My New Book Is Out!

Tending rises from my life on Bit of Earth Farm. Informed by quietly ordinary days, these poems look into the nature of things with questions that circle the stars. I’m thrilled that the cover photo is by talented artist (and my sister) Cynthia Piper.

 

“Laura Grace Weldon employs radical empathy to enter into the hidden lives of rutabaga, cows, the neighborhood bully, and the beating heart of life itself.  Playful, curious, sensual, she aims to open the reader’s eyes and heart.”

Alison Luterman, author of See How We Almost Fly  and The Largest Possible Life.

 

“Laura Grace Weldon’s poems remind us that our world’s necessary brushes between nature and technology, human and animal, are not necessarily ones of friction. Instead, Weldon sees these moments as truly wondrous ones, available to us not only on the farm, but also in the back pocket of a window washer, swinging among the skyscrapers.”

Brad Ricca, author of American Mastodon and Super Boys.

 

“Memory, faith, and the natural world as both witness to the cycle of human life and healer to a questioning heart are at the core of this lovely and lyrical collection of poems. The weather changes, people come and go from cities and towns, babies are born, grow up and depart from their parents’ arms, but still, the countryside and its rituals sustain the people and creatures who know how to read the signs of the seasons. In these pages, Laura Grace Weldon shares those signs with us; her poems are the fruit of a wonderful harvest.”

Eleanor Lerman, author of The Sensual World Re-emerges: Poems and Mystery of Meteors.

 

“Laura Grace Weldon’s poems are concrete, allusive, and rich.”

 Diane Kendig, author of The Places We Find Ourselves.

 

“These are calming poems, set deep in the specifics of this life.”

David Budbill, author of Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse
and Happy Life.

Published by Aldrich Press. Order HERE.

peace in tragedy, energy fingerprint, what we leave behind, act in crisis,

Image:andrewpoison.deviantart.com

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Turning Pumpkins Into Milk & Eggs

why leaves change color,

Chlorophyll normally masks yellow, orange, and red pigments. Until autumn, when true leaf color is apparent.

We’re exulting in a glorious autumn. Week after week we are blessed by bright leaves against deep blue skies. As they lose their chlorophyll they teach us about the beauty of endings.

Al the duck.

Al the duck.

Al the duck floats serenely on the pond. He has an active social schedule. About a dozen mallards visit every morning. They swim together, preen together, and waddle out to nosh on cracked corn together. Once they leave Al flaps back to the pond to swim the day away.

A lone strawberry, veteran of several frosts.

A lone strawberry, veteran of several frosts.

We’re still harvesting in the first week of November. Beets, butternut squash, Jerusalem artichokes, Brussels sprouts, tomatillos, and one brave strawberry that somehow soldiered on through several frosts to ripen. And roses, lots of roses!

November roses.

November roses.

Pumpkins that already served as Halloween decorations now find another use.

Jack-o-lantern fate.

Jack-o-lantern fate.

They feed chickens,

Fowl interaction over some pumpkin flesh.

Fowl interaction over some pumpkin flesh.

amuse cows,

Why is there a pumpkin in our pasture?

Why is there a pumpkin in our pasture?

and inspire bovine/cat curiosity.

20131104_135831

Clearly the wheelbarrow is more interesting to cows

20131104_140048

and feline

Master of Wheelbarrow.

Master of Wheelbarrow.

than squash with a face. No matter, those pumpkins come back to us as milk and eggs.

Maple glories.

Maple glories.

All the while I feast my senses on golden fields ready for harvest, bright green grass, gardens clattering with dry weeds, brisk winds, and the incomparable scent of this season. It’ll nourish me through the long winter. Ahhh, autumn.

20131007_185926

Posted in animal relations, autumn, farming, photos | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Goose Gone

goose honda love story,

If you’ve been following the saga of Louise the goose in love with a Honda, you know it’s a story of the heart.

I learned recently about a sorrow in her past. Louise was dumped in a nature area by someone who didn’t want to keep her any longer. Because she’s a domestic breed she couldn’t stay there, hence her arrival here. But I hadn’t heard that she was dumped along with a mate. They were seen together constantly, until one day he was gone. Perhaps killed by an animal or vehicle. That’s when she started following park employees around and was caught. This may explain why she honks so much, calling to a lost partner, because these geese mate for life.

It also may explain why she she’s attracted to the Honda. We’re guessing she sees a faint reflection of her lovely orange beak in the car’s paint, a beak that surely reminds her of her mate.

We’ve worried about her. She spends at least 16 hours a day in the driveway with her 4,000 pound Honda partner. She’s barely interested in food or water. Because she won’t voluntarily leave the side of the car we have to herd her into an enclosure at nightfall to keep her safe (waterfowl are best protected from predators when they’re on the water).

A few more geese companions might be a remedy, but we don’t think our neighbors could tolerate an increase in the honk-related noise from our property. And we know Louise can’t spend the upcoming winter in the driveway.

So we’ve been looking for a new home for her, one that has potential goose pals. We got a call a few days ago from people who live the next township over. Their property includes five acres of fenced area for ducks and geese to wander, swim, and otherwise cavort in a fowl way. They offered Louise a home. I put off accepting that kind offer for several days, sad to think of Louise leaving us and her Honda.

Finally I reluctantly agreed. Louse spent one more night in her enclosure, complaining righteously when let out.

She rushed headlong to the front yard to reunite with her Honda for the last time.

And then she was transported to her new home. She has new relationship possibilities with creatures whose orange beaks might just remind her of her mate. Or at least remind her of a partner that honked but never waddled, flew, or flapped its wings.

I miss her already.

Posted in animal relations, geese | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Goose Advice For Honda

goose honda love story,

The biggest Honda fan ever is Louise the goose.

Her steadfast devotion to my 2004 Honda Accord is a tale so oddly endearing that Neatorama and Huff Po wrote about her too. Louise is clearly breaking new barriers in fowl vehicle relations.

But she doesn’t care about notoriety. She spends all day looking at her large silver soul mate as if expecting it to murmur Hey Boo what’s up? in her direction. Although we’ve assumed this love as unrequited, my friend Margaret has a point. She asked, “How do you know the Honda isn’t giving off a vibe that only a goose in love can pick up?” Good point.

After watching Louise with her beloved day after day, we’re picking up some suggestions for the designers at Honda via goose telepathy.

1. Make your honk more compellingly goose-like. Notice that the standard Honda honk is boring, even to a creature fluent in honk-ese.

Want to hear a real honk Honda? Here’s Louise to demonstrate.

2. Strive for goose quality security systems, with enhanced vigilance featuring interactions with the surroundings.

3. Consider designing a new model, more advanced and (I say with considerable bias) more extraordinary than any car ever. It would be a soft gray, accented by orange rims and an orange front bumper. It would be able to fly short distances when necessary.

The name? Honda Toulouse, of course.

goose honda love story, goose loves car,

Posted in animal relations, geese, humor | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Goose and Honda: A Love Story

goose honda love story, goose loves car,

One bird in love, one Honda.

I love my Honda Accord the way anyone might love a car. It’s fuel efficient and trouble-free. It was my late father’s car, which makes it particularly special to me.  Gauging by how many other silver Accords try to confuse me in parking lots, plenty of people also love these cars.

But not the way Louise loves my car. Her love is notable for its dedication. Louise won’t leave the side (or the front) of my car from sunup to sundown.

Louise, I should point out, is a goose. A Toulouse goose. This bird was left in a nature preserve where park regulations don’t permit domestic animals such as Louise. So she had to go. She was nabbed, stuffed in a bag, transferred to a cage, and brought here by our daughter (a biologist at that park) to live on our pond. A few days earlier another waterfowl had arrived here the same way, a duck we named Alice.

Louise and Alice hit it off.

They swam in peace, nibbled on grasses, snacked on the cracked corn we left out for them.

goose and car love story,

Fowl peace.

Many mornings they were joined by wild ducks.

goose and honda love story

Fowl clubbing.

Some mornings they received visits from a fawn.

goose and honda love story

Fawn on a fowl visit.

Even after Alice matured enough for us to notice that she was a male duck, now known as Al, they enjoyed what appeared to be a bliss-filled fowl existence.

Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? (Except for the honking. Louise is not a quiet creature.)

Then one day, everything changed.

