nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘in the grey woods’ Category

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

songs in the grey woods – northern parula

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A friend, a knowledgeable wetland biologist, has been helping me learn some new bird songs. Last week, I identified the song of the Northern Parula. This is a bird I have never seen, though I scan those tree tops with the binoculars until my arms ache. I have heard its song so many times and always wondered what it was. The song is a long whirrrrr, flowed by a short, upward flipWhirrrr -flip. Whirrrr- flip. This morning it was the first song of the morning bird chorus!

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May 20, 2016 'Northern Parula' Jane Tims

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It drives me crazy to hear him sing, be able to find the tree he is perched in, but not see him. My painting is how I think he must look, based on descriptions on the net.

The Parula is a blue-grey bird with a yellow throat, and a yellow and white breast. He has a white crescent above and below his eye and two white wing bars. A bright and beautiful bird! He has an association with a lichen I love, Usnea subfloridana, Old Man’s Beard. He uses the lichen to build his hanging nest.

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Usnea subfloridana on the snow

Usnea subfloridana on the snow – usually found hanging in our maple, spruce and fir trees

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

May 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

songs in the grey woods – ovenbird

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He can be a bit monotonous. A bit of a scold. He reminds me of a rusty hinge. He says teacher-teacher-teacher, repeating his song through the woodland. He is the Ovenbird.

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His scientific name is Seiurus aurocapilla. Seiurus (which I remember as ‘serious’) is from the Greek meaning ‘tail shake’, a reference to the characteristic upward flip of his tail. The name aurocapilla means golden-haired referring to his crest of orangy feathers. The Ovenbird is olive-brown, with a streaked white breast. He has a white ring around his eye, a white throat and a dark line below his cheek. He looks a bit like a thrush, but is a large warbler.

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His serious nature and his call of ‘teacher, teacher, teacher’ make me think I’ll include a poem about his ways in my project about one room school houses in New Brunswick. This is how my poems usually begin, with a whisper from nature.

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May 20, 2016 'Ovenbird sings teacher, teacher, teacher' Jane Tims

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Copyright 2016  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

May 23, 2016 at 7:00 am

songs in the grey woods – black-throated green

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Our grey woods are noisy this week. White-throated sparrows, nuthatches, ovenbirds and chickadees. Loudest of all is a black-throated green warbler. He says, in his raspy voice, at intervals of about ten seconds: zee-zee-zee-zee- whee-zee, also a more musical dee-dee, dee-dee, doo-dee (the doo a note lower than the dee). He perches near the tops of the tamarack and red maple trees.

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May 14, 2016 'black-throated green warbler in tamarack' Jane Tims

 

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I sat on our deck a long while, and finally caught him as he paused in a red maple. He had a bright yellow head and looked back at me over his white wing stripe before he flew away. I also get an occasional glimpse of him as he flies from tree to tree. His best features are his yellow head, the two white stripes on each wing, and his black throat.

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May 19, 2016 'black-throated green in leafing maple' Jane Tims

 

 

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a view of the tamarack trees and spruce where the black-throated green warbler is singing – the red maple is just starting to leaf-out

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

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