Sheltered in Branches

Oak tree ringed

now with red-gold leaves

all around,

still they fall,

but the tree recalls the spring

when buds bloom anew—

 

and laughter

rises once again

as children

climb and play–

and ghosts perch there with the birds

sheltered through seasons

 

Charter_Oak_FEChurch

Frederic Edwin Church, “The Charter Oak at Hartford,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I feel like trees are trying to tell me something lately: the Theresienstadt Tree, the Tree of Life synagogue, and the big, old oak tree in my yard.

I’m posting this for Open Link night at dVerse, even though it’s Open Link morning for me.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thunder and Light: Haibun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wake to thunder. Lightning flashes in silver zig zags across the sky, and then the rain comes—first pelting, then plothering, then fading to a fine mist. Branches fall, weighted by their burdens. Flowers smile as they drink. If only summer storms could wash the world clean, ensorcelling all its inhabitants. I sip my coffee and gaze outside, dreaming of today and tomorrow, wondering at hearts that cannot be enchanted.

 

Verdure of summer,

nourished with morning rainfall

finch sings good morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This haibun is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for magic and green.

 

 

What Was Once

“His mind’s all black thickets and blood”   from Songs of Unreason

 

The oak was ancient                            And he stood there nearby, his mind

once sturdy, but now                          all black thickets and blood

sapped of strength                               clogged

bent by the elements                            frail

but still remembering spring              he smiled for what once was

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a cleave poem for Day 23 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, inspired by the work of Jim Harrison.

 

 

 

Oak Tree: Tanka

Palm tree swings and sways,

oak does a stately Sarabande–

no hip hop for her,

she watches the squirrels caper,

pass skills through generations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m having a bit of fun. This is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday using synonyms for dignity and success. I’m riffing on Jane’s poem for the same prompt and our comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Gusts and Buds: Haibun

On the day of the nor’easter, I finish reviewing the page proofs of my book. The sun comes out. I ponder new projects, while watching birds perch and peck at the feeder hanging at our kitchen window—finches with their red feather patches demonstrate the feeder’s pecking order. A tufted titmouse, nuthatches, and even a woodpecker fly in for a snack. Robins congregate in the street, discussing the weather and current events before flying up to a tree to chatter at the squirrels. The days grow longer, and despite the wind and snow, the daffodils are rising from the ground. They are not deterred by icy gusts. Momentary setbacks. They know spring is coming. So do I. I simply have to get through the next snowstorm—it’s coming, too.

 

March’s lion roars,

frost-breath lays a filigree—

budding branches bide

 

 

We’re supposed to get another nor’easter tonight into tomorrow with several inches of snow expected.

I was writing this for

Frank’s Haikai Challenge #23—Spring Gust

But then I saw Victoria’s  prompt for Haibun Monday: tree buds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wind Sighs of Dreams: Haibun

I woke to hear the wind sighing and moaning, the lonely sound of a train whistle at midnight. The house creaked, like a person turning over in bed, trying to get comfortable. The branches of the maple tree tap against the window. I try not to think of Wuthering Heights. I fall back asleep, my bed creaking like the house, as I toss through strange dreams: a woman with a mission, possibly dangerous. She may have been someone I know, in a costume, in disguise. Then there was poetry, lyrical snippets, now forgotten. Perhaps it was all an eerie visit from my muse.

 

Red gold trees ablaze

light flows through sun and shadow

dark-clothed ghosts hover

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This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Poetry Tuesday. The prompt words were eerie and costume.

 

 

 

Something in the Light

Monday Morning Musings:

“I want to move on

I want to explore the light

I want to know how to get through,

Through to something new,

Something of my own—

Move on. . .

Something in the light,

Something in the sky,

In the grass,

Up behind the trees. . .

Things I hadn’t looked at

Till now. . .”

–From Stephen Sondheim, “Move On,” Sunday in the Park with George

 

There’s something in the light of autumn

the way the sunlight streams low between the changing leaves

leaving summer behind, but somehow looking forward, too,

in a last burst of flame-charged energy till they, their quietus make

and something in the light changes again

producing grey and violet skies

till the earth wakens again in the spring,

moving on.

 

***

A vineyard hayride

to a field of pumpkins and apple trees

I listen to snippets of conversation

The mother talking about the Noah’s Ark movie

“It shows you what it was really like back then.”

So much crazy wrong there, but I restrain myself,

move on to explore the light

look up at the trees

and there below

things I hadn’t looked at till now

things I hadn’t seen before–

the way the sun makes the apples glow

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and the shadows dancing in the breeze

and the music of the yellow jackets buzzing around the fallen fruit.

.

We drink our wine

darker than the apples

or garnets glowing in the light

tasting of sun and earth and promises,

we listen to a musician play classic rock and blues

watch the children and the dogs enjoying the warmth

on this summer-like day in October

but there’s something in the light,

different now in the fall from our summertime visits

we move on through the seasons

and I make applesauce when we get home.

On Sunday, we travel to my sister’s house,

stopping first to pick up my mom

who was confused about the day

and was not ready for us

her vision nearly gone,

her world is shrinking

the light in her eyes dimmer

as she moves on, five years short of a century

I think of all she’s seen–

the memories of people and places that play in her mind

now a bit confused–

I wonder if how we see the world changes it?

