poetry and prose about place

growing and gathering – years and seasons

with 14 comments

As I work on my collection of poems about growing and gathering, I am aware of the passage of time.  I am in the revision stage.  This means my manuscript will soon be ‘complete’.  I will worry over it and list the last things to be done.  I will prepare my final report to artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board), the source of my Creations Grant, and send it away to them for approval.

The project will be over, but there will still be work to do.   I will have to decide what poems should go in the final manuscript, re-order them a few times, do some more revisions and them send them away, to a publisher, hoping I will be able to get a book from all this work.

Then I will be at the end and facing a new beginning, a new project.  I have a few to choose from, so I won’t be relaxing for long.

In all this is the dimension of time, with its deadlines and unforgiving rush forward.  Even in a project about growing and gathering local foods, there are poems about time.

A number of my poems are about the ephemeral nature of local foods.  Another way to think of this is ‘eating local foods in season’.  In spring, everything is plentiful – new plants arrive in a rush, so fast, you can hardly keep up.  Then there is the patient waiting for berries to ripen and, again, a rush… blueberries are quickly followed by blackberries and raspberries and so on.  But everything has its season, so leaves become too old to harvest, and berries shrivel and fall to the ground.

This seasonal aspect of local foods can be thought of as as a metaphor for aging, and some of my poems work with this comparison.  I have poems about resisting aging, and about the ailments of age including arthritis, lethargy, forgetfulness, and aging memory.

Many of my poems on the theme of ‘time’ overlap with other themes, about ‘companionship’, or changes to ‘place’.  For this reason, I find myself shifting poems around in my manuscript.  I ask myself if the poems flow well, one to another.

I also find I don’t seem to have many poems about the differences between our historical use of local foods and our present day use.  I have lots of source material, particularly among my great-aunt’s diaries… she loved to pick berries.  So away I go, to write a few more poems about time!



Old Man’s Beard     


Usnea subfloridana Stirt.


you and I

years ago

forced our ways

bent through the thicket

of lichen and spruce



caught in your beard

and we laughed


us with stooped backs

and grey hair?


found a game trail

a strawberry marsh

wild berries

crushed into sedge

stained shirts


and fingers


dusted with sugar

washed down with cold tea

warmed by rum



an old woman


lost her way in the spruce

found beard

caught in the branches

and cried



Published as ‘Old Man’s Beard’, The Fiddlehead 180, Summer, 1994

©  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

August 29, 2012 at 7:18 am

14 Responses

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  1. Jane, Wow your project is nearly complete!
    I have really enjoyed the poems, sketches, and photos.
    Be sure to let me know when and where the book signing will be!
    I’m looking forward to learning about your next project. “Retirement” in your dictionary has a different meaning :o)



    September 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    • Hi Nelda! Glad to hear from you. It is true that the hammock I set up at the first of the summer didn’t get much use! Getting it all published will be the tricky part and we will just have to wait and see! Jane


      jane tims

      September 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm

  2. What a marvelous poem, Jane. And I love the posts you write that describe your analysis of your work and your consideration of the focus and flow. I learn a lot from these. Thank you.


    Jane Fritz

    August 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

  3. How beautiful. I think it is important…all this thought you are giving to your work, to positioning each poem and shaping it. Enjoy every moment: the shuffling and aligning, the hefting to feel the weight of each word, the reading aloud to affirm how the images roll off the tongue. Your finished manuscript will wear the love.


    Deborah Carr

    August 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    • Hi Deborah. Thanks for these words. I sometimes think of this phase as tiresome but I agree that each small step improves the poems as a whole. The finished product gets a little closer each day. Jane


      jane tims

      August 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

  4. I’m glad your project is going well. Your poem and drawing are beautiful. 🙂



    August 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm

  5. In haiku, the poems are usually collected by the season. That breaks things down for a nice format that lends itself to the aging process as the year ages. We’re entering autumn in Western world… in haiku we’re already in it…. you can see it all around in the exhaustion of things… the drying grasses etc… the “middle age crisis” in nature that leads to understanding. So I can imagine your book will meet all these connotations as you arrange your material.

    Your blog has been an absolute delight and I treasure each post you’ve shared with us.



    August 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    • Hi Merrill. Thanks for your encouraging words. I don’t know much about haiku but there is wisdom in what you say. When I do the final arrangement of poems, I am going to keep the seasonal sub-theme and its ‘life’ metaphor in mind. Jane


      jane tims

      August 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

  6. Stunning Jane!



    August 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm

  7. It’s great to hear how well your project is going along, despite all the intense work. The poem is beautiful, intense, full of vivid images. I can hardly wait until your book is ready.


    Carol Steel

    August 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

    • Hi Carol. I am still a long way from finishing. I find at this stage, I am easily distracted. Thanks for the comment on the poem. Jane


      jane tims

      August 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

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