Hear Pink Sing

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Not a color I’ve wanted to wear—too
innocently girlish, and I’m not innocent,
not a girl. But today the gnarled cherry trees
along Alabama Street are decked out
like bridesmaids—garlands in their hair,
nosegays in their hands—extravagant…
~Luci Shaw from “Pink”

If you stand in an orchard
In the middle of Spring
and you don’t make a sound
you can hear pink sing,
a darling, whispery song of a thing.
~Mary O’Neill from Hailstones and Halibut Bones “Pink”

Nothing about me is pink
except my windblown cheeks
on a brisk April day,
yet I love listening to pink
as it blooms all around me,
bubbling with ebullience,
whispering me awake in the morning
and bidding me gently goodnight.

 

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A Case of the Dwindles

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“Morning without you is a dwindled dawn.”
Emily Dickinson

I’m finally adjusted to our children being grown and away from home: I no longer instinctively grab too many plates and utensils when setting the table.  The laundry and dishwasher loads patiently wait several days without being too full and the tidiness of their former bedrooms is no longer disturbing as I pass by.

Even so, I need to know that living and loving is actually happening under this roof and that all is well.

It has been two days since my husband went out of town for a work-related conference and I’ve been knocking around an unbearably empty and quiet house, talking to myself out loud and looking for things to do and people to take care of.

I have a serious case of the dwindles. The cure will arrive back home tonight.

I realize, like the fading of a dwindled dawn, these are cycles to which I must adapt, appreciative for the reminder of what I have living with and loving you every day and what you restore in me.

But for now, it’s clear: time without you diminishes me.

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Prepare for Joy: Immensity Cloistered

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Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.
~John Donne “Annunciation”

Yesterday as I headed out to the barn underneath the pink glow of a glorious Sunday morning sunrise, there was something unusual forming in the horizon above the foothills.   It began as a solid gray streak across the rosy clouds, almost shadow-like, but then in a matter of a few minutes, at its origin,  it became a vortex of brilliance surrounded by clear skies.  It was, indeed, womb-like, as if something was imminently to be delivered from the heavens.  Instead, it dissipated as quickly as it arose.

No trumpets sounding, not today…

I found out later this was most likely a phenomenon called a “fallstreak hole” and photos were published from across the region, but none seemed to quite capture this perspective from our farm.

Still, it didn’t make me think of rapture.  It looked to me like John Donne’s “immensity cloistered” womb, His Light illuminating the internal darkness of this world, this Incarnation born of woman but heaven-sent.

He is no longer “shutst in little room” but continues to transform the wombs of our hearts.

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Prepare for Joy: A Handful of Dust

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…And I will show you something that is different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
~T.S.Eliot from “The Wasteland”

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This shadowland we live in
is not all there is
nor will ever be.We are tangible dust
arising from the ground
and settling back into it
when the soil reclaims us.
There need be no fear
moving beyond shadow to the light
that created it.
Morning, as always, sets fire to doubt.

By the sweat of your face You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.
Genesis 3:19

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Bedewed With Tears

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“The Snow-drop, Winter’s timid child,
Awakes to life, bedew’d with tears.”
–  Mary Robinson

 

The past few weeks have been particularly dark and dank.  February often feels like this: the conviction winter will never be finished messing with us. Our doldrums are deep; brief respite of sun and warmth too rare.

I feel it in the barn as I go about my daily routine.   The Haflingers are impatient and yearn for freedom, over-eager when handled, sometimes banging on the stall doors in their frustration at being shut in,  not understanding that the alternative is  to stand outside all day in cold rain and wind.  To compensate for their confinement, I do some grooming of their thick winter coats, urging their hair to loosen and curry off in sheets over parts of their bodies, yet otherwise still clinging tight.  The horses are a motley crew right now, much like a worn ’60s shag carpet, uneven and in dire need of updating.  I prefer that no one see them like this and discourage visitors to the farm, begging people to wait a few more weeks until they (and I) are more presentable. Eventually I know the shag on my horses will come off, revealing the sheen of new short hair beneath, but when I look at myself, I’m unconvinced there is such transformation in store for me. Cranky, I  put one foot ahead of the other, get done what needs to be done, oblivious to the subtle renewal around me, refusing to believe even in the possibility.

It happened today.  Dawn broke bright and blinding.  I heard the fields calling, so I heeded, climbing the hill and turning my face to the pink painted eastern light, soaking up all I could.  It was almost too much to keep my eyes open, as they are so accustomed to gray darkness. And then I stumbled across something extraordinary.

A patch of snowdrops sat blooming in an open space on our acreage, visible now only because of the brush clearing that was done last fall. Many of these little white upside down flowers were planted long ago around our house and yard, but  I had no idea they were also such a distance away, hiding underground. Yet there they’ve been, year after year, harbingers of the long-awaited spring to come in a few short weeks, though covered by the overgrowth of decades of neglect and invisible to me in my self-absorbed blindness.  I was astonished that someone, many many years ago, had carried these bulbs this far out to a place not easy to find, and planted them, hoping they might bless another soul sometime somehow.  Perhaps the spot marks a grave of a beloved pet, or perhaps it was simply a retreat of sorts, but there the blossoms had sprung from their sleep beneath the covering of years of fallen leaves and blackberry vines. I wept to see them thriving there.

It was if I’d been physically hugged by this someone long dead,  now flesh and blood beside me, with work-rough hands, and dirty fingernails, and broad brimmed hat, and a satisfied smile.  I’m certain the secret gardener is no long living, and I reach back across those years in tearful gratitude, to show my deep appreciation for the time and effort it took to place a foretaste of spring in an unexpected and hidden place.

I am thus compelled to look for ways to leave such a gift for someone to find 50 years hence as they likewise stumble blindly through too many gray days full of human frailty and flaw. Though I will be long gone,  I can reach across the years to grab them, hug them in their doldrums, lift them up and give them hope for what is to come.

What an astonishing thought that it was done for me and in reaffirming that promise of renewal,  I can do it for another.

(repost from 2004 — published in Country Magazine in 2007)

 

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This Morning’s Minion

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I caught this morning morning’s minion…

My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, –the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “The Windhover”

 

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Best of Barnstorming Photos Summer/Fall 2014

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photo by Tomomi Gibson

photo by Tomomi Gibson

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