When I think back to my childhood, I see the beginning of September filtered through horse chestnut leaves, a precious time before the first day back at school in shiny new shoes, with a new satchel, pencil case and, if I was lucky, a fountain pen. In those days, autumn had already arrived with a vengeance. The grass in front of our block would be thick with leaves that we’d kick high into the air. They hid precious shiny conkers in their split, spiky shells. If there were none to be found, we’d search for a big stick to toss into the branches overhead until they rained on us.

On the first day back at school, the teacher would remind us to bring in conkers, leaves, acorns and other autumn treasures for the nature table or collages that she would pin to the walls. I remember that shifting feeling as the days tumbled into twilight by four o’clock; not long before we’d wake up in the dark and walk to school with a nip in the air, sniffing the first coal fires of the year through early mist.

autumn’s ripeness bursts
dripping with plump fruitfulness

Kim M. Russell, 2017


My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday: Komorebi

Toni is keeping the bar at the dVerse Poets Pub this Monday with a seasonal prompt: ‘komorebi’ (koe moe ray bee) which means light filtered through leaves, specifically at the beginning of spring or fall.

She would like us to write about the dying of a season or its rebirth into another season, anything that relates to this season between seasons, in a haibun of one to three tight paragraphs, ending with a classic haiku.


34 thoughts on “Komorebi

  1. I loved this for all of the memories it brought back to me.Today was the first day of school, they all had shiny new shoes and clean crisp new shirts and new haircuts and their mums had taken their photos before they left home…some had lovely lunches made with care and love, unfortunately, some had nothing. It was good to be back in the classroom.

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  2. I love the word conkers…perfect. As in conking someone one the head! I love how you describe the light filtered through the horse chestnut leaves and the coal fires….We mainly have wood fires around here but in the city, there are still plenty of the small coal burning fireplaces in the older Victorian homes. I grew up with coal fires. This is a visual and smelly delight. Smelly because I can’t think of any other words but you know what I mean. When my grandmother heard there were kids at school with no money to buy or have lunches made for them, she grieved. So she always sent me to school with several sandwiches, apples or oranges, and money for milk. She was very thought like that. Soon it became a project in our family to pack extra for kids who had none. We did it quietly so as not to embarrass the kids. one guy, when he was a teen, always dropped by to see if there was anything he could do for us such as bringing up coal to the rooms or raking the lawn. Those things one doesn’t forget.

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    1. I love to hear about your childhood, Toni. My grandmother brought me up until I was seven so I went home for lunch with her and my grandfather who, being agoraphobic, worked just down the road and always came home for his ‘dinner’. Bu the way, I’m reading a fascinating and disturbing book called The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel, which is set in a very small town in Kansas. Have you read it or heard of it? It has grandparents in it, but not the kind we had.


  3. A beautiful haibun Kim that really takes me back, especially ‘I remember that shifting feeling as the days tumbled into twilight by four o’clock; not long before we’d wake up in the dark and walk to school with a nip in the air, sniffing the first coal fires of the year through early mist.’ All we smell today is the smoke of wood burning stoves and the old coal bunkers next to the victorian cottages are now being used to store firewood :o) xxx

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  4. So interesting to read your memories, Kim. I had never heard the term “conkers”, but realize after seeing the photo that my husband carried one in his pocket for luck all the years of our marriage! Thank you for sharing.

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  5. A beauty, Kim. This could be from my page; we all might have this reminiscence! We played conkers in Buffalo as well! The barber down the road had the best chestnuts that he encouraged us to gather. It’s only years later that I realized we were cheap labour! 😉 A five syllable “cornucopia” is the jewel in this piece!

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  6. LOVE this recollection of your childhood! Love the “kicking high in the air.” There is just so much youthful energy in this write. Having gone from student to high school teacher, to college administrator, to university dean…..until my rejuvenatement almost 4 years ago (never say retirement) I am always, and still, drawn to the idea of buying new pencils and pens in the fall…..school supplies days. And I still listen to the radio for “snow day” announcements! 🙂 You’ve captured the school-day transition from summer to fall here beautifully.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is exactly how I remember it and out here in rural Norfolk it’s not really changed much. We have log burners and their smell is much nicer than the coal. I have seen children throwing sticks into conker trees but that seems to be rare now. We’ll never lose the mist and fog up here – it rolls in from the North Sea and hangs over the Norfolk Broads and fens. Now that is magic!


  7. You capture a feeling worth remembering and seeking again. The feeling of being experienced, and the notion of being about to put it straight. With brand new pencils, and a lot to tell. A change of heart from making it to being it. May there be fine pencils in your pencil case! I even bought myself a brand new PC.

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