Getting Woke for Advent: First Sunday

Zebra48bo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Keep awake. Beware. Keep alert. 

This is a Gospel message for pandemic times, and for the national and global crises that we are living through right now. 

Pope Francis sent a message about our response to these crises, writing in the New York Times on Thanksgiving Day:.  

“Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.

“These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion.”

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Walking in Winter
Early morning waking, 
two cats in the bed.
Early morning shoveling, 
wet snow below, bright sun above. 
Afternoon dilemma: nap or walk?
Snow and ice or quilt and cat? 
Am I 70 years old? 
Or 70 years strong? 
Bed beckons but I resist, 
choosing blue skies, bright sun, 
snow and slop and ice, 
and Yak Trax. 
Last time I tried these ice-biters,
I hated them. 
But I am older now, and need
insurance for old bones. 
Or so I think.
In half a block, the first one falls off. 
Another block before I notice,
and retrace my steps to find it.  
Carrying their failed coils, I continue, 
down wet streets, through puddled alleys. 
I'm 70 strong and, dammit, 
I am gonna walk. 

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October Laughed

Today began gray and rainy, 

until mid-morning sun burst through, 

scattering clouds, sparkling puddles,

lighting up leaves as they

sway from wind-tossed branches

skitter along sidewalks

gust golden on a wild wind. 

A puddle picture captures gold:

mirroring a tree

floating fallen leaves.

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Phenology Report: September 20-23

Sumac in full color
Mississippi colors changing
Oak leaves underfoot

This week’s weather moved from 60s to 80s, comfortable to summer-sticky.

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The Sky Is Burning

Sky in Oakland during daytime during wild fires.
Oakland, California, 11 a.m., September 9, 2020 (Photo courtesy of Macy Salzberger)

Red brown copper colored sky 
dropping ash smoke fear 
lighting up Twitter across the country 
as texts say I’m okay Mom
but I don’t believe it.  

I am not okay. You are not okay. 
We are not okay when the 
sky is on fire and forests in flames
and evacuation orders fly like 
cinders on a hot dry wind.  

Nero is fiddling, Donald is golfing
we are all going to hell in a handbasket
and no one knows how to stop. 
The sky is burning, Chicken Little,
the world is falling to pieces.       

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Phenology Report: August 30-31

Tomatoes coming in, squirrels feasting, Mexican sunflowers blooming happily at the back fence. My first tomatoes came from Kenny at the beginning of the month, followed by my own. Haven’t had to buy any at the grocery store all month long!

After 90 degree days last week, these two days were a welcome relief, with temperatures down to the comfortable 70s.

Mexican sunflowers blooming at the back fence
Tomatoes from my garden – started from seed.
Along the back fence, a riot of zinnias and tall marigolds

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Phenology Report: August 10-17

Sunflowers burst with color against a blue sky.
After moving to greener pastures on the Minneapolis side of East River Road in early spring, the turkeys have returned to Desnoyer Park.
Butterflies sip zinnias.
Sumac leaves are beginning to turn.
Sumac is candling.

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Morning on the Mississippi

I love to walk along the river, especially early in the morning. These photos come from one such walk.

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Signs of Hope in Pandemic Times


When you feel despair at the size and scope of disaster, said Mr. Rogers, “Look to the helpers.” Beautiful people are out there, down the street, all around us. So here are three stories of hope from Black Dog Café, Trevor Noah, and New York City. If these inspire you, read to the end for two actions you can take to help. Continue reading

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All the Colors of Green


Start with clear green of new grass,

pale green of tulip blades

golden green of fringed tree blossoms

yellow green of birch catkins

gray green of cedar

blue green of spruce

green leaves silhouetted dark in the dawn

green mists of barely-there leaves against blue skies

greens as variegated as bird song

as glorious as sunshine

as fleeting as spring.

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