New Year doesn’t make sense to me. It’s the middle of winter – I want to hibernate, not make resolutions about eating kale and cutting down on cake.
For me, September is the new year. A time to pick myself up after a lazy summer. A time for new shoes, new notebooks,new agendas. A time for walking briskly. That slight edge in the mornings wakes me up, energises me. I’m ready to sharpen my pencils and get to work.
The first snowdrops are here. They cling to the edges of the field, the way snow clings to a window frame. Like snow, they linger in the shade. They are the whitest thing I know – whiter than frost, whiter than the moon, whiter than snow itself. They are winter, and the end of winter; cold, and the promise of spring.
Sometimes these are the best celebrations – the times you find yourself in someone’s kitchen, and somebody’s chopping onions, and somebody’s fixing drinks, and you’re talking and laughing, and it’s much later than you intended, and there’s nothing at all to celebrate, except this. This moment, right here right now.
I started a gratitude journal a few weeks ago, at a time when it was hard to feel grateful. It’s gently morphed into something slightly different – this is the place where I write down the moments that make me stop and absorb. I’m grateful for those moments because for a breath, a pause, a heartbeat, I am taken out of myself. I forget myself.
What I realised a couple of days ago is that these are haiku moments. The moments we step outside of time, the moments we want to share with the universe.
an oak tree a circle of gold autumn ends
A haibun for Frank at dVerse. We are thinking about thankfulness in this Thanksgiving week.
August begins and ends with a public holiday. It’s a month of dreams and disappointments.
August smells of hot fat and seaweed. It tastes of vanilla, woodsmoke and cheese sandwiches. August drips ice-cream, sits in traffic jams, laughs loudly. August plays the neon muzak in the amusement arcade, clamours like gulls, patters rain on the caravan roof. August is a pint of cider, a can of lager, a glass of pink fizz. August is Pac-a-macs and crushed crisps and village fetes and bunting and sandcastles and sun-hats and fleecies and the first blackberry and a sudden, mad dash into the sea.
grains of sand waves roll endlessly harvest gathered
The solstices suit me. I’m not balanced enough for the equinoxes – I’m drawn to long days, evenings stretching out like shadows, the scent of roses, pipistrelles flittering overhead, the rooks chattering comfortably. I love the winter solstice, too, – the early darkness, the nights of frosts and stars, the nights when the moon hurtles through cloudscapes, the call of owls.
I like coming at sunrise from the wrong direction.
I like staking a claim on night.
On this solstice day, the everything is bursting with life. June has brought roses and honeysuckle, the trees are leaf-heavy, the fields are re-growing after their first mowing, the hedgerows are frothing with elderflowers and Queen Anne’s lace, with dog roses and wild campion. It’s our moment to dance at the top of the year.
The tree in the top corner is always the first to blossom. Its blossoms are the palest of all – the faintest wash of pink. It’s badly placed, battling with alder and birch to find light. Everything around it is brown. Buds are starting to swell, but the other trees are holding back, contemplating things. There may yet be frost, the nights are cold, we are still teetering on the edge of spring. While they hesitate, the wild cherry leaps in, joyfully, its blossoms a valiant, defiant banner of hope.
I have always liked those old lecturns made in the shape of eagles. I like the idea that words will fly into the distance, that they will soar above us, that they have their own power. Give words wings, let them fly.
rising on sunlight
seeing the earth spread below
spotting a mouse dart
The first sunrise of 2021 was a smear of raspberry pink over a monochrome world that crunched under foot. We discovered a new walk, and that we have made some new friends over the last year. At the top of the hill we looked back over a landscape that we know well, made new and different by a change in perspective. I think that perspective will be the only thing that changes over the next few weeks. Our plans are blown around like so many brown leaves. We’re entering a new lockdown. It’s like we’re not moving, we’re just bobbing up and down, waiting to set sail.
In the week before Christmas I leave the shopping malls behind and go instead to a lonely clifftop track where ancient shells lie sun bleached on an old Aboriginal midden. Wandering along the sandy trails I hear young men hollering to each other. Walking closer to the cliffs I see they have scrambled down and are exploring the rock pools that have been exposed by the retreating tide.
I leave them to it and walk on to the midden. Not wanting to disturb the fragile remains I skirt around them and sit on a rock at the edge. It is a hot day and the light is bright. The boys have quietened down and the bush around me slumbers in the early afternoon heat. Sitting there I have a sense that people have interacted with the place for thousands of years. The scattered shells are evidence of meals eaten long ago when human life went at a slower pace – a time when people moved in harmony with the world around them. The frantic buzz of the consumer fest of Christmas fades from my mind and I enter a trance-like state where time is measured in breaths rather than purchases. It seems to me that I can hear a faint refrain – the gentle voice of women who had once sat here tending cooking fires while young boys clambered around the rocks collecting shell fish for a meal.
Held in warmth,
the past and present merging,
-heart of Gaia
This beautiful haibun comes from Suzanne Miller. She is an artist and writer living in south eastern Australia, and I find her work so evocative of the Australian landscape. She has an Honours Degree in Visual Art and a Masters in Creative Writing. These days she writes for her own pleasure and for the joy of sharing her work with others. You can read more of Suzanne’s work at her blog: https://mappinguncertainty.wordpress.com