flying from frozen boughs
alighting on the feeder
covered with snow
This morning scene reminds me to fill the seed bucket, put on my boots and wade out to top up the feeders.
Yesterday was Martin Luther King day in the United States. From Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge I learned that this holiday is designated as a day of service—a ‘day on’ rather than a ‘day off’, inspired by Doctor Reverend King Junior’s example and praise of community service: “He who is greatest among you shall be a servant.”
My first impulse was to dust off my dormant question “should I take on a volunteer job?” On reflection, my view of service, in general, and my own service, in particular, has deepened. Many of us, including myself, care for immediate and extended families. Yet there is another kind of service that extends into the community, outside our homes. ‘Out there’ are more people, trees, meadows, roadways, recycle bins, wildlife, wandering pets and so on. Without taking on a job there are many opportunities to act for the benefit of our world—to give, to protect, to show by our actions that we care about all humans and the world we depend on, whether natural or manmade. That sense of the collective is what I take away from this Martin Luther King day, an appreciation of what I already do and the humility to know that more is a possibility.
Expanses of water surround the house in the fields below. It has been raining since yesterday. Most snow has washed away leaving only patches of ice that foreshadow the drama to come. Thanks to the science of meteorology, it won’t be a surprise when tonight the temperature starts to descend in measured steps to zero C…minus 1…minus 2…minus 3…minus 4…minus 6…minus 7…minus 8…landing at minus 9 on Monday morning. Freezing rain, snow, black ice, and power outages are on the way.
hovering over the field
the smell of thaw
I drive by rigid trees cased with ice. I feel the weight on their limbs, the pending risk of breakage. There is no magic sparkle of sunlight to mask their imprisoned state. And on the News I hear of dark skies filled with smoke…Australia’s burning bush.
year end fire
the crack of falling branches
the weight of ice
At first I skirt around the Requiem. I am looking for music by Fauré that is as beautiful as the Pavane I heard the other day, but I am not sure I am in the mood for somber choral music. Clicking on the options, the Requiem’s closing section, In Paradisum, plays and I find it fits my mood after all … on this quiet day in late December, when the first year of a new decade will soon begin.
While I doubt Paradise is on the immediate horizon, longer days and spring are on the way…and as long as I breathe, there are opportunities to live a bit better, to offer more.
no fireplace or falling snow
just the peace of Fauré
For a listen to Fauré’s Paradisum:
And for Matsuo Basho’s farewell to his companion, Sora, on his journey to the Interior:
“Sora, suffering from persistent stomach ailments, was forced to return to his relatives in Nagashima in Ise Province. His parting words:
sick to the bone
if I should fall, I’ll lie
in fields of clover
He carries his pain as he goes, leaving me empty. Like paired geese parting in the clouds.
Now falling autumn dew
obliterates my hatband’s
“We are two”
I stayed at Zensho-ji, a temple near the castle town of Daishoji in Kaga province. It was from this temple that Sora departed last night, leaving behind:
All night long
listening to autumn winds
wandering in the mountains
Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamill, the Essential Basho, p. 32-33, an excerpt from Frank Tassone’s Day 23 and final episode of November with Basho
Fine china, crystal, silver….how these precious objects carry on…
rows of porcelain tea cups
filled with dust
In Day 21 of November with Basho an ancient warrior’s helmet is kept in a shrine, revered, but demoted to housing a cricket.
Photo: posted by AILes on Pixabay
“…we took rooms at an inn with…Mr. Kansho, who was in town to attend memorial services for the haiku poet Issho, locally renowned for his verse and devotion to craft. The poet’s elder brother served as host, the poet having died last winter.
Tremble, oh my grave–
in time my cries will be
only this autumn wind”
Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior,” translated by Sam Hamill, the Essential Basho, p. 29-30; an excerpt from Frank Tassone’s selection for Day 20 of November with Basho
Matsuo Basho had no idea that his words would still be known and cherished, in Japan and beyond, over 300 years after his death.
a window in time
returns to the wind
In winter snow stays for a while, shrinking or firming into frozen crystals. Landscape colours evolve from white to brown, yellow, green…and the feeling of cold shivers between ache and bite.
In this corner of the Northern Hemisphere, some say winter begins on December Solstice (21st), while others call it winter when snow falls and temperatures dip below freezing…that was in November this year in Ontario southeast, where winter banished autumn by mid-November.
When Solstice arrives, four days before Christmas, our descent into darkness will end and the slow return of longer days will begin.
Whether we call the season autumn, winter, or spring, the earth￼, sun and moon are faithful to their paths, their geometries of light. As Solstice approaches, I notice winter has strengthened its hold and I have surrendered. How gracefully then will I rise and accept the light as it returns?
wrapped in wool mending
This haibun began as a response to Day 16 of Frank Tassone’s November with Basho, but it also touches on the Haikai Challenge theme, December Solstice. The excerpt selected from Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Interior for Day 16 concludes with these words:
We composed a round of haiku, bid farewell, and started by boat down the Mogami bound for Sakata Harbor…
From Hot Sea Mountain
southward to Windy Beach
the evening cools
Basho, ‘The Narrow Road to the Interior” translated by Sam Hamill, The Essential Basho, p.25