I had driven up to Philomath to see my first grade teacher and neighbor Mrs. Tompkins before she passed away. She was in a deep sleep while I was there so I left without a goodbye or Thank You. I remembered her quite fondly as a teacher and unfortunately there aren’t many like her. I stayed the night at a friends house in Eddyville where I grew up and while we were sitting on her porch we shared memories of her over coffee, fresh air, surrounded by beautiful trees. I noticed a Woolly Bear…then another and another. The lawn was filled with hundreds of Woolly Bears searching for places to hibernate during the winter. Of course I had my trusty camera and started taking photographs. The phone rang and my friend ran inside to answer it. When she came back she had a grief stricken look on her face. Mrs. Tompkins son James had called with news his mother had passed away.
Being an avid reader of all positive religious teachings I have no fear of death I tend to believe in heavens and reincarnations. Hell only exists on earth and created by those whose hearts have invented a satan to whom they give power over God. Mrs. Tompkins was not the type to preach or succumb to hysteria she was kind to everyone and quick to offer a helping hand if needed. She shared what she grew in her garden as well as what was in her cupboards….and more importantly she shared the goodness in her heart. She did these things not in a sanctimonious way or to draw attention to herself. She did these things because it was part of her nature….she actually lived what others get paid to preach about. She lived a life of grace.
Mrs. Tompkins passed in the best possible way a mother can pass surrounded by her children in the time leading up to her final breaths.
I discover where giant butterflies burrow and dream.
They rise in unison, become the sky
by imagining rainbows.
They are shimmering power in the wet light in this valley they call
– Joy Harjo
from the FARMERS ALMANAC
Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Forecast Winter Weather?
According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is (i.e., the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter. But is it true?
- Between 1948 and 1956, Dr. Curran’s average brown-segment counts ranged from 5.3 to 5.6 out of the 13-segment total, meaning that the brown band took up more than a third of the woolly bear’s body. As those relatively high numbers suggested, the corresponding winters were milder than average.
- But Curran was under no scientific illusion: He knew that his data samples were small. Although the experiments popularized and, to some people, legitimized folklore, they were simply an excuse for having fun. Curran, his wife, and their group of friends escaped the city to see the foliage each fall, calling themselves The Original Society of the Friends of the Woolly Bear.
- Thirty years after the last meeting of Curran’s society, the woolly bear brown-segment counts and winter forecasts were resurrected by the nature museum at Bear Mountain State Park. The annual counts have continued, more or less tongue in cheek, since then.
- For the past 10 years, Banner Elk, North Carolina, has held an annual “Woolly Worm Festival” each October, highlighted by a caterpillar race. Retired mayor Charles Von Canon inspects the champion woolly bear and announces his winter forecast.
Most scientists discount the folklore of woolly bear predictions as just that, folklore. Says Ferguson from his office in Washington, “I’ve never taken the notion very seriously. You’d have to look at an awful lot of caterpillars in one place over a great many years in order to say there’s something to it.”
Mike Peters, an entomologist at the University of Massachusetts, doesn’t disagree, but he says there could, in fact, be a link between winter severity and the brown band of a woolly bear caterpillar. “There’s evidence,” he says, “that the number of brown hairs has to do with the age of the caterpillar—in other words, how late it got going in the spring. The [band] does say something about a heavy winter or an early spring. The only thing is . . . it’s telling you about the previous year.”
I recently made a comment about growing up in Oregon where they were used Agent Orange. Never mind the mercury…kerosene…loved the smell of gas and oil…cleaning supplies, I worked in visual for many years…very toxic job…and with painting….a whole different toxic scene hard to imagine that beautiful blue is soooo toxic.
