“The participants in a ceremony say, “All my relations” before and after we pray; those words create a relationship with other people, with animals, with the land.” – Linda Hogan, Dwellings, A Spiritual History of the Natural World
In this dawn, in this coolness before a heated day, Rufous Hummingbirds are the first to wake. Hunger beckons. Their whirring wings beat a figure eight pattern at 70 times per second or higher. Rapid-fire click calls dance through a breeze like fingers flying upon an old typewriter. Their destination? The columbines outside our kitchen window tower five feet tall. Tubular blooms of red and yellow offer the sweetest of breakfast syrups. All my relations.
I sip coffee. The hummingbird sips nectar. My hands cradle a favorite pottery mug with a smooth lip and handle of cobalt blue and the rest a natural clay etched with mountains, sun, cattails, and flying birds. The rufous male is the flickering flame. Another hummingbird whips in and the two burst away in fiery chase. Bare feet anchor me, as mind flies to the pine tree where now the raven gives the top-of-the-hour report in three rasping, yet melodic syllables–Here! Here! Here! All my relations.
Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan spoke to our Emergence Magazine book club yesterday on Zoom, after we’d read Dwellings, savoring each essay as a weaving of people, animals, and land– “the alive and conscious world.” She’d written the book in 1995, and since then so many poetic words have poured forth and soon we will have the gift of her newest book, The Radiant Life of Animals. “Spoke to” is not the right description. Every question asked, she responded with a thoughtful, centered grace that matched the beauty of a woman who lives with attention, quiet, stillness, and curiosity.
“I would write all day if I could,” she said. Her days are filled with connection to nature on her 15 acres of wildlife corridor and dwelling place in Oklahoma. Her small home was once a shack that remains simple, yet light-filled. Behind her, I could see rounded pottery on shelves. Before our session, Linda had been outside, down on her knees observing a procession of ants, admiring their single-minded drive. All my relations.
From my scrawled notes during that precious hour, I wrote down phrases this morning, as the neighbor’s rooster crowed, the hummingbird notes cascaded, a chickadee gave three dees, and the slurred whistle of a lesser goldfinch seared my heart. All my relations.
I share her words here — each with a photo from our wild yard in July–an offering to the silken pink cast of light in the pines, to the soughing wind sifting pine needles, the hum of hummingbird wings, and the slumbering bumblebees enfolded in wildflower petals. All my relations.
All My Relations. — With gratitude to all the birds, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, ants, beetles, dragonflies, wildflowers, pines, manzanitas, ceanothus, bitterbrush, spirea, mock orange, elderberry, lava rocks, sky, and so much more that animates this Friday morning on the last day of July—and to Linda Hogan and Emergence Magazine book club.