old strip mine

a fragment of forest
preserved in shale

Wandering a reclaimed strip mine in Pennsylvania State Game Lands 108, I came across a piece of shaley coal with fossilized traces of ancient plants (fern frond ribs, perhaps?) from the Pennsylvanian (AKA late Carboniferous) period.

Papyrus seemed like an obvious font choice for the name alone. I find it a bit overused in digital haiga, so I believe this is the first time I’ve deployed it.

turning over a new rock

black bear

A yearling bear and I startled each other the day before yesterday as I was walking down the road and it was lying in the stream to beat the heat. For once, I prioritized wildlife watching over photographic documentation, so here instead is a photo of a rock flipped by a bear looking for edible larvae and other invertebrates.

It was sheer serendipity that a new(ish) leaf happened to be in just the right spot in the photo!

coffin-shaped spring

the plucked banjo string
of a tanager

One of 24 haiku (many of them admittedly pretty bad) that I drafted in the course of a ten-mile ramble through central Pennsylvania’s Seven Mountains area on Friday, mostly on trails that I’ve hiked and camped along dozens of times over the decades. This old ridgetop spring was originally built for watering horses, I believe.

I didn’t think I was the only one to compare a scarlet tanager’s “energetic and very distinctive chick-burr” call to a plucked banjo string, but a web search only turns up my own posts. Oh well.


for a spell
sand stone

I’m not sure who hunts this portion of the ridge but I like their aesthetic, and I did indeed sit there for a spell this afternoon, reading poetry and feeling inspired, until the rain started. On the walk back, the first two lines came to me and I debated over what sort of “spelling” to go with. One idea that I rejected as too cerebral:

sitting for a spell the word orogeny

I was keen to include the word “mountain,” especially as part of a fuller spell — sand stone mountain — but that one extra word seemed to break the spell, as it were: a practical lesson in magic. The one change I could get away with, I think, would be to go more colloquial and change sitting to setting, which could conjure up images of pudding, jello, etc.


or apprehensive
old black birch

Unlike their cousins yellow birch, which can live for hundreds of years, black birch (Betula lenta) are short-lived trees on average, meaning they rarely get beyond 80-100 years old. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still have plenty of time to develop character. And it makes them more relatable, at least to those of us with more than half a century under our belts.

Photo shot today on a solo hike in the Seven Mountains region of central Pennsylvania.