poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘boundaries’ Category


with 5 comments

Rabbits have always been a part of my life. When I was young, in Alberta, rabbits (the white-tailed jackrabbit) overran the prairie and almost every evening, you could look out on the lawn and see them grazing. In New Brunswick, we often see rabbits (the snowshoe hare) along the roadside.


When I was in Grade One, I was asked to submit my scribbler for a contest. The teacher, Mrs. MacDonald, said two things about my scribbler. First, I should look at my spelling of ‘rabbit.’ It occurred many times in the scribbler and everywhere I had spelled it ‘raddit.’ Second, she said to use an eraser to make the corrections. “Do not wet your finger and try to take out the two ds. It will leave a hole in your paper.”


I had no eraser. And I wanted to win the scribbler contest. The teacher had mentioned the use of a wet finger as an eraser. Perhaps it would work. So I wet my finger and rubbed at the ds. You guessed it, I ended up with a hole in the scribbler page. I did not win the contest.


snowshe hare paperback




grass, bent after rain

underside in dark, topside

rinsed in moonlight where

eight brown rabbits lope

from perimeter of prairie

eager for a nibble of green,

nip of delirium, dancing

in moonlight, whiskers

liberated to brush

cheeks in mobile

shadow, to make

transparent, long

ears, vein-lined

twitch, stand

erect, ear

hairs scan

for two-

or four-





All my best,

staying home,



Written by jane tims

April 10, 2020 at 7:00 pm

 a stone wall

with 6 comments

a stone wall

On one of our countryside drives, I watch for this stone wall. Built with care, it serves so many purposes. It provides boundaries for a property and a home. It keeps people out. Perhaps it keeps children safe, away from the highway. It adds beauty to the property, curb appeal. It reminds us of our history.


Most of all, I like stone fences for their value as metaphor. In life, fences can represent so many experiences, circumstances and challenges – imprisonment, protection, change.


Fences are barriers, keeping one space separate from another. They are also boundaries, transitional, liminal. Just climb over. The fence is a way to transition from outside to inside, from vulnerability to safety. Perhaps a little way along, there will be a gate. Perhaps the fence – a stone fence in particular – is permeable. There are spaces between those solid, expertly-positioned stones. Spaces for insects, water, wind or sound to cross over.


Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 7, 2016 at 7:00 am

the stone between farms

with 2 comments

How do you show the boundary line between you and your neighbor? 

At Ågersta Village in Uppland, Sweden, is a rune stone positioned to mark a boundary between two properties.  The stone is carved with two serpent creatures entwined, their heads in profile.  Each has two sets of legs, the forelegs strong, and the rear legs weak and helpless. 

The stone was carved by Balle, a frequent carver of rune stones in Sweden, and raised by Vidhugse, in memory of his father.  The boundry, established in the twelfth century, showed the boudary until 1856 when the property lines were finally changed!

The inscription reads, in part: Hiær mun standa stæinn miđli byia – “Here shall stand the stone between farms.”

from my imagination and not the rune stone at Ågersta Village



stone between farms

            (rune stone in Ågersta Village, Uppland)

                                                                      Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone…

                                                                                                                      – Deuteronomy 19:14


ninth morning already

irate I rise

gather my tools

trudge to the hillside


stone waits for me, Balle

(master carver of runes)

shadows pulled into dragon

compete with guidelines

‘what is not’ more complete than ‘what is’


another fair day

Vidhugse to the west and south

Austmadr to the east 

surely their bickering over boundaries

will cease


by noon the sun

embroils the rock

streaks my brow with sweat

floods the serpent creature’s clever eye

lip lappets drip


mosquitoes dither about

the creature’s profile acquires

the look of an insect head

reckless slip of the rune tool

could end its smirk


hill of rock dust

settles on my shoe

birches stir the air

odor of leaf layer

memory smell of Birka


© Jane Tims 2005

Written by jane tims

October 8, 2011 at 6:49 am

course of the creek

with 7 comments

Our small cabin is near a lake, an offshoot of the Saint John River.  We have what some would consider poor access to the lake, since there is a marsh between us and the lake shore edge.  But that marsh is a very special place, ever changing and always interesting.

One way it changes, almost daily and certainly seasonally, is with respect to water level.  You could say we are downstream of the entire Saint John River, meaning we are receiver of every fluctuation of the water level in the system.  The situation is made complex by the influence of a major hydroelectric dam at Mactaquac.

In spring, the river floods, and the marsh is covered by water…

In normal years, the water levels become quite low, and our marsh is high and dry.  We can walk on it, to reach the outer shore of the lake…

the green in the foreground is the marsh

In wet years, like this has been, the water stays high and there is a pond between us and the main lake…

On Saturday, I went rowing on the pond in my small red rowboat.   I rowed out to the edge of the lake and then followed the deeper waters of the small winding creek back into the marsh as far as I could go without grounding the boat.  Last year I could see pumpkinseed sunfish in the creek water, but not this time.

Most of the grasses in the marsh are Spartina pectinata Link., broad-leaf cord-grass, ordinarily associated with salt marshes.  Actually, salt water is characteristic of the lower parts of the Saint John River – the salt water wedge extends as high as Washademoak Lake, and the tidal influence is measurable to above Fredericton!

At the outer shore of the pond, where the creek enters the lake, I was surprised and delighted to find a few stems of wild rice (Zizania aquatica L.).  This is not native to New Brunswick, but is often planted along shores to attract waterfowl and is now found all along the Saint John River and in many lakes.  The grass is distinctive because the pistillate (female) flowers are in a group near the top of the plant while the staminate (male) flowers are on horizontal banches below.

