poetry and prose about place

course of the creek

with 7 comments

Our small cabin is near a lake, an offshoot of the Saint John River.  We have what some would consider poor access to the lake, since there is a marsh between us and the lake shore edge.  But that marsh is a very special place, ever changing and always interesting.

One way it changes, almost daily and certainly seasonally, is with respect to water level.  You could say we are downstream of the entire Saint John River, meaning we are receiver of every fluctuation of the water level in the system.  The situation is made complex by the influence of a major hydroelectric dam at Mactaquac.

In spring, the river floods, and the marsh is covered by water…

In normal years, the water levels become quite low, and our marsh is high and dry.  We can walk on it, to reach the outer shore of the lake…

the green in the foreground is the marsh

In wet years, like this has been, the water stays high and there is a pond between us and the main lake…

On Saturday, I went rowing on the pond in my small red rowboat.   I rowed out to the edge of the lake and then followed the deeper waters of the small winding creek back into the marsh as far as I could go without grounding the boat.  Last year I could see pumpkinseed sunfish in the creek water, but not this time.

Most of the grasses in the marsh are Spartina pectinata Link., broad-leaf cord-grass, ordinarily associated with salt marshes.  Actually, salt water is characteristic of the lower parts of the Saint John River – the salt water wedge extends as high as Washademoak Lake, and the tidal influence is measurable to above Fredericton!

At the outer shore of the pond, where the creek enters the lake, I was surprised and delighted to find a few stems of wild rice (Zizania aquatica L.).  This is not native to New Brunswick, but is often planted along shores to attract waterfowl and is now found all along the Saint John River and in many lakes.  The grass is distinctive because the pistillate (female) flowers are in a group near the top of the plant while the staminate (male) flowers are on horizontal banches below.

I am an awkward rower.  Usually, to improve my control and reduce my speed, I row the boat backward, stern first!  In spite of my lack of speed, it is an adventure to be on the water, to become a bit of an explorer.  My need to know the ways of the pond reminds me of my attempts to understand the path my life has taken.

characteristics of creek


clumsy row in the marsh pond

to seek the course of the creek

the strand of water’s flow

to nourish pond define

its shape conduit

to the lake


a slender S through grass emergent

pondweed and cord-grass vague

deviation from clarity hyaline the interface

of freshwater and salt and pumpkinseed

turn their flat bodies to intercept

the flow find the break in the mat of sedge

narrow simplicity of weed-free bottom



and find

the inevitable

thread in flow of

story the theme to bind

the words and water into one


© Jane Tims 2011

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. What a wonderful place! Good diagram, too 🙂


    Watching Seasons

    September 13, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    • Hi. The diagram was fun to do and helped me ‘see’ the places I went. I think I’ll do a map of our path in our woods. Thanks! Jane


      jane tims

      September 13, 2011 at 10:44 pm

  2. Sounds like an interesting, ever-changing place to explore. Being in a natural setting often does set us to thinking about the ins and outs of the paths our lives have taken…


    Barbara Rodgers

    September 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm

  3. Another beautiful post. Thank you. 🙂

    You’ve reminded me that it has been a while since I’ve taken our rowboat out. I’m an awkward rower too, and could use the practice.



    September 13, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    • Hi Robin. When I was young I used to row around the estuarine river where my Mom’s family home was located. I would go for miles and follow every deviation in the river channel. I wish I had the strength and the bravery of those days, but I still love to explore the water. Jane


      jane tims

      September 13, 2011 at 10:42 pm

  4. Finally! I have time to comment. Another excellent poem Jane. Like the hyaline reference in hyaline the interface and the line the flow find the break in the mat of sedge.




    September 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

    • Thanks. I saw a documentary once about a place where salt and fresh waters exist together in a cave and the water is so still, you can see the intersection between the layers… Jane


      jane tims

      September 13, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I'd love to hear what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: