Haiku-sday: At Elspeth’s place


The hedge cheeps. Sparrows,

I think–a cloud of them–wait

for H. to throw seeds.



We’re a part of nature

I have just finished reading ‘Last Child in the Woods: saving our children from nature deficit disorder’ and there is so much in there that I underlined and tagged.  Including these two passages…

Some parents see another connection–between positive nature-risk and openness to beauty. In New Hampshire, David Sobel consciously uses nature to teach his daughter safety. He calls it “assessing ice”:

This experience is a rite of passage. I am trying to teach her the process of assessing thin ice, literally and metaphorically. We go out on the ice together and assess the structural integrity of the ice: what’s risky and fun, and what’s too risky. Through these experiences, I help her begin to be able to assess situations. Whether this began consciously or intentionally on my part, that’s the effect. Crossing the ice, I teach her to read cracks, the ways of figuring out ice thickness and texture, to see the places where there is current–this is where the ice is thick; this is where it is thin. I teach her how you must spread out when you have to cross really thin ice, to carry a stick with you, all of these intentional ways of assessing risk on the ice and being prepared.  

… He believes that the kinesthetic original experience of risk-taking in the natural world is closer to the natural organic way we’ve learned for millennia, and that the other experiences don’t reach as deeply. Listening to him, I wondered about this unnamed intensity of learning and hyperawareness that we detect in nature, but cannot prove. Is this quality, perhaps, linked simply to beauty, to those natural shapes and musical sounds that draw our souls to nature? 

…He is determined that his daughter not suffer from this distance [from nature], that she find nature, that she walk in beauty, and that she understand the ice. Though self-confidence and awareness can come from experiencing nature, the generations do not go to nature to find safety or justice. They go to find beauty. Quite simply, when we deny our children nature, we deny them beauty.  p. 185-6 


In a similar vein, another beautiful piece…

As we headed out to sea, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spoke passionately for the reconnection of children to nature. “We’re a part of nature, and ultimately we’re predatory animals and we have a role in nature,” he said, “and if we separate ourselves from that, we’re separating ourselves from our history, from the things that tie us together. We don’t want to live in a world where there are no recreational fishermen, where we have lost touch with the seasons, the tides, the things that connect us–to ten thousand generations of human beings that were here before there were laptops, and ultimately connect us to God.”  p. 198 


Three things: nut cracking, bushcraft, and women


This bag of hazelnuts has really done its work. At the shop it was a musical instrument for the four-year-old. Then a distracting toy at the counter just as the baby decided he’d had enough. Then it became a lovely activity during the baby’s nap time for the non-nappers to do together. Discovery of the year: it really is easier and less painful to crack a lot of nuts with a stone than a purpose-built nutcracker. Finally, we turned the nuts into butter. I’d like to say with a couple of stones that we’d chipped away (with other stones, of course) to the right shape. But actually, we used our food processor. A cracking good time :^)


Just got Out On The Land by Ray Mears and Lars Fält out from the library. Sections on cold injury, for example, are not for late night reading, but there is something very comforting in the fact that through balling up wool for knitting with, I already know how to hank cord. I am not sure how far that will take me in the wilderness…

Would love to have been at a Women’s March last Saturday… especially the one in Washington!  Instead, I have enjoyed seeing the photos around the web.  Love the picture here of badass women placards… and the “So bad, even introverts are here” one too!

Why haiku?


You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been writing a haiku each week since the beginning of this blog. I wasn’t sure that I would keep it up, but it seems I like haiku, and I don’t think I’ll stop writing them anytime soon…

Haiku is an old Japanese poetry form that most of us probably learned in primary school. Although the rules are a little looser in English, the general form is: three lines, with 5-7-5 syllables respectively. Haiku were often, but not always, about nature and life+death.

The most beautiful haiku written are in the category that I like to call “soufflé art”–ie, they are made up of very little by way of ingredients and look effortless, but require both artistry and divine inspiration to be done well. In the words of Paul Hollywood, ‘there’s nowhere to hide with something so simple’. (I’m sure he said that about something, maybe even a soufflé).

I started my blog with regular haiku for a few reasons. One reason is kind of banal and practical. I wanted to write and I knew that I would have to post to a rough schedule to last longer than 96 hours in the blogging world. They are the kind of poem I can write easily. I say ‘easily’, not necessarily ‘well’. I can write them in the pockets of time my small children give me and with the energy and brain capacity I have right now. Some of them I am happy with. One or two I am proud of. Some are just filling in the regular ‘Haiku-sday’ slot. Regardless, without much pressure associated with them, haiku simply keep me in writing.

Another reason is more complicated and may actually be a hundred reasons folded into one. I began this blog during a particularly rough period. The last few years have been hard but it reached a crescendo in summer, 2016. After hearing woe upon woe, a friend said that she hoped I would see the small beautiful things in the world around me and that would keep me going. I have always been orientated to noticing these things, often to the detriment of the tasks I need to achieve (as many in my life can attest to), but as life goes through the harder seasons, I have found it is more difficult to appreciate the these things.

I have only recently realised it, but regularly writing haiku has been an outworking of my attempt to be more aware of these small things and quiet moments. It is not so much that I look around trying to look for profound moments, or even think of how I can pare down this particular moment into 19 syllables. Rather, when I notice that I am really captured in a moment, it is crystalline why and it is easy for me to write them down.

Haiku help me to remember moments that I don’t want to spoil by taking out a camera. My favourite example of this is Absorbed. I only have to think of this haiku to be taken back to the warm days down by the river with my elder son stripped down, immersed in the water with his friends. Watching him, and my wee baby rolling onto the sand beside me, I felt so free. Like, just by sitting on the riverbank, I could offer them the whole world without having to give them a thing. Now and then I think of this poem and this moment in time, and I see that there is so more to this world than I can even name, and we are all a part of it, constantly becoming it (if we choose). I don’t know what would have happened if I had pulled out a camera at the river, but I suspect that a level of self-consciousness would have arisen, and then the reason why this moment was so beautiful to me would have unravelled and the moment itself collapsed.

Now I flick back through my haiku like they were a photo album. Some of them make me cringe, but on the whole I can see a pattern of my life, how beautiful the world the world can be, and how connected every moment is to every other moment. And then the crappy ones don’t carry quite so much weight.

So that’s why-ku. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist).

Three things: turmeric, turkish delight tea, and a blogger-friend in the ‘hood


This beautiful bag of turmeric arrived in our veggie box yesterday and I am contemplating what to do with it.  I thought, after making a couple of curries, maybe we could get a bit experimental and either try growing some or dyeing one of my four-year-old’s off-white merino layers.


Feeling uncharacteristically tea-adventurous last week (I usually stick with black, rooibus, fennel, or nettle–told you, unadventurous) I decided to blend a few bits and pieces in my cupboard: a few rose buds, a few hibiscus tendrils, and a crushed cardamom pod.  I call it ‘Turkish Delight Tea’ and I can’t stop drinking it. The second infusion is even better than the first.

This week I met up with my new-found-neighbour-and-fellow-blog-writer-friend, Sarah for a cuppa, with our kids enjoying one another’s company in the background. She is as smart and delightful in real life as as she is on her blog. Her daughter, 21 months or so, and L. hit it off. They trailed around after one another through the flat, and two and a half hours later we realised everyone was still content and there had been no tears. A successful get-together indeed!