Shootings, haiku, and gardens

Last night I went to sleep thinking of yesterday’s tragedy in Tucson, and this morning woke with a haiku in my head. As some of you know, I have a daily haiku practice: I post a haiku and photo every morning on Facebook and just the haiku on Twitter (search: susanjtweit).

It’s my way of fostering awareness and mindfulness about what’s happening in life–in particular, the community of the land–in the virtual world of internet social networking. The brevity of classical haiku–a whole thought contained in 17 syllables–is perfect for Facebook, and for Twitter’s 140-character limit. The discipline helps me shape my thoughts and choose my words, and say something I hope is useful in short form.

As I understand it, haiku was originally a sort of epigram introducing a longer poem; it’s traditionally a 5/7/5 form, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third, although in English that particular rhythm is a strict rule. Haiku is usually focused on nature and landscape. There’s traditionally a reference to the season or the time of year and a word that acts as a hinge between two thoughts, scenes or parts of the poem, and it often incorporates a surprise.

Here’s what formed in my head as I thought of yesterday’s shooting:

Haiku for Tucson–and the world:

To grow healing:
sprout. reach for the sun. drink rain. root.
grow community.


My heart goes out to Representative Giffords and her family, along with the other shooting victims and their families, and the shooter and his family–to the whole community, really.


Today’s post was to be just a brief garden report in honor of the persistence of our kitchen garden in this extraordinarly dry and cold winter. We’ve received less than an inch of moisture here in the valley since last September; our snow shovels sit unused on the back porch. Without the blanket of moisture, nighttime temperatures have already dropped as low as minus twelve, and winter’s a long way from being over.


Yesterday, when I pulled back the row covers on the two beds in the kitchen garden that we keep under wraps over the winter, to check the soil moisture, I was delighted to find not just hardy spinach and winter herbs like parseley and chervil thriving; the baby lettuces were looking great as well. That is an auspicious sign for the occasional winter salad, as well as a impressively good jump-start on greens for spring.

(That’s the row covers in the photo above, with a skiff of snow–all we’ve gotten this winter so far–giving them a bit of white frosting. Below is some of the lettuce. These particular plants are Monet’s Garden Mix from Renee’s Garden Seeds–aren’t they pretty? They’re small but thriving despite the sub-zero nights!)



One final note: Tomorrow I have the honor of kicking off the blog book tour for a charming and insightful new children’s book, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. I thought I knew a lot about brains after the past 19 months with Richard’s brain cancer and his two brain surgeries, but this book taught me some new aspects of our body’s most amazing organ. So swing by tomorrow for a review of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain and a special offer from publisher Little Pickle Press. (Note to FTC: I don’t receive any compensation for these reviews–I should be so lucky!)