Monday, March 27, 2017

rooted in the mountains

Lucinda Oakley Ogle, my friend

my friend Lucinda lived life fully awake:
rooted in family and honoring the elders’ words
and how they did their best with their lives,
rooted in nature and honoring flowers and fruits,
and how the bear can be trouble in the family,
rooted in the past and the stories that need to be remembered,
rooted in the present and knowing you with love and presence,

Lucinda was a gem,
tumbled all about in mountain realities
where food and resource limited what could be,
the teachers sent into the Smokies 
by the sorority Pi Beta Phi
a literal godsend to her,
as who she was started to realize who she could be,

the gem revealed and sparkling,
like one of her beloved flowers in the spring,

I loved to visit her at her home with my students:
a place rooted in the earth, on the border of the national park,
her yard a garden for the plants she loved so much,
many trees, shrubs, and flowers named on little plaques,
each at home and telling you its story,
including the rare Franklinia tree,
 a favorite for U.T. students to visit,
a simple comfortable home of wood, of logs, wedded to the earth,
built by Lucinda and Earnest, her beloved husband,

on the concrete patio just outside her kitchen
she would welcome us,
regale us with stories,
and give the kids gingerbread men, telling us:
“Eat the head first: then it won’t suffer.”

on the patio her bird feeders called to her feathered friends,
sometimes bears answered, and her indignance
could have her out the kitchen door with a broom,
shooing them away,

a Taoist meditation I use
advises that those who get close to the Tao
“in their dwelling they love the earth,”

Lucinda loved the earth,
and rooted herself in the best,
after her death, her daughter sold the house for a million dollars,
the new owners did not love the earth
and destroyed house, yard, and garden,
they built one ugly condomenium,
seemed to have plans for more,
and today the place is a blight,

now Lucinda’s harmony is within those of us who knew her
and not in the part of the earth where her home once lived a rooted fullness.

by Henry H. Walker

March 24, ‘17

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Don and me

the arithmetic underneath

I described my teaching colleagues 
as loving to “tilt against windmills,”
but not wanting to figure out
how to pay for the “tilting,”

our charge with our students is all idealistic,
founded more in faith than in fact,
we believe, and we do,
despite how quixotic it seems to be,

it is hard to hold to the dream
and still know the arithmetic
without which the dream dies,

thanks be to those who keep the books
and who also know the dream,
they allow many of us to “tilt”
and not fret about paying for the “tilting.”

by Henry H. Walker

March 24, ‘17

Sunday, March 19, 2017

a glory we hope to know

the glory before us

the natural world is my foundation,
below and before whatever I do
as a person with people,
whatever I do in the human world
can tempt me away from the basics,
I fear being like Narcissus
looking into the pool of water
and losing himself in his own reflection,
before all that, I want to know and live the truth
of the sun upon the earth, of plants awakening,
of the awe one should feel below a redwood,

upon a sunrise or set,

Sunrise, Mt. LeConte

Sunrise, Maui, Mt. Haleakala

Sunset, Maui

before a flower, a crystal,

Cardinal Flower, Cabin on the Creek, Gatlinburg, TN

Hearts-a-Bustin, Cabin on the Creek, Gatlinburg, TN

Jewel Weed, Road Prong, Smokies

each moment the world before humans 
can reveal a beauty
that can daunt us with a glory
we can only hope to know.

by Henry H. Walker

March 17, ‘17

Below are images from our home here in North Carolina, as we anticipate spring:

Tomatoes and tomatillos started from seed early February

Buttercrunch lettuce in garden, planted mid-February

Sugar Snap Peas, planted mid-February

Blueberry Buds, in the midst of freezing temps

Cherry Buds, amidst freezing temps

my greater, and lesser self

leadings within

when I release the best of me,
when I see a student, a colleague, a friend—truly,
when I realize the extraordinary within them
that strains to release itself,
I feel as a cheerleader
who leads the applause,
who makes sure the gift another opens
is noticed and appreciated,
who celebrates the fullness of the self 
that does the best it can,
and that best is impressive,

I can only imagine the doubts that beat upon the other,
how much that of God within them 
has to deal with all within them that is not of God,
at least not any god I think we should follow,

most of my days I appreciate and live
who I feel is the God within me,
in the night my lesser self mocks the sureness
my greater self wants to feel.

by Henry H. Walker

March 17, ‘17

Monday, March 13, 2017

may the doors stay open. . .

Science Day, ‘17

a prime directive to every school:

“Let no student find a door to be closed against them.
Let the doors be open, and inviting,
and may each student joyfully enter and move forward,
and keep moving even when the going gets tough, the way clouded.
May each find the light the universe releases
when a truth is revealed.”

today Carolina Friends Middle School was blessed with a Science Day:
15 scientists joined us to present workshops of open doors,
of DNA, of waves, of sound, of the worlds revealed
through a microscope, a rocket, a drone, two falling balls,
worms with sunburn, the stories of baboons, of numbers,
of hidden bias, of critters, of paleontology and food,
of water phase changing, of safety in a dangerous world,

a fabulous keynote as Glenn Murphy,
a new day Carl Sagan for the adolescent, 
shared the reasoning in his new book:
Eat. Grow. Move. Live. Learn.
interconnecting all that we need to do to thrive as living organisms,
arguing “how modern sedentary living threatens health on all counts,”

an afternoon tour de force of awe from Bryan Sexton,
the positive effects of the positive,
the joy in the wonder within us, and without us,

Glow Worm Cave NZ

Grand Canyon

near half the school postering individual experiments—
opening the doors into revelation of what insights 
might allow themselves to be released with the right question and exploration,

a finale of middle school advisee groups
challenged by working together
on ping-pong ball projection, and catching,

the world of science a wonder,
within the chaos that can easily surround us.

by Henry H. Walker

March 10, ‘17