Right on Time


Here come the first hints of spring right on time. I heard a robin sing yesterday and today the call of the sand hill crane caught my attention. The snow is melting and the mud and the ice are treacherous if you take a wrong step, but the brilliant sun makes the cold wind cower and you know it is only a matter of time before you will walk barefoot again.

And there is hope, right on time.

The news in any given day is bleak and I am inclined to believe it is intentionally so. It is easier to control a population when it is kept on edge. It is easier to drive an agenda if you do not give people a chance to find their own way. But at the end of the day, it will always be our choice to fall for fear mongering and hate baiting or to strive to create sustainable peace.

Winter in the Driftless is not for those afraid of a good challenge. But it is the beauty of the season and the brilliance of the night skies that soothes the soul and holds the promise of spring.

I couldn’t live in a hopeless world. And the return of the sand hill crane reminds me of that. I muse over the latest news on the coronavirus, or the hatred that has reared its head against Muslims in Delhi. Yet I rejoice to hear the Korean woman tell how she survived the disease and how the Hindu man saved many Muslim neighbors making trips by motorcycle.

You see, spring returns. And with it hope. Not blind hope, but hope born of reason, conviction and action laced with integrity.  We are born for this. We are born to be victors over fear, hatred and ignorance, because we are born for love.


sandhill crane in flight courtesy of wikipedia commons

Hone Love

As winter solstice draws near, the shadows grow longer, the light burns brighter, and the air is crisp. It’s a contemplative time, a time to reflect on the past and to gather strength to prepare for the spring. If we have done our work through the seasons, we’re able to enjoy this time and celebrate with deep appreciation.

If this season catches us unprepared, we run the risk of missing its quiet beauty. Winter for all its harshness is a time to go within. It is also a time to share.

Everyday is worthy of celebration and giving thanks. Yet living close to the land awakens an appreciation of the return of light. It is something we share with our predecessors and with people throughout the world. We receive the longer days with this recognition: That even though the harshest times may still be before us, we will have the increased vision and strength to see it through.

There are many who will not be able to feel the subtle changes of the season. There are some who do not care. For whatever reason, we have handed the reigns of power to people who have forgotten they are of the earth. They cannot feel the magic or the majesty of living. They are content to destroy it all for material gain.

Yet the lovers of the earth will continue to love.

I am learning to not curse the cold, nor surrender to the darkness. There is something that softens my heart and feeds my soul. It’s simple and it’s absolute.

I am alive. In these complex and challenging times we are alive.

And there is so very much hope in that. Celebrate the light and hone the gift of love.

It is the only thing ignorance cannot destroy. Hone love and fight like hell.

Prayers That Never Falter

I recently learned of the passing of a great man.

In mid-2016, I was drawn to the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. I visited to see if I could help keep the oil pipeline from crossing the headwaters and the tribal lands.

When I returned in September, it was with the conviction to remain. I had no tribe and no affiliation and looked for an opportunity to make a formal request to stay.

Each day began with prayers around the fire.  From my bed in the car, I could hear his voice over the loud speaker as the light barely cracked the darkness. “Kiktapo! Get up. We have work to do. We must stop the black snake.” And there he would be welcoming all to the fire. People came from all corners of the world and all faiths and he welcomed them to offer their prayers.

And when I would attend the day’s orientation, he would be there again leading with prayer, holding the vision, teaching us about courage and strength through example.

He was the one I asked to stay in the camp. I made my offer to help and he welcomed me. And when I asked where to place my tent, he told me, “Here, next to my family.”

The next several weeks were life changing as weather, rubber bullets, water cannons and infiltrators cut into us.  But the prayers never faltered.

Guy Dullknife   was a cherished father, husband, artist, veteran and member of the American Indian Movement, but those are not my stories to tell.

For me, he was a link to my deepest wishes for humankind. That one-day we will rise, all people, with acceptance and respect, and take back the earth, which is our right. As the living, it is our right and our duty.

Thank you Guy, for prayers that never falter. We carry on.

Guy and Angie

Grateful to Love

A friend came by to help us ready for winter. He’s a young Amish gentleman and we have shared laughter and good wishes for a few years now. He mentioned he would be traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving and I asked, “What foods do you have for your meal?” “Turkey most often”, he replied. And I thought about it a bit and asked, “Do you tell stories of Pilgrims and Indians?” “No”, he said. “Me either”, I said, and then added, “I must be a bit Amish”…and we laughed.

We had many sweet conversations that day as we puttered about moving wood and fencing, and getting the barn ready for the sheep to winter. He was brave enough to have his first taste of curry as we sat to eat our lunch, and liked it enough for seconds. He spoke about his new bride and how happy he is in his new life. I could feel his joy. It was infectious. I read to him a note of thanks that I had received and he smiled.

We talked about how good it would be if all people could respect each other in their differences and delight in their similarities. And once again I marveled at the ease of speaking to another human being who cherishes life first and foremost.

As the day wore on I felt our kinship grow and was grateful for the brief times we share. While driving home he made note of, and thanked me for, slowing down as I came upon a horse and buggy. “Too many people don’t take the time to slow down”, he said. “I know”, I said. “We too often forget there is precious life there.”

The silences in our conversations are laden with communication.

And he is one of the many people I am very grateful to love.


Best wishes in this season of wonder and gratitude.

Lovers of the Earth Know

In between the downpours that have become autumn’s new norm, I heard a faint cry from the potato patch. The potatoes were calling me to come and get them. I know that is ridiculous and perhaps it was my stomach saying it was time for lunch, but regardless, I took the time to unearth those precious gems. Heavy spring rains made their planting late and now they seemed pushed to the surface by the swell of water that continues to fall from the sky.

In case you haven’t gotten the memo, the times they are a changin’. The name we have given it is climate change. And while politicians debate the causes and pundits advance notions of population control and promote the need to industrialize our food systems even more, the gardener and the harvester observe and respond to the roller coaster ride that we are now engaged in.

To say we are in challenging times is an understatement.

As if uncertainty is not enough, the media spin attempts to guide us with fear. The already prevalent notion of scarcity is driving our pocket books and our vision.  When all the while, the earth remains quite capable of feeding us.

This is what the lover of the earth knows.

The lover of the earth knows that there is still time to learn from the seasons, to enrich the soil, to re-discover old wisdoms and re-plant old seeds. The lover of the earth knows that food of the earth is the best medicine, unadulterated and pure. And the lovers of the earth will go right on loving regardless of the climate upheaval, because we can.

The earth has many more secrets to reveal and we are capable of learning.

As for me, I’ll meet this new day with trust in my heart and hoe in hand.


Love of Place

Every apple seed can produce an entirely unique tree. Every tree has a story to tell and there is so much to learn. I have the pleasure of living in an heirloom apple orchard. It delights the senses throughout the seasons, it informs and it nourishes; its beauty has captured my heart…All of this has caused me to ponder the significance of love of place.

We cannot all stay in the place of our birth. My maternal grandmother left a beautiful seaside town on the west coast of Italy to come to the United States. And while I am sure she missed the sea, the foods and flora of her home, she taught me through her actions the importance of love of place. Well into her 70’s she tirelessly cared for her garden, her chickens and her bread with a gratitude to the land that allowed it all to be.

The people of the Bahamas are now beginning the struggle to rebuild after the destruction of Dorian. The people of the Amazon who have been displaced by intentionally set fires are forced to uproot. Throughout the world migrants traveling by sea and by foot are being forced to leave their homes. It is through my own love of place that I can possibly understand their grief and their uncertainty.

Love of place. For those of us who live by the fruit of the earth we are inexplicably bound to her. Love of place is essential to our well being and it is hard to comprehend living without it.

Many of us have lost this relationship to land and I suggest to you that it may well be the cause of much of the disharmony and disrespect that we witness today.

Science now tells us that we need more time in Nature. This is something that our hearts have always known.



Seasons of the Heart

As we find ourselves in the peak of summer, I revel in the transient greenery that now engulfs this land we call the Driftless. I have lived here in the magic of the seasons for seventeen years.

They say, “Home is where the heart is,” and I must tell you it has been quite easy to find my heart and my home here.  Notions of caring for the land, or stewarding the land, have given way to the understanding that the land is also caring for me. It is a symbiotic relationship and one that I am grateful to have.

We have been taught we hold dominion over the Earth, and this fool’s notion has driven us to cause great harm to everything living, including ourselves. We parade the words, “In God We Trust” as we glibly destroy the Creation. I know no other way out of this horrible nightmare but to celebrate the Beauty and the finite nature of this home we call Earth. And this is nothing less than an act of Love.

I often recall this passage on Love from Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”: “When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep”, and he reminds us, “…even as Love is for your growth it is also for your pruning.”  Gibran paints a harsh journey and seals it with this: “But if you seek only … Love’s pleasure, it is better that you pass from Love’s door…into the season less world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter and cry, but not all of your tears.” End of quote.

Home is where the heart is and it is where the seasons dance. It’s our choice to dance, too. The rhythm of Love is beckoning.


“Home is where the heart is,” is a quote from Pliny the Elder a naturalist and author, born 23 AD in Como Italy. His full name was Gaius Plinius Secundus.

photo is Margaret’s off grid home at Echo Valley Farm, Wisconsin.

You can listen to this on Soundcloud.

Thanks to WDRT for continuing to air “Consider This” every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST.

And for more on the Driftless, visit Driftless Now.

