Looking Back at 2020 with Love and Gratitude

The mild Winter that began in 2019 continues into 2020 and we go hiking in other parts of the Highlands and Perthshire to make the most of the ice-free roads. Waves of Gratitude, Love at First Sight and Windows of the Soul become the most popular posts in this period and reflect some of these unexpected journeys.

News of the pandemic begins to filter through and on 23 March the country goes into lockdown. We can only go out once a day for exercise, all non-essential shops and services are closed. Many people begin to hoard and panic-buy, leaving the rest of us without essentials.

village store
the parrot tells us
there’s no bread

© Xenia Tran

(Bundled Wildflowers, Haiku Society of America 2020 Anthology)

Spring still has a few cold days before the temperatures rise. Our most popular posts of the season are Spirit Mountain, Pink Moon Rising and Circles and Spirals.

Without traffic and tourists, our air, our beaches, river and sea become cleaner than we’ve ever seen them before. The birds and wildlife are rejoicing. It is truly amazing to see nature bounce back as soon as humans retreat.

shaded meadow
a range of flowers
surrounds our nest
the lockdown gives us time
to see each other clearly

© Xenia Tran

(Ribbons, Spring/Summer , Volume 16 Number 2)

At the beginning of July our travel restrictions are lifted and we venture out for the first time in four months, avoiding all the tourist hot spots. Because it is crowded in the places we would love to visit we continue to spend most of our time close to home.

I learn how to make videos and include these with our new Look Inside and Shopping features for Sharing Our Horizon and Between Heather and Grass.

Trust, Buck Moon and Memories in Motion are the most popular posts in Summer.

We donated dog food, dog bowls and other items on the Wish-List to DOTS (Dogs on the Streets) with the proceeds from Sharing Our Horizon and made donations to Dogs Trust and Children with Cancer UK with proceeds from Between Heather and Grass. A huge thank you to all of you who buy and read our books!

Autumn begins with sunny, mild weather and glorious trails for walking. Aureate becomes our most popular Autumn post and the most popular post of the year, closely followed by Chosen Route and Daydream.

Through an unusual sequence of online encounters I meet someone who turns out to be a distant relative. He is able to fill me in about part of my ancestral history. Another contact provides me with old film footage that features them and the village they grew up in.

all souls’ night
my great-grandparents
play in the snow

© Xenia Tran

(Autumn-Moon Haiku Journal, Volume 4:1, Autumn-Winter 2020-2021)

two whippets in jackets looking at the beach and sea from the dunes

As Winter arrives we look back at an unusual year. We lost people from our haiku community and our local community, many local businesses struggled to survive. At the same time nature and wildlife were thriving.

the air so clean
in our lockdown days
a healing
pulsing through the stars at night
where earthlight weeps and breaks

© Xenia Tran

(Ribbons, Spring/Summer 2020, Volume 16, Number 2)

tidal outcrops in the firth with a cormorant drying its wings

We got used to new ways of working, walking, shopping and interacting with each other. We wear our masks and keep our distance.

two metres apart
no one walks between our words
on the pavement

© Xenia Tran

(Haiku Dialogue: Connection with Others, Troutswirl, 25 November 2020)

close up of two whippets on a sofa

With so many people now working from home, adoptions from animal shelters increased. It was lovely to see so many dogs and cats from shelters we support find their loving forever homes and we hope this is a trend that will continue.

If you are thinking about getting a dog or a cat, please consider adoption as your first option. Please consider adopting an older pet too if you can. We have done this several times and it is very rewarding.

his grey hair
full of sunlight
the sea retreats

© Xenia Tran

(The Bamboo Hut, Number 4, 2020)

two smiling whippets walking side by side on wet tidal sands

We want to thank all our readers and followers for your support and inspiration this year. We had more time to write and there was a lot to write about.

Feel free to browse the monthly archives for posts about the support within our community, a tribute to a poet lost early in the pandemic, the Hope project and many more moments that made this year so special.

Thank you to all the editors and publishers who featured my work in journals, anthologies and special features.

Huge thanks to Eve, Frank, Kristjaan, Misky, Ronovan and the team at dVerse Poets for a great variety of poetry prompts, to Becca, Sheryl, Kristian, Brian, Christine, Emily, Heather, Katherine, Ping, Punam and Tracy for your wonderful writing prompts and to Cee, Jez, Paula, Sue & Gerry, Cathy, Terri, Amy, Ann-Christine, Patti & Tina for your fabulous photographic prompts throughout the year.

A big thank you to all the healthcare workers and people who kept us fed and cared for during the pandemic.

We wish you all a blessed, happy, healthy and creative New Year!

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia.