I decided to look up Agent Orange Oregon YOUTUBE and behold here is a video of 25,000 55 gallon barrel drums that were stored at Alkali Lake and are being punctured by a bulldozer!!! Not where I grew up but close to some relatives…
Amazed I am still alive!! Ordinary Sparrow sent me this poem
(Lizzy this is a poem by Dr. E. that came to mind when you made the comments about the spraying and environmental toxins. . . )
WE ARE THE ATOMIC CHILDREN AND WE ARE STILL DANCING
It began before we went to school…
we asked for live ponies, but
received inflatable whales made
of polypropylene instead.
But it was okay.
We waited and waited for April
so we could dance
can-can tournaments in the rain.
We wore eerie iridescent swim suits
glowing like uranium. Our swimsuits
were always too big and showed
or they were always too small and showed
everything. But it was okay. We were happy
drowned bird-girls with balding feathers.
We played with all those bright colored toys,
So cheap in price, so rich in lead, those
lead toy soldiers marched all over our
bed clothes and we slept on the sheeted
and pillowed battle field, night after night.
And our mothers were so beautiful…
and the tobacco people ran ads
showing happy pregnant women smoking
and saying this was very good,
and fathers brought love cartons of the stuff
as special treats so mother-with-child
would never run out of her ciggies.
In October we hid under leaves and stalks
just beginning to rot,
and shushed each other there.
The silence made the wrinkles
on our feet itch. The wet of the leaves
washed the hyaline insect spray
right into our skin.
It was such a time of dancing.
We danced our feet on x-ray machines
in shoe shops. What sport
to see our own growing bones
in those shadowy boxes.
Hours we spent x-raying our feet for fun.
In January, in snow forts,
our forefingers held endless ammunition.
The winter wheat had power
to heal any wound it was laid upon.
We ate the snow that fell from the sky
seeded and seeded with field chemicals.
Our dear mothers made snow cones
for us with red dye food coloring,
and the youngest Hérnandez girl
fell through the pond, and was no more.
It began to be not alright.
After five years in school we saw, too late,
the road before us.
Our hearts demanded all
our attention. We built into the mountain,
we dug grieving caves.
We were in the cemeteries more often
than in the wedding halls.
The cells of the stomach turned
against the grandfather. The cells
of the breasts made wildfire
in the three aunts; the jitters
came to uncle and two farmers to the west,
falling down came to the farmer to the east,
a child not formed came to the cousin,
the loss of breath visited the dairy man,
and there were many mysterious
deaths of infants.
We set up camp, but never slept.
The animals began
to speak in foreign tongues.
We were still children. We hid
under our desks to practice for the bomb.
We were pulled on snow sleds behind
our beloved fathers’ big slope-backed cars
with lead spewing into our faces
from the mufflers’ smoke.
We walked in the beautiful sunset haze
left by the orchard crop duster
canvas and leg-bone aeroplanes, and yet…
We still came out children, just children.
As our breasts came on,
No one offered happy red umbrellas against
an invisible strontium rain, and we drank
the white milk without knowing, anyway.
to wash floors and doors with acetane,
washed our nails with acetone,
packed aniline dyes
onto our freshly washed scalps,
and drew coal tar onto our lips
Like good women everywhere, we daily
washed the house and all the things in it,
and outside it as well, as carefully as though
these boards and tiles were our own bodies.
We put our young hands into jars holding
gudge and junk, held our heads
into buckets and jars
filled with the sacred fumes of cleanliness;
ammonia, lye, butane, bleach, formaldehyde.
We visited doctors and hospitals
hoping to hear the news. But so far,
there were only bodies, no causes…
except for these:
They said we lived wrong at home…
That we were ignorant…
That we were sick because we did
not exercise enough, the farmers, factory
workers, dock workers, men and women
who had no cars, those who worked
from dawn to midnight, lifting, hefting,
hauling everything hot and smoking,
or else putrid or frozen in dry ice.
And in the creek, the animals
grew bulbous eyes,
their skin cracked off, and over they died.
The oil tankers broke up in the Great
Lakes, and yet we frolicked in the waves,
but never came out clean as before.
Instead, we rose up oil stained
by the floating gibbets and globs of oil
on waves, and those sunk into the sand.
Our mothers scrubbed our bodies bright red,
using turpentine to remove the black tar.
Summer after summer we returned.
The black tar always waiting for us…
And the turpentine.
After a time, our wild gypsy-hair
was too often covered
with our white mantillas
for the black Requiem Mass.
And, it became worse
as we got more years.
But even today,
with all our hurts and haltings,
April is still divine,
And there is still a museum
in the unconscious where
September still carries the cargo
of a decent childhood.
No greedy bureaucrat nor lying politician
has found the tree
we once buried treasure under.
It is still there… still mine, still yours.
Though the atomic age was mighty
and 100 wealthy men
had poisoned all the water
and fish grew all crooked
and too often the human babies
beginning fine and by their eighteenth month
could no longer speak nor relate to other humans…
sometimes still, the trees come
to the gate in the garden
and ask can they come in and
rest with us for the night.
Reason enough for some wild dancing.
For the unknowing, and for those who knew,
the destruction we were fed and immersed in,
did not bring us down…
And even the atomic wind unleashed
Across the western states,
blowing its poison all across the entire nation,
did not blow us away.
For reasons we cannot fathom,
many of us are still here,
living in the glowing cell of the life force
that ever remains inside us.
No atomic wind can pervert or change
this meaning that is ours.
No commission or omission can destroy
what we are making
Though they have brought wild cells,
we are the wild gods,
and we are dancing, dancing…
dancing the dance of the purest cell,
and glowing– not from radiation–
but from divinity,
the divinity set into us,
the divinity that has ever been ours,
that ever presses us to live,
to live more, and then more…
no matter whatever else.
The collage above, is one of mine in a series of 118 collages of La Señora… for protection of humankind from the harmful matters that surround us. There are 118 collages in the series because that is the number of elements in the Table of Elements. This collage is called Our Lady of The Atom, and her nimbus is an actual representation of the electron shell structure of the lead atom…
Our bodies need certain metals, traces of copper, and zinc and certainly iron in order to keep the heart, muscles, blood and circulatory system strong and to renew cells well. But lead is like kryptonite to our bodies, and when exposed to lead (those of us from rural areas handled lead shot for hunting, lead sinkers for fishing and any number of toys made of lead as well as lead batteries et al,) it travels through our skin, through our breath into our lungs and causes a terrible ruin to the fragile balances of the neural and other developing structures of the body…
especially in children, but in adults also once their bodies begin to slow in the cellular regeneration process. The ill effects of lead on the brain are devastating… and are equal to severe stroke in many cases, with loss of language, loss of brain power, loss of reason, and loss of bodily functions.
Our Lady, in apocrophal stories, is said to have been able to withstand any toxin, including rattlesnake’s bite and scorpion’s sting, for such was her Xtreme strength for life and her purity. She was said to be able to withstand poisons and even ‘wear’ them, so we can see them better and remember that though great magnitude can carry such, we cannot ingest these and thrive, perhaps not even the angels can.
All the more reason, we, the unknowing, despite our ticks and travails, our challenges of health and our losses, are quite so the walking miracles… still present on earth, still here. Still, in some way, even at rest, dancing.
Poem, We are the Atomic Children and We are Still Dancing, and collage, Our Lady of the Atom, both from the manuscript La Pasionaria, ©1975, 2009, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, All Rights Reserved. Licensed here to The Moderate Voice only. Permissions: email@example.com
This was a good concept! Here is the poem it dispensed to me
CHAOS FOLDED IN HALF AND TUCKED INTO THE FIFTH POCKET
One trepid step
Dipping a foot
Slowly into the bath
The water, hot, stingingly hot
So hot I get chills when I finally submerge
Sinking below the vast field of bubbles.
It is quiet.
But it is not completely quiet.
Water slurps at the drain.
