Whale watching – a haibun

If you wore a hat down here today it would have blown to Alaska or even the North Pole. The spring gales have started.

I read online that a whale gave birth to her calf in the waters here last week and that the pair can sometimes be seen from the Whale Viewing Platform.   At lunchtime I went to take a look. The wind was so strong I nearly took off to Alaska myself. It was wild and oddly exhilarating to stand staring out to sea in a thick coat and with my scarf buffeting round my ears. Definitely Moby Dick weather.

There was a high swell and I stood for quite a while seeing nothing but green water. Just as I was about to leave the whales surfaced – too far away for a clear sighting but I could make out the distinctive black and white patterning on the mother’s back. As the waves rolled around them, the pair would disappear and then reappear for fleeting moments. I stared and stared until they disappeared beneath the water again. I felt privileged, blessed even, to have seen them. None of the tourists further along the platform appeared to have noticed anything.


Prompt:  30 days of Haiga – word prompt – hats

The aura of objects

At an antiques/second hand market I came across a beautiful porcelain figure inscribed with the median points used in Chinese medicine.   figure 2

On another shelf a doll dreamt of a little girl’s love 2014-09-14 17.18.21

while a mannequin broodingly recalled her glory days as a model of high couture.   2014-09-14 16.45.18

The social critic Walter Benjamin wrote of the aura of the objects – that ‘atmosphere of detached and transcendent beauty and power’ that certain art works and unique objects possess – Walter Benjamin – aura  

Benjamin felt aura was related to the hand crafted nature of these objects and was dependant on their inaccessibility.   This elusive aura would fade with the mass reproduction of images and objects.  

Maybe it is that as mass produced objects become older and harder to find they develop a stronger aura.

           I took these images with my phone and processed them in Photoshop.

linked to http://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/phoneography-and-non-slr-digital-photo-challenge-black-and-white-longwood-gardens/

At the hot springs–a haibun

In Pamukkale in Turkey there are hot mineral springs that been used by people since antiquity. The Romans called the place Hierapolis – it was a sacred site dedicated to the Goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus.

I visited Hierapolis  in 2102.  The fever I had contracted earlier on my trip through Turkey was at its worst.  My head reeled as I walked across a plateau where Roman ruins reared up beside ancient pathways leading to the mineral spring pools.  The air was sultry and storm clouds gathered on a nearby mountain top.    All around me the hillsides gleamed a dazzling white – mineral salts have been collecting there for thousands of years.   The pools themselves were unlikely expanses of  shimmering  aqua.

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The humidity rose as I paddled in the shallows of a pool.  There was a potency to the air as the storm drew closer.   Although my travelling companions pressed in on me on either side, I felt enclosed in my own bubble  – suspended in a time warp where my own experience in 2012 and the evidence of antiquity around me somehow meshed.  The people beside me seemed similarly affected.    They all looked slightly stunned and one more outspoken woman snarled that she wanted to be alone.

Leaving her to her mood I left the pools.   Huge peals of thunder echoed round the salt encrusted hills and the tour guide muttered to me,   ‘This is so strange. We just don’t get thunder storms like this in Turkey.’

DSCF7882People raced for shelter as the storm drew closer.

Intrigued by the light effects, I stood taking photos until heavy rain drops forced me to retreat.

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Later that night I took a hot salt bath –  the hotel I stayed at was plumbed into one of the hot springs.   The next morning my fever was gone.   Completely.   The sense that time is circular and the past, present and future exist simultaneously has stayed with me though.


Prompt:  Hot springs – Carpe Diem Haiku Kai