Friday, January 05, 2007

Season Words

Back from Asia--so much to say about the trip, too tired to do so now. It'll come over time.

For now my mind is mulling over haiku. I'm writing about one per day as part of my morning writing routine, and I continue to read about haiku and the writing of it. I'm also continuing to study Mandarin, calligraphy, and Chinese brush painting, all of which intersect with this haiku business, but that'll be fodder for future posts.

I'm pondering season words. In Japanese haiku season words connect the writer not only to nature but to Nature and to the cultural heritage and traditions embedded in each word. So, for example, in U.S. haiku fireworks would be a recognizable season-word for summer--connoting Independence Day celebrations and so forth.

But if I were to log my seasons--the ones that feel most true to me--they'd nowadays have more to do with the academic calendar and its "seasons" than with anything else. Although I'm still comfortable writing clunky, novice haiku, I do want my haiku to be true to me, not just true to the form--otherwise, I'd have to switch genres, frankly, to keep it satisfying. And this whole business of the season word surely got more interesting as a result of spending Christmas in Vietnam, where the holiday was quirkily visible but otherwise irrelevant to me. Of course my feeling that the holiday is irrelevant is more of a comment on my situation in life than on the enduring significance of the season. Ditto most holidays.

As with the Japanese season words, I must acknowledge that although most things (e.g., grading) happen during more than one season, some things are more indicative of one season than of another. (E.g., commencement happens at the end of the fall and spring semesters, but it is more clearly associated with the end of the spring, making it an end-of-spring season word.)

ONE ACADEMIC'S SEASON WORDS AND PHRASES

FALL
- the new year
- convocation
- homecoming weekend
- letters of recommendation
- advisees
- a new syllabus
- bad coffee

WINTER
- dark commutes
- family visits
- good coffee

SPRING
- a new coffee mug
- commencement
- spring break
- assessment reports
- Four Cs

SUMMER
- travel
- manuscript (heh!)
- writing retreat (heh! heh!)
- student weddings
- Birkenstocks
- changing the voice mail message
- pressing the regalia
- sneaking into the office

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