The Shawnee News-Star Weekender March 16 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg Two weeks ago the morning was filled with lots of commotion and kee-aahs as two red shouldered hawks flew in circles over our roof and trees.  The female landed on a large branch in the cottonwood.  The male did his 'sky dance' as he sang […]

The Shawnee News-Star Weekender March 16 2019

Blarney Castle amongst the daffodils

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Two weeks ago the morning was filled with lots of commotionand kee-aahs as two red shouldered hawks flew in circles over our roof andtrees.  The female landed on a largebranch in the cottonwood.  The male didhis 'sky dance' as he sang and flew in large circles.  The big bird descended and flew close to thefemale, then spiraled up again in another wide circle around the tree only todrop back down near the female and up again he went.   The screaming of the bird was intense.  He obviously was on a mission.  The bird performed his fancy maneuvers a fewmore times before he plummeted down and landed. right on top of the lady.  Wow. It was quick, they fluffed their feathers and each took a separatebranch and faced different directions.


When a friend saw the picture, he commented 'You can tell they matedthey aren't talking to each other anymoreeven looking in opposite directions; looks like there is some disappoint there.' 

Spring is in the air, but March has so far been wild.  Winds, rains, temperatures all over the place well describes the idiom 'In like a lion, but will March go out like a lamb?'  In ferocious winds last Saturday, the Japanese Peace Garden (JPG) was spruced up along with two other sites in Shawnee.  Weeding, transplanting, and esoteric gardening activities were performed by Oklahoma Baptist University students and volunteers who wished they had worn concrete block shoes while working and watching plant trimmings fly away in the 25-40 mph winds.

The Murrah Memorial is being prepared for renovation.   Dwarf Yaupon hollies, the Yucca and Rose-of-Sharon were transplanted to the Teahouse.   Prairie dropseed bunches, Lyreleaf sages and cone flowers (Echinacea) were moved to native gardens as were the smaller rocks in the Murrah plot. One heavy ironstone was slowly propelled on a two-wheeler into the Deep Fork Audubon Native Prairie.   The other weighty rock was actually rolled across the track by two strong students and positioned next to the flag bench to become one awesome end table.  

The Shawnee Rotary Club erected the monument after the April19th 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtownOKC.  The names of several area residentswho lost their lives are listed on the granite stone.  The memorial is now ready for a facelift bythe Rotarians and the City of Shawnee. When noon arrived, it was hard tobelieve three students and three volunteers accomplished so much in two hoursand hurricane force winds!

Prairies in a natural setting are often rejuvenated bywildfires, but this is not an option for the Monarch areas of the JPG, whichsit under the Monarch corridor.  The vegetationin the native gardens are mowed once a year in preparation for new springgrowth of grasses, wildflowers and butterflies.

Look for the newly refreshed Prairie Circle.  Circles in Japanese gardens symbolizeenlightenment.  Often Japanese gardensemploy 'hide and reveal' features.  TheJPG teahouse is partially hidden from sight, but as one walks through thegarden, other elements and views can be seen. 

OBU student volunteers Jonny, Ryan, and Jackson

The Japanese garden brings into one's life calmness and nature by incorporating many features.   Our dryland Zen garden is composed of rocks and gravel and is currently being refurbished.   New landscape timbers have replaced old.   A second set will define the narrow beds surrounding 3 sides to present a sense of privacy.and function as an Oklahoma windbreak.   The strong winds often try to have their way at the JPG. Although the gravel is too large for an authentic Zen, plans are afoot to find an instrument that can rake those unwieldly rocks into patterns.  The Zen garden is a wonderful place to empty your mind of cluttered thoughts and feel free.   Try it.  

Ready for St. Patrick's Day? Actually, it should be calledMaewyn's Day.  The 5th centurysaint was not even Irish, but from a Roman aristocratic family.  His dad was a member of the city senate ofthe Roman Empire. They could have been Italian! The lad was taken hostage onhis family's estate in Britain during an Irish raid.  Sixteen years old at the time, Maewyn Succat servedas a slave shepherd who looked after animals for six years.  One day he heard a voice telling him to gohome, so he managed to run away, traveled 200 miles, found a ship and threedays later arrived at the shores of his home country.  The young man walked with other shipmates for28 days and all were becoming very weak from lack of food.  Maewyn prayed for sustenance.  A herd of wild boar appeared.  This impressed the group.  After arriving home, he studied aboutChristianity, a familiar subject since his dad was a deacon and his grandfathera priest. 

Here is when history becomes even fuzzier.  Maewyn became a cleric, but seems to havegotten himself into some shady financial deals, which resulted in a trial andguilty verdict.  This might have promptedhim to leave Britain.  Maewyn's story is hehad a vision.  A man named Victoricuscame toward him holding many letters. One was titled 'The Voice of the Irish' and as Maewyn read the letter,he could hear people from Foclut, an ancient Irish forest, crying 'We appeal toyou, Holy servant boy, to come and walk among with us.'  Inspired, Maewyn returned to Ireland andrenamed himself Patricius.  He laterbecame a missionary and bishop. Despite never being canonized by a Pope, St. Patrickis still greatly respected and honored with the feast day of March 17th. 

Everything green, food and drink are what it's allabout.  I took the plunge and sent salivato Ancestry DNA.  My spit said thirty percent of my ancestors came from Ireland or Scotland. Well yes, my grandma was aDempsey (O'Diomasaigh).  She proudlystated they were lace curtain Irish and Dempsey does mean proud!  Irish kings are in the family.  Years ago, I located one Dempsey castle inthe midlands outside Dublin.  CaisleanLeigh was frequently visited by relatives who marked their names on the fallencastle keep.  The former stronghold isone of nearly 30,000 castle ruins that still exist in Ireland including thecurrent Blarney Castle (Caislean na Blarnan) in southern Ireland.

Blarney castle was built in 1446. Despite its worncondition, people continue to climb the steps to the top and kiss the blarneystone.  They descend with the newfoundability to express themselves with great articulation, or so they think.  We are talking about the Irish here andBlarney Castle is a primo tourist site. 

JPG at Sunset

Farmer's Almanac states that peas should be planted on St. Patrick's Day.   While you're at it, they recommend to plant cabbage seeds as well, but wear nightclothes to assure a good crop.   Tip a cup of Guinness stout into beef stew to go with your Irish brown bread.  Yum.

So, Beannachtai Na Feile Padraig Ort!

(say: Baa-knock-tee  Nah Faye-lah  Paw-rick  urt). 

Happy St. Patrick's Day Y'all