poetry and prose about place

a pair of Painted Turtles

with 15 comments

We did our usual bird-watching run along the St. John River on Sunday afternoon.   We ordinarily follow the same circuit, from Oromocto, along the north side of the River, to Jemseg, crossing the River via the Gagetown Ferry, and returning on the south side of the St. John River.  This area is in central New Brunswick, east of Fredericton.

The first part of this circuit is along the old Trans Canada Highway, now Route 105.  This section follows the St. John River, through the Grand Lake Meadows, an important wetland area for New Brunswick.  Near the spot marked ‘A’, we saw lots of ducks, an Osprey eating a fish, and three other raptors (a group including hawks or eagles) too distant to identify.  Near ‘B’ is the place we often see various owls, Bald Eagles, and Moose.

From Jemseg, we take Route 715 to Lower Jemseg.  This part of the route travels above the River, through farmland.  We rarely see wildlife along this section, but the area has a rich history and has several interesting buildings, including the old church featured in my post of September 14, 2011.

From Lower Jemseg, we turn towards the Gagetown Ferry and Scovil.  This is a very interesting part of the route, snaking between wetlands and ponds.  Along this section, it is usual to spot other cars of eager birdwatchers.

a wet field near Scovil … there are two American Black Ducks in the grass to the left and two Canada Geese beyond the pond … this is the same pond where we saw a Glossy Ibis on April 23, 1988

The highlight of our trip on Sunday was a group of three Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) on a log along this last section of our route, near the spot marked ‘C’.

The turtles were sunning themselves on a log in the middle of a pond.  They have dark green, smooth shells, with bright orange markings along the edge of the shell.  The inside of the lower shell is bright yellow.  Their heads and tails are also marked with short streaks of orange and yellow.  All winter these turtles have been hibernating at the bottom of the pond.  Now awake, they will live in the pond all summer, laying eggs and feeding on aquatic insects and vegetation.

These Painted Turtles were stretching their necks out of their shells as far as possible.  They made a beautiful sight, their colorful shells mirrored in the pond water.



Painted Turtles


I study the colors

through binoculars

remember these

with my hand, my fingers

rock the fine focus

rotate the brush

pick paint from the palette


the shell, flat olive tiles, grouted

Payne’s Grey

the wrinkled foot and leg, relaxed along the log

Burnt Umber

on the tail, the neck, the head

deft strokes of Cadmium

Yellow and Orange


the head stretches, to soak in sun

and dazzles on the pond

the lower shell


refection on water


and, at the edge of the carapace

bright dabs of Orange

one part Cadmium

two parts Quinacridone

and a touch of some unknown




©  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

May 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

15 Responses

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  1. What a beautiful setting. We have to be grateful for places like this where turtles can breed in peace. Loved the picture of the old church and also your poem



    May 13, 2012 at 1:00 am

    • Hi. This area is protected partly by Ducks Unlimited and partly because the foodwaters mean development is unlikely. I’m glad you like the poem. Jane


      jane tims

      May 13, 2012 at 8:39 am

  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip, I wish I was there too. 😉



    May 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm

  3. This is a great post. I love the names of the colours in the poem and the details you gave about your trip to see the sights. Sounds and looks like a fabulous route.


    Carol Steel

    May 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    • Hi Carol. Thanks! The route is a favorite and I’m sure will provide me with many postable adventures! Jane


      jane tims

      May 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

  4. My Grandmother came from New Brunswick…so these photos are especially dear to me. Many thanks, Jane. I love your turtle drawing. A tiny spot of color mirrored in the water makes such a statement about the beauty we’re surrounded by.



    May 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    • Hi Merrill. I’m glad you like the photos and drawing. It was a beautiful momment, watching those turtles and their reflection in the water. Jane


      jane tims

      May 8, 2012 at 8:32 pm

  5. The photo of the deserted building (an old church?) is beautiful in a sad sort of way. Who were the people who once filled it?–and why was it later abandoned?



    May 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    • Hi Sheryl. It was an old church. It is now loved and cared for by the people in the adjacent home. Someday I will try to find out some more about it. Jane


      jane tims

      May 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      • It’s nice to hear that it’s loved and cared for by people in the adjacent home.



        May 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm

  6. Beautiful, Jane. As Barbara said, so lovely the way you added color to your drawing, along with all the colors in your poem. Ellen


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    May 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    • Hi Ellen. My next step is to do an acrylic painting of the turtles. I’ll show it on my blog when I finish. Unlike the black and white drawings, which only take an hour or so, my paintings usually take a long, long, long time to finish! Thanks for the comment! Jane


      jane tims

      May 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm

  7. It sounds like it was a great day, especially the turtle sighting! I love the way you added color to your drawing, and how you used poetry to remember the colors… Tim’s a big turtle fan so I’m sending him your post link.


    Barbara Rodgers

    May 8, 2012 at 9:50 am

    • Hi. Every time we drive the route, we see something interesting. The turtles were special… the colors through the binoculars were wonderful, impossible to duplicate. Painted Turtle is a good name for this species! Jane


      jane tims

      May 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm

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