Tag Archives: summer

June Haibun: 30 days

Night air like heaven
Weekends like only kids know
Light that never fails

I wore jeans and a long-sleeved shirt when I walked Lola this morning. The skies and the lake were gray again and the air was cool. I realized that observations of weather are an insignificant way of marking the passage of seasons.

As summer settles in and reaches its apex around here with the Fourth of July, I become less interested in the details of its progression. But, in doing so, I believe I become more present and fully live in–if not obsessively appreciate–the moment.

This is the time when the lilies and lupines bloom, when the shy flowers on hostas start to show up. The geese and ducks in the area are all but invisible. They stay in their ponds, the juveniles almost indistinguishable from the adults, all of them feeding and resting.

The asparagus we put on the grill tonight was thick, its time is almost over. The ephemeral Hexes are probably done; Tricos should start to show up in the cool early mornings after hot days. The clouds of insects will writhe 100 feet above trout streams in the beams of first light.

Like any month, June is a transition. Nothing is permanent and we travel through each year via the seasons.

This I celebrate:
Water, memory, sunlight
Ache for it each day

June Haibun: Space between the stars

We have moved through the rain and into the hot and the humid. This too is part of June. We have arrived here only after experiencing a litany of other type of June weathers. From the cold and rainy to the mild and dry to warm and stormy to this, this hot and still. There is no sign of this heat lifting in the near future. In fact, tomorrow is predicted hotter and wetter.

The season now teaches us that, though the air is thick, life is only and entirely a series of moments. Breathe in this, soak it in through your pores, let the sweat run down your forehead, let the water in your body merge with the water in the atmosphere, seek icy creeks, seek cold beer, seek the present moment and seek the next.

We may be forgiven for spending our winters waiting. We may forgive ourselves for cold, dark nights under blankets. Even great bears hibernate. We may even think back fondly on such silence, such survival. But June is not a month to waste. No, this month demands appreciation, even on days when your shirt sticks to your back, when the sun scalds the sidewalk.

So I slow and I stop and I say that it is not the sight but the witness, any season of the year. It is observing the unique and meditating upon it, understanding how the Earth affects my life and wondering why it is so.

Hot upstairs
     Bathe in the cold bathtub
  Listen to old songs

ps – the title is inspired by my friend nikki.

June Haibun: Nowhere Else But Here

Sunrise at the spot

I awoke this morning at dawn because our dog, Lola, was standing over us in the tent, acting agitated. No matter how tired she should be from the previous day’s adventures, and no matter the fact that she routinely sleeps in until 9 a.m. on the weekends at home, it starts to get light out when we’re camping and she has to get out of the tent. But it was a good prompt to pull on some clothes and climb out of the tent and take in a few moments of sunrise in the valley.

There was fog blowing around over the water and the grasses across from us and the sun had just come over the bluff on the Wisconsin side. The dominant sound in my memory of the moment is of the rushing waters of the spring-fed creek tumbling over sand and rock before merging with the river at our feet. But there is also a chorus of songbirds, their singing coming from every direction. Warblers in the trees around us, red-winged blackbirds across the channel, untold others singing in every key.

Birdsong, water rush
    For quiet eternity
Never leave this world

Some hours later, after sleeping some more, after oatmeal and strong coffee, after fishing from shore and packing up bags and canoes, we pushed off into the river again, our backs to the site. The paddle downstream to the landing was substantially more relaxed than the paddle up to the site had been. We paddled steadily but easily, and pulled off at a beach shaded by big cottonwoods for a last swim and admiration of the white clouds in the blue sky, the quiet river carrying canoes, the minnows nibbling our toes in the sandy shallows.

Before we had left the campsite, I said goodbye to the site like Jack Kerouac would, with a bow and a “bah” as I walked down the trail. Our tents, chairs, coolers, and other random camping gear was all gone then, the site just a clearing in a woods of tall white pines, a fire ring and a pile of wood. The creek kept rushing by and the wind kept blowing off the river and none of that would change when we were gone, when I was back at work or home or barbecues or anywhere else. No, it would remain.

Canoe beached on the sand
    Fireflies in damp night woods
Swim long in this river

Sunrise on the St. Croix

(Be sure to click the photos to see nice, big, beautiful versions.)

June Haibun: Upstream

We paddled against the current about two miles to get here. Hardly able to believe the good fortune that the campsite was open. We sat by the little creek for a bit and sipped some beers and then left to paddle up another mile or so where we beached the canoes at a sandbar and wandered in the shallow water for a bit. Then we floated back down, fishing unsuccessfully. When we got back to the site late in the afternoon we sat by the creek again and sipped some beers.

Cold water flowing
   White pines with negative space
Laughter of good friends

June Haibun: The sun will outlast you and me

The sun will outlast you and meThe waters of the creek were warm and slippery. You had to walk carefully on the slimy rocks but after a day in the stream you were a sure-footed water child.

I wasn’t much for slimy creatures like the leeches which were the creek’s one significant drawback but yet I didn’t let them get in the way. I would find one on me, stifle a gag, yank it off, and go on with the chaos of youth.

There wasn’t anything to the creek beyond the corner where we swam. You came down to it at a grassy spot where some parents would be set up in aluminum and nylon lawn chairs and a cooler. With little ceremony, a t-shirt and shoes dropped careless on the bank,  it was into the water.

Fifty feet upstream there was a natural waterslide where the activity centered. Big slanted slabs of limestone with a couple inches of water running over it. I swear I went down that rock more times than there were pebbles on the creekbed.

The creek turned above the slide and then straightened out. That was the upper reaches of the known waterway. Seeking adventure one time, my cousin and I hiked upstream another 30 yards, fighting our way up the bank, swarmed by mosquitoes in the bushes, dragging a little two-man rubber raft that was my introduction to watercraft. Bit to shit, we pushed through the brambles finally and launched the raft.

Our arrival at the slide, and then our descent of it, was some small victory, but we did not see the point in repeating the journey.

The days in the creek were limitless and fleeting. The warm afternoon seemed infinite, and gladly so, but with little fanfare I’d find myself wrinkled and chilled and only then notice the sun dipping behind the tall trees with their thick mid-summer foliage.

    We are born of water
dissolve someday like the clouds
      The sun will outlast you and me

      (With apologies to Cloud Cult)