nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘exploring New Brunswick’ Category

A granite water trough

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One of my favourite drives is Route 102 in southern New Brunswick. It follows the Saint John River and goes through the villages of Hampstead and Evandale. There are many sights along the way, but one of my favourite stops is near Hampstead, at a road-side spring. The spring flows all year long and is distinct from other springs … the water flows cold and clear into a rounded trough carved from granite from a local quarry.

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This trough was made from Spoon Island granite, hollowed out by Andrew Hamilton (1796 – 1882) … The trough is fed from a spring through a hand-bored wooden pipe. The spring is located on his 200 acre homestead.

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For more information on rock quarries in south-western New Brunswick see a thorough paper by Gwen Martin, ‘ The Granite Industry of Southwestern New Brunswick: A Historical Perspective’ http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/en/pdf/Minerals-Minerales/PG_2013-1.pdf . The paper also describes the complex subject of granite rock, describes the sources of granite for many of New Brunswick’s beautiful buildings and monuments, and includes histories of some of our famous New Brunswick geologists including Loring Bailey (Bailey Hall on the UNB campus) and Abraham Gesner (Gesner Elementary in Oromocto).

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A view of the Saint John River along a section of Route 102 …. our cabin is somewhere among the trees across the river

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 29, 2018 at 7:00 am

abandoned spaces: day-lilies

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The orange day-lily (Hemerocallis fulva) is also called roadside day-lily, outhouse day-lily, wash-house day-lily, ditch day-lily, and railroad day-lily, giving a hint of the spaces where it is found. When gardens containing the orange day-lily are abandoned, the flowers persist and spread on the site, and also escape to live in nearby ditches and fields.

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The day-lily is an herbaceous perennial with an extensive tuberous root. The flowers are borne on a long scape and each flower blooms and lasts only a day. It spreads via stolons and seeds. Although pretty, the orange day-lily is considered an invasive species. Its colonies can out-compete other native species.

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This time of year, orange day-lilies are everywhere in New Brunswick. In the abandoned community of Beaufort, Carleton County, orange day-lilies line the roadside on the way to the former community.

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the road to Beaufort … the long isolated road gives a hint as to why a community in the area was abandoned … a long way to other communities, hard winters with deep snow and few opportunities for young people

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The New Brunswick Archives says:

 … settled in 1879 following the adoption of the Free Grants Act: named for William Beaufort Mills who persuaded the government to give aid to Anglicans burned out in the Saint John Fire of 1877 and encouraged settlement in this area: PO [post office] 1881-1946: in 1898 Beaufort was a community with 1 post office and a population of 100.

Source: https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Details.aspx?culture=en-CA&community=232

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Today, there is only one, modern house in the community. But remnants of old gardens in the community still remain. we saw:

many apple trees at the roadside and in overgrown orchards …

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a young crowded stand of Balsam poplar, perhaps the hybrid Balm of Gilead …

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and a flower I have not yet identified … does anyone know what it is?

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Sad to think of the people who lived in Beaufort, planted their gardens and struggled to make their lives there.  But they left their mark, on the communities they moved to and in the plants they left behind, now beautifying the former community.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

abandoned spaces: remnant plants

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On a drive towards the centre of the province, we found the property below to exemplify what happens to the surrounding vegetation when home sites are abandoned.

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On the property, I could see the old home, the roof fallen in, the tin roof rusted on the half that was not shingled. All around were wildflowers, most noticeable, the fireweed. There were also remnants of cultivated plants:

  • lilac
  • rose bushes
  • hops
  • orange day-lilies

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Street View, Google Earth gives a glimpse of the property back in 2009.

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remnants

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Not meant to sprawl but climb, hops

crouch between grass, fireweed.

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Recline, each five-fingered leaf

with spaces between digits.

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Remnants of pink rose bushes

and an apple tree, apples

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green but plentiful. Lilac

lifts spent and skeletal blooms.

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The two-track road still leads to

back pasture, woodlot beyond.

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Orange day-lilies echo

the rusty reds of tin roof,

the house fallen to decay.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 6, 2018 at 7:00 am

abandoned spaces: fireweed

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Lately, I have been thinking a lot about abandoned rural areas and the remnants of gardens left behind. Although these properties are still owned, the homes that once stood there are gone or left to deteriorate. The gardens, once loved and cared for, are left to survive on their own.

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When these home-sites are abandoned, the garden plants:

  • disappear (most annuals),
  • persist (perennials like day-lilies or roses), or
  • escape (lupins, mallow or other easily-spreading plants).

Native plants, those liking disturbed or cleared areas, may move into these sites.

