Old Oak is Teaching Me

Life is a process

~~ always beginning ~~
 -- emerging, opening, changing, transforming --
~~ beginning again~~

it takes


March 27 – First Buds


April 1- Emerging


April 4 – First Flowering


April 9 – Full Flowering


April 15 – First Leaves


April 20 – Transforming the Sunlight

And these words by Mary Oliver about her friend, the great poet & devoted gardener Stanley Kunitz

STANLEY KUNITZ  by Mary Oliver

I used to imagine him
coming from the house, like Merlin
strolling with important gestures
through the garden
where everything grows so thickly,
where birds sing, little snakes lie
on the boughs, thinking of nothing
but their own good lives,
where petals float upward,
their colors exploding,
and trees open their moist
pages of thunder --
it has happened every summer for years.

But now I know more
about the great wheel of growth,
and decay, and rebirth,
and know my vision for a falsehood.
Now I see him coming from the house --
I see him on his knees,
cutting away the diseased, the superfluous,
coaxing the new,
knowing that the hour of fulfillment
is buried in years of patience --
yet willing to labor like that
on the mortal wheel.

Oh, what good it does the heart
to know it isn't magic!
Like the human child I am
I rush to imitate --
I watch him as he bends
among the leaves and vines
to hook some weed or other;
even when I do not see him,
I think of him there
raking and trimming, stirring up
those sheets of fire
between the smothering weights of earth,
the wild and shapeless air.

2 thoughts on “Old Oak is Teaching Me

  1. I am going to copy here a comment that I made on grace’s blog, windthread this morning for it is so in sync with your post here Margery and the above poem. grace wrote about the work she does in caring for her garden soil.


    My response:

    “not half ass”- yes, how it takes consistent work to create a garden, it does not happen instantly.To bring soil to its fullness, its ripeness, requires not magic but understanding, dedication, knowledge, day in and day out…How if we want our gardens to nurture us, we first must respect and learn to nurture the soil, develop its goodness and that to me, is Spirit combined with common sense.

    My dear Dad taught me this as the first lesson of getting my hands in the dirt. I can still see him when it came time to begin a new year of gardening. How he took his shovel and turned over the dirt, smiling, even humming to himself. As for the term Spirit that I used here, well my Dad had a quirky ritual that he did every time it was time to plant. After the soil was turned, before he leveled it to put seeds in, he took his bota bag and sprinkled a bit of wine into the dirt. He would get this mischievous grin, turn to me and say, “this is the holy water for my garden!”


    • This story is profound & went straight to my heart. When it arrived, I was putting together another post and had just written “What and where are our current stories and ceremonies to open this bridge?” between human animals and our other-than-human kin. All our relations — animals, plants, soil, and more. Your father’s ceremony is exactly that bridge — and with a “mischievous grin”! Sometimes we need to take ourselves less seriously. That’s what Trickster keeps trying to teach me. And now I’m grinning from ear to ear! Thank you so much!


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