nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘natural history’ Category

Birdbath

leave a comment »

Our copper birdbath includes a silver-coloured metal bird, in case no real birds come to call. In the shade of the maple tree the water shimmers. But the little silver bird never flutters, not even a feather.

~

~

birdbath

~

embedded in dapple

edge of copper

silver bird never moves

never flutters a feather

never pecks a sparkle

from crystal water

~

bird with heartbeat

and dusty wing-feathers

lands for a bath

sputters and splashes

chooses to ignore

immobile effigy

~

~

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 9, 2018 at 9:25 pm

Butterfly Etude

with 4 comments

I have not played the piano for years. Not a great tragedy as I was never very good and playing made me nervous, afraid to fail. But there are some bits of music I will know forever because I learned to play them. One is Chopin’s Butterfly Etude (Etude Opus 25, no. 9). A difficult piece, full of octave stretches and staccatos. And it perfectly captures the erratic whim-of-the-wind flight of most butterflies.

~

butterfly

~

Etude Opus 25, No. 9

Chopin’s Butterfly Etude

~

cloud to clover

graceless flight path

earth to sky

~

wrist staccato

octave stretches

disarticulated flight

~

flirt and quiver

tip and stumble

clouded sulphur

butterfly

~

~

all my best,

Jane 

Written by jane tims

June 4, 2018 at 3:42 pm

rafting event – what to carry when you leave home

leave a comment »

 

A few years ago, I was thinking of writing a series of poems about plant pollination and dispersal. It seemed a great idea. Poems about bumble bees and butterflies, ultra-violet landing strips and hummingbirds. Poems about burr baskets, rafting events, maple samara and dandelion parachutists. I wrote the poem below and found it so depressing, I abandoned the project. Now, as I sort through my library and wonder which books to keep, the poem seems appropriate.

~

rafting event – a type of biological dispersal that occurs when terrestrial organisms transfer from one land mass to another by way of a water crossing. Often this occurs via large rafts of floating vegetation, sometimes seen floating down major rivers in the tropics and washing out to sea, occasionally with animals trapped on them.  (Source Wikipedia)

~

~

rafting event

~

Let the door handle slip

from your hand, leave

the home you’ve tried to know.

~

Behind a deadpan face, dry tears

and palpitations, carry knowledge

away on a frail raft.

~

Peterson Field Guides and Salinger,

a poem by Shelley,

three Shakespearean sonnets.

~

They cling to the raft, these bits

of memory, rely on slippery

fronds of rough-glued vegetation.

~

Recalled when someone asks

the writers you prefer or claim to have read.

You say, ‘the collected works of Heaney’.

~

And is there an island where

new roots can catch and old seeds germinate?

The choice – survival or well-read.

~

Hear the hinges do their work –

the dead bolt slips into the lock,

last home you will ever know.

~

~

~

Copyright 2018

Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 1, 2018 at 4:46 pm

bees in our goldenrod

leave a comment »

At our cabin, we often watch birds from the front window. This time of year, the goldenrods grow along the front of the cabin and we are able to watch the honey bees working to gather nectar for the hive.  I imagine the bees have come to us from a group of commercial hives not far from our camp. I remember when my dad kept bees and I always admired his ability to remain calm as he tended the hives.

~

~

how to collect honey

~

Honeysuckle and amber

coil from the spoon

tangle light

For this

~

you charm a bee

to crawl, hexagonal

on human skin

unalarmed

~

Adrenalin fear

hidden by the scent

of cherry blossom

and pear

~

~

Published in my book of poetry ‘within easy reach’, Chapel Street Editions, 2016.

~

Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 4, 2017 at 7:08 am

spaces underground – a wasp nest

with 2 comments

Not far from where I sit-for-a-bit on my walk in our woods, I found a nest of wasps. Built underground, beneath the roots of a spruce tree, this nest has been revealed by some digging marauder (a skunk or raccoon) trying to get at the wasp larvae.  The nest is interesting to watch, but caution is necessary.

~

~

~

When I found the nest, I took a little time to learn the difference between wasps and hornets. Hornets build their nests above ground and are larger, with black and white striped bodies. Wasps sometimes build nests underground and are small (1-2.5 cm), with black and yellow striped bodies. The insects in the underground nest are definitely wasps.

~

Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

August 28, 2017 at 7:06 am

early schooling in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – including nature study

with 4 comments

Of all the classes given in 1888 in New Brunswick, I would have liked ‘Useful Knowledge’ the best. This is where I might have learned about birds and plants and butterflies.

~

Bringing ‘Useful Knowledge’ into the classroom may have been a greater challenge than it appears. The focus was on  the three R’s (reading,’riting, and ‘rithmetic) and scarce resources meant less time for ‘frivolous’ subjects. In the neighboring province of Nova Scotia, educators faced a challenge when they tried to bring studies about the out-of-doors into the classroom. The situation in New Brunswick would have been similar.

~

In her book Loran Arthur DeWolfe and The Reform of Education in Nova Scotia 1891-1959 (Truro, Nova Scotia: Atlantic Early Learning Productions, 1989), my aunt, Dr. Jane Margaret Norman described the situation in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Nova Scotia.  Dr. DeWolfe, Director of Rural Science Schools in Nova Scotia from 1913 to 1924, focused on including studies of nature and in particular agriculture in the schools. These were times of rural out-migration – interest in staying and working on the family farm paled in comparison to the adventures promised by leaving for the west. Dr. DeWolfe was convinced that the only way to keep people in rural areas was to interest them, from the start of their education, in the world of nature.

~

Aunt Jane's book

~

His solution was to include in the curriculum ‘field days’, ‘spring gardens’, folk dancing, lessons in canning food, ‘Planting Days’, and school fairs. My dad, who would have attended elementary school in the late 1920s, remembered Dr. DeWolfe visiting his school in rural Digby County. He told my aunt that Dr. DeWolfe “… always had something to say about nature.”

~

Dad as a boy holding horse

My dad as a boy (holding the horse Goldie). Dad grew up in a rural area and attended a one room school. He remembered Dr. DeWolfe’s visits to that school and his emphasis on paying attention to the out-of-doors. Dad became a teacher and, as my teacher in Grade Six, taught me about the solar system and the cause of our seasons. He also taught me how to make a whistle from a willow twig.

 

~

In New Brunswick, by 1888, ‘Useful Knowledge’ would have introduced many students in New Brunswick to nature studies. In rural schools (Ungraded Schools in Country Districts), the classes in Standard I (Grade 1) included ‘oral lessons on animals’ and, in Standard II (Grade 2) ‘natural specimens where possible’. Standard III (Grade 3) included ‘lessons on agricultural products of the district’, and Standard IV (Grade 4) studied ‘agricultural topics’ from Tanner’s First Principles of Agriculture. In addition to Tanner’s First Principles of Agriculture, Standards V and VI (Grades 5 and 6) used Bailey’s Natural History Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954) was a horticulturist, naturalist and advocate of nature study.

~

” … Stuffed birds do not sing and empty eggs do not hatch. Then let us go to the fields and watch the birds. Sit down on the soft grass and try to make out what the robin is doing on yonder fence or why the wren is bursting with song in the thicket. An opera-glass or spy-glass will bring them close to you. Try to find out not only what the colors and shapes and sizes are, but what their habits are … ” from the Birds and I , Liberty Hyde Bailey. http://libertyhydebaileyblog.blogspot.ca/

~

IMG342_crop

~

Copyright 2016  Jane Tims

 

%d bloggers like this: