Saturday, May 30, 2009
But the world belongs to King Corn right now, although it's hard to call it "king," three-inches of flimsyness cutting racing stripes up and down acres and acres of land darkened, sweetly, by an evening shower, for contrast. A red-headed woodpecker posed momentarily for me, and a ubiquitous robin, not to be outdone, alighted not far from the car window.
The wildflowers are still tucked away somewhere, planning their debut, except for some early season bright blue flox in shady ditches and two or three of these yellow guys emerging from the grasses. After a week in New Mexico, the emerald here is so refreshing you can almost drink it.
Right now, however, the countryside belongs, already, to a billion little soldier-like princes.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
My white kerchief remained rather clutter-free in terms of badges throughout my Calvinette career. That is not to say I failed. I earned exactly the required number of badges each year. I surmounted tasks involving baby-sitting, baking, camping, latch-hooking and some sort of Bible verse memorization. Enough to get by. Enough so that people other than my mother would not hassle me about it. Though I do not know what would have happened if I failed to earn the minumum number of badges each year. It is not as if they could have kicked me out of Calvinettes. How can you kick someone out who is predestined to be there?
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Anyway, it was, he said, a special Sunday according to some ancient Lectionary, a Sunday in which it was kosher to bless to the animals and the earth. I don’t remember the exact name.
So here’s what he did. He had members of a single family from the church bring various elements to the front—a fishbowl full of dirt, an empty glass container, a jar of water, a dish of seeds, and a picture of a horse. And then he gave thanks—for the earth, for the air, for water, for seeds (apropos this time of year, of course), and then for the animals. He even brought up some ancient Catholic tradition of a Sunday in which people brought beasts to the sanctuary for a blessing. My wife and I decided our arrogant and agnostic cat would have made it clear to us that he stands in need of no particular blessing. Besides, he’d have howled all the way to church.
No matter. Come Earth Day or some other greenish Sabbath, our pastor sounds like a bible-toting John Muir, which is just fine with me. After all, Sioux County, Iowa, generally leads the entire state in hog and cattle production—and recently in dairying as well. Rumor has it that no state in the union is more fully “developed” from the day white folks set foot on Plymouth Rock than Iowa: and, of the 99 counties in the state, none is more fully altered than this one. In Sioux County, Iowa, one needs to hunt far and wide for some patch of big blue stem large enough for a place to hide. The entire county is a garden of row crops. Imagine what it must have been when the whole place was little more than a vast sea of tall-grass prairie (tall-grass prairie is the American eco-system most decimated). Just imagine. It’s hard.
A good sermon on God’s green earth is a necessary reminder that “subduing” the earth may not necessarily means beating the life out of it, as all too often happens in this little corner of the world.
But I’ve just returned from the Navajo and Zuni Indian Rezervations, where, once again, I thought a ton about Native American religions in general, specifically, their propensity not to want to distinguish much in the special honors given to both two-leggeds or four-leggeds.
So this morning in church, our granola congregation prayed for earth, air, water, plant life and beasts—including livestock; and I thought of something I’d just thought through—or tried to—when I was in New Mexico: to wit, how the white folk from whom I descend have, in certain ways, become, strangely more Native than they themselves might believe. Our nearly 400 years of proselytizing has had some good--and many totally horrific--effects on the first nations of the continent.
A man who should know, a Roman Catholic priest at a reservation church, an expert on Native-American missions, told me last year that white people had failed so disastrously in Native American mission programs because it never dawned us to stop talking and just listen. If Native people were savages, what was the use, after all? What the continent's indiginous possibly teach us?
This morning in church, we prayed for the earth. Only if our pastor had raised a smudge pot and waved holy smoke in four directions with an eagle feather, then chanted a bit, might we have been more Native. I’m serious.
There the whole family stands in front of church, holding precious vials of the earth’s own elements. Doesn’t happen everyday in evangelical America, but it went on here for quite some time.
Of course, I didn’t know Crazy Horse—no white man ever did. But I’m thinking that the old mystical Lakota chief might well have been giggling about “winning” and “losing” the battles or the war.
I must admit I rather liked it. But I don't have a clue how to say “amen” in Navajo or Lakota or Ojibwe.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The air was colder than the water, so a fine mist rose from the Big Sioux; but the naked morning sun pulled out color I haven't seen for some time. I'm always amazed that whatever shots I take don't capture the beauty that was there. Maybe that's what pulls me back every Saturday morning I can make it: I try to do the impossible--capture the art of the Creator of Beauty.
But then, in many ways, don't we all?
I'm not sure if that turkey hunter got what he was after. I did hear a couple of shots. Mine didn't make a sound.
p.s. There are a few shots here from a Thursday night sunset. With classes over, I've been set free--sort of. Intermittent rains had filled the skies with all kinds of dramatic cloud structures for a couple of days, and the lure drew me out two nights. Wednesday was a wash out, but Thursday I hustled to a favorite place and grabbed a couple of inches of a spacious, gorgeous palette.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Monday, May 04, 2009
Sunday, May 03, 2009
The real story is that while I missed the last two Saturdays because of rain, some kind of royal emerald had flowed back into the landscape. So yesterday, for the first time in a year, the grasses were the story--and the film of green over the trees along the river. Life has returned.
Oh yeah--and that beaver who didn't notice me for awhile. He was busy taking a tree branch over to Iowa--I have no idea why. I'm told a beaver's intelligence is vastly overrated. We like to think of them as nature's finest engineers, when half the time they're relentless gnawing is both thoughtless and inconsequential. Why this guy decided to haul this branch across the river to Iowa, I'll never know. But once he saw me, that massive tail of his slapped the surface of the Big Sioux just as profoundly as a lodestone might have, dropped from a helicopter. The blessed branch floated back to South Dakota. Sorry about messing him up, but then that's what he gets for his silly paranoia.
The story of this Saturday morning is the proud wearing of the green.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
I guess these days fair is fair in the gender wars, even if you're the top dog.
Comes down to this, I suppose: if you have no sense of humor, fascism is just the thing for you. Freedom surely comes with a price, but then, shop around--maybe you'll get a five-euro discount with a pair of old knickers.