Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Keeping My Mind on What Matters

The hummingbirds returned last evening and I mowed my lawn for the first time today. I left some edges to make the transition to woods and now wait for this newly-forming meadow to discover the wildflower possibilities there. The birds are singing like it's the very first spring, as the sheets on the line breathe in, and then out. It's a perfect spring day and I just discovered this Mary Oliver poem.


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbirds -
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old?  Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect?  Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these lovely body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ Mary Oliver

Winslow Homer   "Fresh air"


  1. Hello Teresa:
    What a wonderful poem of hope and so perfect at this, most joyful of stages in the year. It must be a source of great delight when the hummingbirds make their reappearance. They sound such exotic creatures to us but must surely give you the same thrill that swallows do when they arrive for an English summer.

    Wildflower meadows, in our experience, are deceptively difficult to establish. We wish you well with yours!

  2. I was talking to my sister on iChat this morning when a hummingbird looked in my window at me. It was so lovely, not to mention the SUN IS OUT! And I am all smiles, reading Mary's poem, seeing the perfect picture...

  3. Oh, the first time I saw a hummingbird - well, actually I heard it. I thought it sounded like a gigantic bee and I ducked, to my son's infinite amusement. I'd never seen one before. They're like tiny living jewels, and I'm thrilled each and every time I see one. A beautiful poem, you've introduced me to so many!

  4. I like the poem a lot, and I like what you wrote even more. Happy spring!

  5. I love hummingbirds. I put my feeder out but the squirrels get to it. Sophie(my cairn terrier)simply isn't doing a very good job. I've had to put out these hood type things on all my other feeders, because of the squirrels, but am at a loss as to how I'm to protect my hummingbird feeder...hummmmm. My sister has tons of hummingbirds coming to her feeders. I was just wondering if they "remember" from the previous year? Teresa, thanks for the poetry. I'm normally not into it, but you always find something so fitting...good job!

  6. Teresa : Where ever you go, there you are...:-)

  7. Lance and Jane, My meadow will do what it will and I'll just witness, see what shows up. Whatever does will be better than that huge lawn.

    Yes, Jan, the sun is out! Yay! It makes all the difference.

    Li, I never tire of them. They are, indeed, like living jewels.

    Nancy, Thank you. I appreciate it very much.

    Lynn, I feel certain they do remember. It certainly seemed to be the case as my first went right to the window where I hung it last summer. It's on a small suction cup and squirrel proof.

  8. When the hummers come back it is like seeing old friends. I have had them around for a few weeks.Orioles sometimes sip a bit while it is easy.Birds do return to the same area.While banding birds we caught the same Nuthatch 3 years in a row, and a few others.

  9. Paul, The world certainly does seem to be a mirror....

    Steve, I saw an Oriole again this morning. I think he might have visited the hummer feeder. It's good to know they return. As you said, like old friends. Thank You!

  10. That is such a perfect poem, Teresa. Aren't the little hummingbirds just so sweet? We have a Baltimore Oriole who is also vying for a spot at the hummingbird feeder. Might have to get another :-)

    I envy your clothesline with the sheets "breathing in and out". I don't have a very good spot for one since the sunny side of our lot slopes to the lake. But I can just smell that freshness through your post. Thanks!

  11. Hi Cheryl, It seems to fit, doesn't it? It was nice, falling sleep with that wonderful smell last night.

  12. What an immensely simple yet elegant poem. Wonderful choice.

    Adding friendly habitat for the hummers and other critters will bring great joy to your life, but you already knew that!

  13. Hi Bill, I liked its simple elegance, too. I look forward to seeing what a little more meadow area will introduce. It's such fun, being tuned into nature.

  14. "Morning has broken/like the first morning/blackbird has spoken/like the first bird...". Cat Stevens (Genius)

  15. Cletis, I thought that line of mine had a slightly familiar cadence/sound to it. I Love that song. Cat sang the soundtrack to my life during college. Great songwriter, good man. I had to go back and sing my paragraph. It worked pretty well, until the last line. Had to do some cramming there. :)

  16. I like the poem. You've quoted her before, haven't you? Your first mow. I'm on my 3rd. Actually waiting for the grass to dry up. :) You got your yard work done. I have been replacing perennials as Cody did a job on them during the winter. How's Buddy doing? Any new pictures? Lucky you with hummingbirds.

  17. Hi Manzi, Yes, a few times. She's a poet of such simple eloquence. I have a few perennials I'm still planning to move from the back bed to the front, but it's basically done, for now. It will be a challenge to keep Buddy out. He wants to be everywhere there's something going on, of course. I will post pics again soon. He's growing like a weed.:)

  18. I absolutely love this poem, and it epitomizes where I need to keep my self these days, in the beauty and the now, is that a beetles album cover to the right - all you need is love, what a great cover. thanks ever so much for this today.

    We drove down the expressway the other day and they had sections in the middle with low growing wildflowers only about a foot tall at max, with mostly yellow and pink mixed together, they were so beautiful in their random swathes of color, I love a meadow and wildflower mix. I'd love to have a grouping of those at the back of our yard, a transition as you say from the manicured to the woods, letting them be natural in their own simple beauty. The only benefit of our lawn, which isn't all lawn, but a mixture of weeds is that it is food for the tortoise here which I love to see. I may have to put up a birdfeeder since my cats are indoors here. Have a wonderful day.

  19. Linda, Me, too, beauty and the now. And yes, that's the Beatles, from one of their films, "Yellow Submarine," I think.

    I love seeing wildflowers in the median as I drive here and there. Your tortoises look like they'd be entertaining.

    I hope you have a wonderful day, too.

  20. I love that poem!

    Ate some spinach out of the garden,
    the beets, russian kale and some lettuces are surging, raspberry patch is rampant.

    Planting some new 3 year old blueberry bushes this weekend...if only I had a pasture...

    Growing up in Minnesota, I remember the scents and thoughts of this time of year.

    Pregnant with potential.

    Love it.

  21. Tom, I'm green with jealousy over your garden already producing veggies for you. Sounds delicious. Your comments create almost poem in themselves, with a lovely Wendell Berry feel to them. What a perfect way for me to start this very rainy day: "if only I had a pasture." Spoken with a true love of the land.

    I believe I may have to rethink the no veggie garden this year. I walked to the garden yesterday and thought how much it needs to be appreciated, used for what it's meant to be used for.

    Thank, Tom.

  22. Yes.Spring Always Makes Me Think I Will Live Forever.Albeit still half-perfect!

  23. Tony, Nice to hear from you. It sounds like you're having a good time over there. Yes, still half-perfect. Not a bad place to be.

  24. We plowed up half our yard two springs ago. Now we've got fruit trees, vegetables and a bird habitat. It looked funny at first. Now it looks like that's what's supposed to be.

  25. Hi Linda, It seems there's always a transition time, as things actually return to what it always was or could have been. I think we all bought into some notion of what a lawn or yard is supposed to be and it can be beautiful, but also unnatural.

  26. oh teresa, i can feel your spirit, your sensitivity and vision in this poem. thank you. reading this has brought me to the moment--allowed me to be present and know you and know me.

  27. Michelle, dear Friend,I really like knowing you. Canot tell you how happy I am for you... Love, oh Love, expansive Love...

  28. Teresa,
    What lovely words and gosh, they really spoke to me! it's so important to be in the moment, which I'm finding hard to do right now becuase I'd really like to be back at the beach where we spent a nice long weekend, but must focus on here and now...thanks for the reminder!

  29. Tracy, The beach sounds nice. I sometimes miss my time at the ocean last spring, but staying in the now and present to what's in front of me is good, although sometimes challenging. Have a good day!