poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘above the ground’ Category

alternative energy

with 2 comments

On our recent trip to Ontario, we were intrigued to see how much use is made of alternative energy sources.

Especially in the windy area of Lake Huron, there were many wind turbines.  Watching the blades turn is quite mesmerizing. We saw at least one protest sign about wind energy in a farm-yard, so we know there is some resistance to wind power or the way it is managed.






Solar power is also being used throughout southern Ontario. Many farms had large solar panels and we saw one extensive installation with hundreds of solar panels. These panels are mechanized so they “follow the sun”!




I know there are economic, environmental, and social issues with use of wind and solar energy, but my thoughts are these:

wind turbines and solar panels alter the look of the landscape, but so do houses and other buildings

diversification seems to me to be a secure approach to ensuring energy for the future

if our society demands energy, there are consequences — we should be willing to use wind and sun as sources and work out any problems

careful evaluation of the environmental and social costs should be part of decision-making

I am so proud of human innovation when it comes to solving our problems!




Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

October 16, 2017 at 7:57 am

a moment of beautiful – bug-shot shadows

with 13 comments

the space: the surface of the power pole in front of our house

the beautiful: the pattern of shadow through bug-eaten leaves

The power pole in front of our house is habitat for a vine of Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Planch.). also known as Woodbine.  I brought the vine home about thirty years ago, as a slip collected from a plant in the park beside the St. John River.  Over the years, it has struggle against the winds, determined to blow it from its perch, the power company, unhappy with its use of the pole, and the lawn mower as it snips away at the horizontal tendrils.

This year, it has a new challenge to overcome.  An insect has chewed the vine full of holes… probably not a severe problem for the plant.

On Friday, I caught the shadow pattern created by the bug-eaten leaves as the sun shone at the right angle for a moment… a new way to see the consequence of belonging to the food chain!

©  Jane Tims  2012

maple blossoms

with 14 comments

This week, as Red Maple (Acer rubrum) flowers bloom, the woodland blushes scarlet.  In the driveway, a tree-shadow of blossoms has begun to form, as the flower clusters reach their peak and then drop to the ground.

Each flower is a puff of reddish-pink bracts surrounding the male and female flower parts.  The stamens (the male part of the flower) consist of a thin filament topped by a dark anther where the pollen is formed.  The pistil (the female part) is made of a style topped by a stigma; once fertilised by pollen, the maple seeds will form here.  Red maple flowers may have both stamens and pistils, or may be only male or only female.  The flower looks like a tiny fireworks, the burst-effect created by a bundle of stamens or stigmas.

When I went to Dalhousie University in Halifax, I always loved the flowering of the Norway Maples (Acer platanoides) in spring.  Their flowers are green and most people mistake them for new leaves.  I used to wonder what the ecosystem consequences might be if the flowers were bright orange or purple instead of green.



red maple blossoms


across brown sky

strontium bursts of bright

sparks bloom

against dark



©  Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

April 23, 2012 at 6:42 am

a moment of beautiful – traffic lights

with 8 comments

the space:  above the roadway, at an intersection, in the fog

the beautiful:  green, yellow and red traffic lights, seeming to hover, like jewels in the fog


Traffic lights!!! Beautiful???  Perhaps you will never agree.  But I think those lights, when seen on a foggy day, suspended as if from the sky itself, are as beautiful as jewels.  Emerald, topaz and ruby.



Copyright Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

March 14, 2012 at 6:50 am

witch’s broom

with 8 comments

In the Balsalm Fir tree over our shed is a strange growth, like a dark mass of short deformed branches.  This dark mass of branches is known as a ‘witch’s broom’.

A witch’s broom is a common term for an abnormal growth caused by the action of an agent such as a mite, virus, insect, or fungus.  The agent causes a branch of the tree to grow from a single point, resulting in a mass of twigs and branches resembling a nest or broom.  Many kinds of plants can have a witch’s broom deformity, including many tree species.

Animals, including the Northern Flying Squirrel, use the witch’s broom as a nesting place.  The Northern Flying Squirrel is the big-eyed squirrel invading our feeders every night  (see ‘spacemen in our feeder’ under the category ‘competing for niche space’ for December 23, 2011).

Witch’s brooms occur frequently … we have at least three in our grey woods.  They lend an air of mystery to the woodland.  People used to believe a witch had flown over the place where a witch’s broom grew.

If anyone knows of another name for the witch’s broom, please let me know.  Years ago, we visited a small farm museum in northern Maine and an example of a huge witch’s broom was displayed in the shed, labelled ‘horrah’s nest’, but I have been unable to find this term used elsewhere.



wood witch


burdened by snow

a tree falls

tumbles a witch’s broom

the witch set free


a hex on the snowfall

slate where the dog walks

cuts her feet

soft rubies in every track


a hex on the room

cold as I left

now warm


too warm



© Jane Tims  2001


Written by jane tims

January 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

in the branches of the White Pine

with 6 comments

Since finding the bird nests at our lake property last weekend, I have been thinking about the birds we see there in summer.  Our cabin looks out on a very bushy, young White Pine where birds love to nest and hide.   
the White Pine is the larger tree to the left of the road

The most frequent denizens of the pine are a pair of Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus).   They prefer berries for food and so are in their ideal habitat.  Our property must look like a big dinner plate to them, with its orderly presentation of wild strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, hawthorn and winterberry.

Another bird who stops to rest in the pine is the American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), also known as the Thistle bird.  These are seed-eating birds who fly across the fields in a distinctive pattern of loops.  They are also one of the most common birds at our winter bird feeder. 



building homes


we fly kites

to learn the field and sky

set copper whirligigs to spin


          yellow flirt crosses blue


          potato-chip potato-chip potato-chip


we build our cabin

with 2 by 4s, boards and trusses

woodscrews and spiral nails


          firm framework 

          woven grass and birch 

          bark rim and spider silk


you fill walls with fiberglass

I quilt curtains for windows


          goldfinch waits while his female tucks

          her nest with thistledown

          tufts of cattail, puffs of dandelion


© Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

December 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm

crows in trees

with 8 comments

Of all the birds, I like the American crow (Corvus brachyrynchos) the best. 

For one thing, they seem to me to be full of personality.  I also know that crows are intelligent – research shows they can distinguish humans from one another by facial features.  Crows also stay in family groups (parents and fledged offspring) for a few seasons.  I feel sorry for crows; they seem to have a bad reputation and are treated poorly as a result.

If you want to learn more about crows and their habits, have a look at Michael Westerfield’s new book “The Language of Crows: The Book of the American Crow,” available at .

A group of crows is known as a ‘murder’ of crows.  The term ‘murder’ refers to the ‘observation’ that a group of crows will kill a dying cow.  Some people are advocating for an alternative, since the term ‘murder’ perpetuates the notion of crows being malicious.  Alternative names for a group of crows are presented in  Michael Westerfield’s Crow Log: The Project.  I think this is an opportunity for a Poll!   



Morning Song


in the morning

dew soaks the grass

and Canada

belongs to the crows


the croaking of ravens

the cawing of crows

familiar, unheard

backdrop to Canadian dawn


            (theme music

            in Canadian film)


in a conversational rattle

discussing gold and letters


a two syllable scream

haunting the fields


solitary sorrow

throned at the top

of a tamarack


            black wings bruise the air

            he calls an alarm

            screams to his mate

                          the love of his life

            with only the fall of the dew

                                         for an answer


silent is the shroud of black feathers

strung by the feet from a pole

beside a garden

where she braved the flapping man

and dared to pull new corn


in the morning

Canada belongs to the crows


Published as: ‘Morning Song’, Spring 1995, The Cormorant XI (2)

© Jane Tims 1995

Written by jane tims

November 26, 2011 at 7:23 am

%d bloggers like this: