One advantage to only using a cellphone for photography is that it requires one to get physically close to one’s subjects for photos like this, which involve lots of patient stalking. Out of such absorbing experiences, haiku sometimes emerge fully formed. Such was the case with me and a series of monarchs this afternoon. And it’s a great example of how scientific knowledge contributes to a sense of wonder. So yes, I had a direct experience in a sort of Zen way, but that experience was shaped by my knowledge of monarchs’ multi-generational, epic migration—an epic they themselves presumably have no intellectual grasp of. Like most animals, they are, we suppose, in the moment at all times. Which is simultaneously attractive and terrifying to contemplate.
Although at least 95% of the gypsy moth caterpillars stripping our ridgetop oaks this summer died of diseases before reaching adulthood, enough did make it to ensure another generation. There were so many interesting details of gypsy moth life history I could’ve focused on here, not to mention the unsettling (to a human) scene of apparent devastation, the tree trunks still covered with caterpillar corpses, etc., but the “I HAVE NO MOUTH BUT I MUST MATE” aspect kind of encapsulates the whole horrific reality, I think, and I liked the word music here, including the almost rhyme of moths and mouths which, to me at least, echoes the male and female moths’ similar but contrasting looks.
The new-to-me font is Bellota Regular. The cursive swashes in an otherwise non-cursive font make it a pretty good match for modern haiga, I think.
I keep trying to accumulate enough haiku to make submissions to certain hoity-toity journals that only consider haiku that have never been blogged or shared on social media, and then finding excuses to post them here anyway. Oops! In this case, the excuse was provided by an eight-spotted forester moth that landed on the brim of my ball cap, then obligingly stayed there while I de-capped, fished out my phone and took some snapshots.
I believe this is Apheloria virginiensis. I did indeed get so lost in looking at it that I couldn’t remember where I was until I stood up. And it’s not as if I’d never seen one of these before; they’re fairly common in the forest leaf duff.
I processed this on my phone, as usual, and didn’t notice until uploading it to the laptop just now that it’s slightly fuzzy. Oh well.
A couple of years ago, a wounded doe struggled up from the valley to seek refuge in the steepest part of the hollow and died beside the stream right where it flows the most swiftly, between 90-degree beds of hard sandstone. I almost stepped on her skull the day before last while conducting a wildflower survey.
The photo then prompted this haiku, which in contrast to the one I posted yesterday, took more than a day of pondering: where to go with a germ of wonder that wasn’t terribly original, having to do with the contrast between mortality and the inexhaustible leave-taking of a creek? In the end, I took my cue from a friend of mine who’s become a fan of a YouTube livestream of a forested stream in Denmark. Although with this obvious sort of pun at its heart, no doubt what I’m calling a haiku would be considered a senryu by some.
There’s an acute lack of resolution in this photo due to cropping from a too-distant shot. The beetle was actually quite cooperative, and allowed me to approach to the point where I was holding the phone just inches away, but that’s when the camera chose to stop focusing and require a re-start, by which time the beetle had buggered off. So this isn’t going to win any awards. On the other hand, I’m rather pleased with the haiku.
Good to find a use once again for the target-shaped text option in Snapseed. The auto-generated font sizes and lines were a good fit for this tanka as well, I think. All in all, I’d say my smugness about this haiga-like thing is appropriate for the day, which has long been mainly an exercise in corporate greenwashing and liberal performative virtue.
I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to get this right in GIMP. (This is the main problem with FLOSS, isn’t it? The uber-geeks who volunteer their time to develop open-source software don’t tend to see much value in creating quick and easy shortcuts for dummies, as commercial software developers do.) After trying a couple of other brush-calligraphy fonts, I settled on this one—Beyond the Mountains—for superior legibility. And only belatedly realized that the bare-twig shadows on the shell needed space, and shouldn’t simply be merged into the calligraphy as I originally wanted to do.
I flirted with the idea of treating the text like a personal ad, but who under the age of 30 even knows what that is?
This wood turtle was out and about in a place near here called the Barrens a little more than a week ago, so possibly actually late March. It’s all a goddamn blur.