A Patchwork Post: Daffodils, Haiku and Chickens

daffodilsThe sun’s shining through rainy gales today, and I’m sitting in my kitchen, soaking up every last ray like a lizard on a rock. Shadows are dancing on the walls and I’m enjoying how the light blesses all my mismatched, brightly painted crockery and everyday treasures.

Sunshine makes every bit of living art in our homes beautiful, but shadows add depth and interest…to us, too.


chickensOne way I welcome spring is to be open to all kinds of supermarket synchronicity. I fell in love with this range in the sales last week and brought some cheap and cheerful spring chirpiness into my kitchen. I’m always drawn to hearts and birds, but it seems the universe decided I needed a touch of whimsy, too!


Those of you who’ve been visiting for a while will know I write poetry and lyrics, and am very fond of haiku and tanka. When I lived in Greece, I was fascinated by the changes in the wind, the tides and the sounds of crickets in the olive grove below the balcony where I wrote; I filled a lot of notebooks trying to capture the intensity of those moments and memories.  Most of what I wrote weren’t pure haiku but I liked their pared down essence so I kept some of them as poemlings in their own right.

I’ll be doing a mini series on ‘proper’ haiku next week, but in the meantime, here’s a fragment  from one of my Greek  ‘word-sketchbooks’ describing the signs of an impending storm, and a link to one of the best posts I did last year :  Haiku: Showing Essence, Shedding Skins.

a warm wind rises
whipping up dust
and dried leaves

sun umbrellas flap
a loose shutter bangs

the trill and pulse of cricket chirping slows
to silence
in the olive groves
before the skies


This weekend, why don’t you start a word-sketchbook and capture some life sketches in a few brushstrokes, ready to be re-lived and reduced to their essence when you get home.

Or try distilling the essence of spring (or antipodean autumn) into three lines, of 5-7-5 syllables, in present tense only, with no similes or metaphors…

What flowers or images add a touch of  spring or whimsy to your home?


  1. Hi Janice .. today I bought jonquils for their scent, some yellow daffodils, some deep pink and light pink tulips and some blue irises .. they will provide pleasure for my Mum – and they’re in a yellow jug with a mallard duck on it .. some more jonquils in a glass vase by my mother’s bedside.

    Your poem .. will floor me .. this is definitely not my forte!

    Whistling wind rustles
    Soaking rain splatters on panes
    Dripping patterns form

    Does that pass? Enjoy the weekend .. just hope it’s not too soggy!!
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Steak, Kidney and Oyster Pudding with a Stout Porter? =-.

    1. “Does that pass?” Are you kidding?!! I have commenters whose comments could be posts in their own right! Thank you for your lovely poem! I could hear the rain splattering on those panes. But you realise there were two poems in there…

      jonquils for their scent
      yellow daffodils
      tulips deep pink and light pink
      blue irises
      mallard on a yellow jug
      by my mother’s bedside

  2. This is beautiful Janice. There’s something about this type of writing that is mesmerizing… to the writer and the reader. And I love how you started off this post. I was captured 🙂 Here’s my haiku tribute to spring, which is my favourite season.

    Spring is the season
    Mother Nature wakens life
    with rhyme, with reason.

    1. Thanks, Davina! I really enjoyed this; whenever I do posts about poetry or music, I get really excited.

      I was thrilled to find your comment – and you know why I’m smiling! After your recent post about writer’s block, I was hoping you’d do one of your poems for us; you combine the personal and the universal with such ease and grace and make it look deceptively simple!

      I’m so-sun deprived here in Scotland, I love spring, too; the greens and pinks and mauves and sunshine yellowness of it all!

      PS I’ll be addressing that mesmerising feeling in a coming post; I know exactly what you mean.

  3. What a beautiful photo! [Hey, submit it to iStock photo–maybe you can get paid for it–it’s gorgeous!] I just sat and stared when I first opened this post yesterday. The lighting is stunning and all that yellow makes my heart yearn for an end to snow!

    I just popped in on my way to a writer’s club meeting and have to leave but I’ll be back when it’s done to comment more. I just couldn’t leave without telling you that you put spring in my heart!
    .-= Randi´s last blog ..The Wearing of the Green =-.

    1. “…you put spring in my heart”
      Seeing you’d commented brought a big smiley bouquet to mine! I know you’ve been warp factor 9 busy, so I really appreciate you popping over.

