nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for March 2014

preserving coastal marsh (day 24 and 25)

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The last few days of my virtual biking have reminded me of the need to preserve coastal areas, including barrier beaches and coastal salt marsh.  Day 24 and 25 of my virtual travels took me along Youghall Beach near Bathurst.  This barrier beach has been almost entirely developed with seasonal and year-round residences.

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24-25

map showing distance travelled (map from Google Maps)

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8-24  March 24, 2014   35 minutes (south of Youghall Beach to  Youghall)

8-25  March 25, 2014   30 minutes ( Youghall to south of Youghall) 

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aerial view of Peters River salt marsh (right) and Youghall Beach (left)  (image from Street View)

aerial view of Peters River salt marsh (right) and Youghall Beach (left) (image from Street View)

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Peters River salt marsh

Peters River salt marsh (image from Street View)

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One of the reasons to protect barrier beaches from development is the close association with coastal marshes and their sensitive wild life.  For example, the coastal marshes in the Bathurst area, including the coastal salt marshes of the Peters River near Youghall Beach, are home to the Maritime Ringlet Butterfly.  The Maritime Ringlet (Coenonympha nipisiquit McDunnough) is a small butterfly with a wing-span of four centimeters.  It is buff-and-rusty-coloured, with a dark eyespot.

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This butterfly is endangered, because it faces extinction.  It is ‘endemic’ to the salt marshes of the Baie-des-Chaleurs – this is the only place in the world where this butterfly lives.   The butterfly can only live in the salt marsh – the Maritime Ringlet caterpillar lives on salt marsh grasses (Spartina patens) and the adult uses Sea Lavender (Limonium nashii) as its nectar source.

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Government and conservation groups in New Brunswick have worked together to educate homeowners about protecting the Maritime Ringlet Butterfly.  They list practical steps people can take to ensure the habitat of this endangered butterfly is protected.  These include: not filling in the marsh, not burning marsh grasses, not using vehicles in the marsh, not picking marsh wildflowers such as Sea Lavender, and not going into the marsh.  For more information on the Maritime Ringlet Butterfly and its protection, see  http://www.bathurstsustainabledevelopment.com/userfiles/file/HSP%20Final%20MR%20ENGLISH%20brochure.pdf

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March 27, 2014  'Maritime Ringlet Butterfly'  Jane Tims

March 27, 2014 ‘Maritime Ringlet Butterfly’ Jane Tims

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Copyright 2014  Jane Tims

between the salt marsh and the sea (day 21, 22 and 23)

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My virtual biking in early March took me along the last length of coast before Bathurst.  This is an area of coastal salt marsh and barrier beach.  It is also an area where a lot of coastal development has occurred.  My bike ride revived many memories of days when I worked on the provincial coastal policy.

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21-23

distance travelled (map from Google Earth)

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8-21  March 1, 2014   40 minutes  (Petit-Rocher-Sud to east of Nigadoo)

8-22  March 4, 2014   30 minutes (east of Nigadoo to  Beresford)

8-23  March 8, 2014   30 minutes (Beresford to south of Yougall Beach)

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The prominent landscape feature in the area is a huge coastal salt marsh and a barrier beach.  I certainly understand why people would want to live near to the sea.  However, the development of the barrier beach can harm the beach environment, puts the health of the ecologically important salt marsh at risk, and sometimes creates a safety issue for the homes and cottages along the beach (people who live along the beach are at risk of coastal erosion, storm surge and walls of ice that build up along this coast).

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Beresford Beach aerial

aerial view showing Beresford barrier beach, the coastal salt marsh behind it and the waters of the Baie-des-Chaleurs (map from Google Earth)

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The community of Beresford has preserved a portion of the beach and marsh, creating the Passerelle, a long boardwalk to enable people to appreciate the marsh and the bird life there.  The Passerelle can also be seen in the upper left corner of the aerial view above (a white, curved structure crossing a corner of the marsh pond).

