along a backroad
the colourful company
of wildflowers

Janet Howie


As one who has passed many idle hours wandering country backroads, the first line immediately brought to mind the restful tranquillity of those times; for the back roads are quiet places, away from the noise and haste of the highway. Perhaps there is also a suggestion here of aloneness. One is more inclined to take the backroads when the value of the journey itself is appreciated and this indicates a way of living that relishes the here and now. Basho’s words come to mind here, that every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. The second line introduces an element of liveliness and at first, the suggestion of other companions, of colourful characters perhaps inclined to chatter. This impression is soon replaced by the gentle surprise that the company in question is that of wildflowers, colourful in their own way. There is an obvious sense in this haiku of ‘being with’ and of enjoying that company along with a sense, so beautifully understated, that we may on occasions be ‘one with’ the natural world around us.

Janet Howie wildflowers
Janet Howie

The author tell me the inspiration for this haiku arose out of wildflower tour in Western Australia of which she said, every day was a delight to me as a poet and botanical artist. From her journal we are treated to a closer look at some of her colourful companions – ‘We turned onto bush roads to find along the verges more wonderful plants : purple dampiera, of the lechnenalltia family, and indeed the light blue and brilliant blue lechenaultia, yellow hibbertia, and prickly grevillea – amid ant hills and golden dryandra. Reading that Janet is a botanical artist I asked her if she would be happy to share a sample and she kindly sent this lovely piece.

Janet Howie pen & ink
Lechenaultia wreath: pen and ink by Janet Howie

Lechenaultia wreath is found in the sandy or gravelly soils of semi-arid Western Australia.

Employing an effective use of assonance and alliteration this skillfully crafted haiku  touches on spiritual depths and hints at the beauties to be enjoyed in the slow lane, ambling along the backroads.

First published: A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016



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