poetry and prose about place

settling into unfamiliar

with 6 comments

After three decades of work, I am retiring within the year.  Another milestone.  A new ‘way’ to settle into.

I remember when I made the transition into full-time employment.  It was a huge change for me.

Previously, I had been a student, living at home.  Suddenly, I was away from familiar places, in a new province, on my own.

Fortunately, I had solid back-up… my Mom and Dad were supportive and helped me whenever they could.  I loved my apartment, my new friends, my responsibilities.  Everything was new.  I learned as I went, meeting each new experience as if it was a page being turned in a book.

This transition, my retirement, will be so different.  I should be ahead of the change.  I am settled.  I know my home.  I have my husband to steady me and my son to give me advice!  I have a plan.

But the transition is still scary.  For three decades, my work has structured my life, providing deadlines and places to be, people to see.  I’ll have to establish a new daily routine.  I’ll have to set goals and celebrate milestones.  I’ll have to work a little harder to maintain my social contacts.

It will be like my first walks in the grey woods.  In those days, I didn’t know the paths very well and worried about getting lost (even though I could hear the cars on the main road!).  Sounds were strange, even frightening.  I worried about wild animals.

But gradually I learned the ways of the grey woods.  Every time I walked the paths, they became more familiar, and also more worn and easier to follow.  I learned the sounds to expect and the animals and birds I would encounter.  I learned the pitfalls.  I learned to expect a gem on every walk… a fairy ring of mushrooms, a Pileated Woodpecker hammering at a tree trunk, a chorus of frogs from the ephemeral pools…


walk in the grey forest


I walk on unknown land

land I have not seen

but dreamed, the wary dream of intruder

where silence is fragile

snapped in two

by leaf fall


I step carefully

my disturbance less

than the exhalation of wind

or the mutter of moths

between moribund trees


this is ancient land

mossy logs, weary paths

where others may have walked

slanted cathedral light

lichened stones


the unknown watches me

crouched in a hollow

flattened to the bole of the oak

betrayed by a ripple on the vernal pool

by the rattle of beech leaf or birch bark paper

it will surely shake free of its leaf garment

rise from the forest floor

to chastise me

desecrator of place


even a careful step

is hard on hollow land


it will take time

to learn to walk here

to discover game trails in the half-light

to understand words unspoken

to know the dying trees

not as omen

but as part

of the forest


© Jane Tims 1998

Written by jane tims

September 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

6 Responses

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  1. Ohhhhh… The fairy ring of mushrooms is enchanting! Transitions can be scary, but as you point out, there are always new gems to discover along the new path, and I wish you an abundance of them in the days ahead!


    Barbara Rodgers

    October 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

  2. Beautiful poem to go with a lovely post.

    I retired early and feel so fortunate that I was able do so. There were times when I felt a little lost, but mostly the transition has been smooth and delightful. I’m discovering so many new things about life, where I live, and about myself now that I have the time to explore.



    October 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm

  3. Excellent poem Jane.




    October 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

  4. Great post today. I really enjoyed reading it very much. You have an excellent blog here. Thanks again for sharing.

    Take a look at – The Leaves are Changing


    Family Living

    September 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

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