Season’s Greetings

I know I said that this Christmas was going to be a silent, contemplative time, but it didn’t work out quite like that. We did a lot of cooking, a lot of eating, made a lot of noise, terrified the animals with silly Christmas costumes (definitely not my idea) and decorated the house with greenery wrenched from the surroundings—the Christmas decorations being among the many things we haven’t found yet

And, I succumbed. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Sound of Music, so we watched it again.


The following haibun was written on Saturday and expresses how I felt about this end of year celebration. The two words not to use for Colleen’s last Tanka Tuesday prompt of the year are ‘New & Experience’. This haibun, if not spot on, is close.


The grass is wet the day long, and green. Lords and ladies spread marbled leaves, and water drips diamonds from black branches. Cries fill the wooded air, bounced back from hanging cloud, sharp and bright in the indefinite gloom. Here, where the sky touches the earth and bathes it in the water wash of the ocean, where fog fills the valley at morning and at dusk, and no light pierces the nights of no moon, I feel close to the source of all things. Nowhere, in this December night of fox bark and the snuffling of badger and hedgehog, is there a sign, a pulse, a break in the clouds, riven by a long ago birth in an eastern desert.

There are too many

stars to count this night—none sings

louder than the rest.

The past is a foreign place

This is for the dverse Monday haibun—Holidays.


I have not had a ‘real’ holiday in twenty-five years. Holidays are childhood memories of foreign places, new languages and food, long train journeys that delved deep beneath mountains and skimmed blue coastlines. Sometimes it was a plane but rarely—my mother was terrified of them.

Changing country is easy for children. French, German, Italian, Spanish, makes no difference. You pick up the words you need easily enough to play with the other children on the beach or round the mountain lake. When I was seven I knew all the dozens of flavours of gelati, could buy myself a piece of pizza bianca, ask politely to get past on a crowded Roman bus. By the time I was eleven I could join in singing the current Spanish pop songs, knew the different polite forms of address depending on country, situation, age, time of day, understood the difference between Austrian and German greetings. Holidays were life as she was lived, even for the eleven months of the year when I was not present to watch her gentle progress.

I haven’t been able to give all of that to my own children. They have a lot to discover.

Golden morning heat,

cicadas sing in the pines,

briefly, earth stands still.

Microfiction #writespiration: Holiday

This 52 word story is for Sacha Black’s prompt—The Holiday.


She sat on the last bench of the promenade with her back to the shops, the cafés and the big square with the fountain, watching the river as it flowed beneath a huge sky filled with white clouds. Tourists cast a casual eye before turning back to the shops. Holidays. She smiled.

Three line tales: Lemons

This is Sonya’s photo prompt for this week’s Three Line Tales challenge.

The gorgeous photo is ©Erol Ahmed


She hung back, letting the group wander ahead behind the guide, gazing at the tempting displays of the market stalls. “Just one?” She held up a lemon, smelling of sunshine, a tuft of bright, hard leaves still clinging.

He turned, impatiently, one eye on the guide, not wanting to get left behind in the swirling foreign crowd and sighed heavily in exasperation. “What for? They have a ton of those in the bar.”

It was her turn to sigh, as she thought of lemon groves, blue sea and quiet.


Small wonder

In the deep of the night
When the air is still and the dark clings,
I stand at the window and breathe in the scent of childhood.
Only at night, when the city’s hum is silent—
Engines, motors, kitchens shut down—
Does it flood back, the thrill of childhood holidays,
Borne on the breath of a garden.
The scent of pine resin fills the air,
Hot exotic leaves, dry, non-British earth,
And the smell of southern plants, headier than jasmine.
Only at night, the heat that simmers
Releases memories of waking
On that first morning in a foreign place.
Indescribable scent of another summer,
A place shared for a few weeks,
Borrowed then boxed away with the souvenirs.

In the still of a summer’s night
The scent returns to haunt me.
Childhood wonderment at the subtle difference in the texture of the air,
Contentment with an odour caught on the breeze.
Leaning on the sill, in the stilly night,
Before engines and motors break the spell,
The wonderment is still there,
And memories crowd, drawn by the scent of resin.
Though the subtle difference has been commonplace
For half a lifetime now,
It eases the heart, and fills it with a joy
That reaches back through the years
To join hands with a child.