It’s just a short hike from the car, and then a scramble down the cliff path. It’s slippery, and overgrown – you have to clutch at branches to help you down, and you have to take it easy. There are the traces of old steps, and a place where someone’s set a rope to help you. Keep going. Be careful.
The bay itself faces due west, and curves like a hug. It’s a beach of rounded stones, mostly grey, some with quartz lines running through them. Today there are seals watching us curiously, sleek and shiny in the water. We stretch and breathe.
land creatures drawn to the blue water seal looks back
I had a lockdown birthday – like, what, a quarter of the population? More, now. I had a birthday of supermarket chocolates and flowers, of home-made cards and second-hand candles, of Zoomed-in love. It wasn’t the birthday I planned, but it was OK. It was more than OK. It was wonderful.
I don’t often get thanks from people I’ve worked with – I think most of them are glad to be moving on – maybe I’m part of something they would like to forget. Three weeks ago, however, I was given flowers, and a card. I was stunned, and moved almost to tears. It was completely unexpected, a gift from a family I’ve worked with for years. The strange thing is, I wouldn’t say I’d made a whole lot of difference: I’ve advocated for them, pushed for a diagnosis that helped with educational planning, but other than that I’ve been mostly offering support and validation. I’m trained to make change, to make things better. I never felt I’d done enough for this family – never been good enough. Maybe that’s something I need to reflect on.
pink and white and blue
I place flowers in a vase
small buds unfurling
“Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweepers, come to dust.”
Walking up the lane with the kids. We can watch time pass as the flowers change. The primroses are almost over, and the bluebells are here. The last of the cherry blossom petals blow off our neighbour’s tree. The wild orchids are having a final flourish. There are dandelions everywhere – golden lads and girls – and my two teenagers still blow the clocks.
I walked late last night, thinking about this prompt. Shakespeare and Basho – such different writers. Shakespeare piling up his glittering words, creating complex cities of meaning, inhabited by dreams. Basho showing us a single flutter of a butterfly’s wing. It’s hard to see how they are linked at all.
And then Will lets the jewels fall for a moment, and reminds us that all this will fade. Only the words will be left. The golden dandelion becomes a ball of fluffy white, becomes a seed floating over the hedge.
chiff-chaff on a twig
where we once saw the full moon
caught in the branches
A haibun for Frank at dVerse. He asks us to consider Shakespeare and Basho, both great masters of their art, but so different. The starting quotation is Shakespeare, from Cymbeline – Fear no more the heat of the sun. Basho said it in 3 lines.
It was not long after my daughter’s 18th birthday. She’s my eldest. She was writing her university applications, planning her future after leaving home. I was very aware of the fact that she had become an adult, and found myself thinking about all the different relationships we had had over the years. In the very beginning, I carried her insde me – I was everything she knew. Now I was part of the childhood she was leaving behind – and I had – still have – such mixed feelings about it. I’d love to keep her close, but I know she needs to spread her wings, to try new things, new places, new people, new ways of living. It’s my job to encourage her to leave me.
fledgeling spreads new feathered wings
nest is empty
In Ireland, the first day of February is the first day of Spring – Imbolc to the ancients, St Brigid’s day to the Catholic church. I try to remember that as I look out at the pouring rain. Later, I walk up the lane. There are snowdrops buried in the dark hedgerow, and I see a single primrose, pale as February sunshine.
so much mud
I can hardly see
A haibun for Frank, who is hosting at dVerse tonight. He asks us to look for the first signs of spring.
I open the notebook carefully. I always pause before I write in a new notebook – that clean, white page is still daunting. I always run my fingers over the paper first, enjoying the smoothness. I inhale. New paper smells so good. Nothing I can write will be as wonderful as the writing I aspire to . I will make mistakes, I’ll cross things out, I will phrase things badly.
I pause. I write.
clean white page
fresh snow untouched by feet
waiting for words.
It’s a miserable day. The drive down to the city is messy and difficult – too much rain, too much spray from the road, poor visibility. All the autumn colours are washed out, greyed by the rain.
We take biscuits, shortbread in a fancy tin. I don’t know why we take them today – maybe we’re feeling particularly grateful to the nursing staff who pad gently round the clinic, who are always smiling, who offer comfort and reassurance. They are warmth on this bleak November day.
When you live here, you start to recognise the local names; local families. The Beers, the Griggs, the Heywoods, the Petherbridges. If you’re not one of them, or related to one of them, you’re not local. Beer is nothing to do with drink -it’s from Beara – a sacred grove. There are a few Bearas around as place names. Ancient remnants of pre-Christian beliefs, still lingering in my neighbour’s name.
the tree has long roots
thrusting deep into the earth
A haibun for Frank Tassone, who is our dVerse host tonight. We are celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and thinking about what it means to be indigenous. I’m an off-comed-un, not a local here. There are families that have been here for generations, which is about as indigenous as it gets round here.
One summer we kept caterpillars – nothing special, the green ones that attack cabbagess. Maybe I got sick of killing them, the green mush between my finger tips. Maybe I thought it would be educational. We kept them in a propagator, fed them cabbage leaves, made sure there was water in there. Not many survived. A lot were attacked by some predator that ate them from the inside. The smell of old cabbage was vile. We persevered.
Finally we had a few chrysalises. We took the clear plastic lid off the propagator, and left the base tray open in the outside toilet over the winter. We forgot about them.
One spring morning, I went out to feed the cat, and opened the door of the outside loo. There were the butterflies, finally hatched – white-winged and fluttering. I called the kids and we admired them, and then let them fly away – to lay more eggs on more cabbages, I guess.
souls soar in spring butterflies soak up the sun green leaves unfurling