poetry and prose about place

growing and gathering – learning

with 10 comments

When I embarked on my project to write poetry about ‘growing and gathering’, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the subject.  It is not surprising, then, to find I have written quite a few poems on the theme of ‘learning’.

Some of these poems are in the spirit of ‘how to’.  I have poems about collecting maple syrup, making jelly, harvesting and preparing wild sarsaparilla, stringing peas in the garden, gathering eggs and picking fiddleheads, among others.  As poems can be a little obtuse, sometimes these directions are not very helpful in a practical way.  However, I try to capture the essence of the growing and gathering of local foods.

I have also written poems about learning itself.  I have a poem about my childhood experience of running free on the prairie, picking thorny cactus berries and bottles of scorpions (yes, scorpions… they were interesting and pretty, and I didn’t know they were dangerous!).  I also have a poem to remind busy young mothers to learn from the rhythms of nature – the calm conspiring of bees and clovers to make honey, or the way a bird collects the makings of a nest, a little at a time.  Another poem is about learning how to negotiate the traditions of the farmers market (if you buy fresh carrots, keep the green tops for your compost bin!!!).

I also have two poems about imitating nature.  In the 1960s, my Mom used to make a few substitutions in her cooking to make up for a lack of ingredients.  You have probably seen these recipes before: Apple Pie, No Apples and Mock Cherry Pie.

One of the reasons Mom made these recipes was to have some fun and make us laugh. But fake food is no laughing matter.  My goal, in part, has been to show that we are now a little distanced from our food and its sources.  By considering what wild foods might still be available, I have tried to get others to think about the source of our food and the greater simplicity of eating local.



Apple Pie, No Apples

Prepare pastry for a double pie

Break 15 salted soda crackers into wedge-shaped pieces and place in the unbaked pie shell

Bring to a boil:

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups white sugar
4 tbsp. margarine
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp lemon flavoring

Pour mixture over crackers

Cover with pastry

Bake as for apple pie


Mock Cherry Pie

Prepare pastry for a double pie

Fill pie shell with:

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cover with a lattice of pastry.

Bake as for cherry pie



Mock Cherry Pie


I am not easy to fool –

embellished covers, empty pages

‘baby’ carrots, shapened like pencils

knock-off purses, no money inside

diet soda and servings of fries


who else would look

under the lattice crust

to discover cranberries and raisins?


cherries in the orchard

never picked



©  Jane Tims  2012



1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.


Written by jane tims

August 6, 2012 at 7:13 am

10 Responses

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  1. Excellent poem Jane.



    August 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

  2. This post brings back dim memories of eating mock apple pie at an aunt’s home when I was a small child.



    August 7, 2012 at 1:41 am

  3. Never thought of cranberry AND raisins in a pie. I guess adding the raisins means you use less sugar?



    August 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    • Hi Rosie. I think the sweet raisins provide some balance to the tartness of the cranberries, so it tastes more like cherries. Jane


      jane tims

      August 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

  4. As ever, this is very informative and educational Jane, very well done.



    August 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

  5. I’ll take the cranberry-raisin pie and you can have the cracker pie! 🙂


    Jane Fritz

    August 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

    • Hi. Ok, but you will be missing out… the Apple Pie, No Apples was the best of the two in my opinion! Jane


      jane tims

      August 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

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