After the afternoon thunderstorm

After the afternoon thunderstorm,
evening arrives accompanied by the coolness of autumn.
In the west, the sun dives into fiery clouds filled with rain and light.
In the east, the moon rises ever so slowly, silver against blue.
Wrapped in a shawl, I stand between the two,
listening to the flock of Snowy Egrets soaked in colors,
flying south for the night.

Kenza.

Ryōkan’s hut

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Often, I think I am in Ryōkan’s hut.
I see the sky through the window,
the wall next to it hiding the house across the street.
Birds come on the window sill chirping away
enthralled by the morning glory overflowing its small pot.
Cars pass intermittently
and I try to muffle their sound.
Rain falls gently on the roof
and I pretend it is thatched.
I sit like he did.
I push aside the woes of the world,
my mind at peace
and yet…
I am not in Ryōkan’s hut.
I have to deal with the everyday:
the market and talking to strangers,
walking through filled streets,
thinking of tomorrow,
having a house in order and a wallet also.
I cannot create Ryōkan’s hut,
I can at most pretend that I am in it.
Some of you may not understand,
and as Ryōkan said
“Who can indeed content himself with this manner of life,
Unless he has seen himself altogether lost in the world.”

Kenza.


– Quote from one of Ryōkan’s (Japan, 1758-1831) Chinese poems.
Art: self-portrait by Ryōkan.

The blue cup with the butterfly

I sweep the dry leaves and the brushwood from the alley leading to the front door.
I rarely do so, as I seldom have visitors.
The night before you arrive, I know it will rain. In silence, it will wet the trees and the roof.
The scent of wet soil will greet you along with the one of the roses I planted near the entrance.
I will leave the front door ajar. It may squeak, echoing my old bones.
As for me, after setting up the tray with the blue cup with the butterfly, I will depart.
The kettle will be filled. The tea leaves are in the small white jar.
You will find tranquility here.
Stay as long as you wish.

Kenza.

On my way to the boulangerie

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Mama! What did you see on the way to the boulangerie?

When I went out of the house early this morning to go to the Boulangerie, the mist was so thick I could not even see the end of my toes! But let me tell you what I could see as I walked really fast to avoid my ear tips from freezing.

As I walked by the vegetable and fruit market, I saw birds gathering around our friend. You know, the giant man with the large belly who always wears those bright green sweaters. He was giving them bread. The birds looked so hungry. Some were eating right out of his generous hand!

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As I rounded the corner towards the Boulangerie, I saw a lady with a large hat full of multi-coloured feathers being pulled by a rather funny looking dog. He was in a good mood and as I approached them, he wrapped himself around my legs. “I am so sorry!” the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat told me with a smile. “It is my son’s dog. His name is “gato” as in “gâteau” cake in French.” “It is fine,” I said as I tried to unentangle myself from the dog’s happy embrace. “It is a bit confusing for Mexicans,” she added as the dog pulled her forcefully away. Well, confusing for the dog as well, I thought.

At the boulangerie, I saw our friend Claude, the Chef Boulanger. He said “Bonjour! Comment va le petit?” Claude is always so nice!

But the cashier was grumpy. I wanted to make her smile by telling her about the big man feeding the birds and the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat and the dog named “gato,” but I hesitated. So I just gave her an immense smile. That made me look rather silly, but I did not mind. Yet, grumpy she remained. Maybe I should have told her about the man and the feathered lady and the confused happy dog. I should have known better.

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As I headed back home with my bag filled with fresh from the oven petits pains au chocolat, croissants and a baguette, I saw the morning mist gently rise above the tall pink church tower. It looked magnificent and I must say that San Miguel, perched high with his wings and staff, looked absolutely dashing! A pigeon was eying him though, and I am afraid he was about to fly and land on his head, taking away some of his aplomb.

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More pigeons greeted me as I made my way back home. Two of them were busy gossiping while warming up in the early morning sun on their balcony. You know the one near the yellow and red church, right above the rendez-vous place of young secret lovers. I am certain they were exchanging stories about the latest ones to have promised to love each other for eternity, as it always happens right there, under their balcony away from the pry of onlookers, and parents.

And finally, as I turned into our little street, I looked ahead hoping to see you at the window and I did! I was so happy! That was the best thing I saw on my way to the boulangerie.