And I cut them with the side of my palm-slice, slice
Smoothing the layers
Rituals keep us sane
A sensation of ending and beginning
Dividing our days into small sections
Sections that make order.
Order creating the illusion of order.
THE SUMMER OF BLACK WIDOWS
The spiders appeared suddenly
after that summer rainstorm.
Some people still insist the spiders fell with the rain
while others believe the spiders grew from the damp soil like weeds
with eight thin roots.
The elders knew the spiders
carried stories in their stomachs.
We tucked our pants into our boots when we walked through fields
of fallow stories.
An Indian girl opened the closet door and a story fell into her hair.
We lived in the shadow of a story trapped in the ceiling lamp.
The husk of a story museumed on the windowsill.
Before sleep, we shook our blankets and stories fell to the floor.
A story floated in a glass of water left on the kitchen table.
We opened doors slowly and listened for stories.
The stories rose on hind legs and offered their red bellies to the most
Stories in our cereal boxes.
Stories in our firewood.
Stories in the pocket of our coats.
We captured stories and offered them to the ants, who carried the
stories back to their queen.
A dozen stories per acre.
We poisoned the stories and gathered their remains with broom and
The spiders disappeared suddenly
after that summer lightning storm…..
I can hear the sound of Mr. Alexi’s lawyer typing up a cease and desist order….. You can read the rest on Amazon. It’s the second poem in his book.
And what a poem! Seriously I don’t know what it is about that poem the spiders coming down with the rain and bringing stories in their stomachs… You could read that poem to me on my death bed and everything would be alright!!! It is so imaginative and I almost fell out of my chair the first time I read it there was such joy and delight in my heart!
I took a poetry class about 25 years ago and while I got an A, I can’t write worth a damn and it pretty much ruined me for poetry until I read THE SUMMER OF BLACK WIDOWS on Amazon. The poetry class was filled with people that would slice, dice, twist and other wise disembowel a poem until it was dead and stripped of any magic…..and don’t get me started on FUCKING IAMBIC PENTAMETER!!! Once I spot it a poem is dead to me.
I love black widows! My mom used to own the black widow motel that is where I fell in love with them. She lives in the Nevada desert and she had this old Jeep Cherokee sitting in her driveway for years, at night they would all come out. There must have been 20 nests and those were just the ones you could see! My brother hated them and would deliberately walk 20 feet around it imagining that they would grab him and drag him under. Me?? I was naming them. My poor mother made the mistake of killing one of them in front of me…I yelled and accused her of black widow murder. I wish I had taken a picture of them!
I didn’t buy it used either so no guilt there!!!
The cover art is great too!
Also here is Sherman Alexie’s website he has a link to some of his newer poems and he also posts stuff that he is currently reading. That is how I got into all of these great Indian writers. He has good taste in books.
My brother is a writer. On one of his favorite hikes, he took me to THE PALISADES in the GEARHART MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS of Eastern Oregon. He was so moved that he wrote a poem about this extraordinary place.
The Palisade castles standing alone
And silent the trail I climb to see .
The Palisade castles stone upon stone
From the heart of the earth, the lava thrown
I stand at the gates of the mountain free.
The Palisade castles standing alone.
The sun on the face of the castles shone,
Pine needles strewn by the Sugar Pine tree,
The Palisade castles, stone upon stone.
Heaved from the earth in a violent groan
And torn from the bed of a lava sea
The Palisade castles standing alone.
Struck by the cry of the wind intoned,
At one with the breath of eternity.
The Palisade castles stone upon stone.
Escaped from the eyes of a god unknown,
I see with the eyes of a soul set free
The Palisade castles standing alone,
The Palisade castles Stone upon stone.
The Palisades are the result of an eruption by a shield volcano(click here) that erupted millions of years ago. The formations are composed of Basalt and Andesite that have eroded into the “castle” formations.
More photos of the Palisades and Gearhart Wilderness trail.