      I hadn’t even heard of iStock photo, but I’ll check it out. Having a blog has really boosted my love of taking simple photos to share. However…someday, I hope you can sit in my kitchen and admire that wee patch of seasonal kitchen window with a coffee in your hand. I’ve had more of shadow than sun about me recently, so I think those daffodils (and chickens 😉 ) were God-sent to put a smile on my face.

  4. Hi Janice,

    What beautiful pictures! I do not know much about haiku so I look forward to your series.

    Spring time has sprung over here and it is lovely. I love to hear the birds chirp as I wake up in the morning. Something about that sound is just so lovely.

    Hope all is well!
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..The Re-Invention Progress Report =-.

    1. Thanks, Nadia! I love sharing photos; not only does it encourage me to be receptive to moments and details, it’s my way of inviting folk over for a cuppa and a chat. I can never find stunning illustrative photos like you and others do so effortlessly, so I try and make sharing my own photos part of the blog’s ‘feel’. Oh, I wish you could smell the photos, too; that’s thyme in my enamel spices pot.

      I’m sure you would love reading and writing real haiku because of its spiritual and Zen connections; many folk make it a part of their paths to Buddhist enlightenment. I love haiku so much, I enjoy everything about it from my very worst attempts at writing it to reading kids’ attempts in class, the classics by Japanese masters and collections by my favourite American and Greek poets.

      Hope to hear more about the “re-invention” soon!

  5. Thank you, Janice, for the inspirations of home and poetry. Your welcoming sun of invitations to the possible.

    Spring ever amazes me! And, to haiku:

    What sudden sights surprise?
    Overnight uncurlings and bursts
    I too moist and fresh


    1. So, so glad to hear of your “uncurlings and bursts”! I love “uncurlings” – makes me think of fern fronds…Your comments always read like poetry, Connie – every word precious and gifted – but it’s a real treat for me to see your talent for poetry, the rhythm and movement of overflowing emotion captured along with the sound and freshness. I hoped you’d like this post, the cheery wee chickens and the lemons that always remind me of my homes in Portugal and Greece.

      1. My, oh, my, thank you for the feedback. I might enjoy writing more often!

        Yes, I did “like this post, the cheery wee chickens and the lemons that always remind me of my homes in Portugal and Greece.” Actually I commented upon the cheery wee chickens and the fruit and crockery to a friend when directing her to your blog!

        1. Hi Connie,
          I hope you do explore your poetic sensibilities! There are veins of gold untapped there!

  6. Wow, Janice, your writing is gorgeous! Really happy to have discovered your blog.

    I too am loving how spring is waking up everything with its light. What I’m noticing most is that I’m very aware of the now-ness of things. I’ve had many moments of “wow…..this is all here now. and i’m here now too.” Spring brings that energy.

    Thanks for allowing your creative voice this space – it’s beautiful.

    .-= Tara Mohr´s last blog ..Living—and Leaving—The B+ Life =-.

    1. Thank you, Tara! I enjoyed your blog, too. Good to meet you. Writing here in this space, and writing about poetry, coaching, writing, nature and my family – all of these make me feel like I’m blessed enough not to be living the B+ life you talk about. I used to be an effortless ‘A’ person when I was much younger, and accrued a lot of excuses along the way for settling into a less than vibrant life. Now that spring’s here, I’m going to follow these greening, budding urges I’ve been having to push my way up towards the sun again. I’ve been having those wow!&now-ness feelings you mentioned, too. They inevitably get me reaching for my haiku/word-sketchbooks.

      1. Thanks for coming by my blog, and for all of your comments –they definitely made me smile a lot this morning!

        Re-reading the comments on this page I feel like I’ve entered an alternative universe of women who write blog comments in poetry and fill their lives with flowers. Seriously! What a gift to find this community you’ve created in the midst of all the noise out there.

        Looking forward to reading more. Warmly,
        .-= Tara Mohr´s last blog ..Living—and Leaving—The B+ Life =-.

        1. Thank you! I know all bloggers think their own visitors are wonderful, and they’re grateful for them, but I really do feel blessed in these boxes. Most of the regulars here have many more visitors to their blogs than I do, and write individual replies to everyone, so it always delights me when they make the time to comment here.

  7. Your post so had me in the mood for spring, that we piled into the car yesterday, screaming “Road trip!” We drove south, expecting nice warm weather, but ended up in snow because we neglected to think about higher elevation. Still, it was a great way to spend the first day of spring.

    I’m going to take your challenge and do the word-sketchbook. I am terrible at drawing but figure that the only way I’ll get better is by practice, right? I should have started it on my road trip yesterday. I saw so many beautiful sights.

