Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Fire and snow

Prompt by Vijay Boothalingam:
For today's prompt, I present a Haiku by Matsuo Basho
you make the fire
and I’ll show you something wonderful:
a big ball of snow!
Access this Haiku in your own terms and write a fictional or non fictional piece in whatever form you desire. A dialogue, a soliloquy, gonzo journalism, a burlesque piece, a letter, a poem - all accepted.

They are camping high up in the hills. It is cold.
They are, at this point, questioning their own sanity.
She: Who goes camping in the dead of winter?
He: We do!
They shed their heavy backpacks, the tent, the camping gear. Setting up the tent first is logical.
The wind is bitingly cold, their faces frozen. He notices her fatigue. It is early afternoon.
He leaves the tent where it is.
Out comes the camp stove.
The matches.
The saucepan, the tea bags, the mugs. The biscuits.
He lights the stove, and efficiently produces two cups of steaming hot tea.
They cup their chilly hands around their mugs, and savour the rich brew.
They pitch their tent, unroll the sleeping bag.
They walk for a while, before it gets too dark.
The pine forest is carpeted with dry needles.
They gather fallen branches and head back to their tent.
They will have a campfire, and, later on, snow.
Not enough for a snowman, or even a snowball fight, but still,
Something wonderful: snow.

The ten year old is city born and bred.
His grandfather has promised to take him
On a trip to his roots, up in the Arctic circle.
The child knows he has Inuit blood on his mother’s side.
He knows a lot of the history of his tribe.
He has learned, from school Geography lessons
How igloos are made, cutting up blocks of snow
Assembling them with the characteristic dome and passageway
He wants to stay in an igloo, for one night at least
And his grandfather has promised that they will.
It’s a long journey, from Toronto, where they live,
To Nunavik.
Grandpa’s cousins welcome them warmly.
He speaks to them in their native tongue,
While the child looks on, bewildered.
The village folks are warm and welcoming,
Delighted with the tobacco that grandpa gives to them
A precious commodity indeed.
They get busy, helping the visitors
Build a brand new igloo.
The child is delighted
It is all so clean and white and cold.
What was the word his teacher had used?
Pristine. It is all pristine. Even the large snow bed/couch
Against the curving wall, pristine.
The family gets them piles of sealskins to sleep on,
Pots and plates, salt, tea
And firewood, and fish, and rice.
Grandpa asks him to light the fire
Which he does, happily,
He’s a Boy Scout, after all.
But his beautiful, pristine igloo
Gets sooty, to his great chagrin.
And he finds himself sweating, near the fire,
while the ceiling weeps with the heat.
He sheds his parka: much relief.
Grandpa crawls out of the passage,
And is back soon,
Pushing a big ball of snow.
What’s that for, Grandpa?
Will we build a snowman inside our igloo?
This, dear child, is our water supply:
We have to melt water to drink, and to cook our rice, and fish.
It is all strange and wonderful.
He is glad that he doesn’t live here
All the time!

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