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an abandoned site in Williamsburg, New Brunswick where fireweed has colonized

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As I find abandoned properties, the pink or pale purple flowers of fireweed are often present. Fireweed, an indigenous plant not usually grown in gardens, is often a first indicator a house may once have stood on a plot of land. Often fireweed stands side by side with orange day-lilies and other garden escapes.

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on this abandoned site in the Williamsburg area, the fireweed stands side-by-side with orange day-lilies (Hemerocallis fulva), rose bushes and other cultivated plants

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Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.), also known as great willowherb, gets the ‘fire’ in its name since it is one of the first plants to colonize after fire. As a pioneer species, partial to open areas with lots of light, it also moves in to any cleared or disturbed area. After a few years, other plants will move in, out-competing the fireweed. However, the seeds of fireweed stay viable for a long time and may re-colonize the area if it is again disturbed or burned.

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Fireweed is one of many tall pinkish flowers growing in our ditches and wild areas. It is distinguished by its rather loose inflorescence, the flower’s four roundish petals and its seed pods which angle upwards.

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Fireweed spreads by the roots or by seed. In the later part of the season, the seeds are spread by the wind, aided by long silky hairs. Before dispersal the hairy seeds burst out along the seed pods making the plant look unkempt and hairy.

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Fireweed (pink) among brown-eyed Susans; the stiff, many-podded plants in the upper right-hand corner are the seedpods of fireweed, finished with their blooming

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In New Brunswick we are facing a demographic trend of movement from rural communities to cities in the southern part of the province and elsewhere. This means  many small communities that thrived a century ago are now abandoned. For example, in 1866 the community of Fredericksburg, New Brunswick was a farming community with 12 families (Source: https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Details.aspx?culture=en-CA&community=1367 ). Today only a couple of homes or camps are found in the area but foxglove flowers, that once bloomed in the gardens, thrive in the ditches. For more on the demographics of small New Brunswick communities see:

Lauren Beck and Christina Ionescu. ‘Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Small Communities in New Brunswick: An Introduction’, Journal of New Brunswick Studies Issue 6, No. 1 (2015).

https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/JNBS/article/view/23057

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foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) flowers thriving in the ditch in the Fredericksburg area

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All my best,

Jane

moose in a wetland

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On one of our many drives, we found ourselves in the community of Juniper, New Brunswick. In a small bog, in the midst of the community, was this fellow, a bull moose (known in scientific and other circles as Alces alces). He paid no attention to people or cars and went about his business, chewing at the vegetation in the wetland.

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The moose is a fairly common sight in New Brunswick. They are so common and dangerous along roadways, fences have been constructed along sections of the various major highways to separate moose and car.

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The first time I ever saw a moose was on my very first field excursion with my new position with the New Brunswick Department of Environment (back in 1978). I said to the federal biologist who was with me, “Look, a forest ranger is riding a horse through that bog!” The biologist replied, “That’s no horse, that’s a moose!” To this day, it is the ugliest animal I have ever seen, but there is something beautiful in its efficient ungainliness!

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Moose are big animals, up to two metres in height and up to 700 kg; my husband (my authority) says New Brunswick moose do not grow quite this big. Moose are solitary (not herding) members of the deer family. They inhabit boreal or mixed forest and love wetlands and open waters.  They are herbivores and eat aquatic vegetation, grasses, and twigs, branches and leaves of shrubs and trees.

If you see a moose, back up slowly. They can become aggressive if startled or annoyed. My husband saws, “No four inch stick is going to stop a moose!”

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This is the second moose we have seen this summer.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 1, 2018 at 7:00 am

wildlife weekend

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The rule is: if you forget the camera, you’ll see something to photograph. Yesterday, we broke the rule. On a quick trip to the camp we saw these two. The moose cow was all legs; looks like she was put together by a committee. The bear was a big one, too busy eating wild strawberries to be very worried about us. This makes the forth bear we have seen this year. And we heard the loon down on the lake. Great weekend.

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All the best!

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 16, 2018 at 7:00 am

Pileated Woodpecker excavations

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The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a common visitor in our yard. The size of the woodpecker and its triangular red crest are impossible to miss. The male also has a red stripe on the side of its face.

There is a big spruce tree in our grey woods where the Pileated Woodpecker loves to visit. The hole in the tree and the pile of woodchips below the hole say this woodpecker has been very busy.  The woodpeckers drill these holes to get insects.

On a drive to see the Smyth Covered Bridge near Hoyt, New Brunswick, we found a roadside tree with evidence of the Pileated Woodpecker’s industry.  The holes are almost a foot in length and deep enough to hide a hand.

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To humans, the best forests may seem to be woods with healthy trees. To provide good habitat for the Pileated Woodpecker, a forest should have lots of dead and fallen trees, to provide food and nesting sites.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2018

Written by jane tims

April 27, 2018 at 7:06 am

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