All the News I Need


The forest floor is littered with maple flowers.

Look down anywhere and you’ll see the pink with purple specks brightening up the leaf litter.  Waylon and I spent ten minutes in one spot just last week, picking up flowers and placing them on our open palms, counting.  It was only a promise of more maple flowers up ahead that loosened his wonderment enough to move along the trail.

Yesterday I set out with the dogs alone, no toddler slowing my pace to that of constant discovery.  I needed to get into the woods, up the steep old logging road, over the brook and small pool that releases into a fall, across the elevated traverse among ash and maple and beech before I slowed.  I needed to let my legs move so that my mind might begin to move, too—it was my morning for writing, and no words were coming out.

Instead, all I could I hear was Paul Simon in my head, singing The Only Living Boy in New York.

Over and over one line repeated: I get the news I need from the weather report.  I can gather all the news I need from the weather report.

It occurred to me that part of the weather report is in watching the sky, in walking in the woods, in learning how to smell the change of air pressure.  It occurred to me that the weather has been bombarding us with news forever.  Long before satellites and the weather channel, the wind carried information, clouds grew into mountains, maple blooms fell to the ground.

Right now, wind is carrying information, clouds are growing into mountains, maple blooms are falling to the ground.

Right now, a coopers hawk hunts over our field.

Right now, it’s raining and seeds are softening their shells to sprout and the air is moving slow.

It’s all I need to know.


Good Medicine


March came in with a bluster of sustained wind and strong gusts, dropping the temperature 40º in the course of one night.  The house trembled against the gusts, and I laid in bed, my stomach hollowing with each shudder of the posts and beams.  All night I breathed and drew my breath to the earth, to the roots of trees.

On the first of March I woke tired but thankful for the stillness after the storm.  Thankful for the space that comes after struggle.

Subsequent nights have been calmer, the mornings warmer.  On Friday I woke at 5:30 and watched the dark of night soften into a blue twilight, the mountains shifting in shades of blue from persian to azure to lapis and finally to a dusty french blue before reaching the lightness of day.  It was only 20º at 6:00, but when I opened the door to let the cat out, the air whispered of spring and I lingered in the doorway listening to the clear notes of a chickadee calling fee-bee.  

Those simple notes.  Can I describe to you how they woke me up?  Can I tell you how the day before I felt struggle, for no reason except that that I did?  And how this one moment at the door, when the air felt just a half ounce heavier and smelled just a few degrees warmer, when the chickadee whistled two clean notes, how in this one moment my chest flooded with space.

Struggle and space.  Breath in and out.  The cycle can happen so fast.

Sometimes I want so much to do something good that I forget the goodness of caring for myself, of tending to my heart.  Sometimes I want so much to do something good that I feel only the struggle of trying.

Then I remember the medicine that is always at hand:

Waking early is good medicine.

Reading poetry is good medicine.

Letting myself be inspired by others’ creativity is good medicine.

Being in awe is good medicine.

I come back to breath.  I come back to grounding, to the lessons offered up by trees, to the strength of roots.

I come back to the stillness after the storm, to the chickadee and the texture of early spring air.

I come back to the tending of my heart, and I know how fiercely beautiful this world is.

And I know how wonderfully beautiful it is to see it.



Unfurling into May

May green

And suddenly it’s green.  It happens all at once, and every year I forget the immediacy of unfurling leaves and popping green until that moment when I look up and see the sunlight catch the color anew.

The farm is unfurling into May, too.  10,000 onions, 700 feet of salad greens, 600 feet of spinach, 400 feet of tomato plants and snap peas, plus kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, carrots, beets.  We are in with our whole hearts and bodies now.

This little boy of mine is in it, too, learning to slack line with his Papa, learning to walk in the pathways instead of on the garden beds, and learning to be gentle with transplants.  When he tried grabbing the tomatoes, I said, “Be gentle with the plants.  Give them love,” to which he responded by bending down, softly brushing the leaves and saying “looaahhh”

Now even the grass gets loves from Waylon.

pointing out birds

The birds, too, command his attention.  Crows, ravens, carrier hawks, red-winged blackbirds, robins, even a heron landed in a tree to scout our pond the other day, and Waylon announced it all, saying “toot toot toot” to show us the birds.

And now he is pointing out the window, saying “side, side” and so it’s time to close the computer screen and go out with him into the day.

Into Farming Season

Happy May Day!

After daily poetry postings for April, I’m turning now to my farming season schedule, and will be posting once a week.  Look for a new post every Friday (with occasional extras scattered through the week).

