Movable Feast of the Guinea Fowl

Football shaped bodies
with quail heads attached
meander across the grasslands
searching for bugs.

A delicacy appears
amble turns into trot
as inspection is needed
to confirm what 's been sighted.

The fowls move on
into their owner's yard
pecking  bugs from their feathers
instead of the dirt.
Lunch is served--BYOB
Bring your own Bugs.

Beset by bugs and humidity
I wish I could eat what bugs me.

Planning a Poetry Retreat

My friend, Debbie Scott, co-owner and Director of the new Mountain Light Retreat Center, wants to have a Poetry Retreat. She asked me if I knew anyone to recommend. I told her about the man who runs our monthly Read and Critique group and is a published poet.

Mountain Light Retreat Banner

Before I contacted him, I asked her what some of her expectations for the retreat were

  • Small initial group
  • Modest charge to ensure the reservation
  • Length of time and date at the discretion of the facilitator
  • Attendees bring their own lunch
  • Perhaps a light tea with refreshments provided in the afternoon
  • Stipend for the facilatator

Ray Griffin was pleased to be asked as the facilitator; Ray, Debbie, and I met on May 20 to plan the event at 10 am before the heat of the day set in. From the front porch of the cottage, Debbie dusted the pollen off the comfortable rocking chairs. We rested a spell listening to the rushing waters of a nearby hidden creek, the calls of various birds, and soaking in the lush greenness of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.

“The (Shenandoah) Park is not far from here?” Ray asked.

“No it isn’t,” Debbie replied.

Here is the agenda for the Poetry Retreat

A Gathering of Poets

16 June 2022


9:30:                Arrival of Participants.

Enjoy walking around the grounds, exploring the buildings, or relaxing in a chair on the porch and enjoy the view of the mountains. The old church is also open for meet and greet.

9:30 – 10:        Meet and Greet in the Church.

Light refreshments will be provided before and during the retreat.

10:00               Welcome by Debbie Scott, our Host

10:05               Let’s Get Started by Ray Griffin, our Facilitator

  • Introductions.
    • Your Expectations from Today.
    • What is poetry, and what does it mean to you?

10:20               Group Poem Exercise.

10:40               Find Your Space and Thus Your Center

Please find a comfortable space, either alone or with another poet. Find your space and inspiration for a poem, or poems that you will write this morning.

12:00               Regroup and Sharing Poetry in the Church.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and poem(s) you wrote this morning, or just listen to what others might wish to share.

12:30               Lunch in the Dining Hall

Brief Wrap-up and Thank you for Participating.

Enjoy good conversation while dining.

Donkey Goatie Updates

We had not seen Nanny in over a week. “Where is she?” we asked the cashier.

“She’s in the back pasture with Nelly (the hairy donkey) because she was being bullied by the other two goats and Holly, Emmet’s mother.”

We assume that Buddy has had his wicked way with Holly and she is once again with foal. So far she has only nudged Emmet away when they both try for the same carrot or sweet potato medallion, but otherwise, she is making a real (jenny) ass out of herself–those pregnancy hormones are making her hell on hooves to be around.

The goats don’t even approach the fence. They assume the flanker position. Senior still tries to butt Junior out the way when something is tossed their way. The meadow grass is now so tall, that it is hard for them to see the food on the ground. They will come to the fence if there are at least two different people feeding the goats and the donkeys and they can remain out of biting distance.

Since Buddy and Bully Senior have maintained their mutual nonaggression pact, Buddy hangs out with the goats during feeding time. Otherwise, the donkeys graze in the front pasture and the two goats hang out behind the shed until Bob gives his Hee-Haw call. When they hear the call, they trot around the shed, look at us, and try to gauge Holly’s mood before coming over to the food.

Yesterday Holly even lashed out briefly with her hind legs at Buddy. Previously, she had relied on displaying her huge donkey teeth to get her message across.

Holly shoves Emmett’s nose out of the way and bares her teeth.

When the vegetable course is consumed, the donkeys continue to beg for more. “Keep your fur on. As soon as Bob returns from the store, you know you will get the next course. As long as I’m standing here we will reopen the chow line.”

“We want to eat now!” they demand.

Emmet begs with his head shoved between the fence rails and his mouth wide open.

Evolving Bully Culture

For several weeks, Holly has ruled the pasture and the fenceline during chow call. The good news for Buddy, the Bullies, and Nanny is that Holly is usually the last animal to amble up to the fence so they have a reasonable chance of getting most of the offerings.

