Saturday, July 29, 2017

insect poems during a summer camp for little ones at nockamixon state park in quakertown.

yesterday, i taught my new insect poems workshop during a summer camp about bugs and butterflies at nockamixon state park in quakertown for kids who are in kindergarten through second grade, a group called little sprouts. although some of the creatures we discussed were not technically insects, but they were more related to insects than not and of course fell accurately enough into the category of bug-speak.

after some collective running around in the grass and in between trees by these fun kids, mid-hunting for bugs, i blew bubbles on our way to the education center to work on poems. the bubbles were a big hit in brief minutes as we walked. but that's because bubbles are just plain fun and whimsical.

below are eye-scenes of our excursions, some critters, and the poems crafted from the afternoon's inspirations. and hearing kids read their own freshly written poems is a great way to end a day.

(photograph above: credit to rebekah sheeler)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

labyrinth poems.

this afternoon, my traveling poetry class sat under the shade of a young tree, maybe an ornamental pear, after walking the labyrinth at ursinus college

we all wrote poems we didn't quite expect, compared to our original intentions before we began to craft them, and ones mostly unlike what you'll find upon googling labyrinth poems. you can see some eye-scenes of a few of them below (followed by what-is-a-labyrinth words).

i hope my students may visit the labyrinth and other ones around the region again on their own in the future, for slower walks of their own kind, as these are valuable places to walk and sit in the middle of in the stressful blur of living today. and so few people know and understand their purpose and value (at least within my circles of chatting, i've noticed), so i hope to nudge others to develop a penchant for labyrinths, too, as talk of them comes up in conversations.

thankfully, a site called is a great resource as a start for finding local labyrinths, but it does not list all existing labyrinths. so sometimes it's helpful to ask around to find out who in your days may know of more around the area, and a new one is now a part of one of my student's churches, too, so that is a nice perk for the future as another local labyrinth. it is at first presbyterian church in pottstown. i can't wait to visit it. this new labyrinth is apparently made from poured concrete. materials used and style of design often vary, and that's one nice aspect of labyrinths. they have the same shared idea of origin but can look a variety of different ways.

and thank you to arline christ for the photographs of us walking, since she'd walked the labyrinth yesterday during an early trip there.

and here is a re-posting of my excerpt in the original post to promote this class, just so anyone who doesn't know much about labyrinths can read about them here.


a labyrinth is sometimes confused with a maze, which can be a stressful challenge for the brain; instead, a labyrinth is a set of paths usually in a circle, geared toward helping people find footfalls that relax and bring them to a more pensive yet peaceful place.

“it’s not a maze where the intention is to get you lost,” said dave bushnell, pastor of epler’s church of christ in leesport. “it leads you to a center point for meditation.”

and it doesn’t necessarily have to be precise meditation; those who venture to labyrinths can sit and have their own quiet and use the opportunity for time away in whatever way they need.

“you walk out the way you came in, but in reverse,” bushnell said. “it’s great to see children in it. and some people walk straight to the middle because they can’t walk the full length.”

bushnell noted that he’s seen regional nurses taking slow walks through the labyrinth as they are thinking caringly about their patients who can’t easily visit the reflective resource of a spot on their own.

and there is no right or wrong way to walk through a labyrinth. some will move at faster paces, but slower ones are usually helpful for the busier minds of so many today who never get much of a chance to slow down because of so much on their proverbial plates in life.

“as you follow the path to the center, you let go of things as you walk, and you’re leaving the world and entering a space,” he said.

this sense of letting go is a lot of why people who visit the labyrinth from across the berks county community find so much relief while inching their way to the benches at the center.

“it’s pretty countercultural to walk around in a circle,” bushnell pointed out about how this endeavor is out of the norm but a benefit to the heart and mind.

labyrinths are incredibly historical, too. they can be traced to more than 4,000 years ago; the most ancient one officially on record is a cretan classical seven-circuit labyrinth from more than 3,500 years ago.

a good number of the labyrinths that are searchable across the globe on (where labyrinths can be discovered by zip code) are modeled after this ancient labyrinth.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

ode to potato and dumpling soup.

there are some pennsylvania dutch meals, and ones inspired by the heritage of this food-making, which if you haven't tried, might mean you really haven't lived. i learned about some of these foods once i became an adult, like hot bacon dressing on a salad and bottomless corn pie.

and this isn't to say they're healthy or great choices of what to eat. but once in a while, they're very worth it flavor-wise and in terms of comfort via the spoon or fork. and they brim with local history.

one meal i thankfully knew since childhood days is potato and dumpling soup. i'm sure it may be known in different variations, too. it's known in berks county and probably different sections of montgomery county and other counties, too. maybe even beyond that. if only we had serious food history maps.

my sister made a batch of my mom's old recipe of potato and dumpling soup in recent days, a loaded version with extra cheddar and gluten-free dumplings at the request of you two youngest nieces who downed it for breakfast yesterday morning.

by the way, to be most accurate in pronunciation, you'd say, po-tay-tah for potato, really fast. po-tay-tah and dumpling soup.

after picking up the batch saved for me, i ate three bowls in two days. shh.

i forgot until i talked to my sister later that you are supposed to add milk the next day to thin it out because it becomes so thick, once another 24-hour stretch of time says goodbye. and i don't keep milk in my house regularly, so i wouldn't have thought of this necessity, anyway. but i probably hadn't eaten it since kid-days. i will remember the next-day milk add-on for whenever there is more soup for the taking.

and it's still delicious, even if incredibly thick, minus the more-milk step.

here is an ode to the this delectable soup knitted into our local heritage.


bowls full of old joy

the spoonfuls of half-guesses,
potatoes or dumplings, some
surprise always full of the lure

of a happy tongue. we called the neighbor 
girl, danielle, when a new batch of potato 
dumpling soup steamed in our kitchen. 

she bolted across the street for that soup, 
a fan of it like our family, pots of it never
made on the stove in her own home. i’d 

get yelled at for hogging up
those dumplings, taking too
many for myself. nommm.

an heirloom sungold tomato poem.

here are some poem-words for heirloom sungold tomatoes from my garden, bought as starter plants from b&h organic produce in morgantown in springtime. (and i suspect phoebe canakis of phoebe's pure food fame may like this.)

nourishmenta pretty kind

tomatoes and light,
heirloom roots just
a few yards away
from the chipping
porch floorboards,
paint aged enough
to leave, to meet
the grace of wind.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

butterfly weed in blossoming hours in earl township, berks county.

last week, i noticed when i drove down laurel road in earl township in boyertown's rural hills that some beautiful blooms were starting in a wide-stretching meadow. i suspected they might be some kind of butterfly weed, taller than the variety i once bought from glick's greenhouse in the oley valley. when i came back to this area with my camera today, i felt sure they were butterfly weed and later confirmed this once researching a bit online. 

these flowers and this view from a high hill in berks county are a welcoming reminder of how lucky we are to live where we do.

in this case, i'm letting the pictures be the poems here.

Monday, July 3, 2017

river poems shared at ganshahawny park in douglassville.

late june gave us kind weather in the shade, mingled with some sunshine, in our first venture to ganshahawny park in douglassville. my traveling poetry class loves hunting down new and explored sections of the river for meeting in warmer months.