White clover, dandelion, buttercup and wild violets line the pathway that I walk. Just between the path’s edge and the grass, golden, stringy pollen catkins, which have fallen from the oaks, collect themselves. A miniscule, yellow-tan butterfly alights on a branch of Cherokee rose, and a beetle crosses my path. As I climb the hill, the trees overshadow me, and I am grateful for their shielding from the hot sun. A chipmunk clambers over a log, and a robin, perched in a tree, flits away as I approach.
This is an autobiographical account. My phone was out of battery power or I would have taken my own woodsy photo. The theme this week for Tanka Tuesday, hosted by Colleen Chesebro of Word Craft Prose & Poetry, is “travel/journeys,” so I thought it worked perfectly with a haibun and another walk in the woods.
I want to take you on a virtual walk with me, inspired by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk, with a little haibun (Japanese poetic prose,) haiku, park photography and a little down-to-earth information about our experience.
On Saturday, I walked with a new doggy client, Luce (pronounced Loochay,) a handsome dog, a Brittany spaniel and dachshund mix. We walked through Verona Park in Verona, New Jersey, and as it was a nice day, the park was busy with people doing everything possible to do in the park: fishing, cycling, walking dogs, playing tennis, paddleboating and using the playground and the exercise stations around the walking path.
We traipse along the paved path, Luce moving ahead of me, waving his tail like a feathery fan. We pull to the water’s edge where the sun glints against the smooth surface. The blurred reflection of the trees in the water resembles an impressionistic painting. A central fountain shoots its spray, creating a relaxing soundtrack, while distant swanboats glide through the pond.
Other swans dock at the shore, awaiting passengers, their beaks face to face, creating a heart in the negative space between them.
Intense pink dianthus greet us, lifting their frill-framed faces to the sun.
The shadows of the trees create lacy patterns on the wide stone path bordering the lake while a paddleboat floats under the arch of a stone bridge.
A cluster of irises grow at the water’s edge, their yellow teardrop petals drooping gracefully.
A weeping willow’s tendril-like branches sweep the water’s surface. They hang like a fairy maiden’s hair prepared for a wash. Its branches majestically arch and curl above the reflective water.
Luce, though placid, is drawn to the sight and smell of two ducks in the water.
Luce and I had some refreshment at the Snack Shack at the boathouse after our walk. I had forgotten to bring water or a dog bowl, and as I was too distracted to notice the signs forbidding dogs on the dock, I carried Luce over to the Snack Shack order window. I bought a drink for myself and a bottled water and asked if they could give me a bowl for the dog. The kind employee at the window alerted me to the "no dogs" rule but provided a bowl for me. I thought they might have a disposable one, but he gave me a melamine plastic one. We sat at a nearby lakeside bench to refresh ourselves, but I didn't break the rules again in order to return the bowl, so I hope that they were able to retrieve it from where I left it. I appreciate the kindness of that employee.
Today, after we’ve had some rain, I took a walk in Mills Reservation in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, inspired by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk. I am just discovering the Japanese haibun form of poetic prose, and it seems to fit perfectly with hiking explorations, my desire to exercise and blog. I used to go on solo hikes with a book of poetry in my backpack, and this time, I went with a notebook, pen and phone camera. (This is not the haibun, just a more straightforward introduction.) 🙂
The wet earth squelches beneath my feet as I walk. Birds greet each other with song, twitters and squawks as I walk beneath the trees, filtering sunlight. Tall, slender trees tower above me, the sun creating interesting patterns of chiaroscuro among their leaves. For a few moments, I sit, pen in hand, on a damp stone near the stream. The active water gurgles as it flows, and the air smells sweet and earthy.
I rise and continue along the path. The hollow-sounding tattoo of a woodpecker echoes through the forest. Nervous blackbirds scatter and take flight.
The ground is so wet in places that my gait is strange, as I stretch my foot across to a flat rock or a drier spot. When I reach a place where water runs across the path like a stream, I hop across on stones.
Fallen trees abound, the shapes of their branches weaving a tangled design.
Some are overgrown with moss or lichen or climbing plants. Even before I approach a fallen pine, I detect its aroma in the air.
Trees see their reflection in the still water, while, across the path, water trickles and falls over branches and stones, a waterfall in miniature.