This past week, the three donkeys have been grazing close to the fence when we show up. (We usually show up in early or midafternoon but we can also show up in the morning or late afternoon so there is no set time on when the chowline will be open. We also do not show up every day.)

This week also had a chance of rain almost every day. We know from experience that the goats are reluctant to come out of the shed and get wet. However, our visits usually coincide when it is not raining.

On Thursday, Bully Senior was the only goat to come out to partake of the offerings, when Bob hee-hawed. We saw Bully Junior gazing at us from the shed. Normally he is the first one out of the shed and trots at a brisk pace so he gets at least one of the treats before being butted by Bully Senior.

That day we also noticed that Holly had a bite on her back, sort of like the type of bite she tries to use on the goats or Buddy.

Holly’s bite can be seen as a red blotch just below her mane.

When we went to the farm on Friday, not a single goat appeared. It was just the three donkeys–so Holly only had Buddy to boss around. She seemed to enjoy chasing him off.

I’ll be curious to see who shows up and in what condition on our next visit.

This weekend the bullies were at one end of the fence while the donkeys were in the middle. A swarm of children was feeding the animals so there was enough distraction and feeders to accommodate all of the animals.

May 16–Full Moon

Is there a full moon in May 2022?

The full “Flower Moon” will be 225,015 miles/362,127 km from Earth on May 16, 2022, so it’s technically a “supermoon,” though the full Moons of June, July, and August this year are actually closer.

Known as the Flower or Blood Moon, it is also a full lunar eclipse.

  • It’s a longest ‘prime-time totality’ this century–lasting 84 minutes
  • It’s a technical ‘supermoon. This total lunar eclipse occurs close to the Moon’s perigee—the point in space when it’s closest to the Earth during its monthly orbit—which will make the Moon appear about 7% larger than average.
  • It’s a global event visible by half the planet
  • It’s got a once-in-430 years ‘twin’ eclipse (next one is 7-8 November 2022)
Flower moon, Blood moon too
Egg-laying and Budding 
are other names 
we have for you

Across the pond your different name
was Milk from Anglo Saxon fame
The Celts called you after Mothers
Bright, and Hare, and Grass were others

By any name your light will dim
when across your surface earth's shadows skim
The umbra will last for over an hour
with only the penumbra to show off your power.

A Playful Breeze

The breeze played
hide and seek
with the leaves
in the grove of trees.

Leaves in the foreground
rustled, then stopped.
Treetops quivered as
 the breeze changed course
to chase
through the lower limbs.

the trees all shook
when the breeze exhaled
only to pause
until the next breath.

My friend and fellow poet, JeanMarie Olivieri, recommended some improvements that I like. What do you think?

The breeze played
hide and seek
with the leaves

Leaves rustled, then stopped.
Treetops quivered as
the breeze changed course
to chase
through the lower limbs.

The trees all shook
when the breeze exhaled
only to pause
until the next breath.   

Signs of the Times

Apparently, Bob and I are not the only two that enjoy spending quality time with the Donkeys and Goats. David Wyant’s two sons were out posting several new information signs on the fence when we stopped by to feed the animals last Friday.

Some of the children that like to feed the animals do not know how to feed them without getting their fingers munched along with the treat.

How to feed the animals. Donkeys are more likely to chomp than goats.

There were also pictures of the goats and the donkeys. The goats are names that David gave them; we prefer the names we use since the goat names come from an old 1950s television show. The show was Amon ‘n Andy.

Our names for the goats–Amos-Bully Senior; Andy-Bully Junior; Sapphire-Nanny
Milly’s real name is Nelly and she is being sold to a farmer in the Shenandoah Valley
Some donkeys can also be bullies.

Jenny Power

In the past month, both Nelly and Holly showed they were not to be trifled with.

Holly only exhibited this trait once. On a sunny March day, the two bullies tried to chase her away from the fence like they usually did. She normally couldn’t eat at the fence until Holly and Emmett showed up. Holly is the primary bully and has been known to chomp a goat’s back or neck if they try to approach the fence.

Holly alone at the fence with the Bullies in the background

On this particular afternoon, she bared her teeth to the bullies and they backed off. They assumed a flanking position that they normally only do when Holly and Emmet are there.

In Holly’s case, after sharing the fence with Bully Senior and Buddy once, she decided this was too much. Both Buddy and the goats became flankers instead of on the fence line. She nudged and/or head-butted anyone near the fence but Emmett. It remains to be seen if this is the new norm.

