Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.

Earth Speak and River Song

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For many years, I have been exploring the concept that everyone is indigenous to this earth and capable of speaking her language. Fortunately I have had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time in the natural world and working with indigenous peoples. Recently I began putting my experience and sensual impressions in poetic form which I call “Earth Speak and River Song.”

Two Haiku poems that reflect earth speak:

Verdure, springtime green
bursting forth upon the scene,
ending winter’s keen.

Bracken fern newly emerging.

Bracken fern newly emerging.

Feral apple tree
blossoms for red-winged blackbirds
heralding with song.

Feral apple tree.

Feral apple tree.

Three poems reflecting the wisdom of indigenous values:

Gaia is alive
and suffers humanity
blind to her beauty.

The Thorn of the Black Hawthorn Tree.

The Thorn of the Black Hawthorn Tree.

“We’re all indigenous to this earth”

Let’s all try to be more compassionate
toward those we perceive as different
recognizing that every creature
is indigenous to our planet
regardless of place of origin
identified by our DNA,
and when this day is done,
may we bring it forward again,
and again, and again
until it becomes a cherished value
where upon the seventh generation
looks back and remembers us
as the compassionate ones.

Elders at Howard Luke's Tanana River Camp. Pat is the tallest one in back row.

Elders at Howard Luke’s Tanana River Fish Camp, 1979. “Elders and youth on the River-passing on old knowledge-keeping the connection with the land alive.” Patricia stands in the back row wearing a bandana.

“Born to Speak the Language”

I am of this earth,
born to speak the language of her waters,
skies and soils, and all who dwell upon and within;
she teaches me on her own terms,
in her own time what the meaning is
of the duck feather floating at the edge of the pond,
the patterns of clouds drifting across the skies,
the changes in bird song before a rain storm,
and how spiders sip rain drops from their webs.

Silken Threads

Silken Threads

What follows is a lesson on observing, listening  and reflecting on earth speak and river song:

“Grandmother Cedar at Raven’s Bend”

Raven’s Bend,
so named for our raucous cousins,
birds of mystery and myth,
who raise families in the tall cottonwoods
along a wide bend in the river
close to where Grandmother Cedar
now lies at rest.

Her gray, weathered top branches, though long since dead
and noticeably higher than surrounding trees,
remained a visual reminder of her position;
once they roosted eagles and ravens
fleshing life off still bones,
held jousting birds in territorial claims,
fledglings practicing take-offs, landings
and vocalizing their first clamorous croaks;
but now the spires lie splintered
where the ancient cedar fell.

Spires of Grandmother Cedar.

Spires of Grandmother Cedar.

Offerings sometimes hung
from her green, feathery lower branches––
a handful of wildflowers, twisted-grass hearts,
bead-embellished talismans of human design,
handkerchief prayer flags whose weathered blessings
were carried aloft by mists and winds.

Grandmother Cedar’s bark lies infused
with words spoken aloud or in silence,
some quite poetically, others anguished
and some as youthful jibberishness,
words ushered from the lips of us drawn
to the river over the centuries
to caress her rough bark, rest our backs,
soak up the surroundings, share her wisdom.

The elder’s trunk leaned more with each passing season,
until the shallow root structure and rotting heartwood,
with the aid of heavy rains and strong winds,
gave way to the mysterious force of gravity
pulling her down to rest in the wetlands adjacent to the river
among the prickery salmon and blackberry canes,
wild roses, and stinging nettle clumps.

Grandmother Cedar at Rest.

Grandmother Cedar at Rest.

It seemed as if the towering ancient knew
to grow where one should not tarry long
in the entanglements we navigated to get close,
but rather to withdraw and
put her sharing insights into practice.

Grandmother Cedar’s trunk already anchors
leathery lichens and bright green mosses,
and now stretched out on the sandy soils,
she’ll host a richer variety of
ferns, herbs and tree seedlings
taking root and blanketing her rotting body ––
unless one day the wild flood waters
wear away the gravels now separating
Grandmother Cedar from the river’s bed,
and ferry the ancient’s body down stream
to lodge and help form log jams,
where fish and playful humans might swim
in the protection of her bulk.

Other cedar giants climb skyward along the river
although not as old or wide of girth;
perhaps one of these ancients
will draw us close to ask questions,
cast prayers and share wisdom.

In the meantime, rest well, Grandmother Cedar!

Within a short distance of her, another cedar towers over the wetlands.

Within a short distance of her, another cedar towers over the wetlands.

Onward to the next journey. Blessings to one and all. ~ P

Fragrant Bigleaf maple blossom clusters good eaten raw, in pancakes, muffins, etc.

FYI: My header page at the top is of fragrant Bigleaf maple blossom clusters  which are tasty eaten raw in pancakes, muffins, etc.


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