poetry and prose about place

Archive for December 2011

groundhog burrow

with 14 comments

On my walk in the snowy grey woods, I checked on the burrows of the Groundhog (Marmota monax) near our picnic table.   I have read about the winter habits of the Groundhog and I know he enters true hibernation this time of year.  He does not wake through the winter to feed.  For this reason, I was not surprised to find the snow around the main entrance untouched by any tracks leading to or from the burrow.  The snow has buried the other burrow entrances.  Sleep well, Groundhog family!





groundhog excavates

beneath the fir, a meter cubed of dug

and snug and sifted dirt, disturbed

observes from veiled backdoor

under fibred curtain, dangled root

twisted tunnel, tilted floor


eats well and sleeps but

wakes, stumbles down his bleary halls

for green but white still sifts between

the burrow walls, tells his mate shove over

settles back to hibernate



© Jane Tims  2011




Written by jane tims

December 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

tracks in the snow

with 6 comments

On Tuesday I went for a walk in the grey woods.  Snow fell just before Christmas, so my walk turned into a quest to see who else had been walking (or running) in the woods. 

I found many tracks, large and small.  Mice had made their cylindrical tunnels, and occasionally had run across the surface.  At some places, you can see where their tunnels suddenly go subterranean…

Sometimes several paths converge at a sheltered area beneath a fallen log, like a woodland bus terminal…

There were lots of squirrel tracks, often ending at the base of a tree where their paths move into the treetops…  

Squirrel tracks crisscrossed with those of deer… 

I followed the trail of two deer deep into the woods, thinking they were long gone since the tracks were filled with a slight dusting of snow…

This made me a little careless, and the next thing I heard was a high-pitched snort and squeal of warning and the bounding of hooves through the woods.   I got a good look at two beautiful deer, but the camera was not ready.  I did capture the very fresh track of one of the retreating deer.



tracks in the snow


ephemeral proof

I follow the beacon

of a stash of spruce cones

stock-piled at the base

of a crooked tree

careen from a foe

slip beneath a log

dive into a hole

secret hollow 

a pause to still

thud thud of my heart



©  Jane Tims   2011


Written by jane tims

December 30, 2011 at 8:36 am


with 4 comments

Our firepit has a roaming spirit.  It began its days in front of the house and we had many wonderful evening fires.  Then, as the years passed, the maple tree overhead grew until it was dangerous to have a fire under such a thick canopy.

To improve the safety of the firepit, I moved it, stone by stone to the back of the house, reassembling it exactly as it was.  We had a few fires and then, one day, our lives became busy.  We kept taking wood for the next fire and the next fire never happened.  Gradually the pile became so large, you could not see the firepit!

Last month, my husband put our tractor to use to move the firepit one more time.  I clawed my way into the pile of scrap wood and uncovered the stones.  Then we pushed them into the bucket of the tractor and away they went, to their new home across the yard.

Now they are in the driveway, waiting for their new home (see the plan in ‘plans for a rocky road’  November 13, 2011 under the category   ‘the rock project’).

The next step will be to fell four spruce trees in the area of the firepit, to make sure we can have our fires safely.  This next step may have to wait until spring since the stones are now in the frozen throes of winter!






 rattle of leaves

bark, twigs

and paper

as the air warms

finds its chimney

surges red life

into the tunnel of maple

the moment when breath

turned cloudy on cold air

becomes smoke

and lungs draw ash and fire

the summer night

when lightning strikes

when thunder

bold in its dreaming

turns beneath the earth

ions leap

and pine sap explodes

in a fistful of sparks

the warming by smiles

and clasping of hands

striking of sparks in the tinder

the flame leaps

from candle to candle

the sharp ache

at the corner of an eye

where cinders and smoke

have gathered

lungs drawing fire and ash

an effort to breathe

and fingers

warm with tremble


© Jane Tims   1995

Written by jane tims

December 28, 2011 at 8:32 am

The Versatile Blogger

with 20 comments

Hi.  This will be a different kind of post. 

I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. 

I would like to thank the bloggers who nominated me:  At ‘Its Real To Me’,   C.L. features her poetry.  She has a keen wit and her poems make me laugh and smile and nod my head.  Her poem ‘Tree’ is worth a careful read … it speaks the truth at its core, as do all her poems. Awesome poet!   At ‘Redwater Ramblings’, Eve Redwater features her poetry.  Her poems are finely crafted, and get inside her subjects… her poem ‘Bird’ is one of the best I’ve ever read.  She uses metaphor skillfully and has interesting ways with words and ideas to show us how her subjects move and feel and think.  Awesome poet!

The Versatile Blogger Award nomination is a way to show others how much you appreciate their blogs and to make other bloggers aware of some really extrordinary work.  

Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award.

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award logo.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

I would like to nominate the following 15 bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award (in alphabetical order):

Here is a list of 7 random things to know about me:

  1. I am afraid of spiders, but I try to see things from their point of view.
  2. I have a collection of old litho prints of hunters at their campfires.
  3. My favorite film is ‘Fried Green Tomatos’.
  4. My favorite TV show ever was ‘LOST’ and I miss it so much.
  5. When I was a kid, I planted a pine cone under the outside water faucet and sat for an hour to see if it would grow.
  6. My very first poem at age six was about a brook near our cabin at Elkwater Lake, Alberta:  “Down by our cabin/runs a little stream/and I love it better/than ice cream”
  7. I had both my Dad and my Mom as teachers in school, and they were both excellent.

Again, thank you to C.L. and Eve Redwater, as well as all those who read my Blog and who work so hard to make their Blogs enjoyable for others.


Written by jane tims

December 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

Posted in awards

Tagged with

snow hollow at the base of a tree

with 11 comments

Words are the tools of a writer’s craft.  I literally wallow in words when I write a poem.  Sometimes the right word comes immediately to mind.  Sometimes I have to search for it, sometimes for days or weeks.  When I do the final edits for a poem, I ‘press’ on every word, to make sure it is absolutely right.

Sometimes, I encounter an idea or image that seems to have no word.  For example, I have searched for a word referring to the charming hollow that builds next to the base of a tree when the snow falls.  Sometimes small animals use this hollow for a temporary den.  Sometimes it’s a place where debris gathers, as it does in the corners of alleyways.  Sometimes it is a calm, beckoning place where snow shadows rest in shades of olive green and blue.    

I wonder if there is a name for these elusive places, perhaps in another language.



snow hollow


snow shuns the tree

manifest in the hollow

the empty gather of wind

at the base of the fir


where snow-shoe hares find

shelter or dry leaves skipping

across a crust of snow

assemble and rest


inside curve to fit

the spine of an animal

the heart of a man

curled against the cold


a place where shadows meet

select blue from the prism of all

indigo to illustrate the space

of no snow, no warmth, no light




©  Jane Tims  2011


Written by jane tims

December 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

red berries red

leave a comment »


Red Berries Red

Jane Tims









between ruby glass

and hard wood floor

a slide of light and three


extinguished candles

smoke lifts from smoulder

each mote a particle

of spectral light, mosaic

shard, image

reassembled in three



shepherd, hawthorn

pitiful lamb




Canadian Holly 

(Ilex verticillata (L.) Gray)

drab November

             and lexicon


umber leaves

grey verticals

dull stubble


astound the wetland

red ink on page

             words explode

             from exile

fever flush and holly

above December snow

icicles vermillion





©  Jane Tims, 2011


'red berries' Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis L.)

Written by jane tims

December 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

villages and vignettes

with 4 comments

I love to view bits of the world in miniature.  Especially at Christmas, small replicas of human space make me feel comfortable.  Perhaps seeing a world fit neatly into a small space is a version of the safety and calm an animal feels in its den.  Perhaps looking over a diorama gives me powerful feelings of omniscience and omnipresence.  Perhaps I like the impression of a story being told, from beginning to end, confined in space and time.

Our Christmas decorations are predominantly miniaturized vignettes:

our nativity scene, complete with a stable and its donkey, and a star-spangled hillside of angels and sheep…

my collection of Buyers Choice skaters, including a fellow roasting a marshmallow at a fire beside the frozen pond…

Rudolf and Bumbles from the Island of Misfit Toys

children gathering around a pitiful Charlie Brown Christmas tree…

a frosty forest of bottle-brush trees and silver reindeer …

and a village with an inn, a church, and a park with a pond, a stone bridge and a park bench…

All very cute, but there is something missing. 

