TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Animal Columns & Poems

Moonset

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The hush

of  predawn

in which

the moon

silently

surreptitiously

descends

into the black hole

of the tail end

of night

*

A similar moment

years ago

 in my arms

as she struggled to breathe

already half the battle

over

 one prick of the needle

 instantly limp

a hushed end

to a soulmate

our baby

*

Why can’t we

too

go this way

as softly as

a moon setting

in the whisper

of predawn

of a new day?


New Life, Old Love

 

 

Tree skeletons

acquire accoutrements

each passing day

pale green regalia

not the deep green

of Summer when the

change in color

is so gradual

as to be imperceptible

nor the fleeting riot

of color of Fall

no, in Spring,

ephemeral  evanescent

slight light green

appears by the moment

right before my slow eyes

as I discern

shadows in the woods

a flash of white tail

deer fleet of foot

fly through the brush

dancing to the deep trill

of the wood frogs and

the echoing, haunted cries

of pileated woodpeckers

in the sudden density

of the fast-growing woods

inside the booming forest

whilst where I sit

at the edge of wood

bumble bees hum

and magically lift off

the teaming ground

and fly to the sky

where birds sing to mates

sweet songs of desire

in a crescendo of new life

as you have sung to me

for nearly thirty years

in an ever-changing

ever-growing love

whilst a breeze caresses

a newborn leaf

that tingles to its touch

as I thrill so very much

to the searching clasp

of your hand in mine

(As yet another killer, this time on the campus of Santa Barbara, California,  is identified as possibly having Asperger’s syndrome, I, as a Bipolar Aspie, offer this poem written to my Aspie husband for May 14, 2014, on the occasion of our 25th wedding anniversary, to show that not all people with Asperger’s reach for a gun and are violent.)


“Talk to Me!”

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What I loved about this horse is that he looks as if he is about to say, “Tell me all about it!”  Actually he is a rescue that became a therapy horse at Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue in Millbrook, New York.  He gives handicapped children rides and companionship so valuable to them.  Like so many animals, he gives so much for mere maintenance in return.  An exceptional soul.  


Denizens of the Deep

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The marsh is melting

and

all the turtles in their hibernacula

deep down under the melting ice

will soon emerge

and the marsh will sing

the chorus of the Spring Peeper

and the salamanders will emerge

with the urge to murge

and joy and the life force

will fill the air

and lift the fog

enveloping my soul.

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For the Love of a Horse

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Oh to be one with you,

White-marked Third Eye,

to mount you

and ride you into forever

to nuzzle my nose

in your silky mane

to smell your hot breath

upon my face

and feel your tongue

upon my cheek

to smell the sweetness

of your leavings

and

hear your hoofs

against the road

and your snorts

as you run

*

my love for you

is from a distance

though once

we danced together

and

 you nuzzled

me out of depression

and into bliss

oh how I miss

those magic moments

when we were one.


Just Renters

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The house that we think of as “our” house does not belong to us.  Not because we are still paying the mortgage on it. Not because it, like so many others, is in foreclosure.  No, though it is still “our” house, we are just renters.

This becomes evident one morning while sitting in a moment of calm before the day has begun, watching the bird feeder which my husband is lovingly filling.  He has dumped out the seeds too big to fit through the wire mesh of the feeder.  About 10 little birds, sparrows and juncos and sometimes a dashing male cardinal, are feeding on the seeds on the leaf-covered ground.  They are not scared off by the lone squirrel who comes to eat the peanuts from the mix.  Larger birds flock to the now-full feeder. The largest birds, too big to land on the feeder, sometime take over the small bird territory, eating seeds on the ground.

Rain is falling as we prepare to go to work, cleaning up the kitchen and locking up the house.  The birds fly around in my mind.  So vulnerable they seem yet so brave, so tiny yet enormous in their freedom to take to the air.  I want to hold them in my hand and stroke their soft, downy feathers, give them love.  But truth is, this is purely a selfish wish on my part for they don’t need my love.  They don’t really even need the bird seed my husband religiously puts in the feeder.  There are bushes out back with berries which they love.  It is we who need them, to make us feel happy, to make us feel loving, to make us feel alive and connected to something larger than ourselves.

As we pull out of the driveway I take another lingering look at the birds in the brightening light.   And then it hits me.  They get to stay there all day as we drive off through the rain to our respective jobs in the cement jungle of a nearby city.  We drive past horses, grazing in a neighboring meadow.  They get to stay home, too.  Often I make an effort to remember the birds and the squirrels and the horses to bring calm to a fraught work day.  Yet I usually get so caught up in my frenetic, little life that I forget to think of them.  Or if I manage to conjure them up, the image of them in my mind is thin, pale and lacking in substance.