You can keep up with farm-happenings at

under the reman
Waylon in the remay-tent, harvesting spinach
Azure Star Kohlrabi seedlings
Tomatoes, ready for transplanting

Spring Peepers Rejoice!

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Last night spring peepers

sang, the pluck-pluck of their notes

rising into night

finally bridging

late winter to spring, each note

rejoicing in mud

frog in rice paddy, summer 2012
frog in rice paddy, summer 2012

The Gathering Light

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Sheep no longer wake us at night

with the possibility of birth or death

This spring it is birdsong that trills the alarm,

pronouncing dawn and sun and the possibility

of thaw, of swelling rivers and tunneling worms.

Tools have taken over the sheep barn

where lambs once fell into the world

sticky and red, fumbling on knobby knees to the udder.

I can almost smell them, lanolin thick fleece flecked with hay,

though it’s a been a year, and tractor fuel faintly wafts through the air

Not all life is born in spring, but we don’t say this

We push away the memory of a night we slept too long,

when labor stalled and horn buds caught at the opening–

no one tells us that birth is full of suffering, but shepherds

learn from a ewe’s wailing song of loss.

New life heals lost life; that ewe gave birth the following spring

to a healthy set of twins, but I hung up my shepherd’s cane, and

call myself a gardener now,

enamored still with birth: the softening seed shell,

the unfurling sprout, the push through soil and stretch toward sun.

Struggle hasn’t left, but look how spring emboldens us into birth:

green buds explode across hillsides, water swells in valleys,

the gathering light holds us

through the suffering of transformation

as we are born into a new season.

Deva with Acorn, our first lamb
Deva with Acorn, our first lamb

Spring Haiku

{In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a poem each weekday through the rest of April, and I invite you to join me!  Leave a link to your poem of the day in the comments section below.}

Birdsong and snowmelt

water spills, wings rush, we break

open like seeds unfurling

Resina Calendula

Where I’ve Been

pepper seedlingsEvery year the transition to the farming season slows down my blogging.  Outside, the earth is trying to thaw even as snow sloshes down every few days.  Each time I walk to the greenhouse I hear water running in streams beneath the snow, and I linger to hear the flow gurgling under my feet, promising thaw despite the low-pressure cold fronts that persist.

Sun is coming our way, though, and inside the greenhouse we are seeding, watering, up-potting.  Waylon has his own spot in the greenhouse, cuddled with the dogs on the camping pad that Edge has been sleeping on these past few weeks so he can stoke the wood stove fire through the night.  Of course, Waylon toddles all around the gravel floor, making games of putting rocks into yogurt cups and pouring water from one bucket to another as we seed.

The greenhouse is a place of growth for all of us, seeds, toddler, mama and papa: family.

Spring’s Lesson

spring morningI push open the door to let a dog outside, and feel the cool humidity of a spring morning.  The sunny days of the previous week hinted that we were really heading out of winter, but it’s not until this moment when I inhale the smell of condensed snow, wet bark, and the remnants of yesterday’s rain that I realize the scent of spring has infused itself into the air.

Yesterday, a flock of birds lifted from a tree and burst through the air, dipping and rising and propelling themselves in an arc through the sky.  I stood still for a moment watching them before I got into my car to drive to work.  Only one more week before I leave my seasonal job and stay on the farm instead, though watching the birds I feel a tug of freedom and wildness and want nothing more than to follow them over the hillside.

This morning, before I got out of bed, still sleepy as Waylon crawled back and forth over my body, the cooing of a mourning dove drifted through the yurt walls and gently welcomed me to the day.  Now a dog barks and a crow caws and Waylon and Edge bumble out of the door to stoke the greenhouse fire.

All morning, I’ve stolen into seconds of silence: sipping tea in the rocking chair, standing at the open door and staring at the fog-covered mountains, sneaking up to the lofted bed while Waylon and Edge do dishes.  I don’t want to leave this foggy morning, though the twilight’s mist has already risen from the fields.  Isn’t that spring’s lesson though–that waking up ins’t always a matter of our mind’s readiness, that the day breaks open whenever it does, and we can break open, too.

spring morning 2

Birch Seeds and Birds

Birch seeds cover the snow this morning, speckling the white ground like freckles on sun-kissed skin.

Birch Seeds, March 20

The seeds have little wings and tails, stretching out like birds flying across the snow.  As I stand looking down at the wash of seeds, a flock of birds lights in on the birch branches above.


Their song reminds me of lace somehow, a high pitched chorus sifting through bare branches down to my ears, and suddenly it feels like spring is arriving.

How fitting to find these two, birch seeds and birds, scattering themselves out along the world on the first day of spring.

Happy Equinox!