Walnut Season on Song Mountain


After hearing from Veena about the walnut trees at Song Mountain in China, Dhiren was inspired to create this poem.

Walking back down from the slopes of the mountain,
this morning, maybe I missed the Walnut trees,
maybe I was quiet, wrapped in the ancient autumns,
and maybe the smiles of a hundred hungry hermits,
once in walnut season,
who had passed this way and glimpsed out of the corner of my inner eye:
they’d led me here,
where this old lady cracking walnuts in the afternoon sun,
smiles at me and calls me over,
here in the shade of Song Mountain.

Road to Daxiangou Village
New part of the village
Old part of the village
Farmer and walnut trees
Glimpse of hungry hermit
Bodhidharma's cave
Selling local produce
Village cows
Farmers in nearby fields

Foraging and blessing, tired and happy….
I can see them still, in the mind’s eye,
carrying herbs and flowers, walnuts spiced
and diced and cured into herbal medicine,
soups and sauces, pickles: winter food.
They stop and smile and eyes still
twinkling, bless me as I sit;
they shimmer, coming down
from Bodhidharma’s cave,
and seem to smile out loud,
here in the shade of Song Mountain.

And as we sit, on this warm wall as it sinks into the evening light,
her village friends come by to husk and crack and gather,
and to meet her visitor, fresh from somewhere else,
and so we talk, without the tiresome need of some known lingua franca.
Maybe we are talking about the wu wei wu,
and why Bodhidharma came to the East,
or of the weather and the harvest,
but to me, it seems, we are quite happily
chatting together about walnut season,
here in the shade of Song Mountain.

Poem by Dhiren – photos by Veena

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Notes from Song Mountain

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