Old Friends Meet for the First Time

Claudia, Ken, and I at Valley Green Inn

Old Friends Meet for the First Time

We’ve never met in person before. We’re friends of words and Internet connections. Yet here we are with our spouses—six of us in all—sitting at a table on the porch of Valley Green Inn. And talking like we’ve known each other for years—as I suppose we have.

I wish the weather was better, so that they could see the ducks and geese swimming on Wissahickon Creek, or that we might see horseback riders trotting down Forbidden Drive. We’ve not had rain in weeks, but today we have a downpour. Like a scene from a Fellini movie, a unicyclist pedals past us. We’re sheltered on the wide porch until the wind shifts, forcing us indoors. We drink coffee, our words and laughter rise with the steam, joining other long ago scents and sounds embedded in the old walls.

thunder claps,
flowers look up and laugh
drink in celebration

For dVerse, Haibun Monday. The theme is shelter. I was so excited to meet Ken and Claudia and their spouses last week. The get-together was Ken and his wife’s idea. I’m so grateful they reached out to us. I thought of Valley Green because we often took my mom there for an August birthday brunch.

Last week I baked a chocolate cake in her memory. Here you go, Claudia.

Summer Night: Haibun

Odilon Redon, Flower Clouds

Summer Night

We lay on the grassy expanse between the college dormitories. We’re firm-skinned and flat-bellied, our hearts are full of passion, our heads full of dreams. We gaze up at the clouds sailing across the moonlit sky like the days, months, and years of a time-lapsed nature film. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Almost fifty years later, I still remember that wonder.

make a wish
on moonflower clouds–
remember

Valley Forge, summer of 1974

I’m hosting Haibun Monday with the prompt “Look Up!” Join us.

We Celebrate: Haibun

Foggy New Year

New Year’s Eve Day is foggy and warm. My husband and I eat Chinese food for dinner, our decades-old tradition. We drink champagne while we talk to our children and their spouses on Zoom. Our son-in-law’s parents join us, and it’s good to see them, too, after so long. We light the Shabbos candles and speak of what we’re grateful for—that we’re together, healthy, and that our pets are with us, too. This is what we celebrate—life going on, light in the darkness. Later, we say goodbye to 2021. Though 2022 seems scarcely better, who know what the future brings? The sun and moon still rise and set.
And there is champagne.

fog-obscured
river a mystery—
beckoning

For dVerse. Earlier today, I couldn’t get WP to work, and now there’s no problem. Oh, there are definitely WP gremlins!

Haibun: Flower Moon Dance

I observe the morning moon perform a high-wire act. After billions of years, she knows how to balance—movement in stillness, invisible and visible, silent in song. In her silvery glow, owls hunt, tides roll, and lovers kiss. Yet, time has no meaning for her. Past and future converge and separate in rippling waves. She smiles, watching us, then blinks and we’re gone. Or not. Our ghosts, like moonflower orbs, dance on in her light.

Pink petals bloom now
where once russet leaves drifted—
the moon hums, unfazed

A Haibun for Frank’s Flower Moon prompt on dVerse. I wasn’t going to do it because I’m so behind on reading—and everything—but, the moon. . .

Planting and Blooming: Haibun

The sun rises every day, but each dawn is unique, a doorway to a new room waiting to be furnished, or a tilled field ready for planting.

When I became a mother for the first time, it was all new to me—the birth, bringing our daughter home on a cold February day to our recently purchased house, and then learning to take care of an infant. Breastfeeding was easy; trying to figure out how to unfold the heavy baby carriage and get it and her out the door and down the steps was not. But—the second time I became a mother, it was new again. There were similarities–it was another cold February day, but the labor was different, and I was different. Caring for a toddler and a baby at the same time was also a new experience. Like each day, each birth is both similar and singular, as is every child.

Frost-laced ground
incubates hopes and dreams–
daffodils rise

This is a haibun for dVerse, where Lillian has asked us to write about a something we’ve experienced that’s new. We first planted daffodils when I was pregnant with our older daughter, and this year, we planted more because it seemed like something hopeful for the spring. (By we, I mean I ordered them, and my husband planted them. Teamwork. 😏 )

November Clouds

Nearly every day I find something in the natural world that astounds me with its beauty– a single wildflower, a shy, graceful deer, or a stunning cloudscape over the Delaware River. When I walk, usually early in the morning, I’m often filled with wonder—a sensation of body and mind. This morning, I almost didn’t walk because of the rain and thunder, but it stopped, and I went out to see the most incredible sky.

golden leaves glow
against charcoal clouds they dance,
fall in nature’s rhythm

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. November Sky. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

This is for Kim’s prompt at dVerse, to write a haibun “about a time when you last watched stars, a storm, the sea, an animal, or something else in nature that left you with a sense of wonder or awe.”

Shadows in the Dark

George Lambert, Moorland Landscape with Rainstorm, Wikepedia Commons

I am dreaming. I traipse across the moors in Brontë country. It’s almost Halloween, and soon, back home, I’ll be carving jagged smiles on pumpkin faces. As I walk, the sun sinks lower and lower in the sky, deepening the grass’s golden glow. Shadows walk with me, till they’re obscured by the darkness. Night lays a black shroud over the naked trees and heathered knolls, covering them completely. A fine mist obscures my vision even more. It kisses me all over, lightly like a playful lover, until I am weakened and drenched. Lost. At the sound of a ghostly screech, I jump, then laugh a bit at my fright. It’s just a barn owl. There’s nothing here to frighten you, I tell myself–until cold fingers wrap themselves around my wrist. I try to call out, but no sound emerges from my throat. I try to wake, but I cannot. I am dreaming I tell myself as the bony fingers pull me down to the cold, damp ground.

Cold, autumn mist,
nightmare shapes in the shadows–
Jack’s crooked mouth laughs

Toby Ord, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

This is for Frank’s Halloween dVerse prompt. I liked the image he used, so I used it, too. Franks said we could write fictional prose, so I’ve revised one I wrote a few years ago.

Harvest Moon

No moonglow last night, though she was there behind the charcoal clouds. They swooped in, covering first the sun, and then the stars. Later, it rained—again—and the scent of petrichor drifted through our open windows. Summer’s last hurrah. The moon knows, and soon she will hum the song of autumn and harvests, of bread, honey, and wine.

golden moon glow
over fields of grapes and grain—
russet leaves fall

For dVerse, where Frank has asked us to write a haibun alluding to the moon. On Thursday night, we will hopefully see the Harvest Moon.

Wonders

Since the pandemic, my walks have been confined mainly to my neighborhood. I began my almost daily morning walks as the spring buds were beginning to bloom, and now the days are growing shorter and hints of red, orange, and yellow leaves are appearing. But I’m fortunate to live near the Delaware River and a beautiful park. I’ve discovered how the river’s color changes with light and tides, and how a red-winged blackbird chirps as it flies by from a marsh. Without a hike into the wildness, I find wild wonders nearly every day—wildflowers, hawks, turkeys, and deer. Yesterday, I saw a bald eagle so close, perched on a bare treetop. I gazed at him in awe, and he dismissed me as unimportant and probably soon forgotten. It doesn’t matter. I had a moment of magic to remember, while he was looking for his next meal to survive.

Bald eagle pauses,
keen eyes survey his kingdom—
treetops turning gold

A Haibun for Frank’s prompt on dVerse using the word hike.

Bald Eagle at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

Up and Down

© 2020 Frank J. Tassone

 

We stand on a precipice, nation and world. Fissured by plague and threats to democracy, we are faltering, close to tumbling into an abyss. Is this the beginning of the end? Or merely a ripple in the waves of time? I leave the angry and weary voices to walk, looking for beauty in the bright colors around me. A chipmunk scurries by. Deer shyly graze, turkeys strut through the long grass, and blackbirds give a trilling chink as they fly overhead.

I watch the sun rising over the river, making it sparkle. It know it’s physics, but I can also see the magic. We need both.

 

bare branches turn green,

brown leaves fall into river–

past floats to future

 

F9A07115-F532-4266-AF85-B5C8005CA8AC

©️Merril D. Smith 2020

A Haibun for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Haibun prompt, using Frank Tassone’s photo at the top for inspiration, and my photo at the end.