the yellow squares of grass
where summer was
Jan Dobb’s haiku is imbued with a sense of nostalgia for the long carefree days of summer. Camping is an integral part of Australian family life, of the barefoot freedom of childhood in the bush or at the beach, where time slows down and families and friends connect. Reconnecting with others and with nature is even more important in this modern age of technology.
The setting is made clear in the first line. From the use of the plural ‘squares’, we can see that several tents have been pitched at the campground. These squares of grass provide a strong visual image. The grass has been flattened under the weight of the campers and the lack of sunlight has caused the grass to lose its colour. Yellow is associated with the heat and dry conditions of summer. We can imagine campers enjoying good times together. There is a longing to return to these days which seem to be over so quickly, but seasons change and we all move on as part of the cycle of life. The yellow squares will eventually turn green again and we will all go back to the routine of our everyday lives.
It is the beginning of summer now and the school holidays are drawing near. There is much excitement at the prospect of long relaxed days ahead. But to truly enjoy them, we must consider the idea of wabi sabi, the awareness that nothing lasts forever, and in this knowledge our enjoyment becomes more intense creating lasting memories to sustain us.
Haiku first published in Windfall: Australian Haiku, Issue 1, 2013
Selection and commentary by Vanessa Proctor