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Your Daily Word Prompt: Tidings

Word of the Day Challenge: Wishes

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #129: Favorite Images of 2020

Haibun: Precious Moments

two whippets in maroon jackets on the beach with driftwood

The sun is slow to rise above the trees, brightening a small strip of sand near the shoreline. The surf sings her song, a large piece of driftwood listens and greets the day with wing-like branches.

morning frost
a seagull tip-toes over
the pure notes

© Xenia Tran

a frosty beach with driftwood and shadows of people and dogs

Wishing you all a happy Monday and a blessed new week,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/500 s – ISO 100 and f/3.2 – 1/1250 s – ISO 100.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #127: Precious Moments

Your Daily Word Prompt: Faithful

Haiku: Autumn’s Tail

two whippets in jackets on a mountain trail

old route
the wind on autumn ‘s tail
in flowing water

© Xenia Tran

a small waterfall with autumn grass and heather

Wishing you all a happy Monday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/125 s – ISO 125, f/2.8 – 1/160 s – ISO 160 and f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 125.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #125: Alphabet – Starting with A

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Swish

Word of the Day Challenge: Spontaneous

Haiku: Grace Moves

two whippets in jackets near the shores of Lochan Eilein

grace moves
a dream that really is
Loch An Eilein

© Xenia Tran

Loch An Eilein in autumn

Wishing you all a happy Monday and a peaceful new week,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/125 s – ISO 400, f/2.8 – 1/250 s – ISO 500 and f/4 – 1/200 s – ISO 160.

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

Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Challenge #334: Grace & Slip (Grace & Move)

Haiku: Homecoming

a smiling black whippet in a black jacket on a forest trail

autumn woods
joy emerges every step
of the trail

© Xenia Tran

a smiling blue and white whippet in a black jacket on a forest trail

Wishing you all all a happy Monday and a peaceful new week,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/160 s – ISO 100, f/4 – 1/125 s – ISO 100 and f/4 – 1/200 s – ISO 100.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #122: Found in the Neighborhood

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Emerge

Haiku: Aureate

two whippets in an aureate autumnal forest with the sun coming through

new beginnings
the sun tips her healing warmth
on autumn’s gold

© Xenia Tran

a blue sky over the loch below an autumnal forest

Wishing you all a very happy Monday and a peaceful new week,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/125 s – ISO 100, f/2.8 – 1/200 s – ISO 100 and f/4 – 1/250 s – ISO 160.

Thursday’s Special: Pick a Word – 2020-3 (Aureate, Canine)

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #122: The Sun will come out Tomorrow

Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Challenge #331: First & Heal (Beginnings & Healing)

Haiku: Chosen Route

profile of a black whippet in a winter jacket on a forest trail

clockwise circle
the trail is covered
in dazzling gold

© Xenia Tran

view between autumnal trees towards Loch an Eilein

Wishing you all a happy Monday and a wonderful new week,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/100 s – ISO 100, f/2.8 – 1/400 s – ISO 640 and f/4 – 1/200 s – ISO 160.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #121: Focus

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Lucid

Your Daily Word Prompt: Choice

Haiku: Colours of Kindness

two whippets in winter jackets on a forest trail in autumn

fallen leaves
the kindness in
every colour

© Xenia Tran

Loch Dunmore in autumn with glorious colours

It was lovely to see the autumn colours at Loch Dunmore and we came home to some exciting news.

A Wish (the poem from which the second line became the title for our book Between Heather and Grass) and two haiku that were first published in EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020: The Year of the Nurse, have been included in a heart-warming new book edited by Robert Epstein:

front cover of The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology

From the back cover:

Helping or serving is not only vital for survival, it is essential to living fully. As human beings, we all depend on one another in a myriad of ways. Across the spectrum, the coronavirus pandemic has magnified the urgency of mutual care and kindness like nothing else. Through acts of love, generosity, giving, sharing and caring, we make life a little easier, a little more bearable, for one another. We elevate ourselves in doing so and thereby embody the better angels of our nature. Join with the poets and artists from the world as they share the many fruits of giving and receiving help, care and compassion on behalf of fellow humans and nonhumans alike.

A very big thank you to Robert Epstein for including my poems and putting this beautiful anthology together.

Born from and for these extraordinary times, the Helping Hand Haiku Anthology is filled with kindness-centred poems and treats for the soul.

Wishing you all a very happy Monday and a wonderful week ahead,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/80 s – ISO 400, f/3.5 – 1/60 s – ISO 250 and f/3.5 – 1/100 s – ISO 100.

Weekly Prompts Wednesday Challenge: Autumn Stroll

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #120: What a Treat!

Wordless Wednesday: Highland Hideaway

a black whippet peering over a wall on a forest trail
view of Loch Migdale in autumn from the east

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Wordless Wednesday

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #119: My Hideaway

Tanka: Guests and Geese

a blue and white whippet on a rock in the forest

dogs in coats
colours on the hill change
at their own pace
guests and geese begin
to travel home

© Xenia Tran

a flock of brent geese flying south

Wishing you all a happy Monday and blessed new week,

with love from Eivor, Pearl and Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #118: Communication

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #159-160: Fall Foliage – Goose