Haibun: At Twenty Below

finaltracks

I’m out for a hike in the woods on this frosty December morning. It’s about twenty below (F) out here, so I’m quite encumbered with layers of clothing. It gives it all a surreal feeling, like I’m walking on the moon.

The snow under my feet makes the same crunching sound as my corn flakes did earlier. My breath freezes instantly on my beard.

I feel sorry for the deer and other animals out here that have to endure this cold for months to come. I know they have winter coats, but so do I, and I’m freezing already!

I crunch my way along, wondering how snakes could possibly survive this.

***

when out in the snow

at twenty below, even

your shadow turns blue

finalshadow

 

–Photos by me

haibun: true colors

finalfalltrees

As I follow a path through the woods on this perfect autumn afternoon, I am amazed at the broad spectrum of beautiful colors splattered all over these trees. It’s like I’m walking down the corridor of a great, out-door art gallery, each exhibit more lovely than the last.

The maples are my favorite, of course. With their yellows, oranges, and reds, they look like they’re on fire. Some have a translucent, marmalade look, while others are half green and half red.

I realize that this is the natural, true state of the forest, and trees are only green when the summer weather allows their life-processes with chlorophyll to dominate. Perhaps it’s like that with people, too; during most of our lives, we are too preoccupied with “living” to be our real selves.

***

the leaves fall and die–

but not without first showing

us their true colors

finalorange

–photos by me

Haibun: Rock Solid

finalaaron1

My son Aaron and I like to go on “adventures” together as often as we can. Today, we’re at the very rocky North Shore of Lake Superior, or Gitchi Gami, as the Indians called it, meaning “Great Sea”. It’s the world’s largest fresh-water lake, and has the highest elevation of the Great Lakes chain.

We’re climbing around on the massive rocks to try to find a good shot, and it’s so hot, I’m tempted to dive in. There’s a constant squawking of sea gulls and other birds as they keep jockeying for better positions on the rocky islands just off shore. The relentless waves slap against the unyielding stone. A tall sailboat silently slides by.

As I stand here and gaze out over the vast expanse of water, I suddenly feel very small, and I realize how lucky I am to have this precious time together with my son.

* * *

a shore of great stones–

solid as the bond between

a father and son

finalaaron2

–photos by me

Friends & Foes: A Haibun

finalfawn1

As I approach the edge of an old mine dump overlooking Lake Ore-Be-Gone in Northeast Minnesota, a lone, white-tailed fawn and I have just spotted each other. He could easily leap over the edge, and run down the hillside to escape me if he wanted to, but he just stands there, seemingly confused. I don’t know if it’s my long, “white-tailed” beard or what, but slowly he begins to make his way toward me.

Suddenly, he catches my scent, and his confusion clears right up. He turns, leaps over the edge, and soon disappears into the woods below–the very place his real foes lie in wait.

***

a lone, dappled fawn

flees the unbeknownst safety

of my company

 

finalfawn2JPG

–Photos by me

Loon (haibun)

final loon

A loon’s eerie tremolo echoes across the crystal-clear waters of this old, abandoned mine pit. A diving bird, he’s just surfaced, and is eyeing me warily, but to fly requires a long run-way for take-off, so he’ll probably just dive underwater again, and pop up somewhere else. His mate doesn’t answer; she’s most likely diving for fish now.

The rocky ledges of these old mine pits provide the perfect habitat for nesting and breeding during the summer months. To top it off, the DNR stocks most of these pits with Rainbow Trout.

Apparently, he’s not as afraid of me as I thought, and he calls out to his mate again in that long, forlorn wail. This time, she answers.

* * *

the tuxedoed loon–

in proper attire for

a banquet of fish

–Photo by me

Wildflowers (haibun)

finalflower

It’s quite a delight to suddenly stumble upon colorful wildflowers out here, deep in the forest. You come to expect them at home in your flower garden, but out here, they’re truly a pleasant surprise.

These wild Red Columbine’s fiery reds and yellows really stand out against the dark shadows cast by the evergreens, and are in stark contrast to the usual underbrush. It reminds me that sometimes beautiful things show up in unlikely places.

***

careless with colors

nature spatters garden paint

across her canvas

–Photo by me