Summer So Far

Hi readers! I’ve missed this space so much the past few months and finally told myself enough is enough: no matter how full my schedule, I need to make time in my week for writing. So what have I been up to? Well, let’s see…

In May, we tilled and planted our garden, which is now flourishing with vegetables, herbs, and flowers. It’s mostly been a hot, dry summer here in the Finger Lakes Region of NY, which means that Alan and I have spent many hours watering the garden with a couple of watering cans. Our current hose doesn’t reach that far. At least I’ve logged plenty of steps on my FitBit.

Toward the end of June I signed up for a 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training through Yoga Farm in Lansing, NY. It’s right across the lake from us, but thankfully, the pandemic has convinced Yoga Alliance to allow online teacher trainings, so I don’t have to leave home to get certified. This program is awesome, but it does require many hours per week to stay on top of it. Since I’m trying to finish up a required Ayurveda course through Yoga Veda Institute before August 31 (part of my Ayurvedic Practitioner training), plus I’m working on Yoga Veda’s 450-hr yoga teacher training, I have had my moments of “What was I thinking?!?”

What I was thinking was how much anxiety many people are facing due to income loss, isolation, so many changes to our everyday lives. I want to be able to offer some free online yoga classes to contribute to personal resilience-building, good self-care and wellness habits, and overall positivity. The sooner I can do that, the better.

As far as summer reading, I’ve slowed down a bit because of all the studying time, but here are a few books I read that I recommend:

For sheer escapism, I’ve read (audiobook) The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix, (audiobook) A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir Jennifer Ryan and I just finished The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. All of these books had likable characters and a cozy feel that I need when I’m feeling stressed. 

Other books I loved or am loving include The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, (which I read with my daughter), An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass is the one I’m still reading and the writing is exquisite and is teaching me much about plants, native American culture, indigenous plant wisdom, and how to think about caring for the planet. (More on this book as I read it.)

I found a few podcasts and other resources I wanted to share here as well on Permaculture/Regenerative Agriculture/Climate Justice:

The Post Carbon Institute is treasure trove full of resources. Earlier this summer, I took their now permanently FREE community resilience course called Think Resilience. If you care about things like food security, local economy, and how to make your home and. community more resilient, I urge you to take this course!

Post Carbon Institute’s What Could Possibly Go Right? Podcast is also worth a listen as Vicki Robin’s interviews many “cultural scouts” in the field. Their recent webinar Decolonizing the Mind with Sherri Mitchell blew me away. I was challenged to think about the way I think, to understand better what it has been like for the indigenous people that were here before the Europeans (the colonizers) came over. I have so much to learn!

The Permaculture Podcast  has a few years’ worth of interviews and the ones I’ve been listening to are fantastic. One of my favorites was with Rob Hopkins (a hero of mine), founder of the Transition movement and author of the recommended read From What Is To What If?.

And if Permaculture interests you, Permaculturewomen.com have a FREE year long permaculture course that I’m currently working through.

When the pandemic arrived, I decided it was past time for me to learn how to become more resilient, how to grow food for myself, and figure out how to develop several different sources of income in order to thrive in this increasingly unstable world. I hope if you don’t already have these skills, that you will look into some of the free resources so you can begin building resilience for yourself, your family, and your community.

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Alright, so now you know a little of what I’ve been up to. Oh, and I forgot to mention my husband and I have performed music several times around the area this summer. That’s been our only forays into public other than necessity food/garden shopping. We feel safe as long as we’re outside and not too close to people. Once the weather gets cold, we’ll be performing, sharing new songs, and behind the scenes content from home via our Patreon page. You can check us out there or on our Facebook page!

I would really love to know what YOU have been reading and learning this summer so far, what your garden looks like, or any other thoughts you want to share in comments. Also feel free to email me: kimcz76@gmail. Have a relaxing Friday evening!

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Evening Poetry, August 6

I Know Someone

by Mary Oliver

I know someone who kisses the way

a flower opens, but more rapidly.

Flowers are sweet. They have

short, beautific lives. They offer

much pleasure. There is

nothing in the world that can be said

against them.

Sad, isn’t it, that all they can kiss

is the air.

Yes, yes! We are the lucky ones.

