nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for September 2012

two last pages to write

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Once the poems are written, and the footnotes are proofread, and the poems are snug in their sections, there are still two pages to write.

The first is the Acknowledgements page.  I have so many people to thank.  They include all the people who have helped me along the way.  These will include the members of my two writing groups, who listened to me read from my work, month after month, and who offered lots of comments and suggestions.  I will also thank my writing coaches who have given me specific criticism on particular poems and have improved my writing immensely with their mentoring.  I will also thank the readers of my Blog, you, who have read my writing, given me huge encouragement and a way to work through my ideas.  I will also be thanking the members of my family, particularly my son…  they have listened to my poems and read them and suffered through the long story of my project from beginning to end.  And, of course, I have to extend a huge thank you to the New Brunswick Arts Board, artsnb, for the Creations Grant that supported me during the project.

The second page to write is the Dedication.  There is no contest for this one.  This manuscript will be dedicated to my husband.  In spite of self-proclaimed disinterest in the world of the arts, he has listened to every poem, often in multiple versions, helped me find words when they eluded me, and suffered my elation, moping and bad moods.   He has also driven me all over the country-side to find edible plants, sat through an orchid identification course, and mingled with the botanists on a couple of field excursions.  He has been there in the audience at public poetry readings and never complained about the hours I spend at courses and meetings and writing workshops.  He flatly refused to eat any of my gatherings and concoctions, but I believe this was so he could call the paramedics if any of my plant identifications ever proved incorrect!

For his endless love and support, this manuscript is dedicated to my husband.

Copyright Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

September 28, 2012 at 7:36 am

transitions

with 16 comments

Now, as I am finishing my manuscript of poetry on local foods, I am aware of the change this means for me.  I know there will be a new project but I am not yet certain what it will be.  I have many things to choose from… perhaps I’ll begin a new series of poems… perhaps I’ll write some non-fiction on an environmental theme… perhaps I’ll finish some of the paintings I have begun.

Although I like best to write, I find creative activities substitute for one another.  For example, when I am not writing for an extended period of time, I am often embedded in some other creative work such as painting or sewing.  Now, as I finish my manuscript, I have begun to weave on my loom.  It gives me thinking time as I approach the end of my writing project, to work through the final steps in my mind.  It also creates some certainty for me and provides a transition to my next project.

To me, weaving exemplifies the lure of creative endeavor.  The producing requires knowledge and skill, and builds confidence.  The process is relaxing and time is made available for thought and concentration.  The threads and fabrics are luxurious to touch and the colors are bright and joyful.  When I am finished a project, I am so proud of the resulting textile, I want to show the world.

My loom is a simple floor loom, 24 inches wide.  I bought it at a country auction, about 15 years ago.  My sister and I were among the stragglers at the auction, trying to outlast a heavy rain.  In the corner, we saw a bundle of varnished wood and some metal parts.  “I think that’s a loom,” whispered my savvy sister.  When the item came up for bid, there were few left in the audience, and no one knew just what ‘it’ was.  I can’t remember what I paid for it, but I know it was a bargain.

My loom and I have not been steady company.  It takes forever to install the warp (I began to install my current warp in May!), and weaving is hard on my back.  But the fabrics we have made together, my loom and I, are beautiful and comfortable and good for the soul.

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yellow line

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the road is fabric

weave of asphalt

ditch and yellow line

warp of guard rail

fence and heddle

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trees in plantations

lines on the hayfield

hip and curve of the earth

weft as she turns in her sleep

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shuttle, piloted

through landscape

and watershed

textile in folds

texture the yearn of the loom

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faults in the granite

potholes in pavement

rifts in the fabric

where weavers might falter

revisit the work

of earlier times

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learn the lessons

taught by the loom –

choose the weft wisely

balance the color, the texture

maintain the tension

fix mistakes as you go

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when your back hurts,

rest

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listen to the whisper

of weave

of yellow line

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

September 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

apple tree shadow

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This time of year, I watch for the old apple trees along the road.  Most are neglected, and the fruit remains unpicked, even for cider.  When the apples fall, they lie beneath the tree in a circle of red or yellow, mimicking the shadow of the tree at noon.

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apple shadow

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days follow days

and the apples

fall to the ditch,

claim the gravel

edge the asphalt

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ripe shadow space

at the base of

the leaning tree

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passing cars play

polo and wasps

worry in the

rotting remains

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

September 24, 2012 at 7:06 am

a walk through the covered bridge – disappearing covered bridges

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Last week we took a drive to re-visit some of the covered bridges we saw in 1992 as part of a special project to celebrate Canada’s 125th birthday. One of these was the Stone Ridge Covered Bridge (formally known as Keswick River #6), crossing the Keswick River at Upper Stone Ridge in York County.  I was looking forward to seeing the bridge because we had recorded some interesting carvings in 1992.  Among the usual initials, someone had craved the images of three houses, one with steps and two chimneys, and one, a cottage, on the sill of the bridge window.

A short drive on a pretty country road along the Keswick River brought us to the bridge… a metal Bailey bridge, constructed to cross the river at the point where the covered bridge had once stood.  The new bridge was sturdy and had its own charm, but it was so disappointing to know the old covered bridge was gone forever.  The Stone Ridge Covered Bridge was lost to fire on October 10, 2008.

The Stone Ridge Covered Bridge was built in 1914 and had a span of 123′ 4″ and a total length of 126′ 4″.  It had a roadway width of 14′ 10″ and a capacity of 10 T.

I wrote in our journal, on May 1, 1992: “most carvings were on the flat of the horizontal plate that formed the window sill and ran the length of the bridge”.’  I also wrote: “lots of hacking and hewing done on the window part of the sill”.  The oldest date we recorded was ‘May 9, 1951 VHA’.

Some of the other carvings on the bridge in 1992 were: ‘LA + LB’, ‘WLR 54’, ‘VHA MARCH 7, 1952’, ‘1951 [or 1957] MAY 7 WLB [and a small heart]’,  ‘KM 1952’, ‘KMB 9/55’,  and ‘BB 1951’.  There was also a separate carving of an upward arrow beside a  ‘B’ and on the next line, ‘KM A4 54’.

I wonder who was VHA and how often did he or she return to the bridge over the years?  Who was KM in 1952, and did she return, married, in 1955 with her new last name beginning with ‘B’?  Was she married on April 4, 1954 to ‘B’?  A mystery, perhaps solvable by looking into some local marriage records?!

It is sad to see the covered bridges in New Brunswick disappear, one at a time.  Some are lost due to the dramatic power of the spring freshet.  Others are lost to vandalism (fire) – every Hallowe’en residents keep a careful watch on the covered bridge in our community.   In 1992 when we did the covered bridge project, our list had 71 covered bridges.  The New Brunswick Department of Transportation website  http://www.gnb.ca/0113/coveredbridges/coveredbridges-e.asp says there are presently 61 covered bridges in New Brunswick.

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum Marsh.)

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Like miniature fireworks, bright bunches of the berries of Highbush Cranberry  (Viburnum trilobum Marsh.) burst along our roadsides in late summer.  Highbush Cranberry is also called Cranberry, Pimbina, and in Quebec,  quatres-saisons des bois.

The Highbush Cranberry is a large deciduous shrub, found in cool woods, thickets, shores and slopes.  It has grey bark and dense reddish-brown twigs.  The large lobed leaves are very similar to red maple.

In spring and summer, the white flowers bloom in a cyme or corymb (a flat-topped or convex open flower-cluster).  Most flowers in the cluster are small, but the outermost flowers are large and showy, making the plant attractive for insect pollinators.

The fruit is a drupe, ellipsoid and brightly colored red or orange.  The juicy, acidic fruit has a very similar flavour to cranberry (Vaccinium spp. L.) and is used for jams and jellies.  The preserves are rich in Vitamin C.

