Owl – haibun for dVerse

Some nights the stars feel very close. Tonight they are impossibly distant, hung high in the dark sky. The moon is a silver sickle, and there is frost coming. The call of the owl makes me pause, and cock my head to listen again. She is part of this chill night – the soundtrack to winter.

We don’t see her often, though we hear her. Sometimes she swoops ahead of us down the lane, massive and silent. Once we found the imprint where her wings had kissed the snow as she plunged her sharp talons into some small mammal. The spring this year was mild and dry, so our owl will eat well this winter.

Flower faced sister
Swooping silent bringing death
Calling frost and stars

 

 

Victoria is playing host at dVerse this chilly winter night – here in the North, anyway. She’s asked us to consider the owl, very much part of my winter nights here in the back end of beyond. If you’re wondering why the owl has a flower face, look here. 

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Kindness – haibun for dVerse

I watch you supporting your  mother with strong, gentle hands. You’ve thought about this restaurant, you’ve chosen a place where we can manoeuvre the wheelchair easily, where she’ll like the food, where she can look out over the sea and a place she came as a child. It’s lovely here. The sun is shining, the autumn leaves are red and gold against the blue sky. After lunch we wheel your mother down to the seafront, and buy soft, white ice-cream, and she talks about her memories of coming here as a young girl. I watch you listening to her, and I love you for your kindness.

Leaves dance against blue
Sun sparkles on blue water
Remember summer

Water – haibun for dVerse

I don’t know quite how this became our “thing”. We took up the challenge – encouraging each other, competing a little bit – kept up monthly swims all summer, all winter, and all summer again. Now it’s autumn, and we’re still at it. There have been high winds this week, and the surf is big. The clouds are low, and there’s so much spray it’s hard to know where the air ends and the sea begins. It’s a monochrome day as we walk in together, feeling the cold – “It’s not so bad!” – rising over ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips – and then the final dive under a rolling wave, and the triumphant resurfacing.

Grey clouds, grey sea –
petrel hanging above water –
plunging into life

 

 

Bjorn is tending bar at dVerse tonight. He wants a watery haibun, with a seasonal haiku. I want a hot whiskey after that. 

~First frost – haibun for dVerse.

From squelch to crunch, the first frost changes things, whitens the grass, turns the windscreen into something opaque. It catches the moonlight and tosses back a million stars. It rainbows in the first light of the rising sun.

The first frost smells of winter, that tingle in the nostrils. It sounds like the scrunch of wrapping paper, gifts for my winter baby. It tastes of something clean and clear. It wakes up my skin, but gives a last, Dementor kiss to the few roses still clinging on. It throws a dust sheet over the garden, and promises to keep it safe until spring.

Starlings wheel and turn
Black pattern on orange sky
Frost dances tonight

Victoria is minding things at dVerse tonight, and offers us the first frost as a prompt. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s on the way!

 

Why do I write the way I do? Haibun for dVerse

As I write I explore a landscape that changes around me. Sometimes I follow narrow paths that lead me to strange and fantastical places. Sometimes I struggle to clamber over fallen rocks, looking for paths that have been shattered and hidden. I see a temple on a distant mountain, and start making my way there, but find myself distracted by a silent pool, or a particular tree. I start to walk about my garden and end up diving into an ocean wave. I want to explore what it would be like to be a tree. I want to visit a silent world of dark roots. I want to fly with rooks. I want to dance on a moonbeam. And I’d like you to be there with me.  I’ll try anything – give me a form and I’ll have a go. Give me a prompt and I’ll roll it round in my hands a few times, until it gives me a new path to venture down, a new scene to describe. I want to live a thousand lives, and take all the roads I couldn’t follow.

Evening grass is green
morning grass is pale with dew
soon there will be frost

Toni is hosting at dVerse, and wants to know why we write the way we do. I never think of myself as having a recognisable style – though I probably do. And I’ve just realised that my haiku probably says much more about me than I intended it to…but that’s poetry, isn’t it? 

 

Between the seasons – haibun for dVerse.

We came home from Italy – all umbers and terracottas, blazing blue skies and sunshine – to a faded watercolour England. We wake with the scent of autumn in the air, but by lunchtime it’s summer again. We’re picking the first of the apples, but still cooking with courgettes, and beans – a green and purple abundance. There were swallows on the telegraph lines last night, starting to gather together, but today they were flying in a summer sky. This afternoon we saw the first starling murmuration of autumn. The crabapples are vermilion, but there are scarlet wild strawberries in the flower bed. Here and there, autumn is sprinkling reds and golds, but when I reach to pick an apple, the leaves on this tree are all green, dark, casting their individual shadows.

birds call the seasons –
apples fall for drunken wasps –
golden lantern moons

 

A haibun for Toni at dVerse. We are asked to write about this time between the seasons. I love autumn, but I’m not quite ready to leave summer yet – not that I have a choice about it.