I am an awkward rower.  Usually, to improve my control and reduce my speed, I row the boat backward, stern first!  In spite of my lack of speed, it is an adventure to be on the water, to become a bit of an explorer.  My need to know the ways of the pond reminds me of my attempts to understand the path my life has taken.

characteristics of creek


clumsy row in the marsh pond

to seek the course of the creek

the strand of water’s flow

to nourish pond define

its shape conduit

to the lake


a slender S through grass emergent

pondweed and cord-grass vague

deviation from clarity hyaline the interface

of freshwater and salt and pumpkinseed

turn their flat bodies to intercept

the flow find the break in the mat of sedge

narrow simplicity of weed-free bottom



and find

the inevitable

thread in flow of

story the theme to bind

the words and water into one


© Jane Tims 2011

more horizons

with 5 comments

horizon:  line at which earth and sky appear to meet   (Oxford dictionary)

After thinking more about horizons, I looked through our photos for some horizons we have captured in New Brunswick.  Once you start to look for them, they are everywhere!  

overlooking the hilly area of Sussex... Poley Mountain (a local ski hill) is in the background

Blueberry fields provide a way to get perspective on our mostly forested landscape… 

a blueberry field and the distant hills of Queens County

Horizons are made more interesting by the passing seasons…
in autumn…

maple trees in autumn costume along the Trans-Canada Highway in Victoria County

…and in winter.

bare trees in the Grand Lake Meadows area in winter... a hawk in the tree and a treed horizon if you look carefully

Of course, I can’t forget the horizon of the Bay of Fundy…

Bay of Fundy at Saint Martins

…the horizon viewed from the ocean…

Charlotte County viewed from the waters of the Bay of Fundy

…and the horizon created by islands.

'The Wolves', special islands in the Bay of Fundy

Look to the hoizon, and see where land and sky, and sometimes water, meet.


horizontal haiku


horizon  distant  intersection  land  water sky


© Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

September 11, 2011 at 9:04 am


with 6 comments

Landscape is a fundamental driver in our lives.  The spaces around us shape our experiences, our thoughts and our perspectives. 

I was born and raised on the Alberta prairie.  Although I love the woods and hills where I now live, I think my eyes are never satisfied when they seek the horizon.

When we drove across Canada in 2002, my husband, who was born in New Brunswick, was appreciative of the prairie landscape, but when we finally turned toward home, he was glad, so glad, to see the trees. 

In southern Alberta, on the Trans-Canada Highway, we tried to measure the distance to the horizon.  We took note of the oncoming lights and timed how long it took them to reach us on the road.  One car, we estimated, was 17 kilometers away when we first saw it on the prairie horizon!  On the Trans-Canada in New Brunswick, we rarely see cars more than 2 or 3 kilometers distant.       

the prairie horizon of southern Alberta (2002)

What was the landscape of your childhood?  Do you live in a different landscape now?  How are these landscapes different and how are you different in each?


a longing for prairie



what subtle psychoses

plague women

who grow on the prairie   

and leave

to die in the forest  


memories a few words long

the chinook   coulees at sunset   the odd red of prairie mallow   grasshoppers without aim  

spears of foxgrass   gophers beside their burrows   willows by the slough 

the rattle of the Texan Gate    the tarnished dry of August

I want to run on the prairie


I narrow my eyes at the ditches 

imagine the weeds tumbling

to cover the forest with shortgrass

and sedges

the clearcut

and the barrens of blueberry 

have the lie

but not the essence of prairie


piled by the roadside

nine bales of hay 

burst from the baler twine 

left to the rain 

piled three high into landscape  

mountains, foothills, flatland

this last has sprouted me prairie


trees form a tunnel 

shut out the spaces around me   

some days I can’t summon the words 

the hay and the corn fields are all I have 

and the hayfield shows the tines of the tiller

deep into summer


Published as: ‘a longing for prairie’, Whetstone Spring 1997


© Jane Tims

a glimpse of prairie landscape in New Brunswick ... just a glimpse

Written by jane tims

September 7, 2011 at 6:33 am

defining our spaces

with 3 comments

Fences have always been my favourite type of human architecture.  I like them because they are a place to sit and observe the landscape. 

The reasons for building fences are varied.  They mark the boundaries between properties, keep domestic and other animals in or out, create a visual edge to property, prevent uncontrolled movement of vehicles, provide privacy, and so on.  Did I mention they are also fine places to sit?

Types of fences are as varied as the reasons for building them. 

On our vacation to Maine, we encountered some unfamiliar types, although I have seen examples of these in New Brunswick.  The fences I liked the best were made of stone, sometimes so much a part of the local landscape they could have been  natural, not human-made…

poles and sturdy metal cable…

wood with mortise and tenon…

In New Brunswick, a familiar traditional fence is made with cedar, the rails fitted together in a zigzag…

Stone fences, put together with mortar, are common around churchyards…

Farm fences are usually of the post and wire type…

My favourite fence is the type my husband builds, a modern version of the traditional cedar rail fence, held together by gravity and no nails…




on the breathing side

of the window

beyond the curtain

limply lifted

is a pleasant day

a dandelioned field

a sloe-eyed  cow

sumac leaning on the fence

a weary hitch-hiker beside

a carless road


reminds me

of a basket of patches

a quilt to assemble

hems to stitch

perennials to weed

letters to crumple

and stars to count

in a cinnamon 

and saccharine




more to do

than prop one arm

on the window sill

and lift the muslin

barely higher

than the hitch-hiker’s

wilted shoulders

unslung pack

or knee-supported head


© Jane Tims 2010


Written by jane tims

September 6, 2011 at 6:59 am

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