Gardener at Heart - Book One

Field Trip To The Habitat Restoration Project In The Old Quarry, Or, Columbia Desert Parsley (Lomatium columbianum)


We come to where the Earth is deeply hurt

And thinly spread with living medicine,

And there we wander with our searchlight eyes

To see if any seeds have woken up

And stretched their arms above their rocky beds.

We travel slow and clumsy on the rocks

That shift and grate beneath our shifting feet;

We call and point and gather round each sprout—

Our feet must seem like giant feet to them—

And here a transplant has relaxed its fists

And promised to outgrow its little crib.

We slowly wend our way across a scene

That seems to be just barren empty gray

With here and there a sleepy grayish stick,

Until we blink our visionary eyes

And seem to see what it may someday be

When all the sticks and seeds are fully grown

And married, and have children of their own.


At length we pause beneath a rocky cliff

To rest our eyes and feet on something green.

We bend above a topsy-turvy plant

That’s fallen from the cliff’s eroding crown

And wonder what it was, now half-decayed.

We feel like we’ve been looking down for hours;

We straighten up and stretch and gaze around

And call each other eagerly to come

And see the first wild flower of the year.

There, halfway up the cliff, it calmly sits

As if on folded blankets, and its robes

Are buckskin thickly sewn with purple beads.

Some force has brought us here together now

At just this single lovely spot in time.

We lift our heads and see it sitting there

And pointing up, and so we all look up,

And just as we look up, way up the cliff

To where the rocks intrude upon the sky—

The blue blue sky, with clouds so paper-white,

As swift and ragged as a child can rip—

A bald eagle soars out overhead

And circles over us, and comes again.

“A bald eagle! Look!” we call out loud,

And then fall silent, wide-eyed to the sky,

And we begin to feel that nothing else

Has ever been so dark brown and so white

As this one perfect bird above us now.

It gazes down with telescopic eyes

And sees us with our eager upstretched arms;

It sees the medicine spread on this place

Where Earth is hurt, and cannot heal herself,

And seems to bless us with its beating wings.

We watch until it circles out of sight,

Then slowly go our various separate ways,

But in our thoughts we’re still beneath those wings

And tell ourselves that someday roots will win

And rocks will not shift underfoot again.


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