poetry and prose about place


with 6 comments

Landscape is a fundamental driver in our lives.  The spaces around us shape our experiences, our thoughts and our perspectives. 

I was born and raised on the Alberta prairie.  Although I love the woods and hills where I now live, I think my eyes are never satisfied when they seek the horizon.

When we drove across Canada in 2002, my husband, who was born in New Brunswick, was appreciative of the prairie landscape, but when we finally turned toward home, he was glad, so glad, to see the trees. 

In southern Alberta, on the Trans-Canada Highway, we tried to measure the distance to the horizon.  We took note of the oncoming lights and timed how long it took them to reach us on the road.  One car, we estimated, was 17 kilometers away when we first saw it on the prairie horizon!  On the Trans-Canada in New Brunswick, we rarely see cars more than 2 or 3 kilometers distant.       

the prairie horizon of southern Alberta (2002)

What was the landscape of your childhood?  Do you live in a different landscape now?  How are these landscapes different and how are you different in each?


a longing for prairie



what subtle psychoses

plague women

who grow on the prairie   

and leave

to die in the forest  


memories a few words long

the chinook   coulees at sunset   the odd red of prairie mallow   grasshoppers without aim  

spears of foxgrass   gophers beside their burrows   willows by the slough 

the rattle of the Texan Gate    the tarnished dry of August

I want to run on the prairie


I narrow my eyes at the ditches 

imagine the weeds tumbling

to cover the forest with shortgrass

and sedges

the clearcut

and the barrens of blueberry 

have the lie

but not the essence of prairie


piled by the roadside

nine bales of hay 

burst from the baler twine 

left to the rain 

piled three high into landscape  

mountains, foothills, flatland

this last has sprouted me prairie


trees form a tunnel 

shut out the spaces around me   

some days I can’t summon the words 

the hay and the corn fields are all I have 

and the hayfield shows the tines of the tiller

deep into summer


Published as: ‘a longing for prairie’, Whetstone Spring 1997


© Jane Tims

a glimpse of prairie landscape in New Brunswick ... just a glimpse

Written by jane tims

September 7, 2011 at 6:33 am

6 Responses

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  1. It’s wonderful that no matter what kind of landscape there is on this planet, there are some people who love it and others happier somewhere else. I grew up in the woods, surrounded by the loving energy of trees. We made a trip to visit my grandparents by the sea at least once a month, and I find myself deeply connected to both landscapes, although I’ve settled by the sea… In the woods I feel protected from the harsh sun of summer and delighted by little magical things, like a mini-forest of princess pines. By the sea I feel connected to the universe and my ancestors and am awed by the power from the mysterious deep.

    I’ve never seen a prairie or a rainforest, and not too many mountains – places I’d love to explore some day!


    Barbara Rodgers

    September 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    • Hi Barbara. I’ve found a few “happy places” in landscapes I do not find familiar. I saw the Grand Tetons and the Dakota Badlands in 2002 and I will never forget them, although I would probably never live there. I also love the sea and, if circumstances were different, I’d like to live by the ocean. Jane


      jane tims

      September 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm

  2. Excellent poem Jane. Really like this stanza
    memories a few words long

    the chinook coulees at sunset the odd red of prairie mallow grasshoppers without aim

    spears of foxgrass gophers beside their burrows willows by the slough

    the rattle of the Texan Gate the tarnished dry of August

    and how you finish it with

    I want to run on the prairie Again … just excellent.




    September 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    • Hi Denis. I’ll have to do a blog on Texan gates. Glad you liked this one, as it is a bit self-indulgent. Jane


      jane tims

      September 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

  3. Beautiful. Lake Michigan has always been a part of our lives here. Milwaukee, Chicago, and now a small town. I need to see the water and land too. Love the bales of hay.


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    September 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    • Hi Ellen. Thanks for your comment. I’ve see Lake Michigan, once from the air! Very impressive. I think water is a necessary part of my landscape. We have a cabin on a lake and I love to just sit and watch the water. Jane


      jane tims

      September 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm

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