 

My imperfect vegetable patch – haibun for dVerse

Come outside with me now. Through the gap, across the cobbles, round the corner, and there it is. Look at it with a gardener’s eye for a moment – note the weeds – those speedwells, blue as ripped up scraps of sky; dandelion leaves sharp as teeth; grass encroaching, insinuating its green way across the soil. Nothing is quite in a row. The Trail of Tears sends purple tendrils, coaxing the walking onion to join the wigwam. There’s a squash plant running riot, creeping through the patch, popping up between pea plants.Frankly, it’s a mess.

Now look at it again, with me. Stand here, beside me, in the early morning light, when the grass is heavy with dew. Look at that purple – the dark rippling leaves of the cavolo nero, the midnight pods of the Trail of Tears dangling like heavy tears themselves – and the orange – joyous nasturtiums tumbling over the path, courgette and squash flowers flaunting themselves, flirting with the bumble-bees – and all those greens -the green lettuce leaves, lit from within, fat pods of broad beans, lined with velvet, chard, and peas, and turnip tops, a riot of green.

Trail of tears entwine
green heart of the garden,
bright gold early morning

This is for Victoria at dVerse, who asks us to glory in imperfections this week. There aren’t many things as imperfect as my vegetable patch, but I love being out there…

Haibun – journey home – for dVerse.

We dropped her off for her first shift in her first job. Waitressing – a good place to start: learning to deal with the public, to cope with pressure, to stay polite. She was excited, and a little bit nervous. Not sure what to expect.

I went to pick her up at the end of her shift, four hours later. I was a little bit early, and she was a little bit late, so I watched her for a few moments, through the window. She was laying tables so they’d be ready for breakfast in the morning. She was in uniform – black trousers, black shirt, black apron – hair pulled back in a plait. She didn’t look like a little girl. She looked like a young woman, working in a restaurant.

We drove home, down the dark country lanes, narrow and twisting between high hedges, and she told me about the shift, the welcome speech she has to make to customers, the specials menu she has to learn. She’d had a great time, she’s looking forward to her first pay packet. When we got home, we both paused for a moment and looked up at the sky, dripping with stars, so tightly packed you couldn’t get a finger between them. Light spilled from our own kitchen window. We went inside.

Sky laden with stars
Light falls from an open window
Journey is ending.

Toni at dVerse has asked us to write a haibun on a topic of our own choice. The last few days have been all about my daughter. She’s had a lot going on, a little run of successes. I’m being a proud mum at the moment. Hey – it’s allowed! Be glad we’re not on Facebook, where you’d have to see proud mum pictures. 

 

Summer – haibun for dVerse

We come here all through the winter. We’ve swum here on days when the sea has been a great, grey cat, tossing us like tiny toys. We’ve emerged shivering, glowing with cold and triumph. We’ve been the only swimmers, sometimes sharing the water with gleaming black clad surfers, sometimes sharing the beach with dog-walkers wrapped in coats and scarves.

Today, however, it’s summer. I’ve picked my son up from a hot coach, after a long drive back from a science fair. There’s a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in a bag on the back seat,and his swimming trunks are in the boot. We’ve collected his best friend, and an older brother who is wilting in the heat, and I’ve brought them to the beach. We’ve picked our way over the pebble ridge, clambering over the smoothly rounded stones, and slipped and slithered our way down the other side, carrying rugs, towels and ice cold drinks.

Up by the causeway there’s a gathering of people, brightly coloured, making their way in and out of the sea. Here, where we are, it’s quieter. We dump our stuff, and plunge into the water, relishing the coolness of it, looking due west, to where the hot sun will sizzle into the ocean in a few hours time. The solstice has brought us the longest, hottest day we can remember, and we are loving it.

Sun hovers, holds back –
cannot bear to leave the day –
gold path in the sea

Dverse is open, and the very graceful Grace is asking for summery haibuns. We had a mini heatwave last week, but we’re back to English summer weather now. Still, a girl can dream.

Sport – haibun for dVerse

My daughter has grown through sport. I have watched her grow leaner, fitter, and much more confident through finding a sport she loves and working hard at it. She rows, which means watching the tides, fitting time on the river into early mornings and after school sessions, giving up time at the weekend when she could be shopping or Snapchatting, and getting up at crazy o’clock to get to regattas.

We live in the middle of nowhere, so I’ve resigned myself to driving the kids all over the place. I stand at the side of rugby pitches in the rain, and I sit in dojos on sunny days for my son, but secretly I prefer the rowing. I like sitting by the river, watching the movement of the water. I like watching the quad working together, perfecting their timing, their awareness of each other. I like their laughter as they clean down the boat and pack away their oars. Most of all, I like the determination on my daughter’s face as she pushes herself, concentrating on every stroke.

water flows swiftly

river dancing with the sea

white wings skim the waves

Bjorn is hosting at dVerse tonight. He wants us to write about sport. I wouldn’t say we are a sporty family, but we seem to do a lot of it. I run, and over the last year I’ve discovered cardio-tennis, but sport has most of its impact on me through my children.