Posts Tagged ‘the South’

Haibun: Summer

July 30, 2018



(Summer Dusk, jane Kohut-bartels, oil, 2003)

The summer was beautiful, despite the heat.  Last night the moon looked like a beggar’s cup, soft brilliance glowing.  The days in the Deep South are sultry, but the wind picks up in late afternoon when a storm is coming and then these huge oaks and pecans are whirligigs high in the sky. Barley tea, iced tea and lemonade are the drinks of choice, harkening back to an earlier time.  Closed drapes, blinds at noon work to regulate temperature, though one doubts this will.

The heat brings to life the cicadas, or whatever is making a constant buzz outside.  It comes in waves, where one group, or species, competes in sound with another. A call and answer of tent meeting insects. The dogs of summer are wise: flattening themselves on the cool tiles of the laundry room, they remain motionless until the cooling of the night when they chase rats in the kudzu.  They have developed a taste for watermelon, and we sit on the back porch and share with them, while a wood owl barks from a huge oak above. We never see him, but his hoots add to the symphony of summer nights.

Sultry air disturbs

The sleep of husband and wife.

They pant without lust.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016





February 4, 2016

My beautiful picture

Not yet, but there is always anticipation.  Maybe next Tuesday.




There is witchery in the night,

Monstrous ghost trees loom,

Every minor twig blasted thick crystal,

Bushes cold-laden exploded willows

Bending in tired submission

To a transformed ground.


The dark of a winter sky

A distant rose-pale glow

As if some drunken Aurora Borealis

Has cast her color, dipped low

Wheeled from her northern skies

And settled in for a night below.


Commonalities made fantastic

A jolt from a bare frost-parched season-

Incomprehensible mystery before the eye.



Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010-16



Random Autumn Tanka…..and a Killer Owl.

September 26, 2015
Barn Owl, J. Kohut-Bartels, 1999, watercolor

Barn Owl, J. Kohut-Bartels, 1999, watercolor

Mimi Cat August

Mimi, who says she eats owls for breakfast.

Merlin with Duck 2

Merlin prefers duck.

Fall has finally come to the South.  I am grateful and so are the dogs. They have spent the hot summer in the laundry room, where the air conditioning makes the tiles on the floors cooler than anywhere else.

This summer has been long and hot, a 90 F. degrees-summer.   Four days into the new season, the temps are falling into the sixties. Combined with the constant rain these last  days, it’s sweater weather again.

There is no change in the green of the trees; the huge pecan and oak still have a hold on their leaves, but they do look tired.

There’s a smell of wood smoke in the air, especially around evening, and the hoot owls are taking advantage of the full moon to scare the devil out of me.  The other night I was walking in the back under a huge oak when an owl started his/her harsh hooting. It froze my blood. I felt this thump in my chest and I couldn’t move.  I was that scared.

I have heard owls a’ plenty on this property, but never right above me.  It was a weird combination of sounds: hissing, gargling, sharp squeaks and a blood-curdling yell at the end.

I know it to be a wood owl, around 5 inches high, but the howls seem to come from something monstrous in the  trees. It was immediately answered by it’s mate:  a chattering, kazoo like sound.

Enough.  I ran to the security of the back porch.  I am not so stupid as to ignore the territorial lines of beasts out in the kudzu and woods.   I have been warned.

Autumn has appeared and there is expectation and mystery in the new season.  It’s time for the crock pot and seasonal fare.  It’s time to shake out the mothballs and air out sweaters.

It’s time to prepare for the coming of Winter.

Lady Nyo

Random Autumn Tankas

I look up at blue

Sky this morning, watch leaves fall-

Whirling, colored tears.

Clip my face like dull razors,

The stroking of memory.

Is the whistling

Of the wind- a train, a plane?

Nature plays fiddle

And our senses are confused,

We dwell in chicanery!

Shooting star crosses

Upended bowl of blue night


Fires up with excited gaze!

A moment– and all is gone.

This grim November,

The month of my father’s death

Always bittersweet.

My memories float, weak ghosts-

Haunting the fog of life.


So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.


A late Summer moon

Floats above the conifers.

Autumn is coming.

Do pines know the season turns?

Their leaves don’t fall; they don’t care.


Come into my arms.

Bury under the warm quilt.

Your scent makes me drunk

Like the wine we gulped last night.

Too much lust and drink to think.

When Autumn enters

Inexplicable sadness.

Season fades to death.

