The Haiku Life

First published in Woodnotes #10, Autumn 1991, page 19. This was the first contribution in a new “Haiku Life” column I started in the journal, seeking “bright, newsy anecdotes” and “news and vignettes about haiku in the real world—and the people who write them.” You can read the entire trail guide I refer to here in PDF form at the National Park Service history site.

If you happen to visit the Lady Bird Johnson grove in Redwood National Park, just south of the Oregon border in Northern California, be sure to pick up one of the grove’s trail guides. As you wind your way through towering redwoods and fragrant rhododendrons, the guide points out many of the trail’s natural features. After a mile, the trail loops back to the beginning. At the last numbered marker [#19], the guide asks how the beauty of the grove makes you feel, and encourages you to express your emotions in haiku. “For centuries,” the trail guide says, “people have written their often intense feeling and thoughts into short poems.” The guide gives two examples, one by Hokushi and one by Anon [perhaps the writer of this trail guide?]. After communing with the natural beauty of one the country’s most spectacular redwood groves, how superlatively fitting to cap the experience with haiku!