“on pruning maples”: haiku and not-a-haiku for a changing year

The first post of the new year, reflecting the last events of the old:

  • Thin moon at twilight,
  • Pruning the Japanese maple.
  • I’m in a haiku.

On Pruning Maples

  • Pruning the Japanese maple
  • At twilight, under a crescent moon.
  • I’m in a haiku.

The first is a haiku proper, with the syllable counts reflecting the patterns of Japanese, the second my English language friendly not-a-haiku, a three line poem capturing the same idea or feeling.  In this case I felt more justified, and less constrained than usual, in attempting the traditional form.

Why was I pruning trees at twilight on New Year’s Eve? Because a Japanese maple is as much a maple as sugar maple, and its sap rises just as early. This is why maple sugar time is in February.  To avoid pruning away sappy, growing wood and upsetting the tree, you prune maples between the Fourth of July and Christmas, with New Year’s as the last safe day.

And since you want to prune Japanese maples twice each year, once with the leaves on and once after they fall, I was waiting for the last leaves.  But the tree outstubborned  me this winter, holding onto most of its foliage well past the human deadline.  I made this photograph a week into 2020– most of the leaves are crumpled and faded, but a few retain the classic form.

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