planting the beans …
this year it takes longer
to unbend myself
Ambrosia, #4, 2009
© Laryalee (Lary) Fraser (Canada) (1940 – 2013)
Several poets from Haiku Nook, a community of haiku poets on Google Plus, wrote what they thought and felt about this haiku written by one of the most important Canadian haiku poets.
This haiku brings me way back to my childhood. I got some Russian blood in my veins. They have a saying: “Sitting on the beans.” It usually means that an action of someone puts another person in struggle, that the year wasn’t very good, that the family will struggle through the winter, and that they will have nothing to eat but beans. Even in the worst year, this plant will survive and produce more beans. High in protein, it will be a good addition to the meal.
Back to this haiku, I see a person who is taking care of his/her future by “planting the beans.” Line two works here as a perfect hinge and line three brings something more to explore “to unbend myself.” To me, it brings more to this haiku, and shows more struggle.
– Laughing Waters (Italy)
To me, this brilliant write by Laryalee (Lary) Fraser shows the passing of time and how it affects the present, where the minute to the grandest of changes occurs ever constantly, for nothing is truly stagnant in this ever evolving/de-evolving reality— which in this case was the gardener’s posture.
An inspired haiku:
the weed whacker
loses its edge
– Fractled (USA)
It makes me think of age. I find it takes me longer to straighten up after a gardening session now. If we want those homegrown beans, it has to be done. I can feel that creak reading this haiku. Ouch.
– Marilyn Ward (UK)
It’s very pleasant. I like gardening, so I connect to that. Squatting down and weeding or planting can get rough on the knees, so I take it as a very simple lament on aging and the passing of time. It has a touch of melancholy, but is still light enough. It’s a solid, no-frills haiku. I can feel the stiffness in the speaker’s bones.
– Clayton Beach (USA)
Great—it makes me think of how much my back aches these days when I am gardening, ouch!
– Martha Magenta (UK)
I like this—it takes you along a path where you expect it to lead you, and all of a sudden, you end up somewhere else. This is clever, takes a matter-of-fact doing and turns it into something bigger than itself. It says one can no longer easily do the things one used to easily do, without coming right out and saying that.
– Dana Grover (USA)
Time takes its toll on everyone and in everything we do; as we grow older (and wiser I suppose), chores become more physically demanding… gone are the days when we could do our daily chores with ease, no matter how long it would take us to do these.
Moreover, this ku reminds me of a poem by Archibald MacLeish “The Wild Old Wicked Man” with its first stanza that goes:
“Too old for love and still to love!
Yeat’s predicament and mine – all men’s:
the agind Adam who must strut and shove
and caper his obscene pretense…”
– Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)
I get a lot from this haiku.
Four major interpretations come to mind:
1. To echo the comments made, I see an old farmer or a gardener. I can see the wrinkles of time in his/her face.
2. I also see a young farmer who is slowly recovering from a major surgery or injury, and physically has to move slower in order to heal from it. The first line brings me a sense of youth via planting the new beans. When we bend a bone to such an extent that it breaks and becomes a fracture, the physician makes the repair, and he/she does so so that the body part can remain unbent and be stabilized/immobile, so it can fully heal.
3. I also get the feeling of a person becoming mentally rigid by clinging to narrow and rigid belief systems. As we get older, it seems some people tend to become less flexible in their worldviews (political or otherwise), while others remain more flexible and open-minded. It has been said that what is rigid is bound to break. On the other hand, I’ve read quotes about the strength of flexibility, and it’s vital importance as we learn and grow, like the bean plants. : )
It’s as if planting the new beans is symbolic for a new beginning, as we appear to struggle with the weight of old karma, and the mental conditioning that was forced on us from day one.
4. This haiku reminds us to save our backs and lift from our legs. I’ve read about many job-related injuries at work, where the patient will bend over, and lift heavy objects resulting in lumbar strains/sprains, and chronic low back pain. Even sciatica. All it takes is one sudden movement, and you are in for a long recovery. It has been said, when your back goes, you don’t get it back. Fortunately, we have surgeons that can do remarkable things for people with spinal cord injuries. But, I won’t get into the heavy topics of health insurance or narcotic pain management.
– Jacob Salzer (USA)
What do you feel or think about this haiku? Let us know in the comments.