Hunter’s moon sits in Heaven–

Garden spiders finish, die.

Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

The fat mountain deer listen-

Add their bellowing sorrow.

Out with the gold fish,

The bullfrogs croak their sorrow.

Summer is passing

Autumn brings sharp, brittle winds

But Winter ahead is worse.

Like the lithe bowing

Of a red maple sapling

My heart turns to you,

Yearns for those nights long ago

When pale skin challenged the moon.

Overhead, the cranes,

Sandhills, swirl in  broad circles.

Broken GPS?

No matter, their cries fall down

Celestial chiding rain.

To end with a simple poem, not a tanka.


Autumn night winds

Hiss over the land

Round corners

And pulse under eaves.

Clashing wind chimes add sharp discord

As bare branches answer with a grating groan.

Above all,

The moon casts a feeble light

Too thin to fatten the road. 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

(this poem from “White Cranes of Heaven”, published by, 2011)

Three Spring Haiku and Three Spring Tanka

April 30, 2015

May Roses 2

May Roses

spring garden 4

It is spring and so beautiful  in Atlanta.  Tulips and daffodils have finished blooming, the azaleas are fading, but the tender greens of the trees, these huge oaks, maples and pecans are touching the sky with their new leaves.  The light is gentle, the winds so far gentle, but spring in the South goes through a tempestuous time where nothing is settled or predictable.  Tornadoes sweep the land and violent rainstorms sweep in from the ocean and gulf.  Right now it is calm, and sitting outside under rose bushes and geraniums in a gentle sun is a lovely break in the day.  The grass is growing at a pace where it is hard to keep it mowed, and I am thinking of broadcasting wildflowers instead of getting out the mower every few days.  But wildflowers need a cultivated ground to take, and it’s just too much work to disturb the soil right now.  The weather makes me feel lazy, but that might also be allergies and pollen.

Lady Nyo


 Three Spring Haiku

Dogwoods are blooming

The crucifixion appears

White moths in the night.

(Dogwoods are a Southern tree here in the South.  White blooms having the form of the Christian Cross, with nail heads.  They bloom in the spring right before Easter. They are a symbol of Christianity in Nature.)

A swirl of blossoms

Caught in the water’s current

Begins the season.

The moon, a ghostly

Sliver sails on a jet sea

Wild dogs howl beneath.

 Three Spring Tanka

The sound of frog-calls,

In the pond floats a pale moon

Fresh life is stirring

An early owl goes hunting

Wise mice scatter for cover.

Thin, silken breezes

Float upon a green-ribbon

Of spring—pale season.

Scent of lilies, myrtle, plum

Arouse bees from slumber.

Restless and confused,

Birds cry out, sky darkening

Rain lashes, flooding

Freshly planted fields drown

Wind sails red tiles from roofs.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011-2015

“First Snowfall”….

January 29, 2014



My beautiful picture

Outside from second story window….

My beautiful picture

Mimi prowling in the snow this am.


This morning the sun is shining, the snow and ice are melting and it’s beautiful outside. A chance to snuggle down and read books.  And bake bread.

Lady Nyo


First Snowfall


There is such beauty in the still-night.

A sudden snowfall has pushed

The boundaries of the mundane back

And fantasy flows like outrageous myths.

The white challenges the moon

Lights up a trampled ground

And gives a purity to all it covers.

Shadows form where there were none

A supple mystery to things once familiar.

Now a strange and alluring world

Transformed, remade anew,

Even forbidding as  huge trees

Groan with an icy burden

And bushes  split in two

With the weight of an alien gift,

 Powerlines crystalized spider webs

Criss-crossing streets.

The silence is deep

No modern disturbance intrudes.

It is Winter’s gag on our fretfulness,

Our restlessness, our noise.

We are commanded to stay inside

By the fire, to read a book,

To look outside and admire

A miracle that we, with all our intelligence

Can not reproduce.

This is Winter’s true gift.

We are to obey the season

This enforced solitude,

To wrap ourselves in this quilt of quiet,

Cast off our endless activity,

To finally be still,

To heal with the balm of serenity.

 Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

Tornadoes across the South, continuing a deadly pattern 2012 and 2013

April 28, 2011

UPDATE: This is Spring, 2013 and the news out of the Midwest is horrific. Over 50 tornados in the last 48 hours have hit Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and other midwest and southern states. In Moore, Ok, an elementary school has collapsed with students in it. A daycare also was near by. One of these tornadoes was almost 2 miles wide and looks to be F4 catagory. Just when it seemed to settle, another one reformed and went over basically the same ground. It looks, from the news reports like a war zone in several states. What can we say? There has been death (so far 37, with more expected) from these storms, and probably will be more before this season passes. I pray that people are spared and our nation pulls together to help the recovery. God Almighty, this is just horrible.

