Highlights of 2021 – Thank you for the Love

First of all we want to say a warm-hearted thank you to all of you who visited, commented, inspired and prompted us with photo and poetry challenges. It has been another extraordinary year with beauty and loss, where kindness and magic was still to be found when we were ready to see it.

As in previous years, I am delighted to share a gallery of the posts you liked the most, season by season.

Winter

The most popular posts this season were Sunlight on her Wings (a haiku later featured in EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2021), A Dash of Dazzle, Special Moments (featuring a tanka first published in Ribbons), Softly Softly, Happy Homecoming and Violet Ray.

Spring

Spring gave birth to many beautiful and creative initiatives where we could meet virtually and lift each other’s spirits.

In April 2021 Placing Poems invited poets to write about real or imagined journeys away from the stifling realities of the pandemic to create a poetic cartography of adventures for everyone to enjoy.

I am honoured and delighted that my poem Presence was selected for inclusion. You can find it on the map when you scroll north and click on the marker for the Cairngorms National Park. Presence was the most popular post in Spring and became the most popular post of the year.

Other popular posts in Spring were Natural Healing, Welcome to the World, Gold in the Shadows, Wonderful World (featuring haiku first published in the Asahi Shimbun, Autumn Moon Haiku Journal and Sharing Our Horizon) and Lily of the Valley.

Summer

Travel restrictions were lifted and tourists flooded into the Highlands. We decided to stay close to home to avoid the crowds and enjoy the magic of familiar places.

We also wanted to protect our area’s natural beauty for future generations and started the Tranature Grove with Trees for Life. The trees in our grove are carefully planted in protected sites in the Scottish Highlands where they will create homes for wildlife and forests for the future.

The most popular post in Summer was Caring for River Wildlife, featuring the calendar I contributed four photographs to in aid of our local wildlife trust. Other popular posts this season were Red Rose (featuring a tanka first published in Ribbons), The Changing Season, Dandelion Clock, Colours of the Setting Sun and A Postcard from the Country.

Autumn

Autumn started off warm and offered some glorious walking days where the colours were just beginning to change. A new calm had returned to the area and it was a joy to be out and about.

The most popular post in Autumn was Weathered Wood (featuring a haiku first published in Haiku Dialogue). Other popular posts were Garden Gold, A Serene View, Community Spirit, Stars on the River (featuring a haiku first published in The Bamboo Hut) and COP26 (featuring a haiku first published in the Asahi Shimbun).

Thank you for walking along with us here.

If you want to read more about our year, feel free to check out the 2021 highlights on our sister blog Whippet Wisdom.

We send you our warmest wishes for a healthy and happy 2022 – may your year be filled with joy, peace and wellbeing!

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #180: Favorite Images of 2021

Tanka: Red Rose

a red rose
how grandmother blushes
when she sees him
after all these years his voice
the longest in her mind

© Xenia Tran

When my grandmother moved into a retirement home she met her first True Love (from High School) at the breakfast counter and it felt as if they’d never been apart.

He placed a red rose on her breakfast plate each morning and they had one blissful, love-filled year together before he passed away.

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Red Rose was first published in Ribbons, Spring/Summer 2021: Volume 17, Number 2. A very big thank you to Michael McClintock and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this wonderful edition together.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #154: One Photo Two Ways

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Tanka Prose: Special Moments

faint green aurora just above the mountains across the water with a lighthouse and pier

As sleet mingles with snow, we find ourselves in a new national lockdown. To protect ourselves, to protect each other, we want to do the right thing. We stay at home once more, create our own rituals in the lull between storms.

lighting candles
on your beach and mine
we close our eyes
open them in unison
and feel the love arrive

© Xenia Tran

a faint green aurora over the hills under a star-lit sky

We had a faint aurora on Friday night, visible with the naked eye, and the hand-held taken photographs with a low shutter speed created an almost abstract effect.

The poem was written three months ago and we’re hoping to start easing out of lockdown in mid-April.

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/8 s – ISO 3200.

Special Moments was first published under the title Tier 4 in Ribbons, Winter 2021: Volume 17, Number 1. A very big thank you to Susan Weaver and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #139: Special Moments

Weekend Sky #20

One Word Sunday: Light

Tanka: The Light Always Returns

snow-covered trees next to lit victorian street lights and parked cars

deep at night
the moon on snowy windows
sparkles, sparkles
the light always returns
your smile behind the lens

© Xenia Tran

dawn breaking in a snow-covered street with the street lights still lit

Wishing you all a wonderful new day,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/15 s – ISO 1600, f/5.6 – 1/20 s – ISO 1250 and f/5 – 1/25 s – ISO 800.

The Light Always Returns was first published in Ribbons, Winter 2020: Volume 16, Number 1. A very big thank you to Christine L Villa and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Dutch Goes the Photo Tuesday Photo Challenge: Tomorrow

Thursday’s Special: Pick a Word – Quintessential

Word of the Day Challenge: Generous

Tanka: New Year’s Day

part of a large driftwood tree on the beach covered in frost

winter moon
her frost flowers
crystallise
ancestral blessings
from this year to the next

© Xenia Tran

close up of part of a large driftwood tree covered in frost

Wishing you all a blessed, happy and healthy New Year!

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5.6 – 1/200 s – ISO 100, f/5.6 – 1/80 s – ISO 160 and f/5.6 – 1/125 s – ISO 320.

