Archive for January 2012
During my eight-day stay in Ontario, the highlight of uncertain weather was an ice storm. The freezing rain fell for hours and coated every surface with a layer of icy glass.
trees, bare branches, wait
wood snaps in the stove
budgies peck at cuttle bone
pellets of rain, tossed
at the skylight
a second transparency
bare twigs turn in wind
to even their coating
in these last moments
before temperature turns
the snowpack on the picnic table
shrinks at the edges
shoves over, makes room
branches gloss so gradually
candles dipped in a vat of wax
over and over, acquiring thickness
the sky, through the skylight
dimpled tile, rumpled mosaic
rain stipples bark as narrative
appends to memory, pane here,
light there, layers of glass
cedar twigs turn downward
as fingers, ice builds
layers of skin
© Jane Tims 2012
When I was visiting my family in Ontario, my eye was constantly drawn to a window where plants were growing. Suspended above them in the window’s light was a ‘witch ball’. The ‘witch ball’ is a hand-blown glass ball with glass threads in the internal space.
The ‘witch ball’ was used in 18th century England to ward off evil spirits. In its modern form, these balls are used for decoration. When the light traverses the glass and enclosed area of the ball, it creates patterns of light and shadow, beautiful and mysterious.
and tangle, strands
of glass and atmosphere
in innerscape of melted
ash and sand dendritic
paths a maze and morph
light and shadow
© Jane Tims 2012
During my eight days in Ontario, we had a snow storm whose memorable characteristic was the size of its snowflakes. They were the biggest I’ve ever seen, as big as large marshmallows. Every fluffy snowball must have been the composite of a dozen individual snowflakes. After the storm, the trees were coated with white. The cedar were particularly beautiful, with their evergreen leaves each hanging beneath a personal burden of snow.
snowed all day, sealed us in
the size of mittens, wrists
of cedar hang
weight of snow, on backs of hands
boughs of fir, three-thumbed
and frosted, fists on fence posts
impressions of boot
in the hollow of leg-prints, fingernails play
the wind chime, brief
reminder of summer, signals
© Jane Tims 2012
In days before plastic and styrofoam, fishermen used glass and wood to make floats to keep their nets buoyant.
These floats are colorful symbols of the people who make their livelihood from the sea. In fishing communities in the Maritimes, we often see fences and walls festooned with painted wooden floats and buoys.
Glass floats are rarer because they are so breakable. At home, my Dad’s collection of sea shells was always accompanied by a couple of glass floats he found at auctions. On my piano, I have a small collection of glass floats in my favorite color, green.
The tradition lives into the next generation… when I visited my family in Ontario for eight days, earlier this month, I was delighted to see a basket of variously-colored glass floats on the hearth of the wood stove.
the fog’s still glow
and air incorporated
an age ago
on salt water
tethered by hemp
on an ocean
whipped to froth
© Jane Tims 2012
Recently I was able to take eight days and visit some of my family in Ontario. While I was there, I spent some time drawing and writing. In the next few posts, I will show you some of these drawings and the poems I wrote to accompany them.
The first concerns a small statuette of an inuksuk, carved in northern Canada by an artist who created a gentle, thoughtful tribute to this traditional form.
For more information on the inuksuk, see my post for November 18, 2011, ‘monuments in stone’, under the category ‘the rock project’.
and sculpted, carved
by a hand, skilled as ocean
salt-polish and sand
edge of stone and surfaces
between solid and liquid
solid and air
© Jane Tims 2012
At my Mom’s old home, there was a shed, housing the stored and discarded miscellany of her family. It had been built by my uncles in the distant past and the floor tipped and slanted after the settling of years. The shed had a special smell, not musty or unpleasant, but definitely tinged with the smell of mothballs and camphor.
There were two rows of shelves, built against the walls and around the small windows. These were grubby and cracked, but the quality of light shining through had a ghostly, ephemeral quality. I spent hours in the shed, armed with the assurances of my aunt … I could keep anything I found, as long as I promised to love and care for it.
I can never remember studying anything so intently as the items stored in the shed. I particularly remember an old trunk and its contents. Most of these were old clothes, but I found a fox fur with beady glass eyes, a fur muff in a linen bag, a small carved metal container my Mom said had once contained perfume, a small locket with a medical insignia, and a little embroidered tape measure and matching needle case. I also found two small framed pictures of flower arrangements. All of these things are still in my possession. The fur muff has been taken on our annual drive to see the Christmas lights for 31 years.
I also found a bolt of white lacy fabric I eventually used to make my wedding dress. This fabric had an important history since my grandmother had worked as a live-in nurse for the Carnegie family in Pennsylvania and received the lace as a gift.
I think the shed and its contents inspired in me a lifelong interest in antiques and in collection. One of my favourite places to spend time is in an antique shop, hunting for treasure. And my house is filled with old ornaments and books, rickety chairs and collectable dishware.
from an old trunk
I will wonder where these items hide
shake boxes, ransack alphabets, indulge
in games of word association, regretful
as though a family detail
a teller of oral history
a stiff neck at the archives
a keeper of heirlooms
I will protect these, tucked
in tissue paper and labelled boxes
© Jane Tims 2011
Our Hairy Woodpecker was back today. She was determined to get to the feeder, so we got a very good look at her in all her black and white splendor.
This time the identification was not a problem. This woodpecker is a noticably large bird, compared to the smaller Downy Woodpeckers we have seen at the feeder before. Also, the outer tail feathers are white, not marked in black as they are with the Downy Woodpecker.
I like to compare illustrations in the various bird books. Have a look at these two sets of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, both drawn by Roger Tory Peterson, first in his ‘A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies’ (1980)…
… and second, from his illustration in ‘The Birds of Nova Scotia’ by Robie W. Tufts (1973). In the ‘Field Guide’ , the markings on the white tail feathers of the Downy Woodpecker are clearer.
Both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are cavity nesters. They stay through the winter and are frequent visitors at feeding stations… they love suet and black sunflower seeds.