I imagine the animals laughing at us as we have to drive off to go to work.  Our house belongs to THEM.  Sometimes they even invade our living quarters.  When we first bought the house, it had 50 or so little brown bats in the attic who would occasionally fly around the bedroom at night.  One year we had a pair of squirrels.  We even had the company of a milk snake one afternoon.  And every fall as the weather turns frigid, the field mice run in.

A little more thought on the subject reveals to me that in actuality we own nothing.  Not our house, our spouse, our children, our pets, nor even the body we inhabit.  All of these things are on loan to us, rented to us if you will, by the Maker of the sun and the moon and the stars.  Such a wealth of beauteous bounty is there for us, ours to enjoy for the mere act of attention.  The trees, the summer breeze, the blanket of snow in winter, the flowers of summer, the butterflies, the deer who eat our lilies, the possums and ground-hogs, the ever-changing species of birds, the occasional coyote and the thousands, if not millions, of insects underfoot in a terrestrial universe.  And the universe above our heads with the planets, the sun, the moon and its trillions, gazillions of stars and whispers of other universes beyond what we can see.  And yet we are so caught up in the dramas of our mundane lives that we fail to duly honor the ever-present gifts except in periodic snatches, when we turn our attention outside ourselves and our little lives.  We may pay a sum to rent a piece of the earth but that piece contains a seemingly infinite multitude of gifts given just for the taking.  Or rather, I should say, for the renting.


Amphibian Night

 

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It is a summer night, late in August.  September and autumn are knocking at the door. The day was hot– the last gasp of a 3H summer day.  And then, at night, come the thunderstorms.  Downpours of rain hit hot asphalt and steam rises in the moonlit roads.  The air cools down by 10, maybe 15 degrees.

We are going out to pick up a pizza for dinner and we hit the road in the middle of what must be called “Frog Frenzy.”  Frogs are everywhere, every kind and every size.  Hopping here and there.  We drive in a hopscotch pattern to avoid running them over.  We are hoping no one is watching our car stop and start and swerve left and right.  The frogs look silvery in the headlights.  Perhaps it is the last mating call of the season.  Perhaps the frogs know something we don’t– perhaps this is the last warm day and thunderstorm of a dying summer.

There are long-legged frogs leaping across the road, teeny frogs skimming the asphalt, and giant frogs that cross the road in two to three jumps.  Mating can be the only incentive for this frenzy of activity.  Driven by desire, they are mating without concern for their welfare.  More likely they are not aware of the danger that lurks in the road.  Like all animals, we assume frogs live in the present moment, perhaps as we humans do in our twenties, driven by biology to seek a mate in a frantic orgy of activity.

My husband and I on our pizza run, which is no run but a crawl, are uplifted by this affirmation of life.  We, who in our 20s, did not think we could die, are afraid of taking what would seem like even moderate risks now.  We take delight in the frenetic frog activity as we get our pizza.

But it is a different landscape we drive through on the way home only a quarter of an hour later.  The frogs are gone– completely vanished having hopped to wherever they were seeking to go.  We only see some frogs who did not make it.  A large truck pulled out from the road just as we turned in.  Not the type to play hopscotch while driving.

We feel privileged to have witnessed this “Frog Frenzy,” this affirmation of life– this ten minute window of activity that shut down as abruptly as it opened.  But the next morning, walking the road, we see mangled frogs everywhere.  We can’t blame the one truck we saw for this massacre.

This is not an isolated incident.  In the Summer 2008 Defenders, the Conservation Magazine of Defenders of Wildlife, a study by Purdue University is cited in which the number of road kill in a suburb of Indiana were counted over a 17 month period.  The number was an astounding 10,500 dead animals and 95 percent of those were frogs and other amphibians.  Many of the other amphibians were eastern tiger salamanders making their way to breeding grounds to lay 500 to 1,200 eggs.  Obviously this could affect future populations.  Sy Montgomery, in her “The Wild Out Your Window: Exploring Nature Near at Hand,” tells us that during the “salamander rains,” as she calls them, so many salamanders are killed by cars, that in Amherst they built special tunnels so the salamanders would be safe from the road, and in Lenox and Framingham they close the roads during the migration.   Are a few towns in Massachusetts the only enlightened guardians of this amphibian ritual?  Why are there not more precautions taken on our roads all across the country’s wetlands?  Why aren’t the fading wetlands being preserved with the reverence they deserve as they serve earth?

We don’t know how long the “Frog Frenzy” lasted but, judging from the number of bodies in the road the next day, we caught only the tail end of it.  The unlucky ones, who did not make it, lie in waiting for crows and other carrion-eating birds to come feast in this other, inevitable aspect of nature, the dead frog banquet.  This time our hearts are heavy.  We mourn the frogs who jumped so wildly to their death in their state of excitation.   The “Night of the Frogs–  just another sampling of man’s abject inhumanity to those he deems inferior, and, with whom he shares this mystery called “earth.”

