One of the reasons I climb the tree every day, year round, is to search out a deeper and more intimate relation to the natural world and the passing of its seasons on this particular Vermont hillside. Every day of winter is experienced as winter when you put on boots, coat and maybe snow pants and work your way up among the branches, brushing snow off them as you go, and look out at the rose-colored hills of dawn; or watch as the blue light of dusk deepens to dark.
You dive face-first into an ocean of detail in a tree. The cold wind keening through a canopy of twigs. Sun-drenched lichens. Platelets of morning frost on a branch. Snow falling thickly in a quiet wood.
A neighbor of mine, and poet, Patrick Gillespie, is undertaking his own daily project in close observation of the seasons. Every day he writes a haiku (or haibun) and posts it to his blog, PoemShape—which is well worth taking a look at.
Our projects converge and diverge in interesting ways.
He takes the wide range of a day’s experience and hones it to a point. I begin with the same small thing every day and widen it into a window onto the world.
His project is more end-directed, in that he is working toward a year-long cycle of haiku that will stand together as a linked work. Mine is more process-directed: I climb every day and see what comes of it, but in the end it is the experience of climbing that matters most. Yet the cumulative body of writing and photography that is the fruit of climbing is also important to me; and I have no doubt that the practice of focused writing every evening is part of the appeal of his project to him.
Since our undertakings have in common the daily exercise of attention to landscape and season, in fairly close geographic proximity, followed by a making of some kind, we are entering into a low-key collaboration. I have offered to share some of my photographs with him, which he will occasionally add to his haiku cycle.
For your enjoyment, a few of his recent haiku:
in the frozen bucket—still
shining in the moonlit rafters—an old iron
And a haibun from a week or so ago:
Sorting through a bucket of nails a honeybee tumbled out, yellow as the summer’s sun, and was once more taken up by the wind—autumn and winter having dried it out
summer’s honeybee—aimless in drifting