    The flowers that always add a touch of spring to my house are peonies and lilacs. My last year house had two huge lilac bushes and the sweet smell was divine. I haven’t seen too many peonies since I moved to Utah, but I love them. The vivid color and beautiful scent remind me of home, as in Iowa. Maybe they need more water than Utah can provide.

    Your haiku was beautiful and it was nice to see entries from Hilary, Davina and Connie. Haiku always puts me in a peaceful, meditative mood. Thanks, all of you, for sharing your work.
    .-= Randi´s last blog ..Sunday Serenity 3-21-2010 =-.

    1. I saw the stunning Utah photos over at your place. One of the things I love about blogging is what a glorious geography lesson it is!

      I think you’d be brilliant at using words to ‘sketch’ images in a notebook; you do it every time you write. Sometimes instinctive writers don’t realise how powerful their gift is for juxtaposing images in a way that creates mind movies for the reader.

      Peonies are actually one of the flowers that appear a lot in traditional Japanese haiku; they’re often used to represent summer, and some famous poets have written about the way their petals overlap and fall. For years, I thought I’d never come across a peony until it dawned on me that we had them in my childhood garden, only my mum pronounced them peeny roses. Their blossoms were as big as a fist when I was a wee girl and I used to stick my face right in them after the rain or in the morning when they were still damp and silky.

  8. Spring came in with a roar over here. The wind blew hard and long all day yesterday. It really caught my attention because it’s not that often that I hear the wind when I’m inside my house. I sat here listening and watching the shadows of leaves dancing on my tabletop. Here’s one for you to finish for me because I can’t settle on a last line, and you are so good at this.

    Roaring wind outside
    Leaves dance through curtained sunlight
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Boy Bath =-.

    1. …on my tabletop

      Only because you asked! I know you can write beautiful poetry; I’ve read stanzas of yours that read like wee poems in their own right.

      I love those moments when things catch our attention. It’s like stepping through an invisible curtain to a place of heightened awareness where we feel things so much more intensely and life communicates with us in a different language. Those are the moments I often use basic haiku principles to capture in notebooks.

          1. Janice, I seem to recall some thinking that haikus should reflect a stillness, much like a photograph, which this one doesn’t due to the roaring and dancing. Maybe you could address that aspect when you do your miniseries next week. I love this stuff.
            .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Boy Bath =-.

  9. Hi Brenda,
    Haiku doesn’t actually need to reflect stillness, although many do; I feel the stillness accompanies the recollection and recreation of the imagery of an experience that produced an emotion, that quality of suspended experience that hangs there so we can inhabit it. In this way, that initial keen perception can be rebuilt to be experienced by the reader. What we’ve been playing around with here have just been warm ups; we’ve actually been breaking a lot of other‘rules’ and not writing real haiku. I’m a poem lover, not a haiku purist, so that doesn’t bother me, and a huge body of wonderful poetry has come form folk experimenting with the forms, metaphysics and themes of haiku, which is why I love it as an inspirational tool. The creations in today’s boxes are testimony to what folk can produce with a brushstroke within restrictions that are calming yet inspiring. I’m hoping to do a few more posts sharing what I’ve come to learn over the years, and a few of my favourite ‘proper’ haiku from different countries. To whet your appetite, here’s one by Pizzarelli with exuberant movement followed by exquisite slow movement that allows us to see the scene in slow motion:

    flinging the frisbee
    skips off the ground
    curving up hits a tree

    .-= janice´s last blog ..A Patchwork Post: Daffodils, Haiku and Chickens =-.

    1. You’re welcome, Lori. Thank you for contributing to what’s been one of the most fun boxes ever! I’m thrilled you went for it! I remember the last piece you wrote on my “How to Write the Wind” post was lovely, too. Do you have another site as well as your martial arts one?

        1. I am so sorry I didn’t know about this other site of yours. I just read the rap and some poems and they’re really powerful. I love your tagline, too! I tried a) to subscribe and only got a page of html, and b) to comment, but – please don’t laugh – I couldn’t find the box!
          .-= janice´s last blog ..Why Haiku? =-.

          1. I enjoyed this poem of yours over in Davina’s boxes – nice one!

            Wintering robin
            sits atop the evergreen
            catching first sunlight

  10. There are three things I would like to say about this, yet another fantastic, post:

    First, I <b<heart the chickens! Those tea towels are fantastic!

    Two, this haiku, in particular, resonated with me:
    sun umbrellas flap
    a loose shutter bangs

    Three, thank you for the idea of the word sketchbook! You are feeding my inner artist. 🙂
    .-= Chania Girl´s last blog ..Two Lists =-.

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