Buddy’s Back–the Bullies are Reunited

When Bob hee hawed today, the two bully goats immediately trotted out of the shed to be the first to arrive at the fence. We saw the three donkeys grazing to the left of the shed but none of them seemed that interested in whatever treats might be offered.

Nanny was the third animal to hobble out of the shed. We saved her some food and the three goats managed to eat all of Bob’s cooked sweet potato medallions before the first donkey appeared on the far side of the shed–opposite from where the three donkeys had been grazing.

The donkey looked vaguely familiar–not as hairy as Nelly or Holly, but thinner than Buddy was before he was banished to the back pasture. When he reached the fence, his head was taller than the top railing–only Buddy and Nelly are that tall.

When Bully Senior joined him at the fence and no nose pushed Senior aside, we knew that Buddy must be back.

Buddy and Bully Senior waiting for the chowline to reopen

With the sweet potatoes gone and now four expectant mouths to feed, Bob went into the store to buy donkey/goat crunchies and some goodies.

While he was in the store, Emmett and his mother, Holly, showed up with hungry looks in their big brown eyes.

“Keep your fur on guys. Bob’s gone into the store and as soon as he comes out, we’ll reopen the chowline. You know the drill,” I told them for the gazillionth time. At least they no longer attempt to eat my cellphone while I try to take pictures of them.

They noticed that Bob was back before I did and immediately formed two straggly lines. Holly, Emmet, Buddy, and Bully Senior at the fence with Bully Junior and Nanny offsides so that they could get whatever was tossed in their direction.

They immediately snarfed the food as fast as we could give it to them. Since four of them lined the fence, Bully Senior had too much competition to try to prevent Junior or Nanny from eating most of the bites that were tossed at them. I think a good time was had by all.

Since Emmet is now 6 months old and almost as tall as his mother, I’m guessing that Dave allowed Buddy back into the front pasture and maybe Holly is already with foal. (It takes about a year for the foal to be born.) We did not see Nelly so I’m hoping that maybe she is in the back pasture where Buddy used to be.

Mister Completely

There is an old Tom Swifty that is “Spots on the ceiling by Mr. Completely”

Father Nature seems equally clumsy with his tree pollination.

Yellow-green dust coats every surface

mucous membranes

Rain provides some relief
but the pollen seems to always return
Pledge won't  help with this dust

The April Full Moon is April 16

This moon of full power
is named after a flower
herbal moss pink
that cascades over rocks,
 also known as mountain phlox
It has other names that might make you think.

Inspired by the Springtime
various tribes
used regional names
that would help to describe
events of this season
like Grass-Sprouting Moon
Or Egg Moon for some bird-brained reason.
Near the coast it was called after Fish,
will they soon appear in a dish?

National Gardening Day–April 14

National Gardening Day was founded by Cool Springs Press in 2018 to celebrate the hobby of gardening and to encourage gardeners to share their expert knowledge.

Forest gardening, a forest-based food production system, is known to be the world’s oldest form of gardening. Forest gardens could be found in prehistoric times along jungle banks. Ancient Egyptian paintings from around 1500 BC provide some of the earliest evidence of people gardening for pleasure and to achieve an aesthetically pleasing outcome.

After a decline during the Middle Ages, cottage gardens became popular during Elizabethan times. These usually contained food and herbs, with flowers added for decorative purposes. Gardens gradually became more open plan and less rigid in their structure and by the mid 19th century in Europe, we were starting to see the types of gardens that we are all familiar with today.

The initial gardeners in the U.S were essentially harvesters. In the 17th and 18th century those lucky enough to own land and consequently a garden would try and use it to make money by harvesting whatever crops were suitable. Home gardening started to become a leisure activity in the 1800s as villages grew bigger and mass produce was beginning. Ornamental gardens took the place of edible gardens and research on plant diseases and pests began.

The last 150 years have seen gardens become an increasingly social space, with methods of caring for them evolving to provide gardeners with a much-increased body of knowledge and equipment from which to garden with.

Voltaire: We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest.

May Sarton: Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.

Zora Neale Hurston: Trees and plants always look like the people they live with, somehow.

Michael Pollan: The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.

Painting the Trim with Sunshine and Glass

Stained glass pattern, just add sun
When the sun slants in through the window just so
the stained glass puts on a colorful show
decorating the walls with color and swirls
some lines are straight and others are curls
Some patterns crisp like geometric design
Others soft images, both look quite fine
A gift from the sun for those in the pews
If the sermon is boring, you can come for the views.