December – – haibun

December. As the temperature plummets, my bedroom window freezes shut. Once again I pull out wool sweaters, wool socks, snow pants and mittens. On a clear night the curved edge of the moon and gleaming stars emit a bell-like ring…small pleasures…and solstice will soon be here. Then the sun will shine a fraction of a minute longer each day…a slow reversal barely visible until spring, yet it is a knowledge that will help my spirit stay afloat. How often does this happen—an imperceptible shift to light just as darkness feels like forever?


in deep winter I wait

for the sun’s return



©️2019 Ontheland

Haikai Challenge #115 Advent

the place – – tanka

the place . . .

home of an ancient pine

on rippled rock

we commune with the waves

hear words in the spray

©️ 2019 Ontheland

Matsuo Basho visited many famous trees on his travels. One was the pine with twin trunks at Takekuma. This stop on Basho’s journey is the subject of Frank Tassone’s November with Basho Day 9 quote from the Narrow Road to the Interior. Basho’s words remind me of places I’ve been on the Canadian Shield.

Image: uploaded on Pixabay by prettysleepy1


courage – – haibun

It takes courage to live, courage to die, to shed tears, to mourn. We talk of swords, fights, and battles but it is the language of the carp (koi) that captivates me. Like the willow, the carp knows how to follow the wind…and when necessary, has strength to swim upstream. In an ancient myth, a school of carp finds itself travelling against the current. Some turn back but others persevere when they encounter a waterfall. After many attempts one jumps to the top and becomes a dragon.

In this era we tend to think that we know everything, while in fact there is so much we do not know about ourselves, about each other, and the natural world we live in…there are many unopened doors locked by deception, ignorance, and shame waiting to be opened when we dare.

fire dragon

born of koi

one with the wind



©️2019 Ontheland

Image : Koinobori, flags in the shape of koi (carp)

These ruminations were inspired by the seventh quote in Frank Tassone’s November with Basho series based on Basho’s Narrow Road to the Interior:

Crossed on the ferry at Tsukinowa to the post town of Se-no-ue to see the ruins that were Sato Shoji’s house, beyond town to the left, near the mountains. We were told to look at Saba Moor in Iizuka, and we eventually came to Maru Hill where the castle ruins lay. Seeing the main gate sundered, the ancient temple nearby, seeing all the family graves, my eyes glazed with tears…

Sword, chest and wind-carp

all proudly displayed

on Boys’ Festival Day

Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamil, The Essential Basho, pg. 11-12


thanksgiving – – haibun

A second Thanksgiving is on its way. The first was our Canadian holiday on the second Monday of October. The second, the American holiday, arrives this week on the 4th Thursday of November.

I find myself embracing another reminder to contemplate gratitude, a source of solace when loss rears its head. I may be declining in some ways, but my mind is still intact, I am still active, I am free of chronic pain. I was born after two world wars in a peaceful part of the globe with clean tap water, indoor plumbing, ample electricity, fresh food, access to medical care, a public school system and much more. My childhood may not have been perfect but my parents were good responsible people. I was born with and retain the capacity to love, to breathe, to hope for another day. Today my glass is more than half full.

snowmelt . . .

leaf rot and mud underfoot

I count my blessings

inside this warm house

with soup on the stove



©2019 Ontheland

Haikai Challenge #114 Thanksgiving