poetry and prose about place

Niche: poetry and prose about place

with 9 comments

wild strawberries

In biology, ‘niche’ refers to the space occupied by a plant or an animal. ‘Niche’ is the sum total of the habitat needs of a plant or animal – physical, nutritional, and biological. For example, the wild strawberries in our field grow where the moisture, sunlight and soil are just right. ‘Niche’ also includes the role the wild strawberries play in the ecosystem, the way its fruit and leaves provide food for insects, field mice and birds.
In human terms, ‘niche’ can be a metaphor for personal space, home, or community. My best space to live is in the country, where I can garden, be near to woods and water, and escape from urban noise. When I am in my right ‘niche’, I contribute best to my family and to the community where I live.
In my experience, ‘niche’ is not stagnant but changes, hour to hour, day to day, season to season. One way of looking at the timeline of life is to think of it as a sequence of niche-spaces lived-in, sought after, avoided, encountered, or discovered.
The place where I am also influences how I feel. Stress occurs when ‘niche’ does not quite fit. Comfort is discovering a space answering all my ‘niche-needs’. Sadness is in trying to return to a space once occupied but no longer available. Conflict can occur when I have trouble sharing my space with others.
Contentment is finding and inhabiting a space that is, if not perfect, at least mine.
This blog space will be devoted to poetry and prose about ‘niche’. I’ll include poems and stories about human space: home and away, past and present. I’ll write to explore some of the place-based themes I love: laughing and talking with friends, growing and gathering food, wandering in forest and field, and travelling to other places. Because I am a biologist, I’ll also write about wild plants and animals, and the spaces where they live and interact with one another.
Visit often, because I love to write and I’ll have regular updates. For now, tell me about your best place, your ‘niche’, the place where you belong.

Written by jane tims

July 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Some niches must have waited millions of years before life forms evolved to occupy them. Is there some metaphorical niche out there, floating around in the theoretically possible of our headspace, waiting for us to occupy it?



    July 31, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    • Hello lobotomizer. Who knows what possibilities there are when it comes to ‘niche-yet-undiscovered’? Perhaps the moods and interests that characterize our experience day to day are our wanderings from niche space to niche space in our minds. Perhaps a worthy bio-scientist could turn his Drosophila reasearch to the problem? Do Drosophila have mind-space?


      jane tims

      August 1, 2011 at 8:14 am

  2. Congratulations on the creation of your blog! I love the ‘niche’ analogy! I can’t wait to read more!


    PS You never told me what a wickedly talented writer your brother was either!! I can now see the family influence in your work.



    July 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

    • Hi Janet. Brothers are definately a part of my ‘niche’. The poetic brother was my best friend when we were young and we’d go exploring together. We had some of our best ‘explores’ along a brook at Elkwater Lake, Alberta. Good inspiration for a future poem… Jane


      jane tims

      July 31, 2011 at 10:03 am

  3. Ode to Jane

    I have a wonderful sister in my life called Jane

    When I was young at times I thought she was such a pain

    On our trips across Canada by car I was always between her and my dad

    When she put me on the front steps for punishment I was mad

    In the basement of medicine hat we built our town and drove around

    In the front yard played animals with our knuckles in the ground

    Many years later in Barcelona she would come to mind

    When a little gecko I would find.

    A big sister that i love yes is she.

    But now at 52 I have a very great friend you see.

    By lee

    For those who did not know where her poetry talent and inspiration came from



    July 31, 2011 at 9:31 am

    • Hi Lee. Thank you for this lovely poem. It brought back lots of Alberta memories. And I love my gecko from Barcelona!


      jane tims

      July 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm

  4. I have put your site on my links page at



    July 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm

  5. I like your outlook on a “niche.” I’m no biologist myself, but I share your love of nature, animals, and poetry. I suppose if I were to choose my typical niche, it would be in the creek running through the park in my small town with my best friend/boyfriend. There are all sorts of crevices to explore, and I have many amazing memories there.

    Your post definitely interested me, and I’ll definitely be back. Thanks so much for sharing!


    Mattie J.

    July 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    • Hi Mattie J. I also love streams and brooks. We have a small creek in back of our house with steep sides and clear cool water. Best place to go on a hot day!


      jane tims

      July 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

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