Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27: Mom's Otter

My mother called me today to tell me that there was an otter on the river. She said I should write about it in my blog. "But I didn't see it," I told her. "You did. Why don't you write about it?" "I don't know how to write a haiku," she said, despite being the one of the only people I know who reads this blog every single day. (Hey, if your own mother doesn't read your blog, who will? So I'm not complaining.) I explained to her the basic rule: 5-7-5. A little while later she called back with her poem, and I realized that I had forgotten the part about it being 5, 7, and 5 syllables for the haiku's three lines:

Sleek and shiny fur gliding,
nose forward, body trailed by a vee.
Otter owns the winter river.

But I actually like the idea of a haiku composed of 5, 7 and 5 words--a fun variation on the theme. Nice poem, Mom.

I talked to her again this evening, and she said she hadn't read my blog yet. I said I hadn't written it yet. "Write about the otter," she said again. "But," I countered, "you already did."

Photo courtesy of Hal Korber/Pennsylvania Game Commission

Although I didn't see the otter, and my mother has already written a poem about it, I am in fact now inspired to write a few words about otters. My family has seen them several times on the Megunticook River, most often in winter when we've observed them up on the ice eating fish. They're bigger animals than you expect, and powerful--in the same family as weasels and wolverines--but also the most playful. I've come across long snow slides on banks in the northern woods, which the otters had obviously used repeatedly. They are tireless players. At the Seattle aquarium, which features both sea and river otters, I stood transfixed for at least an hour in front of each tank, amazed at the creatures' non-stop, rollicking energy. To top it off, my sister's married name is van Otterloo, which has, of course, led to the discovery of much otter-related paraphernalia. So we're kind of into otters in my family. Hence, I think, my mother's insistence. And sometimes it doesn't hurt to do what your mother wants. (But because this one's about otters, it's a little silly.)

I ought to have seen
my mother's swimming otter--
might have inspired me.

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