nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘exploring New Brunswick’ Category

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

ice-falls in New Brunswick

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An ice-fall along highway #102 in New Brunswick

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One of the sad things about the end of winter is the demise of our ice-falls in New Brunswick. Along the roads, where there are streams intersected by road-cuts, we often have a build-up of ice as it drips from the top of the cut. Some of the ice-falls are spectacular and all are dazzlers in the sun. For more about ice-falls in my blog see here.

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From my reading, I know that ice-falls begin as ‘frazil ice’, a suspension of small ice crystals adhering to soil, rock or vegetation. As meltwater flows over the surface of the frozen ice-fall, new layers are built and a cross-section of the ice will show bands of ice. 

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In New Brunswick, some ice-falls are climbable, and some create caves under the curtain of ice. A famous New Brunswick ice-fall is the Midland Ice Caves near Norton. https://www.explorenb.ca/blog/icecaves

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one warm hand

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icicles seep between

layers of rock frozen

curtains separate

inner room from winter storm

glass barrier between blue

light and sheltered eyes

memory of water flows

along the face of the rock

one warm hand melts ice

consolation, condensation

on the inward glass

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(published as ‘one warm hand’, http://www.janetims.com, March 10, 2012)

Copyright Jane Tims 2018

Written by jane tims

April 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

signs of spring

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Here are few of the signs of spring we saw on our drive last weekend:

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a skunk running through the apple orchard …

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pussy willows …

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muddy roads …

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beer cans and other returnables, released from their cover of snow …

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and a New Brunswick can-and-bottle collector out for walk …

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Happy Spring!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2018

Written by jane tims

April 9, 2018 at 7:01 am

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