nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

uphill and down

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While doing a search for a particular plant we know grows in the area, my husband and I took a side road through rural Victoria County in New Brunswick. We drove from Route 109 (near the top of the map), south through Upper Kintore and Lower Kintore, to Muniac, a distance of about 23 kilometres.

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(Map Source: New Brunswick Atlas, First Edition)

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Kintore was settled in 1873 and named for the town of Kintore near Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1898, Kintore was a railway station and had a post office and a population of 75. (Source: New Brunswick Archives)

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church and school house in Upper Kintore 2016

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Interesting to me was the very well-cared-for one room Upper Kintore School, built in 1877.

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Upper Kintore School built 1877

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Our drive took us uphill through Upper Kintore, along Big Flat Brook (a tributary of the Tobique River). The road peaked at Lawson Hill and then ran down, through Lower Kintore. Again, the road followed a watercourse, the Muniac Steam (a tributary of the Saint John River). As we drove we talked about the road — the earliest roads took the easy way, along the brooks. The southern part of the road was banked by steep rocky roadcuts.

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the Muniac Stream near Lower Kintore

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Since I am interested in the plants children might encounter on their way to school, I was happy that this is the time in New Brunswick when most of our roadside wild flowers are in bloom. We saw Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia serotina Nutt.), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense L.), Bedstraw (Galium sp.), Daisy (Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum L.), Bladder-Campion (Silene Cucubalus Wibel) and Meadow Rue (Thalictrum polygamum Muhl.). Quite a bouquet! I have to remain aware that some of these plants have become very weedy and invasive since the early 1900s and may have been hard to find in the 1800s. For example, in the photo below, just above the Black-eyed Susan, you will notice a plant of Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.). In New Brunswick, Wild Parsnip is a invasive species, probably introduced by Europeans in the 18th century as a food source.

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Black-eyed Susan along the road

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Do you have any favorite rural drives through communities with interesting histories?

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

within easy reach – winner of ‘berries and brambles’ painting

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I am so pleased to announce the winner of my painting ‘berries and brambles’.  The winning raffle entry was drawn at a dinner I attended this week in Fredericton.

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The winner is Margo Sheppard, Fredericton!

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Congratulations Margo!!! The painting ‘berries and brambles’ is yours. Thanks to all those who entered!

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berries and brambles

April 24, 2016 ‘berries and brambles’ Jane Tims

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Holding the raffles for my paintings has been a very enjoyable part of the process of marketing my book! I’ll be offering another painting to win at my reading at Tidewater Books in Sackville in the fall!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 21, 2016 at 7:39 am

early schools – old maps, photos and diaries

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Last week, my husband and I visited the New Brunswick Museum Archives and had a look at three sources of information on old one room schools in New Brunswick:

  • the Walling Map – shows the location of roads, family homes, businesses, churches and schools in 1862 in Kings and St. John Counties
  • the photo collection by Marion Johnston Dunphy who photographed 150 schools from 1974 to 1984 – The One Room Schools of New Brunswick and What Became of Them
  • the diary of C. Gordon Lawrence, teacher at the Tracy school (Sunbury County, New Brunswick) in 1903. His diaries chronicle his experiences as a school teacher from 1903 to 1962!

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Thanks to the Walling Map, from now on, when we go for a drive to find old schools in Kings County, we will know exactly where to look. Also, I will know something about the landscape setting for each school – the key component of the poetry I intend to write!

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With the photos, I was able to check the identity of some of the schools we have already found. A good example is the school building at Mill Road, near Gagetown, Queens County, New Brunswick (below). From the photos in the Marion Johnston Dunphy collection, I was able to verify this as the Lawfield School, Gagetown #1. I signed an agreement not to share the Dunphy photos on the Internet, but I will be able to use them to prompt ideas for my poems.
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Mill Road School, Gagetown 2~

We also looked at C. Gordon Lawrence’s diary from 1903. This contains his day to day experiences as a 17 year old teacher at the Tracy School. He did not detail his observations of the natural world, but there are gems in the diaries for a poet! For example, after a long bout with chicken pox, he was feeling very ill and wrote: ‘… a dose of Pain killer failed to work but a dose of blackberry cordial gave me relief …’.

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Gordon Lawrence’s diary includes a map of the location of the school. It is faint but shows where the school was located, not far from the North Branch of the Oromocto River. The roads have changed significantly since 1903 – back roads to Harvey and St. Stephen were the main roads in 1903!

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The three items we looked at are only a sampling of the information available at the Archives. With these preliminary investigations, I can now begin to write my proposal for ‘a manuscript of poems about one room schools in the landscape’.  I will be sure to let you know if my proposal is successful!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

 

Written by jane tims

July 20, 2016 at 7:35 am

on my book shelf:  ‘Crow Impressions & Other Poems’

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I am now reading Crow Impressions & Other Poems’ by Edith Miller. Crow Impressions is another book from my publisher, Chapel Street Editions in Woodstock, New Brunswick. Edith and I both launched our books at Westminster Books in Fredericton on June 9. Although I gave her book a quick read before the launch, I have now been able to sit down and enjoy a thoughtful read, as this insightful book deserves!

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Edith Hoisington Miller, Crow Impressions and other poems. Chapel Street Editions: Woodstock, 2016.

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The other evening at a local writing event I sat next to a fellow book-lover who asked me if I’d read Edith’s book. ‘I love poetry about nature,’ she said. ‘The poems in Crow Impressions make you feel like you are there!’

Throughout her book, Edith’s first-hand knowledge of her subject matter shines through. Edith has watched not only crows, but herons on the shore, song sparrows in the rose bush, and eaglets in the nest. It has been said that crows recognize individual humans and I am certain they know Edith! I know she reveres this kindred ‘spirit sign’, understanding the crow’s sharing of this world,  the intricacies of their language. I love her inclusion of her first poem, written when she was seven – it will be a mystery for you to solve in your own reading, what part of nature she addresses in her poem.

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As I read, I am able to follow a journey to places Edith has lived and visited — from Long Island Sound to Arizona, from Penobscot Bay to New York City, here to Fredericton in New Brunswick. As I read, I am taken to places I have been but stopped short of fully knowing. I read ‘Tidal Bore’ and experience the wild ride on the Shubenacadie River. The sounds and smells in ‘Air Shaft’ recall my own few days in New York City in the 1970s and show me what it might have been like to live in the Village (truly ‘the dream of a 1950s suburban girl’!). Edith’s poems show she shares my interest in American Hopi culture and her poems show the respect she has for other cultures through her experience in issues of social justice.

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Crow Impressions is a lovely book, from the feel in a reader’s hands, to the easy-on-the-eyes layout. From the etching on the cover (a woodcut of a crow from a skate board created as a tribute to the memory of her grandson Isaac William Miller) to the final poems of the book. These return to the image of the crow, acknowledging the true nature of the ‘spirit sign’.

I recommend a close read of Crow Impressions – it will recall your own journey, make you ponder the symbols in your life for their particular meanings, and give you the joy of a walk on the beach even if you are far from the shore. Edith’s book is available at http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com and at our planned joint reading at Tidewater Books in Sackville this fall.

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

playing alleys

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Kids in the school yard have played marbles since the late 1800s, when glass marbles were first produced for the mass market.

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When my mom talked about marbles, she always referred to them as alleys, no matter what material was used in their construction. According to Wikipedia, alleys were a specific type of marble. Almost every kind of marble has a specific name. When my son played and collected marbles in the 1980s, some of these terms were regularly heard in our home.

aggie – made of agate

alley – a marble made of alabaster

bumblebee – a yellow and black glass marble

cat’s eye – a marble with a eye-like inclusion

crystal – a clear glass marble of various colours

galaxy – opaque marble with coloured dots

oily – an opaque marble with a sheen or oily finish

onionskin – a marble with surface streaks of colour

ox blood – a marble with a streak of dark red

pearl – opaque marble of single colour and a mother of pearl finish

plainsie – a clear glass marble with inclusion of two or more swirled ribbons of colour

swirly – glass marble with a ribbon inclusion of a single colour

tiger – a clear marble with orange and yellow stripes

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There are lots of other marble types and names.

 

June 21 2016 'playing marbles' Jane Tims

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The language of marbles extends to the various moves in the game:

knuckle down – put hand in position to shoot

keepsies – to play for keeps

quitsies – stop playing without consequences

firing – to shoot a marble

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Such interesting possibilities for the language of a poem!

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Writing about a game of marbles will include all the senses (I think my poem will be from the point of view of a boy playing marbles):

sound – clinking of dishes in the sink; grinding of marbles together in the marble bag

taste – grit of sand stirred by wind across the playground; grit of raspberry seeds

feel – the cold smooth feel of a marble; a chunk of icicle from the roof in December

smell – stirred dust; girls watching the games, smelling of Ivory soap and well water

sight – bubble rising through the glass of the marble; bubbles with rainbows sliding; dew drops on Lady’s Mantle in the garden

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I can hardly wait to write a poem about playing marbles in the school yard!

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Copyright  2016  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

on my bookshelf: New Brunswick’s Covered Bridges by Helen Coldrick

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One of the ‘must haves’ in a collection of books about covered bridges in New Brunswick is Helen Coldrick’s soft cover book New Brunswick’s Covered Bridges. It includes drawings and information on the 70 bridges that existed in 1992. Today there are only 60 covered bridges in New Brunswick and Helen’s book is one way of seeing some of what we are missing.

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Helen Coldrick. New Brunswick’s Covered Bridges. Neptune Publishing Company Limited: Saint John, 1992.

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In her book, Helen includes 30 of her black and white drawings of various covered bridges and construction features. I love these drawings because I can see the artist’s process in the lines: her way of using shadow and white space, and her approach to portraying the reflections in water. The drawings also show the setting of each bridge and in some cases, the dramatic landscape of the river beneath.

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Drawings in the book include bridges now lost: the Aaron Clarke Bridge (lost to flooding in 2014) and Iroquois River #4 (no longer standing).  The book also includes a listing of the covered bridges in New Brunswick in 1992. I think one of the values of the book is its snapshot of the situation in years past. The New Brunswick government keeps a list of today’s covered bridges but finding information on those no longer existing is more challenging. Helen’s book shows us what some of these lost bridges looked like and tells some of their stories.

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New Brunswick’s Covered Bridges includes a general history of covered bridges in New Brunswick, and a description of covered bridges by county. The book also includes lots of information on bridge construction, including pages on trusses, abutments, bases, sidings, entrances, windows and walkways, and roofs.

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New Brunswick’s Covered Bridges is available for $7.95 from Nimbus Publishing (www.nimbus.ca). If you are interested in New Brunswick, covered bridges, history or architecture, or if you just like books with lovely drawings, this would be a great addition to your library!

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Copyright  Jane Tims 2016

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dancing around the daisy pole

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Perhaps strange to talk about a Maypole in July but Maypoles have been used for summer celebrations throughout the years. In the old stereoscope photo below, published by a company in Meadville Pennsylvania and  St. Louis Missouri, the Maypole is referred to as a Daisy Pole.

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Maypole

A rather blurry scan of a stereoscopic photo, blurry because it is curved for the viewer. The title of the photo is ‘A June Carnival – Dancing Round the Daisy Pole’ 1900

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When my Aunt Jane was young, attending a small school in Nova Scotia, field days were held in June. In her book, she recalls participating in a field day:

… I was in grade 1 … we had a “field day”. My dress was made of blue and white crepe paper and, holding on to the end of a white paper streamer, I danced around a May pole. I remember my great embarrassment as a gust of wind took the streamer out of my hand and sent it high in the air to flutter in the breeze …

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The decorative Maypole we made years ago to celebrate May 1 every year. Through the years, when I needed ribbon, I occasionally snipped a length from the pole, so there are a few short ribbons!

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July 1 2016 'dancing around the daisy pole' Jane Tims

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daisy pole plan

sketch for ‘dancing around the daisy pole’ … in some ways more lively than the final drawing

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

July 11, 2016 at 7:00 am

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