The best scenes are those with real people.  A scene of us sitting by our Christmas tree, talking and laughing.  A scene of people in the bookstore, looking for a special book to give someone they love.  The scene of a colleague at work, leaving a Christmas card on each desk.  A scene of friends walking along a downtown street while the snow falls and the church bells mark the hour. 

Merry Christmas everyone!   



still street


the stillness of this street

its gentle curve

the steady glow of lamps

lighted windows, sturdy gates

a frozen pond, stone bridge reflected

soft snow, unmarked

and a park bench

where no one ever sits



©  Jane Tims   2011


Written by jane tims

December 24, 2011 at 6:46 am

spacemen in our feeder

with 6 comments

Our feeder has attracted some little space aliens!

In one of my recent posts, I talked about the Grey Squirrel and its marauding ways.  Now I have two more mammals to add to my list of bird-feeder pirates.

During the weekend, we went to the Co-Op and puchased a new squirrel-proof feeder.  It consists of a slim tube enclosed within a cage with the squares too small for the squirrels to squeeze through.  Raccoons can’t fit through those small holes either, but they can take the new feeder off its hook and just toss it off the deck!  Once they had cleaned out the spilled food, they began an assault on the older wooden feeder with its hoard of black sunflower seeds.

Just before I went to bed, I switched on the outer lights to see if the raccoons had returned and got a wild surprise.  Two little spacemen were cleaning the rest of the sunflower seeds from the feeder!  They looked like Red Squirrels, but were golden-brown in color, and had white undersides, a lot of extra folds of skin and big black ‘wombat’ eyes. 

Flying Squirrels!! 

We know the Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)  lives in our grey woods, but we haven’t seen them for a while.  They not only look different, but move very differently from the Red Squirrels.  They are very, very fast and sort of flow and fold themselves across the surfaces they are on, a little like those ‘parkour’ urban acrobats who move fluidly over obstacles.  

 The two Flying Squirrels argued and bickered with one another and paid no attention to me as I opened the door to snap their photo.  



spacemen in the bird feeder


I missed the flash

the revolving light show

and high-pitched whine

just before the spacemen

(the Flying Squirrel Squadron)

set their coordinates on the feeder


bickered and folded over landscape

fired lasers from their eyes

took a moment for a black  stare

at the earthling watching

and turned to complete the harvest

the sunflower seeds

craved by their planet



©  Jane Tims  2011

one of the usual visitors to our feeder ... the Black-capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus)

Written by jane tims

December 23, 2011 at 6:51 am

ice is nice

with 5 comments

Our snow is slow in coming this year.  We have had three snowfalls, but each, in its turn, has been rained or warmed away.   If our ups and downs of temperature continue, the scant layer of snow on the ground this morning will be gone by Saturday.

However, winter is manifesting itself in other ways.  I am wearing another sweater-layer this week.  Our grey woods are muttering with chill cracking sounds.  And ice is forming on the river and along the lake edge, gradually covering the surfaces with white and grey.

Ice – the frozen state of water…  water is critical because it is a key component of our ecosystem and we need water to drink.  Also, an unusual property of ice is responsible for keeping our ecosystem healthy.

Frozen water is about 8% less dense than liquid water.  This means ice floats.  As a result, bodies of water such as rivers, ponds and lakes, do not freeze from the bottom up.  Instead, when water freezes at the surface, critical habitat is left under the ice for living things to survive and thrive.  This is especially important for the bacterial and algal colonies at the base of the food chain.

Ice, therefore, is nice.




river ice


ice builds in shallows

at the rim of river, incremental

embellishment to glass, surrounds

willow stem and reed, thickness

increased as frost penetrates, sharp

edges cauterized by cold


©  Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

December 21, 2011 at 6:43 am

feeding the neighborhood

with 7 comments

I have started up the bird feeder and already the mammals are nudging out the birds. 

Our first visitor to the feeder was a fat grey squirrel who performed some amusing acrobatics to enjoy ‘his’ sunflower seeds.

This year, I think I’ll keep a list of the marauders, who may outnumber the birds.


apples in the snow

she pauses, one foot poised

a lever beneath her, one hoof ready

to push off and fly

tail to flag her departure

tucked, ears up


everything still

the snow, the trees, the feeder

not caught in chickadee momentum, land

and shove away  


three  apples

at the edge of deep-freeze

draw her forward


©  Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

December 19, 2011 at 6:29 am

%d bloggers like this: