The Daily Muse

A  Garden Journal -- October 2006

From Westcave Preserve.

Last Update: October 23

A cottonwood grove by the Missouri River in North Dakota. This picture was taken by my sister, Diana Hoffman.

October 1 - afternoon

Just a quick entry to note the launch of our "new look" for the website. I am very excited and hope that you enjoy it. I'd love to hear your feedback! I also want to say a special word of thanks to my friend, Carol McGuire who designed the beautiful new layouts you see at the start  of each section of the site. Way to go Austin Granny! Thanks also to my very hard-working partner, Victor who over-saw our transition (without killing me!) Cheers!

October 5 - morning

It really is autumn somewhere in the world! Another beautiful image from my sister - who is now a recognized and award-winning photographer .

My thanks to the many visitors who have taken the time to give me feedback about the new look of the website. I appreciate your comments and I am glad to know that you are enjoying your time at Soul of the Garden.

Back in the garden - we have fallen back into a hot and dry spell with temperatures routinely getting back into the mid-nineties. A cool front is supposed to pass through early next week and I am hoping it brings a little rain along with it. One of the callers on my radio program this past week referenced the fact that we are in a historic dought cycle that could last for another 20 years. I hope he is wrong, but after watching the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, this past weekend I fear even worse.

October 8 - morning

It is late morning and it it is already hot in the garden. I am procrastinating - I have a rather tedious job to accomplish today but I have decided to linger here in the air-conditioning for a few more moments. The task waiting for me is weeding spurge - my primary garden nemesis. The rains that fell a few weeks ago  have triggered a small flood of sprouting spurginess. Vengeance will be mine, but it will have to wait a few moments. In the meantime, here are a few pictures taken during a short trip to Westcave Preserve last week...

The entrance of the cave.


Bald cypress trees provide the roof for the canyon and grotto,


Luxuriant ferns and goldenrod along the stream.


The evening sun slipping out of the canyon.

Later... more fall color images from my sister in North Dakota:


Cottonwoods are the classic tree of the prairies. They are almost always a sign of water or stream courses, so I imagine there is a a little creek in that fold.


I love this shot!


River gold.

October 11 - morning

A beautiful rain fell throughout much of the day yesterday, leaving us with 1.5 inches, our best single-day total since the spring. Tomorrow, the first strong cold front of the year is supposed to pass through, dropping the temperatures by over twenty degrees. I am looking forward to strolling through the garden with a little chill nipping at my legs! I can't wait for the sun to come up so I can visit with my newly refreshed garden. I hope you have the chance to spend a few quiet moments in yours...

...well, my stroll was everything I hoped for - the sky is perfectly clear, the air is cool, and everything is dripping with dew. As I wandered about, I was buzzed several times by  a pair of mockingbirds that were coursing through the garden, celebrating the fine weather. I can hear them singing now, can you?

October 13 - morning

No surprise here... there are news reports circulating about how those in the Republican elite, including the folks in Karl Rove's office, really feel about their allies in the Christian Right. According to David Kuo, who was deputy director of the White House office of Faith-based Initiatives, evangelical Christian conservatives are viewed as "nuts," "tiresome," "annoying," and "boorish." In a quote I found on the internet today, Kuo says, “National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy.’” This comes on top of the release of big-time Republican lobbyist (now criminal defendant) Jack Abramoff's e-mail messages where he and his minions talk about turning Ralph Reed loose to stir up his Christian "whackos."

The power players of the Republican party have long thought of the Christian right as being a useful, if somewhat simplistic and backward tool. The real irony here is that the power players of the Christian right think of the Republican party as being a corrupt and conniving tool. Years ago, I attended a conference on public engagement and journalism and befriended a former Republican Congressman from one of the plains states. He talked about how he and his old-time Republican friends (you know, the "country-club" Republicans) always felt they could control the Religious Right, that they could bend it to meet their needs and win an overwhelming majority of the House seats from the South and Mid-West. He was shocked when he was unseated in a primary election by a stealth campaign run by his former "tools." He complained to me, "Where do those people come from? They have no business running our party!" Somehow, I couldn't work up any sympathy for him.

Speaking of tools, I have always viewed President Bush as a willing-tool of his father's shadier friends. I honestly believe that is how his administration is organized. I wonder what they say behind his back? Look at his embarassing and frankly bizarre performance at his press conference earlier this week, it is very easy to imagine adjectives like "nuts" and "whacko" being used to describe him by his own handlers.

Kindly Christian choir-boy Ralph Reed once said, "I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag." I urge you to read Michelle Goldberg's chilling book, Kingdom Coming and decide for yourself which set of "tools" will end up putting the other tools, if not the nation, in a body bag. Also check out the movie, Jesus Camp, it is playing right now in theaters across the nation.

October 18 - morning

I had the opportunity to go back to Westcave Preserve yesterday for an interview with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, a book about the "nature deficit disorder" affecting American youth. I highly recommend it to you. Here are a few new pics from our trip...

During this visit to Westcave, the light was spilling into the canyon from the east, illuminating the grotto with its myriad ferns and mosses.


Spring water dripping from the rock ledge above the grotto.


A natural arch way.


The stream.

October 23 - morning

I spent a few  glorious hours in the garden yesterday quietly enjoying the songs of the resident mockingbirds and the cool, dry air. A strong cold front brought us a taste of autumn that continues this morning - the cats are curled up in furry bundles - a sure sign of the season.

On Saturday, I flew to Mississippi to interview retired Episcopal Bishop, John Shelby Spong, one of the most passionate - yet quiet and affirming voices in the Christian church. It was a powerful and moving experience. I had the opportunity to interview Bishop Spong about seven years ago and wrote about that experience in the very first page of this blog (March 29 2000.) The  interview I conducted this week-end will be part of a new series similar to the Soul of the Garden videos that I produced last year and will include interviews with Marcus Borg, Dominic Crossan, Sister Joan Chittister and others. I can't wait to share that with you. I am hoping to line up additional speakers in the coming months and release the videos next year. The focus will be on the call for a new "Reformation" inside of Christianity - a change that will move it from dogma, guilt, and shame and towards the life of the spirit - what Bishop Spong calls "loving what God loves."  Long overdue.

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