Haiku Poetry

The Elusive Summer


Cornelius on lookout for summer.


notions of summer

hang on a kernel of truth

and hopes are raised up


sounds corny, I know

but, aw shucks, the jig is up-

summer hopes are popped


Another non-summer here in Ireland.  Autumn is at the door…  And at the window, and in the garden.


I do love this time of year though and am enjoying harvesting, fermenting, freezing, and already planning for the next growing season.

The summer has flown by…it’s taken me until past midway through the season to cut my work hours at the hotel by half although I felt it was necessary since the end of last year.  It’s been lovely to get back to work outside the home after a decade of not, but it’s only now that I realize how far off track we’ve gone from our plans of self-sufficiency.  Well, more like spinning our wheels than off the track.  No regrets, for myself and family have benefited from my working away from the home.  And what would be the sense of regrets anyway?  No doubt about it, all is as it’s meant to be.

Johnny and I both want to make a living from and raise our family off our land.  We were both so busy working away from the home this summer that we had to say no too many times to requests for lettuce and veg from local restaurants.  That and other happenings made us realize it’s counterproductive to spend time working away from the homefarm and away from our family.  I feel a burst of energy when I think about how we’ll prepare over the winter to meet next year’s demands but also know that I must plow through the rest of this work season.

On a positive note, sewing summer camp was a great success.  It was loads of hard work, but left all in the family feeling greatly rewarded for it (I’ll share more about it soon). That’s what got Johnny and I sitting down and discussing all that holds promise to support us and all we had lost sight of while being caught up travailing regardless of our plans.  Again, no regrets.

I’m thinking I ought to review my 16 for 2016 list I made at the beginning of this year.  How much of it I’ve actually done will be quite unimpressive.  But, haha, maybe it will be motivating too?!

The haiku and photo are part of a weekly challenge (of which I participate in only sporadically these days).  Ron at Ronovan Writes’ two words for this week’s haiku are ‘up & hope’ and the Four Fab Photo Friends photo word of the week is ‘summer’.

Thanks for taking time from you own busyness to visit me today!  Cheers, Melissa Xx

Three Cheers for Summer!


bonfire night,

yippee! yahoo! yay!

summer starts!

Around sunset on June 23rd much of Ireland celebrates St. John’s Eve.   Also known as bonfire night, it’s a midsummer tradition that falls very near to the summer solstice–which celebrates the longest day of the year when the sun appears highest in the sky and when summer begins back in the States.  When summer officially starts may be determined by where you live but something we can all agree on–it doesn’t feel quite like summer until school has ended and summer break has begun.

Here on the island nearly all of the sixteen villages has their own unique fire.  Some bonfires are only attended by a few neighbours and larger villages have dozens of people gather around the fire.  Potluck food and BYOB can be found at most, while others might have storytelling, music, or singing.  Rituals around the fire to conjure up blessings for the weather, homes, land, crops, and individuals would have been the norm a hundred years ago, but not so much now.

School is out, summer schedule has already begun, and everyone is feeling relaxed.  Now for the sunshine and blue skies to return our way…

The picture above is one of the village fires on the island this week and is my ‘heat’ entry for this week’s photo challenge.  The haiku is for Ron’s weekly haiku challenge using the words ‘birth & cheer’.

Cheers, Melissa Xx

Native sean nós singing on Inis Mor

native Éire sean nós,

winding melismatic tunes-

a fresh sound to most


Irish dance is world renowned, but it’s counterpart in song, sean nós, hasn’t quite reached the same global recognition.  Translated from Gaelic to English, sean nós mean ‘old style or old way’ and rightfully so as it’s used to describe this purest form of Irish music.

Each song is unique to the singer and is made up of very technical aspects of performance such as intonation, ornamentation, and tempo.  In many ways it reminds me of Indian/Hindi music.  Seemingly, it’s sung while also breathing, as long verses are expressed with barely a break for air; difficult is an understatement, though when they are well practiced, it flows with apparent ease.

This excerpt from Wikipedia–

Decorative elements common in sean-nós singing include:

  • Highly ornamented where the voice is placed near the top of the range
  • Nasalisation
  • A second form of nasalisation, used in the south, produces an “m”, “n” or “ng” sound at the end of a phrase
  • One syllable in a word can be sung to several notes
  • Brief pauses initiated by glottal stops, “slides” or glissandi (predominantly when sung by women)
  • Very long extended phrases
  • A tendency to draw breath after a conjunction or linking words rather than at the end of a phrase
  • The ending of some songs by speaking the finishing line instead of singing it
  • Varying the melody in each verse

A live experience is magically hypnotic.  A whole room immediately shushes when someone starts singing– always from their seat, no standing and performing (unless it’s a competition), just wherever they are at the time.  Though others may join in the song or offer encouraging words, the attention remains on the singer.  And some songs can be six or seven minutes in length.  That mightn’t sound like very long, but this can go on and on as a new singer starts just after one ends.  I’m always touched by how so many people who are gathered but not together can remain so respectful and attentive and enthralled.

The songs are passed down from generation to generation and as I have difficulty understanding the content of the songs, I have another Wiki excerpt to describe the meanings of the song lyrics:

Many of the songs typically sung sean-nós could be seen as forms of love poetry, laments, or references to historical events such as political rebellions or times of famine, lullabies, nature poetry, devotional songs, or combinations of these.  Comic songs are also part of the tradition.

Not everywhere in Ireland practices this tradition, but in the Gaeltachts (Irish speaking regions) the natives are raised with it.  We’re fortunate enough here on The Aran Islands to have sean nós singing taught in the schools starting at the age of five years old at latest, but most children are exposed to it from the crib by family members.  Two of my children have won awards for their participation in sean nós singing competitions–there is a video of my eldest daughter on my Youtube page.

The above video is an Aran native who frequents the hotel for some conversation, a bit of craic, and song.  I videotaped him earlier this week.  Other fine examples of sean-nós singing, sung by several phenomenal talents, may be heard here.

Snapshot 2 (14-06-2016 23-36)

A snapshot from my video for my photo entry.

This post was inspired by the photo word of the week ‘native’ and Ronovan’s haiku words ‘fresh & wind’.  I love sharing this bit of my world with you and hope you enjoyed it too.

Cheers, Melissa Xx



charmed by the misdeed;

is it defiance or play?

a glimmer of both.

This caught my eye last weekend and gave me a giggle.  For a moment one might think it means no bikes allowed on the grass over the wall.  But seriously, it’s obvious.  Getting a bike to the other side is way easier said than done; the wall does a good job of not allowing access to the other side other than by foot.  Besides, a glance across the street at the row of bike racks and it’s pretty clear what’s intended.

Ti Joe Watty’s is one of four pubs here on the island where the ‘craic’ can be found most any night of the week from the start of May through the end of August.

What’s the craic, you may be asking?  Well, my just now Googled search reveals an astounding ‘About 3,270,000 results‘.   Though pronounced as the word crack and listed as a derivative of the same, it seems to have metamorphosed from ‘Old English cracian ‘make an explosive noise’; of Germanic origin’ to ‘Irish craic ‘entertaining conversation’.

More simply put, it’s a highly recognized Irish turn of phrase and when you find it, you know it.  While the craic has an intangible presence, it’s often described as mighty.  It’s fun, lively conversation, wonderful company, and most likely includes music with the options of food and alcohol.  I’ve had the craic over dinner and tea with girlfriends.  It’s about the buzz, the energy, the socializing, and the esprit.

‘S’craic?’ (what I hear whenever someone asks me ‘what’s/where’s the craic’)  can mean anything including how are you, what’s up, any news, or where’s the fun.   It’s asked so often that an outsider might wonder if many had a hard drug problem.  But, no worries, it’s always used in a most innocent way.

Anyhoo, I thought the photo subject was unserious and irresponsible enough to fit this week’s photo word ‘frivolous’.  Its proximity to the pub allowed a nice segue from my ‘frivolous’ photo to a bit of lighthearted Irish vernacular, hence, more frivolity (though possibly useful?).

*As frivolous has such a broad definition, the point must be made clear that the craic, while all about the fun and carefree amusement, is far from vapid or shallow.   It’s more happy-go-lucky than devil-may-care.  Know what I mean?

Thanks again to Ron for the haiku words, ‘magic (charm) & glimmer’.  Ron has recently published his first novel, Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling, The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales, which I found to be a thrilling read and gave a 5-star review.  But don’t just take my word for it…check out his book and what other reviewers had to say here on Amazon.com.

Cheers, Melissa Xx


A Late Arrival

chicken and dragon

invite oviparous friends

to just lay around


Dragons lay eggs.  Thankfully.  That little fact was helpful to know when trying to harmoniously combine Ronovan’s haiku words ‘dragon & invite’  this last week into my photo/haiku combo.

I had a bit of fun with the photo word ‘layer’ as it’s an accurate description of our chickens– they’re all very good egg layers.  And when they’re not laying eggs they like just laying around, particularly in the holes that they scratch for themselves.

I had this post nearly ready to go last week but then my son became ill.  He is fine now; not his appendix.  Another thing to be grateful for, this one more meaningful than the bit of trivia I shared above.

One of the disadvantages to living on an island is that a trip to the mainland hospital isn’t uncommon if there’s any uncertainty as to what’s ailing one.  The flip side to that coin is that we have constant access to competent and caring medical professionals here.  

More often than not, when we find ourselves in the hospital we arrive back home knowing only that the cause of discomfort or condition is not life threatening or serious.   This, after a night or two in the hospital because, after all, if there’s a chance it could be life threatening or serious, they can’t be sending us back to the island.  Always relieved to be sent home eventually, but puzzled that no definitive diagnosis is made.   Maybe this is par for the course with children?  Anyhoo, happy to toss my overdue haiku/photo into the mix. 

Melissa Xx

p.s. Go here to see how other’s interpreted the photo word and to the comments of this post to see what other’s wrote for their haiku.

Wholesome Work

Can you read my messy writing?  My far from complete ‘can’t wait to-do list’…  I was going to rewrite it neatly, but decided to spare the waste and instead trace the pen in rainbow colours to brighten it up for this post.

While the photo is all about my work that is creative, fun, and without strict boundaries, the accompanying haiku refers more to the laborious aspects of working to provide food for our family…


working the body

harvesting diamonds and pearls

feeds autarkic souls


The diamonds I refer to are those we harvest from the ground, the pearls being what we garner from the sea and shore. By now, you know that those aren’t the only gems provided by the earth, our little island, our neighbors, and our homefarm; we harvest, gather, barter, and recycle.

No surprise, it’s not always easy living out a dream.  We do it not only to support our family’s food needs and desires to be self-sufficient, but because we genuinely love the physical demands and the creative challenges that come along with choosing this lifestyle.  It nourishes our soul as well as our bodies.

The process of providing for one’s self and family gives an energizing rush– though, ironically, we’re often working while feeling sleep deprived.  We feel this rush when physical and mental boundaries are stretched to working out of our comfort zones, or sometimes it’s when we find creative/inexpensive solutions by putting our ideas together and trusting one or the other’s better judgement.

I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t admit that there are failures and disappointments, injuries and losses, timelines not met, plans that don’t turn out as expected (or, ugh, never even get started).  We get frustrated with ourselves, each other, the community, and the weather.  I’d rather talk about the blessings though, not the problems.  I prefer to write about the problems after we realize the lessons learnt from them.

Finding the balance between the planning and the trusting, the listing and the letting go, the doing and the just breathing, is something we are getting better at.  Like gardening, some things are meant to be learnt over a lifetime, one experience at a time.

Thanks to my friend Ronovan for his inspiring haiku words, ‘diamonds & pearls’, and to the four fab photo friends (myself included) who’s word ‘work’ is the theme of my photo and this post.  

 I hope all reading this are feeling balance between head and heart in all to do with work and life.

Melissa Xx

Friends Helping Friends

With the help of friends and cooperation from Mother Nature, we at last got our new plastic on our enlarged polytunnel. In chilly weather with many helping hands,we had the work done in record time.  It’s a wonderful feeling to accomplish such a large and necessary task with the cooperation of so many, each knowing instinctively when to lead, when to follow, and when to stay out of the way.

in shivering air

with so much work to be done

friendship warms the heart

20160325_123745 (2)

The photo challenge word of the week is ‘friends’ and Ronovan’s haiku challenge words this week are ‘friend & shiver’.

True friends are among the greatest of all blessings….feeling appreciation for all my friendships, near and far.

p.s. Apologies for not answering comments sooner!  Busy days keeping me from doing so…neglecting my cyber friends feels horrible, but I’m steadily balancing the scales of work and home.  Thanks for your continued understanding and wonderful advice about managing it all.

Melissa Xx

Springing in the Rain





showery days don’t

allow play time out of doors

to burn energy


A drizzle quickly turned into a downpour today but not before I captured Margaret Maeve enjoying some exercise on her pogo stick.

As a child, I recall playing in the rain in the sticky heat of summer while jumping in puddles on the hot tarmac of the driveway.  My sense of smell holds this memory tightly.

Another thought is of my entire family racing home from a walk in the neighbouring woods just in time to get out of the down pouring rain, only to discover we were locked out of the house.  What fun we had ducking into our fort that wasn’t exactly watertight!  It was the first and only time my parents ever joined us there, but so memorable.

And many times I’m caught out with my own children while walking the dog and we giggle as we sprint towards home.  Of course, we can only go as fast as the youngest little legs can.

Do you remember playing in the rain as a child, or have you as an adult, with or without your own children?

These memories were brought forth by this week’s photo challenge word ‘spring’ and Ronovan’s haiku words ‘shower & play’.

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Melissa Xx

Art For Art’s Sake




feelings about plans

are upheaved

Have you ever written something in first person point of view for the sake of art that you aren’t entirely convinced is true or within your own beliefs?

I ask because I don’t really believe what I wrote in the above haiku and only did so to achieve the opposites aspect of it.  Written in the past tense, it states that my joy about our plans to at last recover our polytunnel were dashed away by an unexpected puff of wind. 

I know that isn’t going to happen though.  The thought had never even crossed my mind.

As a believer in the Law of Attraction, I was hesitant to pen the words, but it just worked so well.  I’m too positive a person to worry that our plans might literally be blown away into orbit. 

Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed for the sake of art– perhaps one of moral integrity?  Can form truly be separated from content?   Should art stand alone, separate from religion, politics, and humanity?  Is it even possible for art to exist in a separate realm from life’s other matters?  These thoughts are lingering in my mind as I debate printing something, as trivial as it is, that I don’t truly mean.

Ronovan’s haiku words this week are ‘plan & lift’ and the photo word is ‘outline’ (the tunnel frame being an outline of what’s to come).  Anyone can join in; both challenges are growing week by week.

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