nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘competing for niche space’ Category

flutter song

with 11 comments

A well-known space can be transformed in an instant.

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Every day I walk the path from our front door. Our bird feeders are right there, beside the path. Usually the opening door sends the birds scattering. They fly into the trees around our yard and twitter and chirp until I go.

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But last week, just after a new fall of snow, I had a magical experience of being in the midst of the feeding birds. And for whatever reason, they paid no attention to me at all.

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The birds, mostly chickadees and goldfinches, whistle and tweet as they feed. But the prevailing sound as I stood among them was the fluttering and whirring of wings all around me.

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We have other visitors at the feeders, mostly a couple of cat-sized grey squirrels and a family of red squirrels, the descendants of the squirrels that moved in to take advantage of the feeders when we first moved here 37 years ago. The spaces around the feeder vary, depending on whether birds or squirrels are the dominant visitors. It was fun, just for a moment, being part of all the activity!

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 27, 2017 at 10:27 pm

stinkhorns – what’s not to love?

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This morning I was trimming the vines at our front door and resting occasionally in my yellow lawn chair. Every time I sat down, I smelled a very disgusting smell. It didn’t take me long to find the source. Something I have never seen before – an Elegant Stinkhorn fungus (Mutinus elegans).

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under the yellow chair is a pink stinkhorn fungus

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Elegant is not an apt word for this fungus in my opinion. Its fruiting body consists of long pink cylinders covered with a dark brown mucilage at the tip. They belong to the family ‘Phallaceae’ (I understand the source of this name). The cylinder emerges from a whitish ‘egg’, a puffball-like body. Flies were buzzing about, attracted to the putrid smell.

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My thought when I first saw the fungus was that Aliens had invaded. Actually, the fungus has found an ideal location to grow. Recently it has been very wet, after a long spell of dry weather. The area where I keep my lawn chairs is mulched with wood chips, providing a source of food for the Stinkhorns.  I think the space had been made more habitable by the lawn chair which has kept air movement down and humidity high.

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Sorry. I am a botanist and I understand that I am the invader on our property. But these look disgusting, smell disgusting and, if people have to come to my front door, no one will ever visit me again.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2015

 

Written by jane tims

September 17, 2015 at 12:32 pm

a strange place to grow

with 2 comments

Who knows where life will flourish? Yesterday morning, I found a crowd of tiny toadstools beneath our truck. Although I looked around, I couldn’t find them anywhere else in the yard. But under the truck the microclimate was just right for this faerie land to grow.

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Copyright 2015 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 26, 2015 at 7:15 am

ceiling of stars

with 6 comments

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gaps in the roof, Smyth Covered Bridge, April, 2015

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ceiling of stars

(Smyth Covered Bridge – South Oromocto River #2)

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left to the years

to frost heaves, wind

and winter storms

the roof-skin peels

away

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crisscross layers

gaps between boards

shape tiny squares

and sunlight spills

between

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afternoon stars

constellations

and raindrops ooze

saucepans to catch

the drips

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deafening, would

scare swallows, field

mice, snowshoe hares

and spiders, all

away

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Copyright 2015 Jane Tims 

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Smyth Covered Bridge, Mill Settlement, New Brunswick

 

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Written by jane tims

April 22, 2015 at 7:32 am

thwarting the squirrels

with 8 comments

Feeding the birds provides me with hours of enjoyment in winter.  However, bird feed is costly when marauders come to call.  I have watched with dismay as the tongue of a single deer laps up every morsel of sunflower seed.  Or laughed as the squirrel eats peanuts from inside the squirrel-resistant bird feeder.  Lately, a very fat raccoon has emptied our suet feeder night after night.

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Last weekend, we rigged something new to see if we could reserve at least one feeder just for the birds.  The idea is courtesy of my friends A. and D. who showed me how well the contraption works at their bird feeding station.

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The idea is simple.  We stretched a sturdy cord between two trees at a height of about seven feet.  On the cord, we strung six empty 2 liter pop bottles.  We tried all sorts of ways to drill holes in the plastic and found that a screwdriver heated over a candle flame melted a neat hole in the bottom center of each bottle.  Then we put a metal s-hook between the two center bottles and hung the feeder.  The squirrels will try to walk the tightrope to get to the feeder, but when they reach the pop bottles, these spin and the squirrels cannot hang on.

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After one week, the squirrels and raccoon have left this feeder alone.  They still have some food to eat at the other feeder, but at least the seed in this one is reserved for the birds!  As you can see, the snow banks are getting higher and soon the squirrels will be skipping across the surface of the snow to reach the feeder.  Higher please!

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 16, 2015 at 7:04 am

bringing nature into the town

with 4 comments

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rows of trees

rows of trees and flowers along la Place de la Mairie in Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud (image from Street View)

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Day 12 1 map

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Day 12 map

map showing distance travelled (map from Google Maps)

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On my virtual bike trip on April 3, the images made me think about how we bring nature into our cities and towns (or allow it to stay!).  Sometimes, the only bit of nature is a stray weed, growing in a crack in the pavement…

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Day 12 u

streetscape in Grande Rue, Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud – actually, there is lots of greenery in other parts of the town (image from Street View)

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Sometimes, property owners try to leave trees, only to have them toppled – perhaps a wind storm blew through Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud …

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toppled tree (image from Street View)

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Sometimes people bring the country into the town – all part of eating local …

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this is the first time I have seen chickens in a yard in a town on my virtual bike tour (image from Street View)

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Of course, I have seen a lot of vegetable gardens in France, planted in every available corner …

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vegetable garden

vegetable garden in Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud (image from Street View)

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Best View: a small yard overflowing with greenery in Saint-Hilaire-la Palud…

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'green garden'

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

tough to follow

with 6 comments

In high school, in Nova Scotia, I belonged to a history club.  We did an interesting project in about 1971, tracing the route of an old stagecoach trail through the woods between Lower Sackville and Fall River.  We were able to follow the road since it had been raised above wet ground.  We also found old culverts still intact.  One of the things we made was a relief map of the area, with the hills built up in plaster and the old road marked in red.  The project created, for me, a lifelong interest in old roads.

old trail obscured by a Bracken understory

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tough to follow

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the old road at the edge

of the hill is tough to follow

no clues, no footprints, no bent twigs

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eventually all familiar ways

grow over

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a layer of bracken

covers the track

like a cloth over biscuits

at the dinner table

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primo-canes of bramble

claw you back

your mother reminding you

to wear your sweater

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better to look up

follow  the ribbon of sky

marked by the absence of branches

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Published as ‘tough to follow’, Canadian Stories 15 (85), June 2012

Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

November 9, 2012 at 7:00 am

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