White Pebbles Haiku Group Summer Meeting 2024

White Pebbles Haiku Group Summer Meeting 2024

Due to unforeseen circumstances, with weather threatening safe travel, the White Pebbles summer meeting scheduled for December 9th was deferred to January 13th.

Six of our members were present and we were joined by welcome guest, Pip Griffin. Michael Thorley and Samantha Hyde were unable to attend this time and they were missed.

We gathered at 10 a.m. for a catch-up and refreshing cuppa, before setting off on our silent ginko around the garden, looking appreciatively at wider landscapes and into small spaces, listening to natural sounds, sniffing the perfumes of leaves and blossom and alert to the shifting patterns of shadows and reflections.

At 11 a.m. we gathered at an oval table in a quiet room we hire at each meeting for workshopping.

Each member had heeded the suggested worksheet distributed in advance of the meeting, and shared haiku they brought with them relevant to that, in addition to those jotted on the ginko. As always, the sharing of haiku and respect for each other’s work was paramount to the enjoyment of the day and we look forward to our autumn meeting in the gardens.

Group photo
left to right: Pip Griffin, Gwen Bitti, Marilyn Humbert, Colleen Keating, Kent Robinson, Beverley George, Maire Glacken

White Pebbles Spring Meeting and Ginko 2023

White Pebbles haiku poets gathered at the Edogawa Gardens at the Gosford Regional Gallery and Arts Centre on Saturday morning, 16th September, 2023. Present were Maire Glacken, Marilyn Humbert, Gwen Bitti, Colleen Keating, Beverley George and Kent Robinson, with apologies received from Samantha Sirimanne Hyde and Michael Thorley.

A glorious spring day greeted us. Ducks and koi carp shared the pond and water features of the gardens. As they fed the ducks, children’s laughter echoed among the beautifully manicured flora. Spring blooms of every hue brightened the walkways.

We met in the Gallery’s cafe for a catch-up before a stroll through the gardens. Over coffee, Marilyn Humbert, advised us that, in order to refine our sense of observation as we strolled, we look into the small spaces – distill whatever we saw, and trust ourselves and our senses as we composed our haiku.  We strolled the garden, feeling the warmth of the spring sunshine on our faces. The scent of blooms bursting all about and the joy of being immersed in birdsong were intoxicating.

Now it was time for a round table meeting in the niche beneath the art gallery. At the beginning of the meeting our dear friend and valued member of White Pebbles, Gail Hennessy, who sadly recently passed, was remembered fondly. The round table about which we gather is extremely significant to our group. Around it we may share ideas and each single poet is as one with all others. How fortunate we feel, that White Pebbles is such a mutually supportive group!

Beverley George distributed for purchase “under the same moon”, the Fourth Australian Haiku Anthology, in which several White Pebbles members have haiku. (Many thanks to Vanessa Proctor for furnishing Beverley with copies of this fine anthology in advance of our meeting.)

Echidna Tracks 11 was spoken of, with congratulations to all White Pebbles poets who feature therein.

We then moved on to the business of the day. Beverley had asked that we each bring a haiku that had inspired us in the early days of our haiku journey, as well as one of our own that we had composed in those early days. Matsuo Basho featured strongly as an early influence to many.

Next, we considered the haiku and images that had been gathered on the garden walk earlier. This proved an extremely productive exercise. Beverley presented some haiku that Michael Thorley had sent in. Thank you, Michael. Your sensitive haiku were a fine addition to our meeting and very much appreciated by all.

Marilyn Humbert had prepared a presentation entitled “The Art of Discovery”. She advised us in composing haiku to observe light and shade at different times throughout the day, different seasons, different weather conditions, different sounds and different moods. And to be aware of the ephemeral things – feathers, stones, bird calls, the shapes of twigs and leaves, tree trunks and bark, rough and smooth. To trust our senses. Helpfully, Marilyn supplied a number of examples of haiku written from different points of view. Many thanks to Marilyn for a most informative and thought provoking presentation.

At this point, towards the end of our meeting, we acknowledged our members who have recently had books published.
* Gwen Bitti has had a novel entitled “Between Two Worlds” published by Ginninderra Press. Gwen spoke of the writing of “Between Two Worlds” and furnished each White Pebble poet with a sachet of fragrant herbs, a snippet of silk and one of hessian to enhance sensory perception, as she spoke.
* Colleen Keating’s carefully researched book, “The Dinner Party” was also published by Ginninderra Press and we enjoyed hearing about it.
* And we recalled that only recently, in 2022, Samantha Sirimanne Hyde’s book “The Lyrebird’s Cry” was published.
Congratulations All!

This concluded the White Pebbles Spring meeting 2023. The general sentiment was all are looking forward to our summer ginko.

Kent Robinson

Group photo
Back, L to R: Colleen, Kent; Front, L to R: Beverley, Maire, Gwen, Marilyn


Author: leanneausthaiku

Secretary, Australian Haiku Society

The Chinese Garden of Friendship: An Unfolding Journey

Un Unfolding Journey

After visiting the Powerhouse Museum to be part of the final exhibition before it closed for years, to be renovated, we bought a take away coffee and walked into Darling Harbour to visit The Chinese Garden of Friendship. Something I had not done for years.

We did what the brochure said “Take time to explore the mystery and magic,  allowing the Garden to gradually reveal its many secrets and hidden stories.”

We found a table near the lake in weeping willow shade to have our picnic with our coffee and watched the water dragons around our feet  and pop up on roa rock. We watched a turtle come out of the water and sit on a rock , the gold koi . 

It was lovely to picnic and wander through this small piece of tranquillity in a a busy noisy city. But here nothing is placed by accident. The whole garden  is based on the Taoist principles of Yin-Yang and the five elements of earth, fire, water, metal and wood. 

Chinese  philosophy places a lot on the flow of qi which we translate as energy  or life force and the garden is built with the idea of the flow of qi  as we walked  observing the  bridges, plants, trees,  sculptures, rocks, secret corners, pavilions meandering  stone steps have been meticulously chosen and placed to capture the qi of the five elements, Feng Shui and the universal forces that bind them together.

We experienced the gazing out   from the  mountain, from different perspectives of The Pavilions.  We experienced  the balancing opposites in the garden, rock  defying gravity  the constrasts of bonsai trees and conifers , the sound of cascading water and the stillness of the lake , the short soft mondo grass beneath the sturdy long-stemmed bamboo and the beauty of the large pink lotus lilies flowering on the lake. 

Below the Dragon Wall is the pool of reflection where many years back I had a moment of epiphany . Sitting their for quite awhile pondering the reflection of dragons and the wall  and counting coins it was a shock to suddenly see the clouds floating along in the water. It was one of those moments when you realise what you see is only a minimum of what is there. So easy to   forget we have only a small part of the whole .And it was one of those wow moments as the shallow pool became deeper and deeper

“The jewel of the Garden, The Gurr , also known as The Clear View Pavilion , sits at its highest point. Decorated with a lavish golden roof intricate wood carvings and an ornate lantern symbolising prosperity , it has a perfect view of the whole landscape.  


Spring Walk in Wyrrabalong National Park by Colleen Keating


In the bush I hear the trees
ferns, palms and moss
whispering their wisdom
renewing my being
healing my soul
– Colleen Keating

After winter

Still dark enough to note the morning star
she walks again the bush track. A few magpies
fossick in frosty grass for first feed. Swallows dart

among the insect motes off the dandelion spent heads
and fly back to perch on telegraph wires.
It is still cold. Apple-crisp and silver.

The clouds open as silk fans, their bone
displayed like veins of a feather. The magpies
sing now from branches above, and she thinks too

how their morning song is her Delphian oracle.
She walks the track that’s a bracelet of charms
taps a branch watching a spangle of diamond–

dew drops light the way while the early light captures
a scarred tree trunk hollowed black like Munch’s Scream.
A cockatoo perched above glints with the gold                                      

of a mohawk fiend, soon in flight it will have the air
of a Tiger Moth in a opal-tinted sky. She has always loved
the walks here, the brush turkey stepping from

its scratchy music of an old LP, the whipbird checking
on its mate from the high river gums, the wrens chirping
from the safety of undergrowth, yet today it is a rupture

of spring that sings a rhapsody of song: purple milkwort
ravishing attention, pink wax Eriostemon, wedding veil
showers of boronia and orange pea plants sitting

in their spiky foliage. There is joy in watching the earth
re-awaken, the inevitable journey out of a winter
segueing towards summer. Ahead she can see

why she came – a wild display of flannel flowers. Petals
still mostly closed – their green tips a rising choir ready to sing
an Alleluia chorus. Open petals like earth-bound stars have                                                

the velvety feel of a childhood dress and sparkle in the shifting
light. She loves those Banksia trees that shade the groves
flamboyant with rough bearded seed pods like sleepy-eyed owls

wisely peering down: with the zephyr of a breeze there’s
a shuffling sound as if feathers are being ruffled or a yellow
skirt swinging through dried grass. The sun now on the shoulder

beams into the canopy of green and she will walk back
her mind pianissimo as a gentle Brahms largo passage
alert to nature watching, her enlivened step. 

