Sacred Place

It is a privilege to know a sacred place, as I feel I do. In some ways, it seems sacred places are supposed to be scarce and remote, like Stonehenge, Chartres Cathedral, the Taj Mahal, or abandoned Pueblo dwellings. Large landscapes, like the desert, ocean, or mountain ranges feel imbued with the divine. Alaska, the Amazon, and the Serengeti invite a sense of awe. One travels to such places, in pilgrimage. And sometimes such places reorganize the pilgrim's sense of order, inviting disorder or change, that can be both painful and uplifting.

Big Muddy

Here is the Lower Mississippi River, 45 feet below normal pool. Over Thanksgiving, Susan and I shoehorned ourselves onto a cruise ship to learn about the lower Mississippi and its bayou. We started in Memphis and ended up in New Orleans, with stops along the way to explore river towns. This river is the third longest on the planet, providing drainage to 40% of North America. It has historically deposited silt yearly in its floodplains, producing topsoil 120 feet deep, making these soils some of the richest in the world. Vast wetland forests grew beside its banks, of cypress, oaks, and sycamores, populated by a rich array of black bears, deer, bobcats, alligators, and aquatic life. This was the legendary bayou.

Streams & Souls

Streams and souls seem to share character. They are life-giving, they are coveted, they can be impeded, they can be channelized, they can be overwhelmed, they flood, they dry up, they flow downhill, they are a force of both change and constancy, they lie at the center of a community, they will not be denied, and because of this great complexity, they attract periodic resistance. So, it seems that streams may serve as a metaphor for the journey of the soul.


Biodiversity depends on the neighbors. We feel like we live on islands, at times, but even islands are connected by surrounding rings of activity. Every organism that travels through our wetlands is in transit. Some stay longer than others, but all are in motion. They came from somewhere and are going somewhere. In the meantime, they stop for respite and nurture, adding to the richness of the ecosystem.

A Deer & A Bell

This buck graces our land. He was recorded on camera earlier this month. Doesn't he look magnificent - so full, regal, and humble, within his place? He presents true beauty and inspiration. He feels like a force of magic, that walked on from stage left.

Key To Life

The key to building a sound dam is the trench beneath it. We are building a 400-foot dam to create a small lake for wildlife and irrigation. Mike, our contractor-artist, explains a dam needs to have a "key" of clay beneath it to arrest percolating water. Water has a mind of its own, and will find the weak spot in a structure sooner or later, unless the seal is foolproof. So, a key is excavated about 3 feet deep to make sure no lenses of sand are lurking underneath the dam. It is then refilled with packed clay, layer by layer, to the height of the dam. This dam will be about 15 feet tall at the lowest point of the topography. It tapers off at each end, as it ties into the two hills it is connecting.

Bio Blitz

Naturalists are studying our wetlands. Two weekends ago, 20 naturalists of various disciplines camped near our wetlands to take inventory. Several were here for three days, a number for two, and some for one. One couple drove down from western New York. These are typically retired scientists living within 100 miles of here. A few students participated as well. The objective was to identify as many species of nature as possible over the weekend. Each scientist has her own specialty: butterflies, plants, crawfish, moths, lichens, birds, amphibians, fish, and other. Some, of course, offered numerous specialties. They donated over 300 hours of time and expertise to this effort.

Blue Smoke

The owners of this land are in a conflagration over its status. This is not uncommon. Ownership of land has inflamed many and wrought dispute throughout history. That such discussion should suddenly arise among these owners, like a wildfire, catches them all by surprise. Land is a potent resource, and its symbolism in our lives looms larger than we know. Competing points of view echo back and forth, trying to find consensus, in a malstrom of dissension.

Economics of Nature

What is the economic value of this bobcat, recently filmed on our farm in the dark of night? Well, the hide might be worth $100, and that is it. Nobody eats the meat. I have never seen a live bobcat, so this one feels like it is worth a million dollars to me. And what about the stunning coyote below and the elegant heron preparing for flight? What are they worth?

60,000 Trees

A refrigerated semi-truck full of trees arrived from western Missouri last week. We learned en route they were arriving a day early. Six people had to change their schedules at the last minute. The semi arrived half an hour before the truck into which we were to unload the trees. But we marshalled the team and adapted.

A Blessing

This full double rainbow was spectacular to witness. One afternoon in January, it appeared out of the mist and stretched from one end of the farm to the next, lasting about half an hour. We had never seen such a display before and fortunately were present enough to witness it. I couldn't capture the full panorama with the camera, but we did with our regard. We were tempted to examine the landing points of the rainbow to see if gold had been left behind, but decided instead the riches were in the display itself. This was a mesmerizing experience, and we couldn't help feeling a blessing of sorts was being bestowed upon our land.

1,000 Ways

Infinite possibilities. In Women In Love, D.H. Lawrence exclaims: Real men love not one thousand women one way, but love one woman one thousand ways...