There, a candle flickers, and we scurry to find a replacement before we leave … to emerge into a glade strewn with autumn leaves and rain now spitting. Our journey of rebirth complete, we return to the shrine compound, where preparations for the year ahead are underway.
….Old man sits in the rain
….Beating straw with a mallet,
….Next year’s shimenawa (Ted Taylor)
Later we regroup at a nearby lodge to eat our packed lunches and work on some tan-renga. Earlier this year, I had participated in a haiku weekend near Newgrange, the site where the ancient Irish had celebrated Midwinter. Using the haiku composed there, we have been trying to add Iwafune couplets to make a tanka, thus combining the two meets in an international collaboration.
….Crisp frost underfoot
….sun on the rim,
….still, the sacred space: (Moya Bligh at Newgrange)
……..Only white breath
……..seen in the air. (Masako Fujie at Iwafune)
A stranger approaches as we settle into a quiet corner to compose. Who is that tall Afro-American with the deep voice? Gerald, just returned from a hike over the mountains – he has found us!
….after death they fly
….my soul and them: (anon. at Annesbrook)
……..A curved pine guards
……..the star viewing-bridge. (Gerald above Kisaichi)
Some of us decide to do the hike up to the ‘Ama no Gawa’ Bridge before retiring to a cafe by the river in Kisaichi for a workshop, at which we share and discuss the tan-renga. A memorable Midwinter’s Day.