nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for June 2018

a feast of wild strawberries

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This week at our cabin the wild strawberries are hanging from their stems. When I see them I think of the sweet wild strawberry jam my mom used to make. And, after this weekend, I will think of  cedar waxwings.

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As we sat in the cabin, eating our dinner, we saw a bird making trips between the birch tree in front of the cabin and the grassy field to the side, where the wild strawberries grow.

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My husband identified the bird and spotted where it perched in the tree. The cedar waxwing is one of the common birds at the cabin. They love to eat fruit and we have wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries on the property.

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There were two cedar waxwings on the branch, sharing a meal of wild strawberries. Sharing fruit is a ritual behavior between male and female cedar waxwings.

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The cedar waxwings nest in our big white pines and sing in the top branches of other nearby trees. I will never see them without thinking of their little feast of berries.

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All my best,

Jane

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Written by jane tims

June 27, 2018 at 7:00 am

swallowtails and Alexanders

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Last week we did the first of our forays to get material for a new set of poems I am working on. Our drive took us to the area north of Stanley, and some two-track roads where settlements and home-sites have been abandoned.

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the road to Mavis Mills, an abandoned community

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The main road was busy with butterflies: Papilio canadensis, Canadian tiger swallowtail.  These are familiar butterflies, very similar to the eastern swallowtail, and once considered the same species. The males are yellow with black-rimmed wings (with a dotted yellow stripe in the margin) and four black tiger-stripes on the upper part of each fore-wing.

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The butterflies were congregating on the road near water puddles. They were interested in the muddy areas rather than the water. This behavior is called “puddling” and is a way for the butterfly to get sodium ions and amino acids.

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We took an old, two-track road to the abandoned hamlet of Mavis Mills and found the old settlement house sites. The once-cleared areas were populated by a pretty yellow composite flower, a member of the parsley family: Zizia aurea, golden Alexanders. These plants are usually under 30 inches high, with three serrated leaves (or three leaflets divided further into three’s) and a flat umbel of yellow flowers. The stems are red and the whole plant appears red in the fall. It is a host plant for the caterpillars of species of swallowtail butterflies. The plants grow in wet meadows and abandoned fields.

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field of golden Alexanders in an abandoned settlement

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We had an enjoyable drive, looking at abandoned homesteads and settlements. Since I am a botanist, I am interested in what has happened to the plants that once grew in the gardens of these homes. Some of the plants have vanished, but a few persist at the home-site and a few escape to cover ditches and countryside in bloom.

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an old lilac bush continuing to thrive near an abandoned house

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All my best!

Jane

 

 

Written by jane tims

June 25, 2018 at 2:59 pm

chimney swifts

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Last evening my husband and I took a drive into Fredericton to see a population of chimney swifts do their dive into a brick chimney. The chimney at McLeod Avenue provides home to a couple of thousand chimney swifts. These fleet birds nest inside brick and mortar chimneys, an ideal example of how wildlife adapts to coexist with humans. Once, swifts used large hollow trees, but these are disappearing from the landscape. When the swifts returned to Fredericton in May, a CBC newscast spread the word about the chimney and many folks turned out to watch the display CBC .

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Last evening was late in the viewing season, so we observed a few hundred birds dive into the chimney. My photography skills are always a problem, so the birds were much faster that the setting on my camera. But I really like the silent ghostly image portrayed. In fact the air was filled with their chirping and the dive of the birds into the chimney opening was like pouring water.

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Like the hollow trees before them, brick chimneys are disappearing from the landscape. Efforts are underway to protect chimneys and to provide alternative nesting for swifts, but the struggle to improve the survival of threatened species like the chimney swift must continue.

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All the best,

Jane 

Written by jane tims

June 24, 2018 at 11:26 am

tweeting about writing

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Every day, I write. Today I worked on the story for Book Six in the Meniscus SeriesMeniscus:Encounter with the Emenpod. I also did some editing of an upcoming mystery novel I refer to as HHGG. Tomorrow I will be writing poetry for a series about abandoned communities and what happens to plants in abandoned gardens.

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Working back and forth like this between projects at various stages of completion is a great strategy for me. I never get bored, I never get writers’ block and I think shifting projects keeps my writing brain refreshed.

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Besides blogging, I participate in Twitter, sending a tweet almost every day to #amwriting … if you’d like to find out what my writing life is like, follow me at @TimsJane … I report on what I am doing and share a bit of writing wisdom. I’d love it if you would follow along!

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A little about the mystery novel since I tweet most often about it. HHGG is one I wrote in 1997. I have learned a lot since then, so editing makes me laugh. HHGG is about a woman and her two kids who seek summer solace at her old family home. She never dreams she is walking into a village rife with mysteries, some of them stretching back more than a century. I have a few human antagonists, but one who is anything but human!

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Hope you are enjoying your summer and your own writing life!

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All the best,

Jane.

volunteers

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volunteers

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I forget to mow.

Volunteers

shoulder in

from every side.

Burnished trumpets of daylilies,

cerulean forget-me-nots,

pagodas of bugleweed

overtake green.

I forget to mow.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 18, 2018 at 11:42 am

Gardening in my Veg-trugs

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In late May, I planted my Veg-trugs. Veg-trugs (available from Lee Valley Tools, Halifax) are small portable garden troughs perfect for a deck garden.

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This year I have planted three vegetables:

cucumber

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zucchini

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yellow wax bean

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As you can see, all are up. The maple seeds around each plant will sprout and will take lots of time to remove.

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I’ll update on progress as the summer unfolds.

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Waiting for wild life to pass by

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Back in our Grey Woods is a tiny ‘park’. Just an area I try to keep clean of dead-falls. Years ago, my Mom loved this little area. She found ‘ghost pipe’, also called ‘Indian pipe’ (Monotropa uniflora), growing there. These are parasitic plants without chlorophyll. They are small, less than 20 cm high. The ‘pipe’ is an excellent descriptor since a plant consists of a nodding head on a slender stem.

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My Mom tried to protect these uncommon plants from trampling by putting shingles in the ground to mark the location.

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The ghost pipes no longer grow there. The shingles have rotted and disappeared. Change is inevitable and in this little park, change is likely related to nutrient conditions. My Mom is also gone but I keep the little park to remember the day she tried to save the ghost pipe.

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One addition I made to the area is a small bird feeder. I installed the feeder on an old red maple tree. The feeder is painted iron, moulded in the form of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis lived in Italy at the turn of the thirteenth century and is known for his love of animals and the natural environment. He believed nature was the mirror of God and the animals were his brothers and sisters. He even preached to the birds (Source: Wikipedia).

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ghost pipe

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in grey woods

Saint Francis

cast in iron

watches wild

life pass by

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red squirrel

ceaseless motion

white-tailed deer

pauses, listens

a chipmunk

runs the log

fallen tree

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time also

passes by

Aralia

and bracken

replace white

ghost pipe, once

grew here, all

nature a mirror

of our lives

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

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