Louise spotted a distant glimmer.  It was so alluring her wide orange feet quickly pitter pattered up to the front yard. There she saw Honda for the first time, his shiny surface and tempting shape alluring in ways only a goose of her caliber might recognize. She hurried up to this vision, this Honda of her dreams, and there she stayed. All day she strolled around the car, sometimes making quiet murmuring tones, sometimes tapping gently at it with her beak.

At night, humans herded her out to the pond to keep her safe from predators, but they didn’t wait until it was dark enough. She rushed back to her sweet Honda minutes later. The humans had to wait until the sunset faded to black, but not until Louise tried to convince the car to follow her to the pond. Car remained the strong silent unmoving type. After some despair-laden honking Louise allowed herself to be herded back to the pond, wings flapping in protest and feet slapping the ground like annoyed flip flops.

honda goose love story,

Now every day Louise stands next to her true love, Honda. She perseveres despite mail carriers and rain and annoying small dogs.

goose honda love story,

Adoration, rain or shine.

She’s only mildly curious about a Civic that’s sometimes parked next to her beloved Accord, mostly ignoring it.

A lesser goose might choose an easier life. One with a pond, food, and fowl companions. But not Louise. She remains steadfast. As my daughter, the goose rescuer, says,

But, soft! what light from yonder driveway breaks?
It is the headlight, and Honda is the sun!

Louise and Honda, scene ii

Oh we’ve tried to break them up. She’s not interested in shiny objects placed nearby to distract her. She won’t look at a mirror we’d hoped to move incrementally closer to the water. She’s committed to living in the driveway with her Honda.

It seemed we had no other option but to find Louise a new home where her affections might turn to a fellow goose. We called the local extension office, sure they’d know of a nearby farm or 4-H kid raising Toulouse geese. No luck. The woman who answered the phone had herself once owned a Toulouse goose. It fell deeply in love with a discarded Christmas tree wrapped in a plastic garbage bag. Perhaps there’s something to the phrase “silly goose.”

Louise’s love has inspired us to sing songs like “When a Goose Loves a Honda” and “Here’s My Beak, Call Me Maybe.” But it’s not silly. It’s abiding and faithful, although unrequited.

I just wonder if I’ll ever be able to drive my car again…   

Posted in animal relations, geese, humor | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Fresh Produce Auction

produce auction, food auction, local organic raspberries,

Pint baskets with handwritten tags–raspberry, organic scrawled in blue ink–are enticing. So is everything else at our nearby produce auction. Small lot tables are crowded with local bounty set out for purchase by the hands that raised or made these foods. Apple pies, pickling cucumbers, brown eggs, new potatoes, beets, honey, fresh bread, and much more awaits buyers.

Just beyond, the huge open barn is packed with bigger lots for sale. County Line Produce Auction is open three evenings a week from spring to autumn. This enables farmers to find buyers while avoiding burdensome storage and transportation costs. And the resulting profits stay in the local community. (There are only about 45 wholesale produce auctions in the U.S.)

produce auction, Amish auction,

County Line Produce Auction

An auctioneer walks along rows of pumpkins, green beans, apples, tomatoes, gourds, chrysanthemums, and potatoes.  He makes eye contact with each bidder as his quick cadence rolls through prices. The bidding warms up over peck baskets of honeycrisp apples in a language of nods and raised fingers. Three pecks of apples go for four dollar apiece, far more than a bushel of Cortland apples bought moments ago. Then he moves on to a ten pound box of jalapeño peppers.

The wholesale auction barn was built along a picturesque country road. For years farmers have been struggling with decreasing prices and increasing costs. Those who sell their goods here are smallholders, most located within five miles. Many are Amish, who have fewer options for getting their crops to buyers. Nearly 50 horse-drawn buggies are parked on the side and out back. Amish produce auction,

County Line Produce Auction opened for business just this year. A sign with photos of the building under construction says,

We want to thank you all for helping, supporting, and working together as one community build this building and make this produce auction a success.

Another sign hangs at the entrance.

wholesale food auction

People gather near the items they hope to purchase, surrounded by the season’s bounty. Sweet corn is stacked in bags that hold 144 ears each. Brightly colored peppers contrast with broccoli, kohlrabi, beets and carrots in a tantalizing array.  The tag reader announces, “Now we have two half bushels small yellow squash.” He taps it with a wooden stick. The auctioneer’s chant begins, “Ah dida dadada two, two and a half, three dollars, three and a half, four, four and half, five, five and a half. Ana dada ana, five and half, six dollars, six and half, ana ana dada six and half.” The buyer’s number is recited from memory after the winning bid.

