midday . . .
the farmer’s radio plays
to pumpkin vines

Leanne Mumford

blue-sky

An intriguing haiku from a number of angles.  The scene is one we might come across along some rural backroad, ordinary enough yet full of narrative suggestion. There is a certain cinematic quality here and I can imagine this to be the opening scene in a film. Who is this farmer; has he or she been working alone or are they now having a midday meal with fellow workers back at the car or homestead.  That the radio has been left in the field tells us they will most likely be back in the field that afternoon or has the radio been forgotten – and what might the birds make of this?  Are the pumpkins being harvested; which in times gone by and still in some places today is occasion for celebration and thanks – a way of relating to the world not so apparent in commercial agriculture.

From a different perspective I am reminded of the conundrum; ‘does a falling tree make a sound if there is no one there to hear it’?  ~  does the farmer’s radio make a sound if no one is there to hear it?  Our visiting birds (who have excellent hearing) might have some bearing on this. The last line in this haiku though leads to more interesting considerations, for we are told the radio plays to pumpkin vines.  Much has been said about the possibility that plants respond to music and I happily admit some degree of sympathy to this idea.  Haiku has its roots, at least some of them, in notions of animism – that all of nature is animated by spirit. Mind and matter are not mutually exclusive. It seems quite plausible to me that plants might experience the world in their own way, feel the warmth of light on their leaves, be aware of the phases of the moon, be bothered by the gnawing of rabbits and enjoy the misty rain – who knows?

A most interesting and enjoyable haiku.

First published: A Hundred Gourds 5:1 December 2015

Selection & comments by Simon Hanson