Did the Island of La Grande Jatte change because of Seurat

and how he saw the light?

If we could see more colors, more light

would it change anything?

How does one move on after seeing Monet’s water lilies or Van Gogh’s starry night?

Do we ever see these things the same way again?

Painting by Sylvia Schreiber

Enter a caption

 

We meet my sister and her wife’s new dog

my mom says she’s glad they’re keeping this one

they keep  returning them, she says

not true, of course,

but she sees things differently now sometimes,

and I look up to see something in the trees

something in the sky

the light—

IMG_7224

We eat and then take her shopping

the shoe department, a mix of Kafka and Catch 22,

(something in the department store light?)

somehow, we maneuver and decode

before we explode

purchase two pairs of shoes

black and navy

(slightly different in the light)

and move on to bras.

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Imagine now,

five women in a dressing room,

two manipulating my mother,

making jokes as they handle her breasts

inserting them into cups

all of us finally laughing–

and then a fart,

producing bent-over-as-tears-stream-from-your-eyes-laughter

finally, we stop, breathe–

there’s work to be done,

and a timetable–

we get my mother her bras

then back to the house for dessert,

Mandelbrot and brownies,

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because why bother with anything that’s not chocolate?

We sit outside in my sister’s garden

enjoying the sun, enjoying the light

until it’s time to move on.

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From the stars

and to the dawn

in light that reaches us

from billions of years away

we see something there

and something here,

something in the light

moving on

Liminal Skies: Haibun

The days grow shorter, and I wake in the dark. The mockingbird no longer sings through the night on a branch outside my window. It made me happy to hear him, comforting somehow, familiar like the tree itself. Has he gone, or merely changed his timing and repertoire as early summer moves inescapably towards fall? Yet through open windows, I hear other acquaintances, robins and cardinals, still warbling and chirping. A few leaves have changed from green to gold. The bright blue skies of September soon will yield to violet, then grey. The air is fresh, the days warm and the nights cool. The vibrant corn moon blazes in the morning sky. She hums a song, autumn is coming.

 

liminal skies sigh

chasing shadows round the sun

leaves whisper and fall

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This is for dVerse Haibun Monday. Yeah, I’m a bit late.

Toni asked us to write about the in-between seasons. She wrote, “I was thinking intensely of the Japanese word, komorebi (koe moe ray bee) which means specifically light that is filtered between leaves and usually occurring in spring and fall…but in that in-between-season.”

It occurs to me, too, that many people right now (my family and friends among them) are in an in-between state waiting for Hurricane Irma to arrive. My thoughts are with you. This seems to be a time of catastrophe and upheaval everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning for Dragons

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 
My husband planned to mow the lawn today, but last night this happened.
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We were not home at the time, but apparently we missed quite a thunderstorm. Our two cats witnessed the event, but they’re not talking. As we drove home from a fun evening with friends at the Auburn Road Vineyard and Winery, we watched as lightening traveled from cloud to cloud and sometimes from cloud to the ground. We weren’t driving in the rain; it was all in the distance, and it was quite amazing to watch. We were fortunate that there was no damage to our house, cars, or neighbors’ property. As with dragons, when you live near trees, you must consider them in your calculations.

 

Of course, plans go awry all the time. We encounter traffic delays and arrive late somewhere; we have to move an outdoor event indoors because of rain. And we change what we are writing because of new evidence or a sudden, brilliant idea. OK. I suppose there are some writers who plan everything and never change a word, or bit of punctuation. I’m not one of them.

 

When I was writing my doctoral dissertation about marital problems in eighteenth and early nineteen-century Pennsylvania, which became Breaking the Bonds, I could not plan the chapters until I had done the research—and, of course, I kept finding new material. At the same time, I searched desperately to find particular court records and other documents that no longer existed. Or to discover more about the men and women I encountered in court dockets and almshouse records, people who were not well known or wealthy, and in fact, were often poor and desperate. I planned and wrote, and planned again, and wrote some more. I had a baby during this process—also planned—but I did not know then how having a baby would change how and when I worked. Writing a dissertation is one big life lesson on planning and re-doing plans.
This has proven true for most of my writing. What I plan to write about in my books and in my blog changes constantly.

 
As some of you know, I often change a cooking plan in mid-recipe (or more likely mid-non-recipe). A few weeks ago, I had some bananas I wanted to use up, and also a few strawberries. So I made strawberry banana walnut bread. This is my new super-easy and delicious banana bread recipe, adapted from Simply Recipes. My version is mainly banana bread with just a hint of strawberry. Because I think banana bread is kind of naked without walnuts, I also added some ground walnuts to the original recipe.

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So here’s the recipe. You might want to plan to make it some time, or not.
Super Easy Banana Strawberry Bread
3 ½ medium bananas
About 4 strawberries
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup (approximately) ground walnuts
Melt butter. (I use the microwave to melt the butter in the same mixing bowl I’m going to use for the recipe.) Mash bananas and strawberries into the butter with a potato masher or other tool of your choice. Or use your hands if you want to. I don’t care. Mix in the egg—you can use the same potato masher, spoon, hands. . .Stir in the sugar and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda on top, and stir. Add the flour and nuts. Bake in a greased loaf pan for about 1 hr at 350 degrees. Cool. Then remove the bread from the pan. Eat and do a little dance—because it will make you that happy. Plan on it.  Image