A SPRING STORM

We had a good downpour today. Even had a few strikes of lightning. In fact, the past few days have been quite warm, even getting into the 80’s recently. Spring is here—but Denver can still get a snowstorm this time of year. Each day it is less likely, but it has happened.

If you read my post, THE BELL IN THE LONELY TEMPLE, CLOUD HIDDEN, you might recall that I wrote about a small temple in the mountains north of Kyoto. I had to hike up a narrow trail in the thick forest and bamboo groves to get there, and there was no one around. I was very fascinated with how, as a breeze blew into the temple, a little bell hanging off the bottom of a long scroll or pennant would hit the wall and ring. In a moment somewhat akin to pondering over a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear—I was very fascinated with that bell—–and just sat quietly listening to it, very contented, peaceful—insects were buzzing, and birds were chirping, and yet I was the only human there to listen to that bell. And once I was to leave, I knew it would go on ringing, but no one would be there. As I pointed out in my previous post, no matter what the weather—all year long, whenever there is a breeze or a wind, it will ring.

Thinking about that I composed several tanka today as I was out driving around in the rain:

 

春の嵐也
何回も
阿弥陀寺の鈴は
鳴くが
聞こえる人なし

 

Haru no arashi ya
nankai mo
amidaji no suzu wa
naku ga
kikoeru hito nashi

 

Ah. The spring storm!
over and over
the little bell in Amida Temple
rings, but
no one is there to hear

 

This next one is kind of an experiment, because haiku and tanka have a rythm when read in Japanese. A bad rythm, which is probably more difficult for foreigners to pick up, can make for bad haiku. But in this one I purposely strain the rythm. But the bell itself on that day, had a somewhat slow restrained rythm, as the wind picked up the scroll to let it fall back against the wall, allowing for a few seconds between each ring of the bell:

 

春の嵐也
りん。。。りん。。。と
阿弥陀寺の鈴
りん。。。りん。。。と
誰も聞こえぬ

 

haru no arashi ya
rin… rin… to
amidaji no suzu
rin… rin… to
dare mo kikoenu

 

the spring storm!
ring… ring…
the little bell in Amida Temple
ring… ring…
no one can hear

 

阿弥陀寺の鈴
 
人踏まぬ
山の古寺
春の風が
吹くといつも
呼び出したり也

 

Amida-ji no suzu
 
hito fumanu
yama no furudera
haru no kaze ga
fuku to itsumo
yobidashitari ya

 

The little bell of Amida Temple
 
No one steps foot in
the old mountain temple
but when the spring wind blows
it always
calls out!

 

The Japanese verb, yobidasu, has several meanings, including to call out, call up, to invite, to summon, and even to conjure up. When we add, ~tari, to the end of a verb, it implies doing multiple things. So we could translate the last line to be, ‘it calls out and stuff!’ Or perhaps we could write something like, ‘calls out, summons, and conjures up…!’

After all, we might wonder, if no one is there to hear the bell, then who is it really for—perhaps the statue of Amida Buddha sitting next to it? Or perhaps it is calling out to people to come pay respects, or to come break the loneliness of this little temple at the end of a narrow mountain trail.

Here is another Spring haiku:

 

心配たくさん
雀の子
見る親

 

shinpai takusan
suzume no ko
miru oya

 

There are many worries
–the parents who watch
their baby sparrows

 

Spring is a time when families finally get to go out and enjoy the nice weather after the cold winter months. Sometimes for really small children, it is the first time that they can really experience the outdoors, at least without having to bundle all up in clothes that allow little freedom of movement. Sparrows, like humans, watch their babies very carefully. It is in the Spring that they are hatched, and eventually get to leave the nest, try to learn to fly, and first begin to explore. It is also a time when they can become a delicious and hardy meal for a hawk or an eagle, or even a neighborhood cat.

A sparrow had made a nest on top of the circuit breaker or fuse box on the back of my house. It was fun to watch them hatch, and grow, and the mother work hard to feed them. She was upset every time we walked out our back door, which was next to the fuse box. One day I could hear that the mother was quite upset. It was shortly after my wife had let my beagle out to do her business. I guess the mother was training her babies to fly, I don’t really know how it happened—but when I stepped out, it was obvious that my playful and always hungry beagle had happily chomped all the babies down.