The Daily Muse

Thoughts from an Austin Garden  -- July 2008


Last update: July 29


The fledgling Blue Jay who briefly adopted me.


July 5 - evening


Just a brief note to introduce you to my Blue Jay buddy who joined me while I was sitting on one of my garden benches the other morning - he flew down onto the bench, landed by my arm, and proceeded to beg for food as if I were its mother. I got up to go get my camera and he followed me to the house. A few moments later he was happily eating a peanut from my hand. Yesterday evening, he joined our 4th of July celebration and spent some time on the shoulders (or head!) of each of our guests. At one point, he even jumped onto a margarita glass and took a quick sip. Apparently, watermelon margaritas are not to his liking. This morning I was relieved to see him with his real family - none the worse for his brief encounter with mankind.



Finishing off the peanut I ground up for him.



Trying to figure me out.



Enjoying the party.



Pelindaba Lavender Farm on San Juan Island, Washington State.



A wide view of the fields at Pelindaba.



Mt. Baker rising over the Patos Island lighthouse in the San Juan Islands.


Click here to take a photographic tour of the San Juan Islands.


July 13 - evening


A dead Ponderosa Pine silhouetted against storm clouds at Vallecitos Mountain Refuge, Vallecitos, New Mexico.


Please forgive my brevity this evening, I just wanted to check back in with you after spending the better part of the past week at a business / mindfulness retreat at Vallecitos Moutnain Refuge in Northern New Mexico. The retreat was truly tranfomative for me personally, and I hope for the organization that I lead, Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM.) I will have much more to say about this wonderful experience in the coming days - but for now, I just wish to extend my gratitude to the the folks who made our participation possible - Heather McKissick of Leadership Austin, Tim Costello and Melissa Morman of Builders Homesite, Inc.  (BHI,) and Grove T. Burnett, the Founder of the Vallecitos Mountain Refuge and its Guiding Teacher.


A detail shot of the large bell that was used to signal activities at Vallecitos.



Four-fifths of the AAIM team that particpated in the retreat: Simone Talma Flowers, Lu Zeidan, Derek Hansen, and myself.



Most of the retreat participants... including the staffs of Leadership Austin, College Forward, AAIM, and BHI. Grove Burnett, founder of the refuge is at the center of the back row..



Before we went to Vallecitos we made a quick stop at Bandelier National Monument where storm clouds moved in.



Cliff dwellings at Bandelier.



Inside one of the dwellings.



Kathy Weiner of AAIM enjoying the cool inside the cliff dwelling.



Early morning light at Vallecitos.



Mist rising from one of the ponds at Vallecitos.


Vallecitos Morning

(a work in progress)


The long meadow grasses

and cattails shimmer with dew -

rising from its hidden nest

a redwing blackbird

disappears into the mist

hovering over the pond.



Elvis - a sixteen year old lab who was one of our teachers at Vallecitos. The haiku comes courtesy of his wagging tail and very poor hearing.



Tibetan prayer wheels.


More images and thoughts soon!


July 18 - morning


Vallecitos, New Mexico.


I have been extremely busy this week but have managed to get most of my images from our New Mexico retreat ready for view - click here to visit my Vallecitos Mountain Refuge page.



Sunrise clouds at Vallecitos.


July 24 - morning


Dawn lighting up the dew at Vallecitos Mountain Refuge.


It is very early and there is no hint of light yet in the garden. I woke up early hoping to hear the sound of rain on our roof - but, alas, only silence. It has been desperately hot and dry, but Hurricane Dolly is now steadily moving inland to our south and a few bands of showers have swept through the area. So far, no rain on our garden, but that could change today. I will be doing my best rain dance and ask that you do the same!


July 25 - morning


I am very happy to report that we received almost an inch of rain yesterday! This morning the garden has already responded - it looks rejuvenated and fresh for the first time in many weeks, and I am greatly relieved. I am crossing my fingers for one more passing shower. 


For those of you from Austin, tomorrow I will be leading a class at The Natural Gardener titled "Creating a Sanctuary Garden." The class will start at 10:00 AM and it is free to all. I hope to see you there!


July 28 - evening


Two black bird poems (one revised from 7/13)




Last night a storm hurled

debris thick into the streets -

and as I picked my

way to work I heard the crunch

and snap of branches and twigs


under my tires. When

I passed a wind whipped pecan

a blur of black birds

filled my rear-view mirror.  I

caught myself smiling at the


grackles’ greedy rush.

“You’re  welcome,” I said. “No one

likes shelling pecans.”





The long meadow grasses

and cattails

shimmer with dew -

rising from its hidden nest

a redwing blackbird

disappears into the mist

hovering over the pond.


I stop for a moment

and glance at my soggy boots

wondering, “Why can’t I stick

to the beaten path?”


July 29 - evening


Not this from this past morning, but a favorite image...


It seems to be poetry week here at Soul of the Garden - I hope you enjoy this one that I just finished:


Summer Morning


Summer morning -

pink jets of clouds

splash out

from the golden well of the east

falling just short

of an ebbing moon.


Streams of swallows

flutter and glide

over the garden -

they are all flying

in the same direction

as if erupting


from the sun’s waking pulse.

Just for a moment

one of the birds hangs

perfectly still -

like the top-most drop of water

from a fountain before it turns


to face the glittering pool.

Beneath them all

the hummingbird

makes her rounds

and a dove scratches the earth

below the feeder


keeping an wary eye

on the scribbling intruder.

So many summer mornings -

too many summer mornings

I have wasted

worrying about the world


and my place in it –

absent from my own body

and breath

the cage of my ribs

rising, falling, and pausing

without me. Meanwhile,


another swallow

stills her wings.

Buoyed by an unseen breeze

she is both feathered sail

and cresting wave as she slices

over my shoulder bearing west.



Continue to Daily Muse for August 2008


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