You can find this poem in Felicity.

Evening Poetry, June 25

Fireflies

by Frank Ormsby

The lights come on and stay on under the trees.
Visibly a whole neighborhood inhabits the dusk,
so punctual and in place it seems to deny
dark its dominion. Nothing will go astray,
the porch lamps promise. Sudden, as though a match
failed to ignite at the foot of the garden, the first squibs
trouble the eye. Impossible not to share
that sportive, abortive, clumsy, where-are-we-now
dalliance with night, such soothing relentlessness.
What should we make of fireflies, their quick flare
of promise and disappointment, their throwaway style?
Our heads turn this way and that. We are loath to miss
such jauntiness in nature. Those fugitive selves,
winged and at random! Our flickery might-have-beens
come up form the woods to haunt us! Our yet-to-be
as tentative frolic! What do fireflies say?
That loneliness made of light becomes at last
convivial singleness? That any antic spark
cruising the void might titillate creation?
And whether they spend themselves, or go to ground,
or drift with their lights out, they have left the gloom,
for as long as our eyes take to absorb such absence,
less than it seemed, as childless and deprived
as Chaos and Old Night. But ruffled, too,
as though it unearthed some memory of light
from its long blackout, a hospitable core
fit home for fireflies, brushed by fireflies’ wings.

You can find this poem in Goat’s Milk.

Evening Poetry, June 24

Everything is Waiting for You

by David Whyte

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

You can find this poem in River Flow: New & Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, June 13

1998

VII

by Wendell Berry

For John Haines

There is a place you can go

where you are quiet,

a place of water and the light

on the water. Trees are there,

leaves, and the light

on leaves moved by air.

Birds, singing, move

among leaves, in leaf shadow.

After many years you have come

to no thought of these,

but they are themselves

your thoughts. There seems to be

little to say, less and less.

Here they are. Here you are.

Here as though gone.

None of us stays, but in the hush

where each leaf in the speech

of leaves is a sufficient syllable

the passing light finds out

surpassing freedom of its way.

You can find this poem in This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems.

Evening Poetry, June 12

Poppies

by Mary Oliver

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?

You can find this poem in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

Evening Poetry, June 8

We Are Not Responsible

by Harryette Mullen

We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives. 
We cannot guarantee your safety if you disobey our instructions. 
We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts. 
We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. 

Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your reservations. 
In order to facilitate our procedures, please limit your carrying on. 
Before taking off, please extinguish all smoldering resentments. 

If you cannot understand English, you will be moved out of the way. 
In the event of a loss, you’d better look out for yourself. 
Your insurance was cancelled because we can no longer handle
your frightful claims. Our handlers lost your luggage and we
are unable to find the key to your legal case. 

You were detained for interrogation because you fit the profile. 
You are not presumed to be innocent if the police 
have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet. 
It’s not our fault you were born wearing a gang color. 
It is not our obligation to inform you of your rights. 

Step aside, please, while our officer inspects your bad attitude. 
You have no rights we are bound to respect. 
Please remain calm, or we can’t be held responsible 
for what happens to you. 

You can find this poem in Sleeping With the Dictionary.

Evening Poetry, June 7

Beat! Beat! Drums!

by Walt Whitman

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.

You can find this in The Complete Poems.

Evening Poetry, June 6

I look at the world

by Langston Hughes

I look at the world
From awakening eyes in a black face—
And this is what I see:
This fenced-off narrow space   
Assigned to me.

I look then at the silly walls
Through dark eyes in a dark face—
And this is what I know:
That all these walls oppression builds
Will have to go!

I look at my own body   
With eyes no longer blind—
And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind.
Then let us hurry, comrades,
The road to find.

You can find this poem in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

Evening Poetry, June 5

All in June

by William Henry Davies

A week ago I had a fire
To warm my feet, my hands and face;
Cold winds, that never make a friend,
Crept in and out of every place.

Today the fields are rich in grass,
And buttercups in thousands grow;
I’ll show the world where I have been–
With gold-dust seen on either shoe.

Till to my garden back I come,
Where bumble-bees for hours and hours
Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums,
To wriggle out of hollow flowers.

You can find this poem in The Collected Poems of William Henry Davies.