Remembering winter

For the heart weighed down by woe, on winter’s darkest, coldest night, the hope of Spring will cling.

 

western-yarrow-side
Western Yarrow

I know it is the first day of summer. The temperature here in the Land of Oz has already hit 100 degrees. Not a record, that goes to May of 2014 and 2011 when it hit 100 degrees, but still one hopes the hot weather will wait until  July and August.

western-yarrow

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cherry blossoms haikus

1-cherry-blossom-oil
cherry blossoms

Here I am cold
Beneath cherry blossoms
Falling like snow

Shaded by cherry blossoms
One is still warmed
By beauty

A thousand petals, each a paler shade of pink
A thousand blossoms, and none alike
What then is beauty?

Try and emulate Kobayashi Issa –
Birds, insects, humans, alike
All share God’s gift, the cherry tree

 

1-cherry-blossom-branch
cherry blossoms in spring

How does the green grass know to grow?

 

blade-grass-24

 

A blade of grass in spring
Waves merrily in the breeze
As if to say, eat me

A bright blade of green grass
eagerly grow
Until it is mowed

dirt-road-poster

I see the green grass in spring
I hear the songbird sing
But best is the warmth of the sun after a long winter

The south wind blows
The green grass grows
The good earth knows it’s spring

 

Thoughts on a Thistle

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swallowtail_24

What images and thoughts come to mind when seeing a butterfly alight on a prickly thistle?

Prickly is the purple thistle
To birds and beasts and man
But not the butterfly

Or,

Oh Mary in her purple gown
Has a visitor today,
A thistle blooms in May

Or,

Each flower blooms and waits
For a butterfly – to come, to sit, and sip,
Then to fly away

Or, finally

The gentle summer wind blows
Not half as sweet as the nectar of a flower
To a butterfly

Encore,

Purple thistle, gently kissed
By a Swallowtail butterfly
Summer’s pleasant, winter’s not

swallowtail_nose_bright

On top of the world

on top of the wor4ld
on top of the world

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Khalil Gibran

Kansas has many simple pleasures. One is a walk in the park, then coming across a yellow coreopsis blooming bright in the field.

Ah Kansas, there sitting on top is a green guest. And I am reminded that what is interesting and beautiful in Kansas is as much a state of mind as a place. Everything has its wonders, even a simple flower and guest,

The beauty lies in being content.

The snake

snake_head

The snake

By the boggy pond
In the cattails
Whose brown seeds
From the year before
Spilt upon the ground
Scattered by the wind
Near the green shoots of spring
By the boggy pond
Slithers in the grass
A snake
This demon of deceit
Both stopping suprised, snake and I
Eye to eye,
Stick stiff and very wary
Both wondering
Is he kind or evil

Kansas Garter Snake
Kansas Garter Snake

I, master of the earth
Thinking
Can I grab him by the tail
Will he bite me with his teeth
Watch me vomit and retch
Until my guts are spilt
And mingled in the mud and dirt
Cough while my lungs collapse,
Numb in my extremities
I, master of the earth
Brought down
By man’s mortal enemy
Far from home and help
Here by the boggy pond
I will meet my end
By this humble snake
Who has no legs
And cannot run like me
Long I tarry in silence
For death, patiently complaisant,
Graciously awaits my decision
When, I suppose,
The snake tiring
Sticks his tongue out
As if to laugh
Turns and slithers in the grass
This King of his domain
Slithers away to where
He hears a frog croak
Or an unlucky nestling
Crying for his meal
He, Lord of his terrain
Thinking,
There are tastier things to eat
Than me

snake (1)

A fool’s fool

A paleontologist looks at the Flint Hills and sees the Oceans of Kansas.

a fool sees not the same sea a wise man sees
a fool sees not the same sea a wise man sees

A fool’s fool.

Is it foolish
To praise folly?
A fool sees not
The same seas
A wise man sees.

I once knew a fool
Who sailed a ship.
He plowed the sea
And now had nothing to reap.

On a fool’s errand
Two fools meet.
If one fool can do
What another fool can.
If one fool follows another
Who’s the fool?

I once knew three fools:
(times 3, out loud, faster each time)

[So, one smart fool
He felt smart
Two smart fools
Both felt smart
But three smart fools
They all felt smart together.]

Christmas Traditions

It is just a few more days until Christmas, and I am reminiscing about my favorite tradition at Christmas time. Forget the gifts, forget the food, for me it was going with dad to chop down a tree in the woods. Dad in his overcoat with an axe and me bundled up like the Michelin tire-man, trudging though the snow to find the perfect tree.

Christmas Traditions
Christmas Traditions

Don’t worry about deforesting the planet, more than 350 million Christmas trees are growing on Christmas Tree farms in the United States and three trees are planted for each one taken.

Way down yonder in the Paw Paw patch

Kansas Pawpaw tree
Kansas Pawpaw Patch

 

Where, oh where, oh where is little Jimmie?
Where, oh where, oh where is little Jimmie?
Where, oh where, of where is little Jimmie?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Pickin’ up pawpaws, puttin’ ’em in his pocket
Pickin’ up pawpaws, puttin’ ’em in his pocket
Pickin’ up pawpaws, puttin’ ’em in his pocket
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch

Traditional Appalachian Folk Song

 

 

History of the Pawpaw

 

In 1541, Hernando de Soto saw Indians in the Mississippi Valley eating the Pawpaw fruit. In 1810, Lewis and Clark wrote in their journal that Pawpaws and nuts kept them going when little else edible was to be found. In 1826, James Audubon painted a pair of cuckoo birds in a Pawpaw tree. Daniel Boone and Mark Twain were Pawpaw fans. But Kansas is on the extreme edge of Pawpaw habitat and few people know of the Pawpaw.

 

Cuckoo in a Pawpaw tree, by Audubon
A pair of Cuckoo in a Pawpaw tree, by Audubon, image Wikipedia

The Pawpaw Fruit

This small deciduous tree grows in the wet woodland understory shaded by tall oak and elm trees. The “poor man’s banana”, the pawpaw fruit is oblong, light green in color, and bunches like grapes. The fruit pulp texture is banana-like, with a color that varies from banana-white to mango-orange an odor that becomes tangy with age. Not surprisingly, its taste is a cross between banana and mango.

There were no fruits in my Pawpaw Patch. The answer may lie in the fact that the Pawpaw is clonal and spreads by root. Also, like the Mulberry, it has male and female trees. A male tree may not be close enough to a female tree to pollinate the flowers.  Then again, it is late October and perhaps the deer have feasted on the fruit.

 

Kansas Pawpaw tree
Kansas Pawpaw tree

The one and only food source of the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus) is the foliage of the pawpaw tree. Look again at Audubon’s plate above.

 

Kansas Pawpaw tree
Kansas Pawpaw tree

[North Carolina, Kentucky, Delaware, and Ohio have Pawpaw festivals. Where, oh where is the Kansas Pawpaw festival?]

 

Kansas Pawpaw tree
Kansas Pawpaw tree
Kansas Pawpaw tree
Kansas Pawpaw tree

 

Kansas Pawpaw tree
Kansas Pawpaw tree

 

All images come from El Dorado State Park, taken October 2014.