nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘competing for niche space’ Category

getting the better of … a squirrel?

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At readings of my book within easy reach, I often include the poem ‘beaked hazelnuts’ and tell my audience:

If I don’t pick my hazelnuts by August 6, the squirrels will get there ahead of me. They watch the calendar!

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hazelnuts viewed from the underside of the shrub canopy

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The Beaked Hazelnut is a wiry shrub found in mixed woods. The edible nut is contained in a bristly, beaked husk. We have three clumps of the shrubs in our yard, probably sprung from the stashes of squirrels over the years!

For my battles with the squirrels over the hazelnuts, just have a look at

https://janetims.com/2011/08/07/competing-with-the-squirrels/

and

https://janetims.com/2011/08/18/competing-with-the-squirrels-2/

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This year, I also watched the calendar. And on August 5, I picked most of the hazelnuts on our hazelnut ‘trees’. Picking is tricky because those pods are covered with sticky sharp hairs that irritate thumb and fingers.

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Never-the-less, I have a small bowl of hazelnuts to call my own (I left a few for the squirrels, more than they ever did for me). Now I will wait for them to dry and then have a little feast!

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beaked hazelnuts

(Corylus cornuta Marsh.)

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hazelnuts hang

husks curve

translucent, lime

they ripen

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this year, they are mine

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uptight red squirrels agitate, on guard, we watch

the hazelnuts ripen, slow as cobwebs falling, nut pies

browning through the glass of the oven door

green berries losing yellow, making blue

dust motes in a crook of light

float, small hooked hairs

shine

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two more days

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hesitate

and red squirrels

bury their hazelnuts

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From within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016)

https://www.amazon.ca/Within-Easy-Reach-Jane-Spavold/dp/1988299004

~

Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

August 9, 2017 at 7:45 am

robin in the rafters and in rain

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If you are a bird, this is the time of year for nest building! An American robin has built a nest in the support beams of our deck. Years ago we had fun watching a robin build a nest and raise a brood in the rafters of our cabin.

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This year’s nest builder thinks the deck is his alone. Going in and out by way of the deck gets us a scolding. The robin puffs out its chest and tries to lure the marauders away. I am afraid to go near to get a photo since I might disturb eggs or chicks, so a photo of a robin’s nest in winter will have to do!

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Sudden Storm

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dusk

half darkness

the moon rises

a sliver from full

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spaces yawn

liquid robin song

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aspen, motionless

poplar tremble

a nuthatch rustles in the leaves

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wind chime plays a scale

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cloud stretched across the moon

a hand pressed to the treetops

leaves turn to the silver underside

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warm splashes

polka-dot the patio

puny dust storms on the step

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streamers stripe the glass

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curtains of rain

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017  

Written by jane tims

June 5, 2017 at 7:00 am

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

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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

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