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fireworks, quatres-saisons

            (Viburnum trilobum Marsh.)

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against a drawing paper sky

some liberated hand

has sketched fireworks

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remember precursors in spring?

blowsy cymes, white sputter

of a Catherine wheel

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now these berries, ready to pick

bold, spherical outburst

of vermillion sparks

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a pyrotechnic flash of red

strontium detonates

in receptive dark

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a four-season celebration

spring confetti, berries,

fireworks in fall

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cranberry preserves – acidic,

tart blaze of summer sky

winter ignition

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© Jane Tims  2012

© Jane Tims  2012

a moment of beautiful – Blue-eyed Grass

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the space:  the meadow above the lake

the beautiful: a bright blue flower – Blue-eyed Grass

All grass is not grass.  In spring, some of those green blades reveal their true identity.  You look down, and a blue eye stares back at you.  You have found Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium montanum Greene.

Blue-eyed grass is not a grass at all, but a member of the iris family.  It inhabits moist, open ground in fields and meadows, and blooms in late spring and early summer.  The plant is low and slender, with a deep blue flower and a bright yellow center, borne at the top of a straight, usually unbranched, stem.  The stem is two-edged, flattened on the margins.  The flowers are borne in the axil of a sharp, upheld bract called a spathe.  In French, the plant is called BermudienneMontanum means ‘of the mountains’.

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Blue-eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium montanum Greene

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I walk in grass,

but it isn’t grass –

Sisyrinchium

it winks at me

with azure eyes,

and I blink brown at them

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Blue-eyed Grass

stands straight and still,

staunch Bermudienne

simple maid

with a watchful eye,

and a sword above her head

~

~

© Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

September 17, 2012 at 7:52 am

growing and gathering – names of edible wild plants

with 15 comments

As I have worked on my poetry project about eating local foods, I have researched each wild plant, found it in its natural environment, and then written about it.  With all this, I am exposed to the words and characteristics of a particular plant and it is never certain which way the ‘muse’ will take me when I write the poem.  Sometimes, I end up creating a poem about eating local food, and sometimes, I get a poem about something else.  Usually these stray poems are, in some way, about the name of the plant.

I find the names of plants are very inspiring.  First is the Latin or scientific name, familiar to me after years of botanizing, but mysterious to most people.   I love to find out about the origins of the name and I usually discover the name is descriptive of the plant.  An example is the scientific name for Yellow Wood-sorrel (Oxalis stricta L.), a small yellow-flowered, three-leaved plant of waste areas.  The name stricta means ‘erect’, referring to the way the plant grows when young or the way its seed pods are held.  The word oxalis is from the Greek oxys meaning ‘sour’, a reference to the taste of the leaves.

The common names of plants are also intriguing.  Sometimes these are different for each area where the plant is found.  For example, the Cloudberry (Rubus Chamaemorus L.), a small relative of Blackberry with a peach-colored fruit, is known locally (and particularly in Newfoundland) as Bakeapple.  Plant names may also refer to a characteristic of the plant.  A good example is Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris L.), a small purple flower.  It inhabits waste areas and lawns, becoming small and compact if mowed.  One of its common names, ‘Carpenter Weed’, comes from this characteristic… Carpenter Weed mends holes in lawns!   The name Heal-all comes from the old belief that the plant has medicinal properties.

‘heal-all’ Copyright Jane Tims 2011

So, among my collection of poems about edible plants, I have a group of poems about the plants and their names, but not about their use as local foods.  I have to decide whether or not to include them in my collection, or to set them free!

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Heal-all

(Prunella vulgaris L.)

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snug Prunella, neat little weed

prim and proper, gone to seed

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first called Brunella: gatherers found

Prunella purple fades to brown

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a carpenter weed, busy, strong

mends bare patches on the lawn

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heal-all, self-heal – your name suggests

an herbal secret you possess

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©  Jane Tims  2012

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