Colleen Keating



Finding Zen and the Guesthouse by Rumi


Coming to learn to be fully human consider my body a guesthouse

When you breathe deeply and go inward,
make space for whatever wants to come to visit your guesthouse today.
What do you notice rising up in you?
What could it be helping you accept or understand?
What has your grief taught you?

The Guesthouse 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jalaluddin Rumi

from Rumi: Selected Poems, trans Coleman Barks with John Moynce, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson (Penguin Books, 2004)


Finding Zen and Thich Nhat Hanh RIP by Colleen Keating

Finding Zen and Thich Nhat Hanh RIP

Zen Practice  

Go outside for a walk
somewhere in a garden
with trees or plants

focus on soaking up the oxygen
given out by the greenery nearest you

allow yourself to relax
and touch love in the air
in the steps that you make
in the communal energy of living things

Feel the warmth in the sunshine
the brush of air on your skin

give yourself permission to taste it
bit by bit

whisper your gratitude. and bow deeply.


“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body,
I am life without boundaries, I have never been born
and I have never died.
Over there, the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies
all manifests from the basis of consciousness.
Since beginningless time I have always been free.
Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out.
Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek.
So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye.
Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before.
We shall always be meeting again at the true source.
Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”

-Thích Nhất Hạnh, No Death, No Fear

with reference to Thich Nhat Hanh
and Sister Dang Nghiem in ‘Flowers in the Dark

“The Zen master Ling Chi said that the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth. You breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism announces that our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has passed away peacefully at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, at 00:00hrs on 22nd January, 2022, at the age of 95. We invite our global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay in our hearts in peace and loving gratitude for all he has offered the world.



Finding Zen to rest and replenish by Colleen Keating

Finding Zen to rest and replenish

As the last blog stated these days, many people are feeling overwhelmed and  exhausted.

Here are some nourishing, replenishing, restorative  actions we can take  when we feel drained:

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Take a pause to breathe and notice the moment.
  3. Take a nap
  4. Give yourself a day of spaciousness.
  5. Spoil yourself with a moment outside in the air, with a cup of coffee taken to the garden, with a few hours doing something you always wanted to do, with a holiday away, a retreat, a spa place, etc. from 5 minuits to 5 days  every small moment is a gift to you.
  6. Take a tea break with a little ritual about it.
  7. Sit and feel the sun on your back.
  8. Lay down , close your eyes , relax every muscle in your body and just feel nourished by your brath
  9. Be kind to yourself , serching out and being aware of this every day.

Remember the rule in an areiplane – the adult /parent, must always buckle in before they buckle in the child. Your might think it would be best to attend to the child first but you must be safe firstly to keep the child safe. Hence you must care for yourself firstly to care for others.

Thank you to Zen Habits and Leo Babauta for his many great writings which I adapt for my friends now for all of us.

Finding Zen and taking a break by Colleen Keating

Finding Zen  and taking  a break

These days many of us can get caught out feeling overwhelmed, drained, fearful, exhausted.  

There is so much going on and everything we do demands so much more protocol 

and the worry of the risk involved. 

Yet we have to carry on and look to the positive and the glass half full idea

  even as we can feel dragged down.    Sometimes we can feel a bit like Rabbit:

“Nothing’s working.” said Rabbit.

“Have you tried unplugging?” asked Bear.

“I don’t plug in anywhere.” said Rabbit. 

“Yes you do.” said Bear. “You’re plugged into the world around you.”

“Oh.” said Rabbit, giving this some thought. “How do I unplug then?”

“Close your eyes, let your muscles relax and listen only to the sound of yourself breathing in and out.” said Bear. 

“After a while, when you feel ready, plug back in, and try again.”

Tara Shannon, Julian Gough and Zen Habits by Leo Babauta
whose wrok I have studied for years and am very grateful for.

Finding Zen and our sneaky inner voice by Colleen Keating


Finding Zen and our sneaky inner voice

There are times when you hear a quiet persistent voice prattling away to you. 

You feel inadequate.

You feel not good enough .

You feel inferior to the group you stand or sit with. 

You need to tell that voice to be gone. 

If you can remember,

that every cell in your body is listening, 

– listening to your negative voice, and listening to your denial of that.’ 

Then say to yourself, so that every cell in your body hears it  ‘cancel. ‘

Over time of picking up the negative voice and saying ‘cancel’  your body will get the message that that voice is not accepted by you . And the voice will slowly dissipate. 


  1. Place you right hand gentled on your throat  

     2.  feel the breath in, out, three slow breaths 

     3.   Be aware of being centred with each breath out 

     4.   Place your right hand over your heart and say to yourself ,

            ‘I am enough”  

      5.   Breathe it in  and out.