The other day while channel surfing – yes I do that occasionally – I flipped to a French station interviewing a young woman in a chef’s hat – a red chef’s hat. The image stayed with me so I tried to recreate her.I’m really not sure at this point if the portrait looks much like her but somehow I think it represents her – and her hat…
When I was very young, one of our spring rituals was to go out and gather a few choice, newly budding tree branches. Usually we would select crabapple or maple or willow to bring into the house, place in a jar of water and watch the spring unfold at an accelerated rate compared to what seemed, to young eyes, an eternity of slowness evolving outside in the cool damp of March.
Because spring always holds the seed of autumn, I thought of this poem from Encounters with Cold Mountain on remembering the spring twigs. This is a lovely little book which contains modern versions, written by Peter Stambler, of ancient poems by a Tang dynasty (8-9th century) Chinese hermit poet. I find the touching words still fresh today. (Tomorrow I will definitely share something more upbeat!)
After dinner, I close my door
As if I could hand it to you, I break a willow branch;
Its leaves shake free and scatter downstream.
I keep my cottage in wife-lorn country;
You seal your rooms in lost-husband province.
Between us the sky arches like a rounded sea;
No ship, no traveler knows the opposite shore.
If you stand outdoors searching a mutual moon,
Do not count pairs of sparrows, flying wing by wing.
A few days ago I mentioned the haiku written by Buson on his deathbed. The haiku referred to Wang Wei of the plum blossom poem previously posted with my painting. I found it particularly touching so here it is again with the image that came to me. I have posted two versions of the haiku – the one which I found and a version by Tom Radcliffe which respects haiku formalism. My illustration subtly refers to Wang Wei by bringing in a hint of plum blossoms. Hope you enjoy!
long ago in Wang Wei’s
winter warbler sings;
long ago in Wang Wei’s hedge
she sang for him too
Ying is a dainty, graceful young cat. Her name which means “shadow” was chosen because of her tendency to follow her sister around and because from certain angles, she disappears. She has become more independent since we first got her and has become willing to initiate mischief all on her own!
Both kitties are enjoying the warmer weather which heralds the arrival of birds to be observed from newly open windows – what fun!
We got two kittens, little sisters, right after Christmas and they have been all kinds of fun. I thought it was about time that I tried to do their kitty portraits. Ming today and Ying tomorrow. Since we had to take them to the vet for their final booster shots last night, Ming’s expression is not the happiest but usually she’s a very happy, energetic cat. We chose her name – Ming – because it means “bright”. She’s definitely a clever cat. She likes it when the tap drips and has figured out that the water runs when we turn the faucet so she tries to butt with her head to turn it on her own. Luckily it’s too stiff for her or there’d be water everywhere!
As we saw off the end of winter with plum blossoms, it’s time to welcome spring with rain!
After I did the drawings for the Wang Wei poem, a friend sent a haiku by Buson which could also be the starting point for an interesting image. This was made into a proper haiku in English by my friend from the word for word translation he had found. Thanks Tom Radcliffe!
Mossy roof, spring rain.
Abandoned in the gutter
is a child’s rag ball.
As I was researching the potential for an illustration for the Buson haiku, I found a curious connection between the two poets. Here’s the poem written by Buson on his deathbed. (Unfortunately not a true haiku in English but the poignant immediacy comes through clearly.)