Photo by Robert Smith, late May in the oak-hickory forest in Fremont County, Iowa.
Crazy on Foot (prose poem by Jack Phillips)
Omaha stands where an oak-hickory woodland once stood where Maple Street crosses a sylvan meander no one seems to notice where the long-ago living here wore no clothing or scant and yet 911 was flooded when someone wandered naturally into traffic and I wondered how he got here or more importantly where he is going (and what about us) perhaps a vestigial leak of an older self an oaken ghost being cut and laid bare (the bipedal zygote of Gaia) some refugee god in pedestrian flesh. Going native is almost as shocking as going on foot better get to the woods whilst no one is watching.
Wild spirits in human form on a TNS retreat along the East Nishnabotna River. Such sightings are rare unless you know where to look.
Submit to the sweet the savage beauty of this world now is the time.
(American sentence by Jack Phillips, a form of haiku originated by the poet Allen Ginsberg. *Dicentra cucullaria with ant struggling in a spider’s web along the East Nishnabotna River, photo by Becky Colgrove.)
Leaf buds unwrap mystic gifts and in my life unfolding, there is also that unnameable pattern
spiraling out, sending sacred stretches towards the burning sun
Turning to it, I gather a beam of light
The moment of now runs away as I search out some lasting thing, knowing too well that all things erode
Poem by Joelle Wellansa, Naturalist-in-Residence
Photos by Troy Soderberg (top) and Robert Smith.
Ephemeral spiral in a winter ravine. Photo by Billie Shelton.
Photo by Courtney Stormberg.
*Early morning bobcat (Lynx rufus) in Fremont County, Iowa. Once common now rarely seen, it shares deep winter silences with those in search of solitude. Photo by Courtney Stormberg.
Feral friends and wanderlings, for those of us who live by daylight and the stretch of purple night, the Solstice brings a new year. And for those of us with a talent and taste for wild silences, winter is the blessed season. In the coming weeks we will resume our Saunters and workshops, write frozen poems and make muddy ones come spring. For now, we wish you longer days and warmer socks.
— Jack Phillips and The Naturalist School
The naked bark of winter writes a simple poetry. Graphis scripta is a common lichen on the smooth bark of living trees such as June-berry (Amelanchier arborea). Though native to our home-woods of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, June-berry is much more common in New Hampshire, the birthplace of The Naturalist School. Wherever we find our wild friend June-berry, Graphis scripta gives us the first lines of a poem.
Graphis scripta on Amelanchier arborea in Fremont County, Iowa. Photos by Robert Smith.
*Convergence of springs at the foot of Pahuk, sacred Pawnee bluff in eastern Nebraska, in early December. (Photo by Robert Smith.)