Birdsong and omelettes

This haibun is for the dverse recipe collection. I’m never certain I’ve got it right, and as for the kigo word, that’s anybody’s guess.

We camped in the house where there was no heating except the open fire, no electricity except three overhead lights, and a stone sink pitted with mysterious caves that the child in me peopled with merfolk and sea monsters. The basics, we had bought with us—butter, bread, coffee, and a bottle of wine—and though we arrived too late for the shops, we had neighbours. From one we bought eggs, and another gave us a lettuce and a bag of potatoes. On that first evening we walked through the twilight up the hill, and picked sprigs of rosemary and dandelion leaves. In the ditch there was wild garlic and on the banks, marjoram. We made an omelette of fines herbes and tossed the boiled potatoes in the pan with butter and rosemary. There was oil and vinegar and salt in the cupboard for a salad dressing and plums from the tree in the garden. It was late summer and the orioles were singing.


Summer lingers late,

we leave some plums for the birds,

sweet songs our reward.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

59 thoughts on “Birdsong and omelettes”

  1. I love omelette aux fines herbes. Says the would-be vegan. Best. Omelette ever. And right now I have rosemary, parsley, oregano and thyme. Perfect.

    We have no sink, a modicum of electricity but the bloody washing machine has died. Noooooo!!!!

    1. We’re trying to be vegan too. I don’t mind eating eggs when I know the hens. It’s the butter I feel guilty about. I couldn’t live without a washing machine. Hope you get a replacement soon!

      1. I’m veganish. He isn’t. Although there was an offer at a spanish supersol for president brie which I totally resisted. Because was it veg? Think not, so I gets back to Gib and grabs the first veg brie I could get my hands on!

        We had our chicks for ten years or so. I don’t have an issue with eggs but dairy … uh. I use soya milk, he uses butter, I don’t, and then there is the cheese thing. I’m not getting divorced over vegan/veg and 90+% of our meals are vegan anyway.

        I amazed myself. I actually washed clothes by hand that ended up semi clean. Holy Shit.

      2. Husband maintains it’s kinder to clothes to wash them by hand. I let him get on with it if he feels he has the time. I suppose he thinks sheets and towels would appreciate his gentle touch too…

  2. I like the birds rewarding you with songs for leaving them some plums. You also knew how to find those herbs along the ditch. That must have made the meal special.

  3. I remember the joys of no electricity and water from a well when we lived in Ireland – everything was done on a range, which heated the house too. I love the description of the stone sink, Jane! And don’t the basics taste delicious under such circumstances! I would love an omelette of fines herbes and boiled potatoes tossed in butter – perfect! I also leave plums for the birds 🙂

    1. There are a lot of similarities with one of my uncles’ home west of Dublin. The limewashed walls, the field right up to the door, and the quiet. Being further south, the heating is rudimentary, not enough for my tastes. The next thing to get sorted 🙂

  4. This is lovely Jane–both the paragraph and the haiku, which flows from it.
    I like my modern conveniences, but those meals thrown together are often the best. I love how you strolled and foraged.

  5. The herbs and spices make a difference to a simple meal like omelette ~ I say that was a delicious meal ~ Love your haiku of those sweet songs by the birds ~

  6. What an incredible experience. And a beautiful haibun.

    “and a stone sink pitted with mysterious caves that the child in me peopled with merfolk and sea monsters” … I love this part. 🙂

    1. Thank you! We’re going to have to put in a proper sink and a proper kitchen come to that. But I can imagine how much I would have loved playing in that sink, poggling about in the holes and caverns…

  7. Stepping back into the past can be surprisingly delightful. Your neighbors kindly supplying you with eggs, potatoes, and lettuce. Then finding delicious herbs on a walk. Winding up with a delicious dinner in a quaint abode and enjoying the feeling of how it used to be. Loved the plums and the birds. The imagery is beautiful. Well done. ☺☺

    1. Thanks Patricia 🙂 The old people’s houses are still like this in the countryside. Poverty more than desire, but when we have a choice, it’s lovely to be able to choose simplicity, for a while anyway.

    1. Thank you Claudia. It is lovely. The thing that I really have to change though is that old sink. It’s lovely, but it’s so low! I’m short, but it kills my back bending over it.

    1. It’s rural south west France. Interestingly, it has a very high population with Italian origins. Italian immigration to this region was massive from the 1920s up to the 1960s, so quite recent. The countryside was depopulated and poor Italian farmers were able to find land relatively cheap, and the local population was actually pleased to welcome them. The owner of this house is of Italian parents, as is the mayor, and every other person we’ve met so far!

  8. You cooked up a beautiful story and haiku. I like the adventure of your setting, the pitted sink, hunting for food and borrowing it, it all makes the meal taste better

  9. A wonderful hsibun about good food and good times. Kigo is-are seasonal words that denote the when of the haiku to bring it into the present. Two of the kigo in your haiku are plum and summer. In spite of info to the contrary kigo are required in haiku otherwise you have a senryu or a a different short form of poetry. 🙂

  10. This must have been so special have arrived with little and then left with the experience of such a splendid simple meal shared with birds. Lovely haiku.

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