White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


(JUNE 15, 2010) This morning on the Riverwalk I didn't take my camera.

I had taken over 500 pictures on the Riverwalk and over 1000 pictures of horses and horse hooves and farriers and farrier equipment the day before for a horse magazine and was just tired of taking pictures. I had a good walk without the camera and stopped to talk with a few friends along the way including the wife of my church minister who had the day off and was biking. We had a good chat, and then went in opposite directions.

Though I didn't take my camera, I knew that the day before I had taken some pretty good shots on the Riverwalk, but I had limited yesterday's blog to the photos having blue in them. As I walked, I thought about the pictures of the day before, and one orange flower stood out. I started thinking poetry - perhaps a sonnet that would capture the images of the Riverwalk would be appropriate. Perhaps a ballad or a lyric poem. And then I recalled that the word "orange" has no rhyme. So, I needed a poem where there would be little rhyming, and I settled on the haiku.

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry with a total of 17 syllables spread over 3 lines with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third line. Traditional haiku deals with nature and relates a primary experience (something the poet has experienced for the first time).

Short lines ran through my head as I walked. I became obsessed with the color "orange" to a point that I asked myself is "orange" one or two syllables (is it "orange" or "or-ange").

As it turned out, I had to teach a literature class from 6-10, and we were going to discuss poetry. I decided to introduce the students to haiku and to have them write one as a way of experiencing the idea of "syllables" in poetry. So, how could the students have a "primary experience" about nature that evening? I decided to show them the picture above with the flowers, the moth, the geese and Sadie pointing at a butterfly. Their only requirements were to write a haiku and to use the word "orange" in it. Here is the results from 7 students.

Only three ducks and
only one butterfly to
relate to orange.

Many shades of orange
Different objects appear
All from the same place.

Butterfly flying
High above the duck's feathers
Orange in color

Three Ducks looking wayward
Attention caught. What can be
Three orange bills pointing.

Flower Blooms Orange
Ducks are staring down at it
The butterfly lands.

The orange flower
Water hanging from the tip
Waiting to drip down


The orange flowers shine bright
The duck adds to its beautiful scene
The beauty of shades were breathtaking.

These are not bad for a 10 minute period given to writing the haikus.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the 42 syllables above give an interesting description of the pictures given to them. The word "haiku" means "beginning verse." For these 6 students, it is, at least a start for learning about poetry.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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