Lady Nyo

One year later, Spring 2012, it seems that the weather patterns are still going to torment the south, and the rest of the country.  We had no real snows this year, as opposed to last winter, but the tornadoes that have come out of Texas, Kansas, etc. are picking right up and doing their damage to life and property. The only ‘good’ thing that has changed is  the sirens, and early warning system seem to be curtailing the deaths and injuries this year.  However, 140 plus tornadoes in one day/night, as we saw this week basically in one state, is rolling with a deadly dice.

Here in Atlanta, we seen to be reentering a period of drought again, and there has been little rain.  However, the spring thunderstorm season has hardly begun here. We need the rain desperately, but the destruction of tornadoes, sheer wind bursts and flooding we don’t.  If any one would be so foolish to deny that Global Warming has something to do with our severe and erratic weather across the nation, they are living under a rock.

Lady Nyo, April 17th, 2012

The following was posted on April 28th, 2011:

A month ago I was shocked and thrown by what had happened in Japan.  This morning I again visit that numbing emotional place.

This week violent thunderstorms swept across the Midwest. Yesterday, we saw the same, with even more violent tornadoes sweeping across Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Alabama seems have been hit the hardest.  There was over 160 tornadoes reported, though there are suspected many more in actuality.  What is called straight line winds do as much damage it seems.

The death toll has risen beyond 300, with more to come.  Whole neighborhoods have been flattened, blown away, with people missing and still unaccounted.  Many were imprisoned in their cellars as news stations  are telling us. And the kicker to all of this is May is considered the worse month for tornadoes.  April certainly has done enough damage.

We were spared in Atlanta…this time.  Immediately south of us, in Griffin, two people were killed… many more in the northern crescent of the state.

The destruction across the South looks like a bomb hit total communities and wiped clean any semblance of life.  There was little mercy to be had, but even in the midst of this destruction, 5 newborn puppies were lifted up and scattered, to be found alive, shivering and afraid.  Life, and death….is very strange.

The power of these tornadoes were enormous, F4’s and 5’s.  Some were over a mile wide.  The pictures are almost unbelievable, but the effects of them are all too real.

I got a call from a cousin, Donnie, in New Jersey. (Marge! Donnie sends his love.)  Donnie saw the news reports and thought about his cousin in the ‘unknown territory’ of the South.  He was worried that I might be blown away like the Wicked Witch of the West.  Not to worry, Donnie,  but I did clean out a 1/4 of the basement yesterday and took a whole day to do so.  The junk of 26 years of marriage and a husband who saves useless stuff down there was hard enough to make disappear…at least enough room to have a sanctuary from any violent storm.  I packed up everything I could find that would go into 15 garbage bags took them to the usual dumpster behind a church.   I set up two camp chairs, a cooler for our feet, a large plastic container of water, breakfast bars, blankets, reading material and a ‘sand toilet’….a plastic bucket with sand.  Who knows what might happen?

Thankfully nothing to us but at least we are prepared for just about anything now.

My husband realized I was exhausted, sore and on edge.  He gave me a muscle relaxer, and I slept through everything, even the violent winds and rain.  I couldn’t  have made it to the cellar if there was a tornado lurking  over the house.

The news gets worse and worse and there is a point when you can’t absorb any more.  I think I am close to that point.  And I just don’t know what I can do to help.  Perhaps it will come to me later.

Right now the winds are sweet and the air cooled. The sky is a soft, azure blue.  I am not fooled.

Lady Nyo

Let It Snow…..please.

January 5, 2010

snow scene

In the South, predictions of snow are avoided.  Perhaps it’s because until about 20 years ago there was only one snow plow in the city of Atlanta.

We usually have ice.  First it rains, then freezes, usually as it rains, but it doesn’t turn to snow. Then all the power lines come down.  Or they sway with a frozen heaviness that looks  like white lead ribbons have woven webs above the landscape.  The bushes are laden with ice and fall over, or part down the middle.

I remember a particular ice storm in the early 70’s.  It lasted for two weeks, or the effects of it did.  I had a SAAB back then (actually had three of them…probably to keep one running) and I believe it had something like four wheel drive.  Probably a Swedish version,, but it was like a mountain goat.  I heard very recently that SAAB closed up shop forever.  Sad.

Well, that car and I drove around all day and just watched the havoc ice made on the streets.  You could get out of your car and push it sideways with your hands.  Not that you needed to, but it was rather amazing you could could do it.  Perhaps it just was with SAABS.  They were rather light cars back then.

I think the expectation of snow is better than the actual snow fall.  But we have it so little perhaps we get easily excited down here.  I do know that weatherfolk carefully avoid the word ‘snow’ and call it ‘possible frozen precipitation’.  What the hell is that susposed to mean?  Sounds like snow to me.

Last March 1st…..very late in the year, we got our first snowfall of the year.  It was gorgeous.  All day it snowed, from early morning to nightfall.  Six inches of beautiful, silent snow.  Looking out from an upstairs window, the whole street looked like a Japanese village, which is a pretty good trick 3 miles from downtown Atlanta.

It was the serenity and silence, no traffic to defile the purity of such a gift.  And down here, when we can count years before we have a snowfall….it is a gift.

I was raised in the North, and snowfalls were every year.   I remember winter being one long snowfall.  Grayed days turned to blurry afternoons with a blizzard that piled up drifts, once plowed on our country roads, to 10 feet or higher.

My parents restored and raised us in a pre-Revolutionary house.  There were fireplaces in all the major rooms and stout wooden shutters on all windows.  The power went out for days at a time and my poor mother had to cook meals in a fireplace.  My father hung a griddle in the original kitchen fireplace, on that piece of iron that swung out from the bricks.  When we were young, we could swing in the fireplace from that iron.

When the power went out the county linemen would come and work somewhere down the road on the lines.  They always seemed to turn up at our house because my mother always gave them hot chocolate.  I remember the large patterned brown mugs with large handles.  I few years ago I found one in a shop and brought it home.  But that was only one and it disappeared somewhere.

When a good snow was forecast, we knew  school wouldn’t happen.  The Johnsons, husband and wife school bus drivers (and suppliers of endless kittens from their barncats)   wouldn’t get through.  Our mother would insist we get dressed and go to the end of the driveway and wait for the bus.  One time we just put our coats over our pjs and went out there.  The Johnsons made it through that morning.

I remember the snows then almost as mystical experiences.  Snow angels (which I recreated in Montreal last January….hadn’t seen snow like that in many years…) , eating snow, snowball fights, sledding, skiing, snow men, just rolling around in the stuff.  Watching the snow fall through the outside light from the kitchen and watching it transform my childhood world.

There was mystery and expectation and wonder.

Perhaps we don’t lose those things of memory.  Perhaps they recreate themselves in our expectation and excitement when we, down here in the South, hear of the possibilities of snow.

So I’ll await the chances of snow on Thursday.  At dusk, when it’s supposed to begin, I’ll watch for it falling under the soft gleam of the street lamp.

If we get any Thursday, it will be perfect.  A book of Robert Frost poetry, a mug of chocolate and some wet dogs on the sheepskin before the woodstove, and the enforced peace and stillness of Winter.


Lady Nyo


The morning brought a first snow,

And with it wind  over the mountain.

I watched snow turn to ice,

Invisible sleet hit the panes a’ hissin’.

There was soon a crystal coat on tender branches—

Invisible hands pulling to earth,

Anchoring them fast.

I depend upon the silence

Creating a space to remember,

Solitude, too, now to be shared

Only with ghosts,

Or perhaps a cat or two.

Inside the crackling of wood,

Well seasoned of last year’s split,

The sweet, sharp scent of pine and oak,

The groan of a log as it shifts its failing weight—

I remember your boot kicking it back off the hearth,

Sparks flaring upward,

Stars enfolded by a blazing sun.

Outside the pelting sting on windows,

The howl of winter racing round eaves

Looking for attic-access between clapboards,

The hambone skeleton dance to

Shake their palsied bones warm.

Soon  fading light at twilight

Suspends the day

In a cocoon of white, unfocused mystery.

The night brings a muffled benediction

Over the land,

And memory is put aside for the morrow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009  from “White Cranes of Heaven”, 2010,  published by Lulu

Summer, Fleas and Festool

July 24, 2009

I don’t know how it is with other regions of our country, but I would assume that fleas are a real challenge to pet owners.  Here in the deep South, fleas are omnipresent in the warm months.  We have kept them at bay by numerous ways, but some work better than others, and some are very expensive to maintain.

The usual is to use the chemical back of the neck products, but with 5 dogs and 9 cats, that can get expensive every month.  So we have adopted some new and different methods and so far, we are flea free….at least in the house and it seems that it’s working on the animals.

1) We give them bi-weekly flea baths with puppy flea shampoo.  Just fill up the very large wheel barrel with water and soap away.  Works,,  but it’s best you do that bi- weekly, and since it’s puppy, it’s not overly chemical.

2) Diet:  We have basically gone to a raw diet…with suppliments of foods and vitamins.  Raw chopped up chicken is excellent ….the bones are what they would be eating in the raw….(not cooked, either) and their teeth look good.  We do suppliment with scrapes from the table, because , well, raw chicken seems a bit bland.  We also have big containers of brewer’s yeast and leicthen.  They seem to be thriving.

The brewer’s yeast (and also garlic cloves weekly) change the ‘smell’ of the blood and fleas and ticks don’t bite.  Well, they probably bite but they don’t like the taste.

3.) Right before Christmas last year, we bought a Festool vacuum along with the very expensive saw, etc….something that my carpenter  husband (he’s actually more than a carpenter) thought would be used only when he cut wood….. built something. (I Bless the man who told us about Festool…he may be wanting in many ways but he did introduce us to the Festool system.  Thank you, M.)

However, my husband was WRONG!!!  I have commandeered that CT22 Vacuum, a product and delight of German technology  and I use it every day.  It has a marvelous ‘suck’, many good attachments for cleaning the house, and it has made our lives so much easier…and the house cleaner…especially while we are in this state of renovation.  Which we are.  Plaster dust, the bane of any restoration project (and we have a whole house restoration going on right now….the only positive of my husband’s furlough days…..and we are finally getting done the things that need to be done in this 1880’s house.

The other day the hose coupling fell off from the attachment I was using and I thought I had broken it.  I glued and taped it back and it was fine…but my smarter son took it apart and showed me that the GERMAN part of this was that it screwed in the opposite way of our American way.  Reverse.  Counterclockwise.  There was no reason for tape or glue.  Blessed Germans….

This whole Festool was a very expensive venture, and I thought for a while that it was just…..stupid.  Until I found ANOTHER use for the vacuum.

Dogs.  And Fleas.

It works great!  The dogs were at first suspicious of the noise, but the suck (using the little attachment for  upholstery) is like a deep massage and the dogs all like it.  And these dogs are so funny.

Gally, (Galahad) was found three years ago on the side of the road, a three month puppy almost dead of starvation and heat stroke (92 degrees)  And the kick here is he was found at the end of the driveway of his bastard owners.  Later their house burned down.  Good.  They deserved it.  If this sounds harsh they were lowlife drug dealers.  Gally is a Shiloh Shepherd, about 90 lbs now.  For a month he couldn’t walk because he was so weak.  He was pink because he had no hair.  Extreme mange.  He only wanted to lie under a shade in the grass for a while.  Now?  He’s huge, bouncy, the most intelligent dog we have ever had, and part of our family.

Charlie is 15, a Husky neighbors found on their lawn at 5 months….abandoned we thought, (he wasn’t but we refused to give him back after we spent $$$ on the medical bills) and 15 is old for a Husky, especially in the South.  Beautiful dog, and going strong still.

Two spaniels….one found running down a busy street with an auto chain around his neck and brought to us by another rescuer….he’s doing great, recovering from an ear mite infection.  Check for ear mites…easy to control only if you get to it fast.

One spaniel is Sparky, an English Field Spaniel….when he came to us, he bit everyone, except me.  I was momma….but no one was safe from him.  Scared and abused terribly. Won’t go into details, but it was horrific.  This dog is my personal favorite  and one  day, after about 3 months, decided to  ‘trust’.   He became the  greeter of our house.  Everyone loves Sparky, who climbs up on the couch to lick the unwary.

Merlin!  A red Golden Retriever who was thrown out of a car window into the parking lot of our vet.  It was right before Xmas and no puppy, no animal should spend the holidays in a cage.  Or life.  So Merlin came home with us, and he is a big mook with a ton of personal toys.

They all now love  the Festool vacuum running up and down their bodies, and if you do it a couple of times a week…..
NO FLEAS!!! A chemical -free solution to these pests.

The cats are next, but we have to get heavy welding gloves for this trial.

Lady Nyo

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