Wandering the Haddie Buck Peninsula in central Pennsylvania’s Glendale Lake yesterday, it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out why so many of the trees in its rather impressive oak-hickory forest wear such thick collars of moss. A forest in the middle of a lake is always rather special—for one thing, it’s a bit less accessible to the marauding deer. This looks like a very good place to revisit in spring wildflower season.
Ten days ago the largest tree on the mountain fell over—an immense roar on an otherwise still evening just after 9:00 p.m. I heard it from the spruce grove a quarter mile away, but didn’t go to investigate for nearly a week because I was afraid of what I’d find. I was a little shocked to discover that what had appeared such a strong tree, bearing up against ridgetop winds for two centuries, had in fact been hollow, and so rotten that it snapped off near the ground rather than uprooting—testament also, I suppose, to how tight a grip it had on the nearly vertical beds of hard sandstone. RIP.
I came across the toppled tree just at sunset, and this dark and blurry shot best conveys my shocked reaction. The haiku is my sixth saved draft, and may or may not be the last. The play on “hollow” is as obvious as it is, to me, unavoidable. The great hole it left in the canopy afforded me my first view of the waxing moon for the evening, and I was reminded of that famous haiku by Mizuta Masahide: “barn burnt down, now I can see the moon”.
Snapseed’s fonts here (Amatic SC for the upper case and Loved by the King for the lower case) seemed adequate, especially with the unusually large gaps between words in the latter. Anything less hand-drawn-looking probably wouldn’t have worked.
Both the haiku and the photo are from last night, but I didn’t think to combine them until now. Screech owls have been calling every evening for the past three nights, perhaps prompted by the full moon. The photo is of the eastern red cedar which I planted next to the house 30 years ago and for some reason never expected to get quite so large. Last night I remembered there’s an ancient spotlight, at least as old as I am, that the tree has grown over, and I checked to see whether the bulb still works.
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.
This is the oldest section of what became a long distance hiking trail stretching from Maryland to New York state, the Mid-State Trail. The guy who led the effort, a Penn State physics professor named Tom Thwaites, was exceedingly fond of scenic views, which to me are relatively uninteresting compared to trees, rocks, wildflowers, birds, insects, lichen, etc. So as many times as I’ve been here, I’d never actually checked out most of the viewpoints along this stretch of trail until Friday, when I made a point of going to each one. And of course I then found plenty to interest me, such as the inchworm mentioned here.
A nano-puddle in a fallen oak leaf. A wood thrush was singing while I crouched to get the shot. I was working with a much broader crop when the limitations of the free Snapseed app—most of the best font options, including this one, don’t permit line breaks—led me to experiment with bleed-through of contrasting colors at ~50% opacity to emphasize the semantic break.
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.
I didn’t go out of my way to shoot photos of yesterday’s snow because I felt like I’d done that to death on previous Aprils, and there was nothing new to see. But then of course I got this haiku and only had a couple of snapshots I’d taken from my porch. That’ll teach me!