nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for July 2016

plants along the roadside – wild hops

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When we go for drives to find covered bridges or one room school houses, I always watch the roadside for plants familiar and unfamiliar. This habit comes from years of work as a botanist. As we drive, I name the plants I know. Sometimes there is a huge surprise!

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While driving in Victoria County last year, looking for a covered bridge, we travelled a short way on a side road. The road became quite rough and narrow and soon we were searching for a good place to turn. There, away from any habitation, among the vegetation on the side of the road, was something different: large 3 to 5-lobed leaves, climbing tendrils and golden cone-like flowers. A vigorous ‘wild’ hop vine. I was thrilled!

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Hops (Humulus sp.)  is well known as a stabilizing and flavouring agent in beer. The hops contain various flavonoids, acids and oils which impart smell and taste to beer.

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When I got home, I went hunting on the Internet and discovered a CBC article describing an Agriculture Canada study about native hops. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/hops-research-could-aid-beer-industry-1.3136764

The researchers, Jason McCallum and Aaron Mills, were (and still are) asking for the public’s help in locating wild hops in the Maritimes. Needless to say, I contacted them.

A couple of weeks ago, I learned they were coming to New Brunswick to find my hops plant. To make sure we could give them good directions, my husband and I drove to Victoria County to see if the plant was still there. It was growing more vigorously than ever, climbing among the top branches of a downed tree.

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With our improved directions in hand, the Agriculture Canada team found the hops plant, a couple of hours after a road crew went through with bush saws to widen the road!!! However, the team was able to take the samples they needed and assured me that the plant was so vigorous, it would be able to recover and continue to thrive!

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The researchers at Agriculture Canada will do genetic analyses to determine if the plant is native to North America (var. lupuloides), an escaped European hops (Humulus lupulus) or a hybrid between the two. The purpose of their study is to examine hops native to New Brunswick to see if they have resistance to disease and pests. Discovery of a native hops variety, perhaps with unique properties, flavours and aromas, would be valuable to a local brewing industry.

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Hops are cultivated around the world.  The Agriculture Canada researchers think ‘my’ hops plant may have been grown on a now-abandoned homestead. These folks may have grown the hops as a way of making starter cultures of yeast for bread-making. The elements in hops are toxic to bacteria but tolerated by yeast. Starter cultures resulted when yeasts colonized standing mixtures of hops and a sugar like molasses.

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This experience has reinforced my passion for ‘ditch-combing’ … I am so lucky to have my husband as driver so I can spend my time scanning the road side. If you live in the Maritimes, keep your eyes open and if you see a wild hops plant, let the researchers at Agriculture Canada know!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

July 29, 2016 at 7:00 am

getting ready for fall

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It may seem early, but I have my sights set on November. I plan to sell my book and some of my paintings at a local Christmas market. To have enough paintings ready for the event, I have to start now! Just a bit at a time since I also have to finish two larger canvases already begun!

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This will be a chance to see if I can sell copies of my book ‘within easy reach’ in a market setting. To keep in the theme of gathering wild edibles, the paintings for sale will be of some of the wild fruit we have in New Brunswick:

  • blackberries, in the style of the painting on the cover of my book
  • wild strawberries
  • raspberries
  • low bush blueberries
  • apples

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canvases, edges prepared and ready for paint!

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Since I dread just sitting behind my table, waiting for someone to have a closer look, I will take a couple of canvases and paint as I wait!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 27, 2016 at 4:17 pm

two old schools in Carleton County, New Brunswick

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On our way home from Victoria County last weekend, we took the rural road from Hartland through Millville. We found two old one room schools along the way.

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The location of two old schools in Carleton County. (Map Source: New Brunswick Atlas, Second Edition, 1998)

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The first of these was in Lower Windsor, Carleton County (once called Windsor Settlement).

in 1898 Lower Windsor was a settlement with a post office and a population of 100

to the north was Windsor, settled about 1840: PO 1864-1945: in 1866 Windsor was a farming settlement with approximately 50 resident families: in 1871 it had a population of 200: in 1904 Windsor had 1 post office, 1 store, 1 church and a population of 200.

Source: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

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When I got out of the truck to take some photos, I was overwhelmed by the smell of licorice. The source was Wild Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), probably planted at the site (now used as a cottage).

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Carlisle School, Carleton County 2016

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The next school was in Carlisle, Carleton County.

first called Northville Settlement: renamed Carlisle with creation of the post office: PO 1877-1924: in 1898 Carlisle was a settlement with 1 sawmill, 1 grist mill, 1 church and a population of 300.

Source: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

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The door of this old school was open to the elements.

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Although I intend to focus my ‘old schools’ writing project in Kings, Queens, Sunbury and York Counties, I am delighted to have found these old schools in Carleton County!

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The distance between these two old schools was 4.5 kilometres. Not far unless you are a young child on a snowy day!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

July 25, 2016 at 7:00 am

uphill and down

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While doing a search for a particular plant we know grows in the area, my husband and I took a side road through rural Victoria County in New Brunswick. We drove from Route 109 (near the top of the map), south through Upper Kintore and Lower Kintore, to Muniac, a distance of about 23 kilometres.

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(Map Source: New Brunswick Atlas, First Edition)

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Kintore was settled in 1873 and named for the town of Kintore near Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1898, Kintore was a railway station and had a post office and a population of 75. (Source: New Brunswick Archives)

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church and school house in Upper Kintore 2016

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Interesting to me was the very well-cared-for one room Upper Kintore School, built in 1877.

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Upper Kintore School built 1877

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Our drive took us uphill through Upper Kintore, along Big Flat Brook (a tributary of the Tobique River). The road peaked at Lawson Hill and then ran down, through Lower Kintore. Again, the road followed a watercourse, the Muniac Steam (a tributary of the Saint John River). As we drove we talked about the road — the earliest roads took the easy way, along the brooks. The southern part of the road was banked by steep rocky roadcuts.

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the Muniac Stream near Lower Kintore

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Since I am interested in the plants children might encounter on their way to school, I was happy that this is the time in New Brunswick when most of our roadside wild flowers are in bloom. We saw Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia serotina Nutt.), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense L.), Bedstraw (Galium sp.), Daisy (Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum L.), Bladder-Campion (Silene Cucubalus Wibel) and Meadow Rue (Thalictrum polygamum Muhl.). Quite a bouquet! I have to remain aware that some of these plants have become very weedy and invasive since the early 1900s and may have been hard to find in the 1800s. For example, in the photo below, just above the Black-eyed Susan, you will notice a plant of Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa L.). In New Brunswick, Wild Parsnip is a invasive species, probably introduced by Europeans in the 18th century as a food source.

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Black-eyed Susan along the road

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Do you have any favorite rural drives through communities with interesting histories?

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

within easy reach – winner of ‘berries and brambles’ painting

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I am so pleased to announce the winner of my painting ‘berries and brambles’.  The winning raffle entry was drawn at a dinner I attended this week in Fredericton.

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The winner is Margo Sheppard, Fredericton!

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Congratulations Margo!!! The painting ‘berries and brambles’ is yours. Thanks to all those who entered!

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April 24, 2016 ‘berries and brambles’ Jane Tims

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Holding the raffles for my paintings has been a very enjoyable part of the process of marketing my book! I’ll be offering another painting to win at my reading at Tidewater Books in Sackville in the fall!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 21, 2016 at 7:39 am

early schools – old maps, photos and diaries

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Last week, my husband and I visited the New Brunswick Museum Archives and had a look at three sources of information on old one room schools in New Brunswick:

  • the Walling Map – shows the location of roads, family homes, businesses, churches and schools in 1862 in Kings and St. John Counties
  • the photo collection by Marion Johnston Dunphy who photographed 150 schools from 1974 to 1984 – The One Room Schools of New Brunswick and What Became of Them
  • the diary of C. Gordon Lawrence, teacher at the Tracy school (Sunbury County, New Brunswick) in 1903. His diaries chronicle his experiences as a school teacher from 1903 to 1962!

