Posts Tagged ‘winter’

West Coast winter haiku

December 5, 2016

One thing I actually enjoy about Vancouver’s winter rain and early darkness is the neon reflections.

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(A version of the above photo-haiga was published in the last issue of A Hundred Gourds)

Today, we even got some snow. It’s days like this that I’m happy to work at home.

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Winter haibun

February 17, 2015

Jean-Pierre Antonio and I have been friends since elementary school, when we shared the grade five classroom art corner and snuck off with class-mates to explore the nearby creek during lunch hours. Jean-Pierre has lived in Japan for the past 25 years. I’ve enjoyed hearing about his experiences, have visited him there, and we’ve done some collaboration featuring Jean-Pierre’s photographs (taken in Japan) and my haiku written in response to the photographs (here’s a post on our 2010 exhibit at Sawa restaurant-gallery in Vancouver). Recently, I found myself responding to one of Jean-Pierre’s emails with a poem that seems to be part haiku, part tanka. Together, the two pieces form a kind of haibun (a writing form combining prose & haiku). Perhaps this will be a new trend in our collaboration.

illustration from The Lion, the Witch & the WardrobeIn the Depth of Winter

The clouds rolled down from the mountain today, bringing drizzle just this side of snow, and drawing the heat out of my body as I rushed home after work. I thought of the scene in the movie version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ──the one in which Lucy meets the fawn, Mr. Tumnus, by the lamp post. It’s snowing, and she is wearing just a light skirt, blouse and sweater, and she is very cold. He invites her for tea, and they go to his cave-home. Inside, there’s a fireplace with a warm fire already lit, and he brings out the pot of steaming tea, along with sugar, milk and toast. That’s what I want today ─a warm fire to put the heat back into my bones, the orange tinted light to drive away the grey outside, and a soothing pot of hot tea.

tea buns
by candle light─
in the depth of winter
the sheltered ember
of spring

Getting ready for Chinese New Year

January 22, 2014

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden -cropI didn’t expect to see much in Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in the middle of January, but when I visited last Saturday, I found it blooming with red lanterns and bustling with preparations for Chinese New Year. I was also surprised to see winter jasmine in flower and many trees full of early buds.

The Chinese  lunar New Year (which begins on January 31 this year) is a time for sweeping away the old (dust, clutter, debts, worries) and welcoming in the new (renewing hope for health, happiness, and good fortune). Staff and volunteers at the garden were busy cleaning, tidying, tying up loose-ends, and decorating in preparation for the upcoming Year of the Horse Temple Fair, Feb 2 (2014). Red lanterns are hung around the garden to bring good luck (red is considered the most auspicious colour because of its association with fire, the sun, energy, light, and life-blood, which demons fear, so it also keeps demons away), and they welcome back the light of spring.

A few images and haiku from my visit:

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New Year’s lanterns─
the courtyard mosaics
swept clear

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preparing for
the New Year─
peony buds

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still pond─
finding the courage
to say goodbye

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Chicken Soup for the Soul & the lure of a frozen pond

December 1, 2013

book cover4Everywhere it snows, kids love winter. The first snow of the year is always the most exciting ─especially if you live in a place like the south-west coast of British Columbia, where snow is not guaranteed. When my boyfriend and I moved from Vancouver Island to Toronto to go to university, we were looking forward to escaping the cool, rainy winds of Victoria and experiencing a real Canadian winter of sunshine sparkling on snow and ice hockey on frozen ponds. We packed all our essential possessions in two large hockey bags (including two pairs of skates and a toaster oven). The morning we left, we discovered that our friends had graffitied a sarcastic message on the road in front of my boyfriend’s house: Craig loves Harold Ballard (Harold Ballard was the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team at that time, and my boyfriend was not a Leaf’s fan). [Note: scrawled on the road in front of my parents’ house were the words There is no pie in Toronto, but that’s another story.]

Our first winter in Toronto did not start the way we expected. We discovered very quickly that the York University campus, where we were living, had the apt nickname, “Siberia,” and that we had exchanged the damp but relatively gentle winds of Victoria for the bone-chilling, driving sub-zero blast of what we were beginning to think of as a flat urban wasteland. Did things improve? Did we finally get that beautiful Ontario snow we were expecting? Well, you’ll have to read my story in the new collection, Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter: 101 Stories about Bad Weather, Good Times, and Great Sports.

But seriously, Craig and I ended up having many wonderful winter experiences over our four years of living in Ontario (including snow-shoeing over pristine snow north of the city, seeing my first Snowy Owl and Snow Buntings on an outdoor education field trip, and gazing down at the frozen Niagara Falls as we crossed the bridge to the US to watch a hockey game in Buffalo). By our second winter, we had a car, and two of our good friends, Mark and Donna, had moved from the westcoast to Hamilton (an hour’s drive from Toronto), and on weekends we explored a lot of the countryside together. Craig and Mark were on a constant quest to find the best pond on which to play ice hockey. In warm weather, they scouted for accessible ponds with potential. When the temperature started to cool, they monitored the thickening ice. The moment the ice could hold their weight, they were out skating and passing a puck around (long before locals were ready to brave the ice). Donna and I skated too, but we never lasted as long as Craig and Mark.

When I saw the call for submissions to a Canadian winter themed Chicken Soup for the Soul, I knew I had to write something about our Ontario experience and the siren call of frozen ice. But which of our many winter memories should I pick? Should I write about the Christmas day we tested the ice on a pond in the middle of a deserted conservation area? Or the night we skated on an old outdoor rink ─with boards around the outside and lights overhead, canned music, and a warm-up hut with a wood stove? Or should I write about the time we were house and dog-sitting on a farm north of the city, and we skated on the farm pond as the two big dogs slipped and skidded around us? No. I decided to start at the beginning ─with the first winter and the first pond.

pond-skating

What I like about winter

March 16, 2010

Winter in Vancouver is damp, grey and colourless. Or is it? There are so many subtle colour variations that I enjoy in winter –muted greys and browns, unexpected yellows and purples.  Nothing bright and showy, but perhaps more rewarding because you have to look more carefully to see them. I also love the shapes of trees in winter and the secrets the bare branches reveal. I don’t think of their shapes so much when they are covered with leaves, but with their branches exposed, the shapes seems more emphasized to me — like hollow wire sculptures or woven baskets.

 

row of bare-branched trees

each, a lacy sphere or cup

to hold a bird’s nest

 

(photo of trees along Marine Drive, taken out the bus window)