Cold Mountain ~ haibun

Cold Mountain

Do not mistake the bear’s stillness for hibernation. Cold and calculating, it will grow larger as it rises on its haunches to maul and swallow any prey it encounters, until it is bigger than any mountain. Always be wary of the bear.

counting icicles
high upon the mountain peak
waiting for a thaw

I was hiking at Runge Conservation Center this afternoon when I read Haibun Monday 2/28/22: Cold Mountain, the prompt from Frank Tassone at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. The temperature was 67º F, but this ice on a small limestone formation was still waiting for a thaw as it sat in the shade. Thus was my haibun response born. (I will admit that thoughts of Ukraine also played a part.)

Snow in My Rear View Mirror ~ haibun

Snow in My Rear View Mirror

Growing up and living for nearly sixty years in Western New York, I’m familiar with inclement weather. From the Pennsylvania border to Buffalo and northwards, lake effect snowstorms are a regular occurrence. Until Lake Erie freezes over, west winds will carry moisture inland from the lake, sometimes burying the area in snow. Once the lake does freeze, snow that accumulates on the ice can be carried inland by the wind. Gusts over 75 miles per hour during the Blizzard of 77, on January 28, 1977, left snowfall up to 100 inches in some areas and drifts as high as 30 to 40 feet, burying some homes and bringing the region to a standstill for five days. Of course, not every storm is that severe, but I’m very familiar with driving in unfavorable conditions.

I left all of that behind (sort of) when I moved to Missouri in 2012. Here, a heavy snowfall is four inches or more, something that might be seen twice a year. Temperatures are always fluctuating, sometimes into the forties and higher, so freezing rain or black ice are just as likely. Barely a week will pass before accumulated snow melts and is gone. It’s 61 degrees as I write this, but there’s a winter storm watch from Tuesday through Friday, and the predicted high for Wednesday is 26 degrees with six to twelve inches of snow expected to fall. Temperatures in the forties by Sunday will take care of that.

I said I left those lake effect storms behind, but that’s not quite true. I still drive back to visit family, and my route parallels the shore of Lake Erie for 200 miles, from Cleveland to Buffalo. Any trip from late-November to March holds the potential for lake effect conditions. Some of my worst white-knuckle driving experiences have been on those trips. Once a year is more than enough for me.

whiteout conditions
on congested motorway
deer watch cars crawl past

This haibun is my response to Haibun Monday 1/31/22: Winter,
the prompt from Frank Tassone at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Image source: YouTube (Blizzard of ’77)
~ click image for larger view in new tab ~

Red Cheeks and Laughter

Red Cheeks and Laughter

Across the road there was a lane,
an old logging road that went
nowhere, except uphill. Or down,
if that was where you wanted to go.
And we did, but only in the winter,
when a walk up that hill,
along that simple trail,
ended with a sled ride back down.

Or on a saucer. Or an inner tube.
And the kids loved it. All of them,
because everyone who went down that hill
was a child for the day, even Grandpa.
Sliding, tumbling, crashing
amid red cheeks and joyful laughter.

The last ride down the hill was the best.
It was just a short walk back across the road,
where Grandma waited with hot cocoa
and the inviting warmth of the wood stove.
There was more laughter as mittens and socks
dried above the stove and everyone talked
about their favorite ride down the hill
on those Botsford Hollow holidays.

Still Cold ~ solo renga

Still Cold

melting snow
in afternoon sun
nights still cold

breath in the crisp air
fogging my glasses

frosted panes
see only shadows
drifting by

waterfowl swimming
in ice-jammed river

dark shadows
stray geese overhead
seeking food

sparrows at feeder
still cold and hungry

This solo renga is my response to
Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge #177: Still Cold.

Images ~ 18 February 2021
The Moreau River in Missouri (snow covered)
The Missouri River at Jefferson City, Missouri

Flow

Flow

Carried in a current
barely perceptible
beneath the ice,
yet beyond the limits
of these banks,
my thoughts flow.

Wider waters await,
as near as the next thought.

This poem is my response to Reena’s Exploration Challenge #173,
where the prompt is Flow.

Our recent subfreezing temperatures means local streams will be iced over and that I’ll have to paddle on the Missouri or the Osage River if I want to fulfill my ritual of a monthly kayak venture. Sunny and 56ºF is predicted for next Tuesday, so I’ll plan for a paddle on the Osage, which has a much milder current than the Missouri.

The Missouri River is currently witnessing a rare occurrence. Five miles upstream from Jefferson City, MO, an ice jam has reduced the flow of the river, so that the channel depth (not the overall river depth) at Jefferson City is at or near zero.

Also shared with Open Link #284 – Live Again at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Images (18 February 2021)
The snow-covered Moreau River
~~
The Missouri River at Jefferson City, at half its normal width
with the State Capitol in the background
and
Chris & Jason with the U.S. Geological Service
preparing to measure the river’s depth

Winter Blanket

Winter Blanket

It was a blanket, no more.
Just four inches of snow, but even less
has had my hands tightly gripping the steering wheel
as winds off the lake buffeted my trailer
at the crest of the Skyway crossing the Buffalo River.

Winter, always my least favorite season
for driving. For any reason, really.
The weight of snow on the shovel.
The wind chill while checking out my unit.
Kicking tires covered in slush. Driving.

But this was just a blanket of snow,
still waiting to be plowed at nine in the morning,
already packed down by morning traffic.
Traffic I navigated as I pulled a short trailer
into an intersection that was a glaze of ice.

Making a wide left turn, I watched the cars
that watched as I passed to their left, watched
the drivers’ already wide eyes widen further.
My gaze shifted from the road to my left mirror
to see my trailer jackknifing to meet me.

Heart in my mouth, I spun the wheel to the right,
felt my tractor straighten out, tugging the trailer pin
that had been pushing me around. The relief
in the eyes of those other drivers was palpable,
their cars spared for another day’s winter drive.

I pulled over a short way down the road,
did a walk-around, checked out my unit,
and kicked the tires, more out of frustration
than for any safety check. Safely back in the cab,
I drove off as I enjoyed a picturesque winter scene.

I may miss Buffalo, but I don’t miss Buffalo winters.

This poem is my second response to Poetics: Connections, the prompt from Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to about connecting or connections—in any sense. Merril cites the poetry of Mary Oliver as an example.

Before I retired, I drove for a trucking company in Buffalo, New York.  Buffalo is known for its winter weather, especially the lake effect storms that drop snow carried by the winds off of Lake Erie.  They made for some interesting experiences while driving a tractor/trailer (semi).

Shared with Open Link Night #282: LIVE Edition