Archive for the ‘boundaries’ Category
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.”
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
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
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…
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
thread in flow of
story the theme to bind
the words and water into one
© Jane Tims 2011
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!
- Horizons are made more interesting by the passing seasons…
- in autumn…
…and in winter.
Of course, I can’t forget the horizon of the Bay of Fundy…
…the horizon viewed from the ocean…
…and the horizon created by islands.
Look to the hoizon, and see where land and sky, and sometimes water, meet.
horizon distant intersection land water sky
© Jane Tims 2011
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.
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
who grow on the prairie
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 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
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
is a pleasant day
a dandelioned field
a sloe-eyed cow
sumac leaning on the fence
a weary hitch-hiker beside
a carless road
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
more to do
than prop one arm
on the window sill
and lift the muslin
than the hitch-hiker’s
or knee-supported head
© Jane Tims 2010