Algy fluttered over to a small, stunted birch tree that was overhanging the water, and made himself comfortable among the mass of twiggy branches and wee green leaves. It was so quiet and peaceful by the lochan that Algy soon began to doze, but suddenly he heard a sound that made him start. A frog had jumped into the water – Plop! – from the rock where Algy had been perching just a little while ago; it inevitably reminded him of that most famous of all Japanese haiku:

The old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water.

[Furu ike ya               
kawazu tobikomu 
mizu no oto]

[Algy is quoting the famous haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Matsuo Bashô.]         


Algy flew on until he reached one of his favourite trees: a massive old storm-damaged oak, which stood alone in a clearing apart from the other trees. It was just coming into leaf, and the new leaves glowed yellow when the sun managed to break through the clouds. Although it was very late this year, Algy knew that spring had definitely arrived once the Atlantic oak trees burst into their distinctive yellowish green. As he looked at the tree he was reminded of a haiku by Basho:

The oak tree:
Not interested
in cherry blossoms

[Algy is quoting a haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Matsuo Basho in a translation by Robert Hass.]

When the Scotch mist came down during the winter months, the bare trees looked more beautiful than ever. Algy loved to sit and gaze at the wonderful maze of twisty branches silhouetted against the pale, hazy background, and study the rich pattern of lichens which would be hidden when the leaves returned. As he perched on a rock beneath the wet branches, he felt a constant soft drip, drip, dripping on his head, and remembered a haiku by Matsuo Bashō. Soon it would indeed be spring:

          Spring rain
          conveyed under the trees
          in drops.

This post is dedicated to Algy’s friend lillianhowan, who is currently setting up a new online literary magazine nimbuscat on Tumblr. The first issue, to be published this spring, will be devoted to writing on the subject of wood 🙂

[ Algy is quoting a haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Matsuo Bashō. ]