Around Jordan Pond


We are making our annual circuit around this huge freshwater lake sealed off from the nearby Atlantic and surrounded by glacially carved mountains covered by spruce and pine. In a week or so the roads leading to it will be closed. There is no one beside us. It is very cold with off and on rain as nature adjusts itself to the coming dormancy:
                                           late autumn drizzles . . .
                                           white and green lichened boulders
                                           above the lake
I am drawn into the tactile strangeness of red granite glacial boulders and their coldness within the greater coldness. Their starkness placed up the mountains among or below the evergreens is a classic Chinese landscape. But the one or two solitary boulders I see now define the Zennian regard for empty space surrounding a rock diffused within an atmospheric transformation, stillness within change:
                                             glacial boulders
                                             in the lake shallows
                                             drifting mist . . . 
We reach a rustic wooden bridge. In the water seems to be a stick floating along, the only thing moving on the water. I think of the simplicity and absolute presence things sometimes evoke but joke to my companion, "Look, the Loch Ness Monster." But of course it is a beaver which we follow into an inlet and watch him collect small branches, one at a time, for a dam across the stream entering the lake. Only a few feet away on its hind legs, a little like ET. I wish him good luck as we move on:
                                             a cold rain. . .
                                             from the beaver's dive
                                             the littlest plash
It is very cold at the finish of the trail, wet and muddy. Our hoods are up and our heads down to avoid the sleeting rain. We are exhausted and frozen, looking forward to the warmth of the car. I see then what I couldn't imagine:
                                            steady wind . . .  
                                            in two of the puddles
                                            washed-up eels
I watch them circle their tiny enclosures in slow spiraling motions, taking their life's breaths where they could. I picked the smaller one up with our staffs to toss in the lake, but it squirmed so, it dropped two feet short in a dense thicket, its fate in its own strivings. The large one landed in the shallows, adjusted itself for a moment among some rocks, and then slowly and evenly swam away into the lake's depths.  
Bruce Ross is a humanities educator and past president of the Haiku Society of America. He has authored four collections of haiku, most recently summer drizzles . . .   haiku and haibun. He edited Haiku Moment, An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku and Journey to the Interior, American Versions of Haibun, and co-edits the annual Contemporary Haibun. He also authored How to Haiku, A Writer's Guide to Haiku and Related Forms and endless small waves haibun (2008). Bruce lives with his wife Astrid in Maine.