nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘in the grey woods’ Category

pink lady’s slipper

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This time of year, my husband does an inventory of the Pink Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) on our property.

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This year, he found 10. He only saw three last year but there have been as many as 15 in bloom at one time. We never pick them and try to keep our property natural and wooded.

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The Pink Lady’s Slipper prefers acidic soil and partly shady conditions, making our grey woods an ideal habitat. Our flowers are often a pale pink or white variety.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

Written by jane tims

June 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

woodpeckers in the grey woods

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If you are new to my site, you might not know that we call the woods behind our house ‘the grey woods’. The woods are mainly balsam fir and black spruce, with grey birch and red maple. Here is a map of our property (about 19 acres).

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Woodpeckers are a common bird in the grey woods. We have Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), Hairy Woodpeckers (Leuconotopicus villosus), and Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens). The woodpeckers love the older trees in the woods. They also peck at our wood-shingled house!

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Here is a Hairy Woodpecker hard at work in a balsam fir. He is hard to tell from the Downy Woodpecker (especially when you can’t see his beak) but the Hairy woodpecker is larger (about the size of a Robin) and sometimes his red cap is divided into two parts (seen clearly in this photo).

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 29, 2017 at 7:32 am

morning birdcalls – Northern Parula

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After a hot day, a cool night. This morning, our windows are wide open and a Northern Parula is busy in our grey woods.

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His distinctive call – ‘whirrrr-zip’ – has an upward lilt at the end. I can catch only a glimpse of him, certainly not long enough for a photograph.

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The Northern Parula is a small warbler with a bright orangy-yellow upper breast. He builds his nests of Old Man’s Beard lichen (Usnea spp.) – there is lots of this lichen hanging from the trees in our grey woods, so of course he is here!  This is a watercolour I did of him last year.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

flutter song

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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

yard work – winter wood

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Another beautiful fall day. Today I helped my husband cut up the last of two birch trees he had felled earlier in September. Then I piled the wood in our new wood rack. Give it a chance to dry and it will be ready for splitting and burning next winter.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

October 7, 2016 at 7:00 am

yard work – sundial

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Although I have no trouble spending endless hours at the computer writing, writing, writing, even editing, editing, editing, more physical types of work have always been hard for me to enthuse over!

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And although I am a botanist, and interested in the environment, spending time out-of-doors has become harder with the years. I hate mosquitoes and black flies. Heat and humidity are no friend of mine. And, of course, there are the arthritic knees.  I do go out, on endless drives to find bridges, schools and various plants. We spend lots of time at our cabin, watching birds. And I sit on our deck each day to listen for bird songs and enjoy the evening breeze. But notice that most of this is sitting.

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Last month I put myself on a reward system (like a child earning stickers) and have spent a little active time outside each day. Usually only about an hour. I have helped my husband cut wood, piled said wood, helped him cut down our dead apple tree, broken the dead branches of said apple tree into sticks for a future fire, picked up all the fallen tree branches in our back driveway, cut the bracken fern from my back garden in two sessions, and so on. I’m sure no one else would even notice the resulting yard improvements, but I do! And going outside each day is now a habit.

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Today I tackled a long-planned project – the rebuilding of our sundial. I built the original sundial base with chunks of stone, but frost heaves and snowbanks have done their work and the old sundial base is now a pile of rubble.  I had saved the brick from the dismantling of our inside hearth this spring and had lots of material to work with. On Wednesday morning, I rolled a cement paving stone into place and used the brick to rebuild a base. Now the sundial is no longer a tumbled mess of rock.

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No work of engineering but much neater than before. And if the clocks ever stop working, my sundial will still record the passing of time!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

September 9, 2016 at 7:00 am

songs in the grey woods – ovenbird, over and over

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This week we had a meeting of our writing group Fictional Friends. We are trying something new – dedicating our whole meeting to one person’s writing. The writer ‘in the spotlight’ talks about writing goals and the problems they encounter.  Then they describe their current project, giving a synopsis. They read and the group provides constructive comments. We found this first session helpful for everyone present and we plan another session, with a focus on another writer’s work. I think each member of the group learned something applicable to his or her own writing.

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This session was held at my house. I left the back screen open, to let in some air. More than air comes in – at a meeting last month, the sound of our next door neighbour’s rooster crowing provided a backdrop to some reading about rural themes. At this week’s meeting, an Ovenbird decided to start singing in the woods behind our house. ‘Teacher, teacher, teacher’ he said, over and over. Perhaps he was making a commentary on our particular way of learning.

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The Ovenbird is a large warbler, olive-brown. He reminds me of a thrust because of his streaked white breast. He has an orange crest, a white ring around each eye, a white throat and a dark line below his cheek. My drawing is from a photo by Ann Gardner, used with permission. http://www.anngardnerphotography.com/

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Do you belong to a writing group? What methods does your group use to help one another?

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Copyright 2016  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

June 10, 2016 at 7:07 am

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