Although many bidders are from farm markets, grocery stores and restaurants, the auction is also crowded with local residents. Three generations of one family are here to buy cabbage for their annual day-long tradition of making sauerkraut. A young couple push their toddler daughter in a stroller. They brought excess tomatoes and peppers from their garden to sell at the small lots table, and plan to buy pumpkins to decorate for a party. An older gentleman is loading his van with a dozen blueberry bushes he just purchased. He grew up on a farm, but doesn’t recall any wholesale produce auctions. “This is a great way to buy and sell,” he says, “And it’s a good place to talk to people.”

What a mix of people. A burly man wearing a Beer For Breakfast shirt talks to an Amish man, teens linger at the stand selling French fries and sandwiches, and small children are everywhere.

Amish wholesale produce auction,

My husband and I are here to augment what we grow. We’ve been canning on and off for weeks but still need apples for applesauce (and pies!). We gladly bid on large amounts knowing we can split items with a group of friends who take turns attending the auction. We’re happy to buy what has been grown nearby, especially since the average produce item found in stores has been shipped more than 1,000 miles.

A pink sunset accompanies us as we move our purchases to the car. We have 35 pecks of freshness to bring home. Plus those lovely raspberries, which we’ll be taste-testing on our drive.

Posted in community, economy, frugality, local food, sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

More Birds = More What?

attracting songbirds,

For years I’ve been spreading birdseed on the wide flat rail of our back porch. Often twice a day. In return I’ve been rewarded with the sight of birds landing to eat only a few feet from our windows. No matter what else is going on, there’s something captivating about watching birds. It takes you beyond ordinary fuss to a place of watchful calm. Those are vital interludes in our busy lives.

Then that porch had to be torn down (a Great Thing gone very wrong). When we finally had the new porch up, this time correctly attached to the rest of the house thank you, my beloved spouse didn’t really want bird food and the resulting bird poo all over his newly stained porch rail. We nattered about it as spouses do. I continued to spread birdseed on the rail. He grumbled.

Then my darlings Benjamin and Niki gave me the gift of three coppery bird feeders. They came with decorative brackets so they could be attached to the outside of the porch posts, putting the birds (and their poo) a good eight inches away from the porch rails. A lovely solution. Spouse man and I were both thrilled.

We filled each feeder with different food. Black oil sunflower seed, a finch mix, and a premium nut and seed mix. Then we waited. My old buddies the blue jays and cardinals and sparrows didn’t come back for a few days. And then they returned. Gradually more and more birds showed up. Every day we see birds that didn’t alight on the porch rail but now happily perch on the feeders. We get to see all sorts of species up close like the house finch, cowbird, tufted titmouse, goldfinch, flicker, chickadee, and the beautiful rose-breasted grosbeak.

It’s interesting to watch the way they wait for a turn at the feeders. We can see them on the roof of the small barn near the house, in the magnolia and sycamore and ash trees, on bean poles and rose trellises. Some are so bold as to wait on the porch, perching on the chairs or hopping along the floor picking up scattered seed. I’ve tried in vain to take pictures of them, sometimes clustered in fours and fives at a feeder. No luck. Through the window the camera mostly focuses on the screen and even when I wait silently on the porch only the blue jays are bold enough to grab seeds in my presence.

Because we’re more tuned to the birds on our porch, I think we pay closer attention to the great blue herons standing by our pond in the morning and the barn swallows swooping over it in the evening. We notice the calls of owls and hawks. We appreciate the family of buzzards that lift together over the nearby fields.

Morning is the biggest bird traffic jam on the porch but it remains a flurry of activity all day. We must have ten times the birds we had before when I only scattered seed on the rail. To keep up we’re ordering birdseed in 50 pound sacks. Our kids tease us about creating a dependency.

There’s a consequence. Now our newly built porch is festooned with bird poo. Spouse man grumbles as he does what he can to keep it clean. More birds may result in more bird poo but that’s a small inconvenience. More birds mean more beauty and wonder. More chances to still oneself and look, simply look. And then look some more.

Ohio bird watching

Posted in animal relations, awe, mindfulness | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments