Lilacs (haibun)

The lilacs have finally blossomed here after a late spring, and I’m out for a walk around the neighborhood on this beautiful sunny morning. As I move in closer to a large bush for a photo, the fragrance wafts up and envelops me; it is so overwhelming, that I feel a bit drunk, in fact, and I’m 7 months sober! A warm rush of memories float on the aroma.

Moving along to the next bush, I remember the Greek myth about how Pan, god of the fields and forests, relentlessly pursued the nymph Syringa for her beauty, until she turned herself into a lilac bush to escape him. Today, Syringa is the scientific name for the lilac.

Last year at this time, I took my youngest granddaughter to the park to introduce her to the luscious flora there. We found some magnificent lilac bushes, and I suggested that she take a whiff. She leaned in and inhaled deeply; a smile came across her precious little face, and she said, “I knew purple would smell nice.”

o nymph syringa

you once bewitched the god pan–

now, you bewitch us all

–Photos by me

Just a Porcupine (haibun)

Out here in the deep forest, the all-afternoon snow has finally stopped, but now it’s starting to get dark, and we still have a way to go to get back to the car. I can see some kind of dark figure coming into view in the trees just ahead. I pray it’s not a bear cub at this late hour.

Yes, I can see now that it definitely IS a bear cub rolling around on a tree limb! I can feel my old fear knocking at the door; a bear cub means a–wait a minute! It’s January! The bear are all taking their extended naps this time of year.

I look again, and now I can see it’s just an ol’ porcupine, quietly minding his own business and feasting on tree bark. I am relieved!

* * *

in the dark of night

our fears readily offer

to fill in the blanks

–Photo by me

Haibun: Breaking Trail

It’s very nice out here in the woods today. I can’t believe how warm it is for January, and we really haven’t had that much snow, either.

I’m just strolling along, enjoying the day.

Beautiful, golden sunlight is filtering down through the trees ahead, and casting long thin shadows across the as-of-yet unspoiled road. I almost hate to walk down it, it’s so…untouched. But I hear approaching snowmobiles, and they’ll be certain to ruin the moment, anyway.

* * *

in the sun and snow

i feel like i’m walking

on soft, fluffy clouds



–photos by me

Haibun: Beaver Dam


My son Aaron and I are way back in the wilderness of Superior National Forest, and we’ve just stumbled upon a recently constructed beaver dam. Unfortunately, beavers like to lounge around inside their “lodge” where they’re high and dry, and safe from predators during the day. The construction project is all done on the night shift, so we’ll have to settle for some photos of the pond.


Mama is most likely tending to some little ones inside the lodge, as beavers have from one to four kits in the spring.

One thing there is no shortage of out here is woodticks. We must have pulled twenty or thirty of the little blood-suckers off our legs already. And then there’s lyme disease.

Well, it looks like there will be no tail-slapping activities here today.

* * *

found a beaver dam

a newly built beaver dam–

and no beaver. damn


–Photos by me


Haibun: Stars


I’m following a trail into the woods tonight to get a better view of the moonless, starry sky without the light pollution from the city. It’s getting darker as I go, and my eyes are finally adjusting. I can’t believe how spectacular it is–the sky is beginning to look like powdered sugar spilled on black velvet. Venus is so bright, it’s actually casting a shadow.

If only my camera could do justice to this celestial extravaganza!

It’s so peaceful out here. The pines are like gentle giants swaying in the breeze under a canopy of dazzling stars. I can’t help but smile.


we’re made of stardust

ergo, our lives are truly

written in the stars



–photos by me

Haibun: At Twenty Below


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



–Photos by me

haibun: true colors


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


–photos by me

Haibun: Rock Solid


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


–photos by me

Friends & Foes: A Haibun


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



–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