(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html  for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.)


Animal’s “Eternal Treblinka”

Whales are highly intelligent sentient creatures and they do care about humans.  Humans who have saved whales caught in fishing nets have remarked on the displays of gratitude whales have shown in response to being saved.   Watch the following 2 minute video to see that innocent caring in action of whales for humans.

Meantime man hunts whales in one of the most cruelest of all animal  hunts. Watch this 2 minute video to see how much we care about whales who, bear in mind, have larger minds than ours and obviously larger hearts.  The reality of the kill is much more gruesome and hideous than this video portrays.  But this is bad enough.

Famous author, Issac Bashevis Singer wrote about the cruelty of man against animal.  In an epigraph to a character he had written about who had a relationship with a mouse, this is what Singer wrote: “In his thoughts, Herman spoke a eulogy for the mouse who had shared a portion of her life with him and who, because of him, had left this earth. “What do they know–all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world–about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.

–Isaac Bashevis Singer, “The Letter Writer”

And listen to the words of the great Dalai Lama on animal cruelty…

“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man.  Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.
–The Dalai Lama


Animal Highs

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Last week my husband called me from the back yard.  “Come quick, come see what I found.”  I ran to the back door where he was, holding out his arm, and there in his hand sat a teeny green frog, about the size of a thumbnail.  I oooed and aahhed over it and thanked him for calling me. The frog had jumped onto his arm while my husband was unrolling the garden hose, its temporary home.  “How wonderful!” I said.  And then I thought some more about it and I realized I was jealous.  Jealous of the fact the frog had jumped on my husband’s arm and not mine.  “Well, he deserves the frog more than I do,” I found myself thinking, as if any of us deserve such things.

Today I began to think more about this.  I remembered when we had first moved in.  My husband was at work and I saw a mound in the grass moving out the back door window.  Upon closer examination I found to my utter delight it was a box turtle.  This time it was my husband, an affirmed reptile lover, who was jealous and even admitted to being so.  Okay, jealousy of such things is obvious and on the surface in children.  Yet we were dealing with adults here who, it seems, covet visits from animals.  We cherish an interchange with a creature. And why?

I remember the Sunday night a few years ago, apprehensive about a challenging week ahead, when I saw a stag in the woods behind our house.  I called to my husband to come see him.  He was stunning with huge antlers, an imposing presence. And suddenly I knew everything would be alright. Why?   Because the stag in the distance– majestic, princely, beautiful was a sign.

And how thrilled we are to have a snapping turtle return every year to lay her eggs in our driveway.  We feel privileged.  Again, blessed.  Or when, with delighted guests, we saw a giant luna moth flying in the porch light one night.  And the countless times a butterfly lands on one’s body, on a shoulder or head, or a dragonfly visits an arm or a sleeve.  And, the beautiful hummingbirds. We even had a hummingbird nest in our Black Birch.  Such visits feel so special– to have these delicate, exquisite creatures land near us or live in the trees near our house.  Even when my least favorite reptile makes an appearance out from under his home on our back deck, a tiny garter snake, the spirit soars.

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Research has shown how having pets is therapeutic.  We are blessed by animals who trust us utterly.  We feel their trust and it is pure, unalloyed by human characteristics. We don’t deserve such trust and yet we receive it as a gift.  We have made contact with a being of a different species who lives in a different world whose being synchronizes with different biological rhythms. The native Americans believed animals to be spiritual guides that have much to teach us.  Psychology tells us Nature is a natural antidepressant.  An animal can disarm the most defensive, enchant the most mentally ill, bring out the goodness in the criminal, and bring a smile to the face of the young, old and in-between.

And, yes, animals can be pests when they get into where they don’t belong or become aggressive or defensive in a bad way.  But our world is a richer, more vibrant place because of them.  Animals bring us out of ourselves and into the experience of awe.  Their innocence lightens our loads, allowing us to share the “mystery of the other” with others, drawing us closer to our friends and family.   We share the world with animals and they share their hearts with us. And their innocent interactions with us are blessings from God.


Cow Proves Animals Love, Think, And Act

This story says it all.  See site for a happy outcome to this story in the comments.  One farmer sees the light at least.

Violet's Vegan Comics

I just found a story here, on the globalanimal.org website, which is a wake up call for all animal lovers who still use dairy.  Just like Deidra, the mother in this story demonstrated not only the love she had for her calf, but the complicated thought process she used in her attempt to save him:

By Holly Cheever DVM:

I would like to tell you a story that is as true as it is heartbreaking. When I first graduated from Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine, I went into a busy dairy practice in Cortland County. I became a very popular practitioner due to my gentle handling of the dairy cows. One of my clients called me one day with a puzzling mystery: his Brown Swiss cow, having delivered her fifth calf naturally on pasture the night before, brought the new baby to the barn and was put into the…

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