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viewing area along Beresford Marsh

a view of the Passerelle boardwalk on the Beresford Marsh (image from Street View)

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Once private land is developed, either for seasonal or year-round residential use, the only way to protect the beach and salt marsh is to encourage homeowners along the barrier beach to live as gently as possible.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

 

lichens on the snow

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As you may know, we are still under a blanket of snow here in New Brunswick.  And later today a Nor’easter is predicted to bring another 30 cm.  Not the best place for collecting plants as dyestuff.  But, as I always find – nature provides!

Our windy weather this past week has dropped lots of Old Man’s Beard lichen (Usnea subfloridana) along our driveway.  These lichens grow in the maple and spruce trees on our property but usually they grow too high to reach.  I was able to collect quite a handful.

And now my experiment begins.

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Usnea subfloridana on the snow

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Lichens have been used for centuries as a source of dye.  The Roccella species, for example, makes a purple dye called orchil.  I may not get purple from my Usnea lichens, but I am ‘dyeing’ to try!

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lichens ... will they make a dye?

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The typical extraction process for lichens is called ‘ammonia fermentation’ – soaking the lichens in ammonia for two or three weeks.  Lichens also yield dye with boiling.  I have decided to try the ammonia method first, although I will not use urine as was traditionally done!

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lichens in a jar ... plus a little ammonia

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So I stuffed the Usnea lichens into a canning jar, added water and a tablespoon of ammonia, labelled the jar and put it on the shelf.

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now we wait

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And now we wait.  I’ll let you know what, if any, colour develops.  I feel like a housewife of old, wanting some dyestuff to add colour to my life, willing to make do with what is available.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 26, 2014 at 7:05 am

small scale economy – picking berries

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'five blue berries'

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small-scale economy

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my box of berries spilled

on the footpath,

between leaves

of Kalmia and wintergreen

hawkweed and cow pies

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the cousins, their boxes brimming,

stood gawking, dismayed,

I was certain they were thinking

dumb city girl, spilled her berries

box only half full anyway

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instead, they gathered around me

sympathy in every hand

scooped most of the berries

into the box

added a few from nearby bushes

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seventeen cents he paid me

half the value of a box at full

the cousins had picked a crate or more,

remembered the wasted berries, left on the trail

and wept at the loss

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Published as: ‘small scale economy’, Canadian Stories 16 (94), December 2013/ January 2014

Copyright 2014 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

harvesting colour – memorable colour

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I am starting to think about some of the colours I hope to capture in my dyeing projects.  In my reading I have discovered that plant colours come from three groups of plant pigments:

  • the porphyrins – includes chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that enables photosynthesis to occur
  • the carotenoids – includes the yellows of carrots and the red lycopene of tomatoes
  • the flavonoids – the yellows of flower petals and the red, blue and purple anthocyanins of strawberries and blueberries

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DSCF1658_crop

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In my poems, I want to portray these colours with words.  A quick look in the thesaurus shows how many words we have for the various colours:

  • green: emerald, sage, verdigris, malachite, beryl, aquamarine, chartreuse, lime, olive …
  • yellow: ivory, lemon, saffron, gold, sallow, buff …
  • red: scarlet, carmine, vermillion, crimson, ruby, garnet, maroon, brick, rust …
  • blue: azure, phthalo, cerulean, indigo, sapphire, turquoise, watchet, navy, teal …
  • purple: lilac, violet, mauve, magenta, heliotrope, plum, lavender …

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Copyright 2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 21, 2014 at 7:06 am

beekeeper

with 4 comments

003_crop

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beekeeper

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1.

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bees smoke-drowsy   rag smoulders   swung slowly   protected thick

in net and cotton   wicking folds   into beeswax   candle flame

pours golden   through panes   in the honeycomb

streamers   sweet circles   sink into bread

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hollows

yeast-filled

and honey

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2.

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bee sting

unexpected

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beekeeper

never flinches

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flicks the bee

from his fingers

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spit and mud

for a poultice

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Published as: ‘beekeeper’, Canadian Stories 17 (95), February/March 2014

Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 19, 2014 at 7:03 am

beech leaves and berries

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One more poem about winterberry holly …

DSCF4135_crop

winterberry holly in early winter

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beech leaves and berries

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watch the wretched shudder

of the second hand, clutch

at the day, a beech leaf, intent

or winterberries persistent

through December

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peeling paint on the door

of the shed, insistent –

resist new color

parchment leaves and paint chips rattle

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on a day in January

a grey-green flake of paint

is tumbled by wind

and vermillion berries surrender

drop

by

drop

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indifferent snow

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Copyright 2014  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

March 17, 2014 at 6:57 am

harvesting colour – mordants and modifiers

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Dyeing textiles involves more than just the dyestuff.  Simmering cloth in a dye bath may initially produce a beautiful colour, but without help, the colour may fade in sunlight, or over time.

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Mordants:  Mordants are substances that assist the dyeing process by improving the colour-fastness of dyes (to washing and light), and by modifying the strength and quality of colour.  Mordants bond with both dyestuff and fibre so the resulting colour is more permanent.  Mordants include metals such as aluminum, copper and iron.  I have a quantity of a safe mordant, alum (aluminum sulphate) and I may try other mordants as I become more experienced.

Colour modifiers: After a fibre is dyed, colour modifiers can be used to increase the range of colour possibilities.  In some cases this means changing the pH with modifiers such as vinegar.  Modifiers also include after-mordants (additions of copper or iron).  Adding iron as a modifier results in ‘saddening’ of the colour …  for example, a brown obtained from a tannin-rich dye can become almost black.

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My reading about mordents and modifiers made me think about keeping colours vivid in memory.  Perhaps, when we remember a particular scene in full vibrant colour, there is some ‘memory-mordent’ involved !!!  In the poem, the mordants aluminum, copper and iron are there in the coastal environment, strengthening memory …

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Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

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colourfast

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how do I explain

the being present

the exquisite memory

the precise phthalo

of ocean, the cobalt

of sky, salt breeze,

viridian horizon

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perhaps some mordant made

this memory strong – aluminum

from my morning tea, copper sulphate

patina from the weathervane

pointed landward

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and the boathouse

mooring, rusted

saddened the colour

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near Torr Bay, Nova Scotia

near Torr Bay, Nova Scotia

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 14, 2014 at 7:25 am

winterberries

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Before the winter snows are entirely gone, I want to share this poem.  All through the winter months, winterberry holly clings to its bright orange-red berries, refusing to let go …

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October 27, 2013  'Winterberry red'   Jane Tims

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winterberries

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berries of holly persist

long into winter, cling to

the bough, after leaves have fallen

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grief refuses to let go

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but what is one berry among

so many – in the end all

berries desiccate and die

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birds wheel in limitless sky

look below and see

one red pixel punctuates

vast emptiness of snow

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 12, 2014 at 7:40 am

fencing us in (day 19 and 20)

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When I first moved to New Brunswick, rail fences could be seen almost everywhere in rural areas.  The design was simple – stacks of very long cedar logs in a zigzag without posts at the junction. The logs were piled from 3 to 4 high and were very weathered.  These fences used cedar in the construction because of its natural ability to withstand rot.

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As the years go by, these fences have gradually disappeared from the landscape.  Part of this is because the fences eventually deteriorate.  Also, people salvage the rails for landscaping and other projects.

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19-20

distance travelled (map from Google Earth)

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8-19  February 25, 2014   30 minutes  (Petit-Rocher-Nord to Petit-Rocher)

8-20   February 27, 2014   30 minutes (Petit-Rocher to Petit-Rocher-Sud)

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Although I haven’t seen the zigzag style of rail fence on my virtual bike trip along the northern New Brunswick coast, I have seen other rail fence designs.  These fences are also built of cedar, but the rails are supported at the junctions by short lengths of cedar …

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rail fence Nash Creek

rail fence near Nash Creek (image from Street View)

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or on a sort of ladder, consisting of two posts and cross-members …

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rail fence Pointe verte

rail fence near Pointe Verte (image from Street View)

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When I was younger, sitting on a fence like any of these was on my list of favorite things to do.  Today, our property is fenced with a zigzag style cedar rail fence, built by my husband who is proud to say not a nail is used in the construction …

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nailess rail fence round our property

zigzag rail fence round our property

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I wonder if there are nails used in this rail fence …

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March 5, 2014  'rail fence'  Jane Tims

March 5, 2014 ‘rail fence’ Jane Tims

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Copyright 2014 Jane Tims

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