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Archive: Contents of American Haibun & Haiga Volume 1

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Bruce Ross

Mount Abraham

Mount Abraham is situated on the Long Trail which crosses the spine of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts border across Vermont to the Canadian border. It is one of just five summits above 4000 feet and one of just four that support alpine vegetation above the tree line on their rocky summits.

I had left early for the climb and was surprised to find several cars in the relatively remote parking area. But after a short period of hiking the pleasant stillness of the mountain remained until I was startled by what I thought was a pheasant or grouse I must have scared up:

so much noise
for just a little sparrow
across the trail

It was spring and mud season in Vermont. I was trying to be cautious and not mess up the path when-ever it grew muddy from the spring melt by hopping like a goat from one stone to another:

someone's fresh wet footprint
on a rock

Vermont had almost overnight lived up to its namesake with green plants and young tree leaves. The overwhelming sameness on both sides of the trail however quickly settled into an unconscious sense of indifference except for an extraordinary brilliance of color from time to time:

the bright green
grasses, ferns & mosses wedged
in the rocks

After a long rocky ascent the trail leveled off and the broad-leaved trees gave way to dense old evergreen stands:

it grows stiller
just as you begin to enter
the great spruce forest

Somewhere further on in the forest I stopped to admire the delicate curls of some Canada lily of the valley which, unlike their sweet-smelling, more- familiar cousins, had not yet begun to blossom:

a little clearing
the sharp sound of a dead branch
fallen to another

I finally broke out of the forest and when I climbed up a little higher on the rocks to meditate on the magnificent view I was delighted by the unmistakeable sweet fragrance surrounding me:

the first overlook
after the distant mountains
balsam fir

As I neared the summit I heard youthful voices. They belonged to a teenaged ranger and his four interns. I told them about my climbing in the Green Mountains and responded correctly to the ranger's question when I said that you don't step on alpine flowers. I excused myself to perform a contemplative ritual at the precise summit but the group was already moving down the trail:

only the sound of cold wind
in my ears


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