nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘natural history’ Category

identifying an unknown plant

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This is NOT a how to identify a plant post. If anything, it is a how not to identify a plant post.

It started with a plant I saw on one of our ‘field trips.’ In my own defense, I had never seen this plant before.

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I thought it looked like a sumac, a plant very common in our province. It had pinnately compound leaves and a terminal inflorescence. The flower didn’t look right; it was too diffuse, too brown and ragged. The leaves had a very wrinkled look, unlike the leaves of sumac. But I took lots of photos, enough to show me stem hairiness, a characteristic I know is important to the identification of sumac.

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tight, red flower cluster of staghorn sumac

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Back at the house with my photos, the computer and my plant identification books, I proceeded with my detective work. Humph. Didn’t seem quite right. I even asked a biologist friend and consulted an excellent How to know the sumac species video. I now know the three local sumac species: Rhus typhina (hairy twigs), Rhus glabra (smooth twigs) and Rhus copallina (winged twigs).

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None were quite right. Rhus typhina or staghorn sumac was closest, but the flowers were not right at all. Since plants of staghorn sumac are either male or female and no one shows photos of the male flowers, I decided it must be a male staghorn sumac.

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staghorn sumac near our cabin

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Fast forward a week and I went to see the beautiful flower garden of my biologist friend. Saw something that looked like my mystery plant and proudly said, “Your sumac is a male.” Bzzzz! Not a sumac but an Astilbe. Ahah! My mom had Astilbe in her garden. That must be it. I sang all the way home. Back to the computer. Hmmmmm. None of the leaves were quite right.

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I gave up, but feeling closer than ever, I went to a group I belong to on Facebook. ‘Plant Identification‘ is a no-nonsense, no chit-chat group. I posted my photos and my whereabouts and, within a couple of comments, I had the answer. Sorbaria sorbifolia. False astilbe. False spirea. False goat’s beard. I looked at some reference photos. The leaves are right! The flowers are right (past flowering and brown). The description is right! Yayyyyy!

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Sorbaria sorbifolia. Source: Hydro-Quebec

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Now, after a little more research, I can write my poem!

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Now for all the comments that say you recognized the mystery plant right away!

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This work was made possible by a Creations Grant from artsnb!

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All my best!

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

dates, days and seasons

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After the first draft is complete, after I’ve done a little work on continuity, I take another step in ordering the manuscript. I assign dates to each chapter and scene of the book. In the kind of mystery story I write, it is useful to the reader to know the date as the story progresses.

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This is important for several reasons:

  1. I have children in my Kaye Eliot mysteries and I want to be certain that student Katie is actually home (and not in school) for her scenes
  1. my characters often interact with government professionals. They don’t usually work on weekends.
  1. my book is set in Nova Scotia where the seasons change; knowing the date gives me information on the likely weather
  2. my protagonist, Kaye Eliot, is a botanist, so from her point of view, the vegetation is an important part of her descriptions of setting. To help with this, I keep a setting journal, so I know that apple blossoms are out around May 30, lilacs are in bloom in mid-June and lupins line the roads from mid-June to early July.
  3. I often put the phases of the moon in night scenes. Knowing the date lets me assign the correct phase of the moon to my settings. Have you ever read a book where the full moon shines all month long?
  4. Knowing the date lets me weave long weekends and holidays into my story.

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My book is set in 1996. A quick Google search will find me a calendar for that year. Believe it or not, most phone books once included a calendar for every possible year. No longer necessary.

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As I said before, my Table of Chapters is a useful tool for keeping track of dates, days and seasons. I can refer to it to get an instant idea of how much time has passed and where I have “time” to insert a new scene or chapter.

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All my best.

Staying home.

Working hard.

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Jane

Written by jane tims

June 17, 2020 at 7:00 am

spring flowers

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Our dominant ground greenery at this time of year is from the leaves of lily-of-the-valley (Convalleria majalis). Like emerald flames they light up the yard. And now they are in bloom. The fragrance is amazing!

All my best

and please stay safe at home.

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 3, 2020 at 9:59 am

Stay Home

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Don’t know how many times

I can say it.

Stay home!”

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“Stay home?

What are you talking about?

I am rooted to the ground.

All I can do is

Stay Home.”

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“You can’t fool me.

I know you’ve been sneaking around.

Letting your roots grow

into all kinds of places.

Communicating with other trees.”

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“What are you talking about?

My tap root grows deep.

All I can do is

Stay Home.”

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“You can’t fool me.

I know you’ve been sneaking around.

Letting your leaves drop,

blow all over the woods.

Mixing with those of other trees.”

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“What are you talking about?

Can’t help it if my leaves are dry.

All I can do is

Stay Home.”

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“You can’t fool me.

