Day Five – Nature Poem (posted on Day Six)

Many of you may have heard the quote  “your one wild and precious life” but did you know it comes from Mary Oliver’s poem – The Summer Day? After a day-long stroll through the fields, several lines observing a grasshopper, deep questions about who made the world and the creatures in it and what is prayer, the poem ends with the following question:

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

That ‘s something to think about. I like the idea of life being wild and precious. Everyone should give that question some thought. What will I do with my wild and precious life?

This poem also captures the possibility that someone could spend an entire day “strolling through fields” and observing nature.  When I began working in land conservation 17 years ago after working as a corporate attorney for the previous 15 years, my husband (a very hard-working and dedicated high school biology teacher) often”joked” that it must be fun to spend my days “traipsing through meadows.” It was his way of pointing out that his job was much more demanding than mine and although I’ve never actually conceded that point to him, I suppose it might be true. But I don’t get my summers off and I rarely traipse through meadows. (Well, okay, maybe four or five times a year I traipse through meadows but meadows have ticks. It’s not all fun and games out there you know!)

I love to observe nature (ticks, snakes and especially spiders) and I appreciate the chance to spend more time working outdoors than I did for the first 15 years of my career. So you’d think this nature poem would be easy – plenty of material to choose from. But thinking that I SHOULD be able to write a good nature poem is precisely what has made this poem one day late (and not really great.) But here it is:

Colors of Early Spring

An early blue iris on a slender green stalk,
A lone yellow tulip beside my front walk.

White dogwood blossoms appear from nowhere,
Dancing and swaying, suspended, mid-air.

Inaptly named redbud’s brown slender stem,
Sends forth purple blossoms, as if on a whim.

The iridescent back of a shiny black crow,
Glistens and glimmers as he struts to and fro.

Up close and afar in myriad shades of green,
There’s a masterwork of wonder, waiting to be seen.

© 2017 Kalen Kingsbury




Writing 101 – Day 7 – Hook ’em with a Quote

Here is today’s assignment on Writing 101:

You can write about anything for today’s post — the only requirement is that you begin with a blockquote, which you can create in your post editor by clicking the quotation mark icon.

The type of quote you choose is up to you. Maybe the passage is something you’d like to comment on, or is one of your favorite quotes. Or maybe you read a great essay the other day, and one of its lines made you think.

Pull a quote of any length, but ideally between one sentence to a short paragraph. If you can’t find one, go to the quotes section on, where you’re bound to find a line that speaks to you.

And here is my response:

Love is the river of life in this world. Think not that ye know it who stand at the little tinkling rill, the first small fountain. Not until you have gone through the rocky gorges, and not lost the stream; not until you have gone through the meadow, and the stream has widened and deepened until fleets could ride on its bosom; not until beyond the meadow you have come to the unfathomable ocean, and poured your treasure into its depths – not until then can you know what love is. Henry Ward Beecher

My husband and I were married at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland in 1983. It was a fairly conventional ceremony with some accommodation so that the prayers would be more inclusive of our friends of different faiths, while still recognizing that we were a Christian couple and that making a covenant with God was an important part of our marriage. Instead of repeating after the minister, we each memorized our vows:

“I Kalen, take you Rick, to be my lawful, wedded husband and I promise and covenant before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful wife. In plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, so long as we both shall live.” Or something pretty close to that – it has been 32 years and I didn’t go look it up, that’s just what I remember.

The unique part of the ceremony was that we independently chose a saying that described what love meant to each us and we didn’t share those sayings with each other before the ceremony. The minister read them during the ceremony – it was a surprise verbal “gift” that we gave each other as part of the ceremony. I chose the quote above, which had actually been a quote I found when I was a teenager (I loved to read quotes and saved my favorite ones). As I had the minister read – “it had survived all of my tossing outs and throwing aways and still describes what I believe love is.”

I was just about to elaborate on the meaning of the quote when I realized that my words would only detract from its beauty. The sure sign of a good quote is that it needs no explanation.

I’ll close by saying that the quote is as true now as it was when I chose it 32 years ago. I’m looking forward to pouring the treasures of our love into the unfathomable ocean – but not for a good while yet – I’m too busy enjoying the smooth river flowing through the beautiful meadow.

Only by dealing…

Only by dealing with difficulty does creativity come forth.
Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry
The Universe Story

I start each day with an encouraging “Word of the Day” from, a great website with encouraging and uplifting messages.  I was feeling a little discouraged last night when I discovered how many Civil War blogs there are and what a huge topic it is.  So this “word of the day” was particularly appropriate for me this morning.  I’ve been exploring my creativity lately and for me it is a difficult process.

It might have started when my father told me that the trees in my picture looked like green lollipops. They did but you still shouldn’t say that when your 5 year-old daughter brings you a picture.

I ended up being a lawyer and thought that would be a safe, non-creative career choice. Imagine my surprise when the only negative comment during my first performance review was that I needed to be more creative! I didn’t know lawyers were supposed to be creative. I was much more comfortable making sure the citations were in proper format and “enjoyed” (?) spending many a long night proofreading corporate bylaws and IPO prospectuses.

Well those days are long behind me now and as I get older, defining and finding my creative voice becomes much more important to me. You’re never too old to connect to your true self. For me it actually gets easier the older I get – still difficult – but much easier.