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Thanks to the Walling Map, from now on, when we go for a drive to find old schools in Kings County, we will know exactly where to look. Also, I will know something about the landscape setting for each school – the key component of the poetry I intend to write!

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With the photos, I was able to check the identity of some of the schools we have already found. A good example is the school building at Mill Road, near Gagetown, Queens County, New Brunswick (below). From the photos in the Marion Johnston Dunphy collection, I was able to verify this as the Lawfield School, Gagetown #1. I signed an agreement not to share the Dunphy photos on the Internet, but I will be able to use them to prompt ideas for my poems.
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We also looked at C. Gordon Lawrence’s diary from 1903. This contains his day to day experiences as a 17 year old teacher at the Tracy School. He did not detail his observations of the natural world, but there are gems in the diaries for a poet! For example, after a long bout with chicken pox, he was feeling very ill and wrote: ‘… a dose of Pain killer failed to work but a dose of blackberry cordial gave me relief …’.

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Gordon Lawrence’s diary includes a map of the location of the school. It is faint but shows where the school was located, not far from the North Branch of the Oromocto River. The roads have changed significantly since 1903 – back roads to Harvey and St. Stephen were the main roads in 1903!

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The three items we looked at are only a sampling of the information available at the Archives. With these preliminary investigations, I can now begin to write my proposal for ‘a manuscript of poems about one room schools in the landscape’.  I will be sure to let you know if my proposal is successful!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

 

Written by jane tims

July 20, 2016 at 7:35 am

on my book shelf:  ‘Crow Impressions & Other Poems’

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I am now reading Crow Impressions & Other Poems’ by Edith Miller. Crow Impressions is another book from my publisher, Chapel Street Editions in Woodstock, New Brunswick. Edith and I both launched our books at Westminster Books in Fredericton on June 9. Although I gave her book a quick read before the launch, I have now been able to sit down and enjoy a thoughtful read, as this insightful book deserves!

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Edith Hoisington Miller, Crow Impressions and other poems. Chapel Street Editions: Woodstock, 2016.

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The other evening at a local writing event I sat next to a fellow book-lover who asked me if I’d read Edith’s book. ‘I love poetry about nature,’ she said. ‘The poems in Crow Impressions make you feel like you are there!’

Throughout her book, Edith’s first-hand knowledge of her subject matter shines through. Edith has watched not only crows, but herons on the shore, song sparrows in the rose bush, and eaglets in the nest. It has been said that crows recognize individual humans and I am certain they know Edith! I know she reveres this kindred ‘spirit sign’, understanding the crow’s sharing of this world,  the intricacies of their language. I love her inclusion of her first poem, written when she was seven – it will be a mystery for you to solve in your own reading, what part of nature she addresses in her poem.

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As I read, I am able to follow a journey to places Edith has lived and visited — from Long Island Sound to Arizona, from Penobscot Bay to New York City, here to Fredericton in New Brunswick. As I read, I am taken to places I have been but stopped short of fully knowing. I read ‘Tidal Bore’ and experience the wild ride on the Shubenacadie River. The sounds and smells in ‘Air Shaft’ recall my own few days in New York City in the 1970s and show me what it might have been like to live in the Village (truly ‘the dream of a 1950s suburban girl’!). Edith’s poems show she shares my interest in American Hopi culture and her poems show the respect she has for other cultures through her experience in issues of social justice.

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Crow Impressions is a lovely book, from the feel in a reader’s hands, to the easy-on-the-eyes layout. From the etching on the cover (a woodcut of a crow from a skate board created as a tribute to the memory of her grandson Isaac William Miller) to the final poems of the book. These return to the image of the crow, acknowledging the true nature of the ‘spirit sign’.

I recommend a close read of Crow Impressions – it will recall your own journey, make you ponder the symbols in your life for their particular meanings, and give you the joy of a walk on the beach even if you are far from the shore. Edith’s book is available at http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com and at our planned joint reading at Tidewater Books in Sackville this fall.

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

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