Carpe Diem #1842: End of Year

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #171: New Year’s Day

Tanka Thursday: Year

Tanka: Ambient

an abandoned shed in the woods

blackbirds sing
around the cobwebbed shed
a key turns
for a glimpse of you
tapping and chiselling wood

© Xenia Tran

an abandoned shed in the woods

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 400, f/2.8 – 1/160 s – ISO 500 and f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 250.

Ambient was first published in Ribbons, Fall 2020: Volume 16, Number 3. A very big thank you to Michael McClintock and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #125: You Pick It

Your Daily Word Prompt: Ambient

Word of the Day Challenge: Architecture

Tanka: New World

close up of a small firepit on the beach

words of old friends
create new worlds …
by the firepit
we marvel as the sun sets
in fading lines of surf

© Xenia Tran

a lensball on a rock in the water at sunset

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful new week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/4.5 – 1/40 s – ISO 250, f/5 -1/8 s – ISO 1600 and f/4 – 1/20 s – ISO 800.

New World was first published in Ribbons, Fall 2020: Volume 16, Number 3. A very big thank you to Christine L Villa and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Earthweal Open Link Weekend #43

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #122: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Your Daily Word Prompt: Tidbit

Tanka: Only Silence

a church lit up at night with reflections in the water

there is no sound
from the puddles in our street
only silence
where the wind just blew
and rattled all the rafters

© Xenia Tran

light falling through the night sky

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and a peaceful rest of the week,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5.6 – 1/8 s – ISO 1600, f/6.5 – 1/15 s – ISO 4000 and f/6.5 – 1/1 s – ISO 800.

Only Silence was first published in The Bamboo Hut, Number 4 – 2020. A very big thank you to Steve Wilkinson for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Carpe Diem #1837: Blowing in the Wind

Tanka: Morning Glory

a herring gull chick stretches one leg and wing

morning glory
a seagull chick stretches
one leg , one wing
on the unlit rooftop
where she will learn to fly

© Xenia Tran

a herring gull chick on a rooftop tilting her head at the camera

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5.6 – 1/160 s – ISO 100, f/5.6 – 1/400 s – ISO 200 and f/5.6 – 1/500 s – ISO 200.

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #153: Morning Glory

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge #12: Seagulls

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Posture

Creative Collaborations

Tina is inviting us to share examples of how we channelled our creative energies these past few months as the pandemic restricted our movements.

The theme that pops up on both my blogs throughout this period is one of creative collaboration and community.

a calm blue sea under a blue sky with blue mountains

Sadly, within the first week of lockdown, fellow poet Stuart Quine lost his life to Covid-19. I love his poems, especially his monoku (a haiku written in one line) and even though I did not know him personally I felt compelled to create a tribute post, pairing three of his poems with images I had taken the previous day: A Tribute to Stuart Quine (1962-2020).

An estranged family member was alerted to my post by a friend and contacted me. She did not know Stuart had passed away and was not aware of his beautiful poetry either. I was able to provide her with links to poetry journals his work is featured in as well as the publisher of his full-length collections.

macro shot of a red tulip with green veins

The Haiku Foundation invited haiku poets from around the world to contribute to a collaborative poem to celebrate and honour The Year of the Nurse. It was a beautiful project to be part of and I created six new poems, later posting three of them on Tranature: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020 and three on Whippet Wisdom: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020.

The Tanka Society of America invited poets to create a taiga (a photograph, caligraphy or artwork paired with a tanka poem) in celebration of their 20th anniversary and Zen Meditation was one of twenty-one featured. All contributions were later combined with music into a short video:

We sadly lost Susan Hey (1979-2020), a much-loved local art teacher and member of our community when we were still in part-lockdown and funerals were private with restricted numbers. The small procession travelled through our town and gave the rest of us an opportunity to say goodbye. I wrote and posted Final Journey, a tribute poem to Susan. One of her art students later posted a video of herself singing a beautiful tribute song and others created pieces of rainbow art which they left by the family’s front door. Together we wanted to let the family know that they were not alone and the comments and private messages received in return were truly heart-warming.

picture of a mandala by Mike Booth

Julie Williams, a Highland art student, invited local people to send her photographs of the word hope created out of items found in their homes or on their daily walks for her HOPE Art Project. The idea was that every participant created, through their own artistic expression, a historical record of their hope during the current Covid-19 crisis. You can read more about this project and my contribution in Walking with Hope.

the word Hope written in pebbles on a larger stone

Inspired by a number of collaborative art projects and videos I became curious about producing videos too.

Starting with a story board I gathered images and poems before combining them into haiga (a haiku paired with an image) and taiga (a tanka paired with an image) in Photoshop.

Once the five-mile travel restrictions were lifted, I took the camera to record a number of short video clips that would fit within the story. Then came the search for background music that suited the rhythm of movement in the video clips before weaving everything together in iMovie. The project was completed by reviewing and fine-tuning it with the loving and patient assistance of my husband.

The two videos we made are in the sidebar of the blog and if you haven’t seen them yet, you can view them here too:

Most of our regular readers will be familiar with these projects and it was an interesting exercise to bring them all together and reflect on these special collaborations a little longer.

May you all stay safe and well,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs and videos by Xenia Tran, mandala art by Mike Booth.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #110: Creativity in the Time of Covid

Your Daily Word Prompt: Prevail