Took this photo of the underside of a polypore fungus hurriedly and without looking and it turned out the best of all the photos I shot yesterday whilst wandering around the mountain. The one-line ku came to me later, and I only thought to pair them this morning.
I was walking along a state forest road yesterday evening, trying to come up with a haiku to accompany a photo I’d taken earlier of a fallen oak tree that looked like a dragon, when I came across this old stump, ringed by saplings like witnesses to a crime (though they wouldn’t have been there when it was cut down). And that moment of insight and inspiration ended up being way more fruitful than the cool-looking thing — which I still haven’t turned into a decent ku.
My favorite tree along my favorite section of Pennsylvania’s Mid State Trail. It stands apart, growing in the middle of a patch of mossy, ridge-top boulders. It’s a black birch, not a yellow birch, so it’s probably near the end of its lifetime.
Black gum leaves in the first photo; a red-tailed hawk and northern watersnake black rat snake locked in combat for the rather more dramatic second haiga. Both snake and hawk lived, as far as I know. I had to move them in order to drive past, so I turned the hawk over with a stick and as soon as both wings were free, it flew very unsteadily off, and the snake headed for the stream at top speed. I suspect the hawk had been badly bitten (painful, but not venomous) and perhaps suffered a concussion when it hit the ground. It wasn’t moving when I discovered them.
I went for a twelve-mile walk to shake some thoughts loose, and the two haiku came as a pair just before I got back to the car. It’s a useful challenge, I think, to hold two competing ideas in mind without favoring one or the other: that life is duḥkha, and that our sense of order and beauty ultimately derives from nature.