye, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Eye To Frog Eye, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.

 
 

The Frog Moon came late on the heels of a dry Spring. I think Frog is one of Liz’s totems. I rarely see them in our yard or gardens. But Liz seems to bump into them everywhere. It turns out our little green friend may be with us for a while — the average lifespan of a frog is 4 to 15 years.

 You can listen to the American Green Tree Frog and read Weird Frog Facts at Frogland: All About Frogs.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS, A Celebration Of GREEN On red Ravine…, What Is Your Totem Animal?, Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin), haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Cotton pickin’ cottonwood, detail of the cotton produced by
the female cottonwood out near our back patio, photos ©
2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
 
…or is it prolific?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I’m a giant cottonwood, tall and stout
I make lots of cotton if there is no drought
When I get a bloomin’ then I shout
Just watch my cotton blow all about

 
 
 
 
Whatever the case may be, this particular Rio Grande cottonwood produces a heck of lot of cotton. The tree is female. You can tell by the seeds she produces in early spring, which by late spring dry and split open, revealing tufts of cotton. Breezes pick up the cotton, carrying it for miles.

Yesterday, almost eight weeks after this tree starting shedding cotton everywhere, I drove slowly on my way from work on the look-out for other cottonwoods that still had giant blobs of cotton yet to shed. I didn’t find a one. Within about a mile from home, I noticed the small white cottony seeds, floating like snowflakes past my car. Is that from our cottonwood? I wondered.
 
For two months, we’ve raked cotton out of flowerbeds, picked it out of potted geraniums and roses, and scooped it out of our pond. Each time after we clean up, everything turns white again. We have never seen a tree produce this much cotton. Ever. And we’ve lived among Rio Grande Cottonwoods almost all our lives.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Last night, as has been the case many nights, this female cottonwood is the topic of our conversation. Jim and I gripe about the fact that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. It is almost July and cotton is still dropping in clumps on the patio and in the pond. Dee, listening to us, interjects.

“My science teacher said the Cottonwood will become extinct in my lifetime.”

Jim and I stop complaining and look at one another. “Well, that may be,” Jim sadly concurs.

The Rio Grande Cottonwood is a flood-plain tree that reproduces by seeding. Described this way by Southwest journalist Jay W. Sharp, Once free, a seed, with a viable life of no more than a few days to a few weeks, begins a desperate, and usually a hopeless, race for survival. It must land on moist alluvial soil and swiftly extend roots toward subsurface water. If the soil dries too quickly, the seedling dies. Given sufficient moisture, however, the seedling may put down roots three- to five-feet deep in the course of a summer. If it survives trampling, fire, flood and animal feeding, it will become a fast-growing tree, always heavily dependent on a reliable water supply.

But because of Rio Grande water management — dams and channels that hold back spring floods — and overgrazing and population growth, which reduce the water table, the tree is in peril.

As is often the case, a child’s innocent statement snaps us out of our disgruntled state. Instead of focusing on the work it’s taken to keep up with this one female tree, we should be sitting back and admiring her abundance. Surely a handful of her many, many seeds will make it to wet soil somewhere out there and go on to perpetuate that most characteristic feature of this Rio Grande Valley — the cottonwood.
 
 
 

Rio Grande Cottonwood Facts

 

  • Cottonwood trees are dioecious, meaning they have male and female flowers on separate trees. The female tree produces cotton, and the male tree (cotton-less) produces pollen.
  • The Cottonwood is a member of the Willow family and the poplar genus. The Rio Grande Cottonwood (populus deltoides) is a fast-growing tree; it is a variety of the Eastern Cottonwood, which is the fastest growing tree in North America.
  • The Rio Grande Cottonwood was often a welcome sight to travelers in the desert because it signaled the presence of water nearby.
  • These trees typically reach the height of 50-60 feet, although some of the grand old trees in the bosque (forest) are 90 feet tall, with trunks five feet in diameter.
  • Young cottonwoods take years to mature and flower, which is why some female cottonwoods can suddenly start producing cotton after years of no cotton production.
  • Some municipalities have ordinances against female cottonwoods, as the windborne cotton is viewed as a public nuisance.
  • The Southwest’s riparian forests — woodlands along banks of streams or rivers (what we call the bosque) —are now among the most threatened woodlands of North America.
  • Local carvers have traditionally used roots from the cottonwood that have been undercut and swept downriver to make their spiritual art (Pueblo Indians make kachina dolls and Hispanic santeros make bultos). As cottonwoods vanish, the carvers are forced to buy their wood.
  • In many communities along the Rio Grande, there is now an effort to plant and repopulate the cottonwood to ensure its survival, as it is part of our history and our culture. Time will tell whether these actions succeed.




The Rio Grande Cottonwood’s disappearance from the banks of Southwestern streams and rivers can now be regarded as a metaphor for our relentless abuse of the environment of the desert Southwest.

~Jay W. Sharp



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