I know you’ve been

conspiring with squirrels.

Spreading your acorns

all over the woods.

Mingling with other trees.”

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“What are you talking about?

I can’t be responsible

for what my children do.

All I can do is

Stay Home.”

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“All I can do

is repeat myself.

Stay Home.”

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All my best,

Jane

Staying Home!

Written by jane tims

April 13, 2020 at 7:00 am

raddit

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Rabbits have always been a part of my life. When I was young, in Alberta, rabbits (the white-tailed jackrabbit) overran the prairie and almost every evening, you could look out on the lawn and see them grazing. In New Brunswick, we often see rabbits (the snowshoe hare) along the roadside.

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When I was in Grade One, I was asked to submit my scribbler for a contest. The teacher, Mrs. MacDonald, said two things about my scribbler. First, I should look at my spelling of ‘rabbit.’ It occurred many times in the scribbler and everywhere I had spelled it ‘raddit.’ Second, she said to use an eraser to make the corrections. “Do not wet your finger and try to take out the two ds. It will leave a hole in your paper.”

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I had no eraser. And I wanted to win the scribbler contest. The teacher had mentioned the use of a wet finger as an eraser. Perhaps it would work. So I wet my finger and rubbed at the ds. You guessed it, I ended up with a hole in the scribbler page. I did not win the contest.

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snowshe hare paperback

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twitch

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grass, bent after rain

underside in dark, topside

rinsed in moonlight where

eight brown rabbits lope

from perimeter of prairie

eager for a nibble of green,

nip of delirium, dancing

in moonlight, whiskers

liberated to brush

cheeks in mobile

shadow, to make

transparent, long

ears, vein-lined

twitch, stand

erect, ear

hairs scan

for two-

or four-

legged

danger

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All my best,

staying home,

Jane

 

Written by jane tims

April 10, 2020 at 7:00 pm

talking trees

with 4 comments

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trees in conversation

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they say

if trees communicate

they do so

beneath the ground

communication network

of rootlets

and mycelia

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I still listen

above ground

to the friction squeal

of trunks

rubbing together

flutter of birch bark

whisper of leaves

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I think they try

to learn my language

speak to me

of longevity, the cycle

of the story in layers

added year to year

bilingual trees

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

colour: solemn, sombre

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October in New Brunswick is an explosion of colour. However,  as the red and orange leaves fall, browns and yellows begin to dominate the landscape.

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View of Nerepis marsh looking south. The ferry is crossing the river, barely visible in the mist.

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Colour variety in the marsh grasses.

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Hay-scented fern adds yellows and browns to the ditches.

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solemn, sombre

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walked out to see you

once again as you

lay dying, somber

the soft light, marsh grass

leaning in the rain

autumn colour fades

tones solemn, ochre

of poplar and birch,

straw-pale, hay-scented

fern, Solidago

and tansy, shadows

in the ditch, the heads

of Typha

burst to seed

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Copyright Jane Tims 2019

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Best wishes everyone!

Jane

 

 

Written by jane tims

October 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

Posted in natural history

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

wild turkeys in New Brunswick

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As we came back from our drive in Charlotte County last weekend, we were on the lookout for wild life. And we were not disappointed.

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Down an unused road we saw twelve wild turkeys. Most, perhaps all, were females. In recent years we have seen wild turkeys more often on our various drives.

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They are fun to watch. They are quite social. Some were foraging, probably eating seeds, berries or insects; others were resting among the pink rabbit-foot clover.

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The University of New Brunswick is asking people to report the wild turkeys they see. The study will help determine the status of populations in New Brunswick.  Report sightings to the Facebook Page NB Wild Turkey Research

 

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All my best,

Jane

 

Written by jane tims

September 4, 2019 at 7:00 am

dandelion fluff

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scan0014 (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC)

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dandelion fluff

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purse lips

and puff

make a wish

scatter seeds

to wind

and follow

into sun

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Copyright Jane Tims 2019

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All my best,

Jane

 

 

 

 

Written by jane tims

August 16, 2019 at 7:00 am

Pearly everlasting

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H. 'Pearly everlasting' October 27 2018 Jane Tims

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Pearly Everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea L.

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Pearly Everlasting

sign of summer’s passing

yet – immortelle

picked by the road

by the armload

hung from rafters

children’s laughter

runs beneath

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downy leaf, woolly stem

white diadem

perfectly matched flowers

thatched in gold

dry and old

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Linnaeus named

for Marguarite

memory sweet

paper petals keep

pale perfume

summer grace

in a winter room

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Published as:  ‘Pearly Everlasting’, The Antingonish Review 92, 1993 and at niche poetry and prose, August 20, 2012 here

Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 14, 2019 at 7:00 am

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