Nature And Nurture

Nature and Soul NYC #2

My stack of poems is dwindling down – almost like the words in September Song: “and the days dwindle down to a precious few” and “ the wine dwindles down to a precious brew.” So let’s see if I can brew up some precious words and thoughts about nature, actions and reactions, and some relationship to experience and The Eternal Sea.

Natures Way
When the balance
Of people and nature
Is mostly nature’s way,
Life seems more tranquil,
In order, with reason –
Day, happily, follows day.
How much of life involves fighting –
Struggling for the “progress’
We’ve made changing this natural balance;
Changing it so we may hurry,
Be taller, talk faster –
Shutting off the envelop
Of nature’s lovely glade?
We manufacture:
Noises, gases, garbage, toxins,
Stuff’ that needs more ‘stuff’
To take care of it.
This waste creation,
Fulfilling the pursuit of happiness
And the “American Dream,”
Is for ‘Progress’ – A better life;
Having more than . . .
For what?
We forget (or ignore)
The ‘Way(s)’ of our ancestors,
The time when all lived in harmony
With each other and with Nature,
When getting and giving
Were the underpinning of the cycle of life.
So the course, we are told,
To follow, to pursue, to ‘success,’
Is one forgetting nature’s balance,
Its rhyme and its rhythm,
Plunging on, straight ahead,
Unblinking and unthinking.
Is our course so charted, unswerving
That, however, we try
We are locked into a pattern
We have dubbed “progress?”
What upheaval, at what cost,
Can the burden be righted, again?
Is the burden of ‘progress’
So fixed and so heavy
That it cannot be thrown off
By today’s mortal men and women?Can we relearn, teach, experience
Lessons from another day,
When the balance of people and nature
Was mostly nature’s way?

With that balance,
Life can be so tranquil.
So, then, in order,
With reason,
Have season follow season;
Walk the path
Of Nature’s way,
And life will unfold,
The story gladly told
Of day, happily, following day.

Sitting with our remotes, clicking away at the fare being offered on the TV, what is it that we really are seeking? Perhaps more than anything else a surcease from the striving to understand what is going on around us; what is it that allows the events that are played up on the ‘news’ to be so attractive – events that involve pretty much human kind’s dark side and/or nature’s way of reminding us who is really in charge. Here, the click of the remote brings forth the scope of the lives we live – lives that rush through the seasons and years and with the flick of the wrist could click us to answers to those basic questions.
Click (Being):
The twinkles become reality.
Spring has sprung –
From bare and nothing,
Greening comes forth:
Everything is possible.
Fresh, joy, no cares;
Playing freely, no rules:

Click (Doing):
Days are full,
We become ‘responsible,’
Segueing from nourished
To nurturing.
Warming, maturing,
Living in the ‘real world.’
Time is precious and presses,
Balancing spending and storing.

Click (Being/Doing)
Daylight is shortened;
The prism of life
Transforms the greens
Of our summers
Into multi-hued blazes –
Breaking the intensity of
Summer’s ‘doings’
Into a panoply
Of memory-driven
Times and places.

The “September Song” tells us:
‘When the Autumn weather
Turns the leaves to flames,
That we haven’t time
For the waiting game.”
Yet, we have been blessed
With many extra decades of this life
To once more chose among the paths
That open before us.

Click (Being):
One ‘next’ path
Is (forgive me Nike)
Being all we can be;
Being what fits in the center
Of those separate circles of
What you Like/Love;
What you are Good at;
What is Needed.

Click, then,
Into that place and space
Of memories, talents, networks –
The future beckons.
Click that remote
To live the life
You came to live;
The life
For which you were created.

Season’s Song
When I leave this body,
My aura, more spoor,
May I be like Autumn’s leaves:
Multi hued, flaming;
Set in clear contrast
To that awesome blue sky
On a cloudless day in Fall,
Attracting and reflecting the sun,
Low in the heavens
As it rises and sets.
When I ‘die,’
Remember me as the one
On a Quixotic Quest,
Searching for meaning,
Feeling alone and apart,
Swimming in the context
Of Love’s eternal soup.
The seasons of the year,
Like the seasons of life,
Have been given to us
As canvas and paint
To create our picture
Of time’s journey.
And, what is time
But some made-up measure
So we can box experiences –
Storing them
On the Shelf of Life.
Ah! Autumn,
When we can harvest
The fruits of lifelong learning;
Of lifelong yearning –
When all the ‘this’s”
And all the “that’s”
Line up,
Coming together.And, all the colors
Of thought and deed
Do come together
To flash as Rainbow –
No longer whispering;
But making a bald,
Bold statement:
Live, harvest, expire –
Be, be in each moment.
The bare, still, colorless cold.
Is this a season for passing?

Or rather, a season for resting?
The pause in the cycle of creation;
The contemplation, the stock-taking
Before ONE’s re-borning?

Season for preparing;
For recycling.
The re-coiling
Springing forth.

Ah! Listen! Regard!
The seasons sing;
Life’s stages harmonize.
We, in the end, are ONE –
And Love is the answer.


Nelson County Sketch #5© Mary Lou Quinn


We sit in a circle,
Breathing in the smoke of elderhood
As we watch the flame
Reflect life’s turnings.At first,
There was the time
The time for springing forth,
Full of energy, dreams, desires;
Tilling, planting, cultivating –
Wide-eyed and impressionable
As we now see it
In life’s rear-view mirror
Greening turned to
The full colors
And active buzzing
Of our Summers.
Life was like the circus performer
Running back and forth,
Spinning so many plates
On sticks overhead;
Did it matter
That some fell and shattered?
What was growing then,
So important, bursting forth:
Bearing all kinds of fruit,
Now changes as viewed
Through the glory
Of Autumn’s colors.
Let us luxuriate,
Making new tracks
In the colors of Autumn,
Celebrating the days past;
The work done.
Time to share the harvest.
Our seeds now drop,
Some to take root –
Even as Winter
Stills the cycle,
Covering the fields
That once were plowed
And yielding.
There is fresh space,
Time is stretched,
Memories bring smiles
And “Ah Ha’s!”We sit in a circle
Around the fire,
Fashioning solutions
From the smoke of memory
And the joyous living
That was/is our lives.

NYC Weekend
I lived and worked in NYC for many years after my college days upstate,four year’s of law school living in Greenwich Village, and a year on a Fulbright in Spain launched me into several careers there including a relatively long stint on the 56th floor of ‘30 Rock.’ [30 Rockefeller Plaza] It was exciting, there were special opportunities to learn, to contribute, to truly experience many, many ‘things.’ And, after having moved away to the quiet and friendliness of Upstate New York – and then other places like Charleston, SC and Charlottesville, VA – returning to “the City” lost its charm and attraction. This poem reflects where I’got to’ on a visit sometime ago.

Nature and Soul NYC #2© Mary Lou Quinn

The most exciting thing
In New York City
Is the robin
Building her nest
Outside the kitchen window
Where I am staying.
One can bring nature and soul
Into any nest –
Pile in the shining leaves –
Create a hiding spot underneath.
Weave pieces of string
Into a nest that is “home.”
The most exciting thing
In New York City
Is the robin affirming life by
Building her nest
Outside the kitchen window.
People, faces,
Noises, graces,
Shops, cafes, taxis,
Sirens, barking,
Couples sparking;
Unimaginable diversity:
Museums, universities,
Slums and alums –
If you can’t find it here
It ain’t anywhere.
The most exciting thing
In New York City
Was the feeling
That the robin gave me:
A feeling of being safe and secure,
In the tree
Outside the kitchen window.
Two weeks’ salary
To park your care;
Anything you could want
Ain’t very far –
Except perhaps Nature’s balm,
Babbling brook’s sound,
Senses becalmed.People, faces, noises, graces,
Shops, cafes, taxis, “Oy-veys:”
Sirens, barking,
Sirens, hawking;
Shopping, charging,
Pushing, bargaining;
Humanity spilling out everywhere;
Their hearts, their souls, their cares.
If you can’t find it here,
It ain’t anywhere.

The most memorable thing
In New York City this weekend
Is to know that a robin
Is building her nest
Outside the kitchen window.

Manhattan Island (the “City) has a deep rock base (although lots has been added with fill). This allows the very tall ‘skyscrapers’ to be built. When the deep holes are dug, there was usually a fence constructed around the site, with holes in the fence to look at what was being built. One thing I tried to do when I served as Assistant Commissioner for Cultural Affairs while the first World Trade Center was being built was to have artists design a light sculpture for the steel shell as it was going up. The building law required light bulbs to be scattered on all floors during construction. It didn’t happen. It is still a good idea as new buildings go up – Anywhere.
Bottomless hole,
Disembodied bowels of
Subterranean connections;
Cut in the base rock of
Clay-footed Gotham.
Storehouses for the choking wastes
That convey, not transport.
Hollow skeleton,
Cold, linear, unfeeling –
Empty skull,
Whose sockets lead to pulled buckets.
Steel-roped nerves,
Synapsed with non-feeling.
Sprayed and stuffed,
Added to dress cold steel.
Fibrous sinews
That will never stretch,
Seeking new horizons
Covering wired nerves;
While liquid conduits
Are added to serve
Each cellular unit.
On this base,
This unfeeling monster,
There is created
A home.
A home
Away from home;
How to humanize?
As a bee seeks nectar
From all kinds of flowers,
Seek teachings everywhere.
Like a cow that finds
A quiet place to graze,
Seek seclusion to digest all
You have gathered.
Like a freed slave,
Finding the ‘beyond’
Of former limits,
Go wherever you please.
Live like a lion,
Completely free
Of all fear.
We are here to experience;
To learn;
To take back all we become
To the Eternal Sea.
To The Eternal Soup
With color fading
Into all shades of Orange and Brown –
Leaves cry out for more paint
And creative outpouring.
I ride through it
As I move my fulcrum,
Still thinking
I can move the World.
That I can add
From my experiences –
Those unique and special
Gifts and opportunities
That have emerged
From the Eternal Sea –
Is the conscious understanding
I have evolved to reach.
These spark the incoming whooshes
Of angels and energy and
Drive out to all kin
A table of delights.
Life is full, and my cup
Is forever open
To more love,
More experience,
More offerings,
More opportunities
To add and serve.
I awake each day praising the Creator
For the opportunity to be present and aware.
Thanks be.
Here we are – as ONE.
Thank You

I got to spend a lot of time working in various ginseng gardens that I set up, both under artificial shade and in natural woods settings. Not wanting to use chemicals to keep down weeds, it turned out the weeds [plants in the wrong place] loved the beds that had been made. So a lot of time and effort was invested to pull weeds and free up the ginseng plants so they could breathe and grow. I truly loved this physical labor as compared to all the ‘desk jobs’ that I had and the “tiredness” at the end of the day was such a good one! So, this poem is what the plants gave back. I did have one relatively transcendent experience relating to harvesting the entire crop at the garden along the Hudson River. There was disease and the crop wasn’t at all what we had hoped. We decided to plant another garden back into the 

Catskills where it was cooler and the soil more conducive to this crop. 

I had a conversation with the plants from several rows and told them that I would replant them in the new garden if they would promise me that they would resist any disease. I thought I had agreement.

Fast forward . . .  three years. The new garden, again, got a fair amount of disease and pretty low yield . . . except, except for the two long rows of plants that had been transplanted and with whom I had an agreement. Yes, these plants prospered, did not get diseased and produced a lovely yield. I leave it to you to ponder the interaction. I am a believer and continue to dialogue with these cousins of creation.


Give us a chance.
You made all that effort
To give us
Now clear the path,
Give us air, food, Love.
We’ll grow and contribute.
Whew! . . .
That’s nice!
Jumble, jungle, straightening:
Air, light, space.
Bring ‘em back around!
Hidden and lost,
Restored to their space.
A sigh . . .
A stretch . . .
Gone are those neighbors;
We are ready
For nourishment,
So, good friend,
Go fetch.
Let’s make a deal,
And this is for real,
Keep us breathing
And for you we’ll have appeal.
We can exist,
We can persist,
And all we insist
Is that no weeds shall persist.
We can
Be.Thank you!


The Eternal Sea
Image by Pixabay

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s