Seeking Asylum

I would like to clarify some misunderstandings regarding asylum seekers. An asylum seeker is not an illegal immigrant. An asylum seeker is one who because of the very real fear of violence, displacement, hunger or other persecution is forced to leave their home country in search of shelter in a foreign country.

Adopted in 1948, Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all people the right to seek asylum. These people are known as refugees. This is international law, yet each individual country creates unique pathways for asylum seekers. Today we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. Thousands of people, families and children are seeking asylum in the United States due to the inhuman conditions of life in their home countries. How we treat these people is within our domain.

When an asylum seeker enters our country at a legal port of entry and proves through documentation the facts of their case, they begin a process, which may take months to complete. During that time they have two options. If they can find a sponsor, they are allowed to live with that sponsor. They are not allowed to work and must strictly adhere to all court dates, check ins and other policies set forth by ICE. If they do not have a sponsor they are forced to reside in a detention center.

I am sponsoring a young family who were granted the possibility to seek asylum in the United States. Their journey has been ongoing for the past three months. They speak very little English and are at the mercy of strangers and a very complicated system.

Kindness and compassion must not slip away as bureaucracy steps in. Respect is imperative. At the end of the day we are all human.



The photo shown is of the ankle bracelets that must be worn at all times by asylum seekers.

Engaging Community

A quote by Helen Keller reads: “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”

The obvious truth of these words can only be known as we engage in community. And while it appears that some are lost in independent silos and more interested in entertainment than in civic responsibility, that has not been my experience.

Even before the horrible floods that devastated our region last year, many were engaged in trying to find ways to curb the rising tide of farm loss, homelessness and hunger, and the isolation of people due to drug and alcohol abuse.

Then came the floods making mockery of our efforts and forcing us to reckon with the reality that there is very little we can do alone. We need one another.

And so I, like many, have sought community and ways to lend a hand. It is not always easy to offer support. As a whole we have learned to be distrustful. We have bought the story line that says, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and we are ashamed to admit it does not always work. The truth is, we need one another.

Today it seems we are engaging in a great renaissance of community. For me it involves organizing the Ontario Farmers Market. Or showing up to discuss the importance of protecting the natural resources in our area from unwanted usury. It means writing these two-minute posts for our community radio station in hopes that someone will be inspired to act.

This renaissance of caring means we must be willing to listen to one another as well as ensure that we are heard. If we do, we just might find this quote by Margaret J. Wheatley to be true,  “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”


photo: planting trees, 2016

you can listen to Consider This on WDRT Community Radio every Thursday, 5:30pm, CST or listen hear on Soundcloud

Indomitable Spirit

It is -7 degrees F, and I am wondering how Louise is doing. Today is January 13. It is the coldest of the cold snap that will hit us this week. We had a break for a while and the temps hit 40 degrees F. I have begun to give Louise massage and physical therapy on her hind legs since she showed me that she had no desire to leave the planet just yet. (This might be the moment that you want the back-story posted on Dec 30.)

Louise is a sheep who I have had the good fortune to know for nearly fifteen years. She had been down for nearly three weeks. One of those weeks I was away and she had not gotten up at all. What I didn’t realize is that she was often moving her legs to push herself closer to hay or maybe she did it knowing she had to. I do not know. What I do know is our friendship, our communication and our relentless spirits are enjoying this time that we share.

Over the past few days she has stood up on all fours, with help of course, and has taken a few steps. The boldest steps took her outside of her pen into the warming sun. She had to step down a bit. She did it. And all the other girls came round to check on her and to see what goodies she might have for them to eat. They had been noticing that her water is warmed, and her apples cut. They had also caught on that if they were close to her pen there was hay left for them and sometimes a piece of squash came their way. Oh, and they definitely smelled the grain. They only get a bit of grain at shearing time, so that caught their attention as well. They are an observant lot.

The camaraderie does her good. I have contemplated putting her with the others but sheep lack the niceties of proper company and would never give her time to eat. I think she knows that, too. So a bit of time together – not meal times – works out well.

Many of you ask about her and I tell her that you are thinking of her. I am cherishing this time. I am continuing to learn about indomitable spirit and the sweetness of each moment. She is strengthening me as I help her. I am still under no illusions. But like my good friend and best veterinarian on the planet, Dr. Burch said with a giggle as we acknowledged the unlikelihood of this moment, “She just isn’t ready to go yet.”

So that is your update as I go to the barn, heavily layered and knowing one thing for sure: Wear your woolies. The sheep got it going on. She is so warm in her au naturel. And today will be brilliantly sunny. That is Nature’s way of compensation for the deep cold. I erected a plastic door to let the sun shine in on her. I feel her gratitude as I learn about her needs. So very grateful to have this moment. Very Best to All.