nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘remembering place’ Category

lost communities – an old flower garden

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Do you ever see an old flower garden, no house in sight, growing alone, expanding and reseeding where it can?

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On our drives to find old one room school houses in the landscape, we often find bits of domesticated flowers, indicating a home once flourished there. Sometimes these old gardens are all that is left of a rural community.

 

I have seen first hand, how many small rural communities in New Brunswick are little more than memories.

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A good example of this is Fredericksburg near Stanley in York County. Today it is a pleasant rural landscape with three or four homes. In 1866 Fredericksburg was a farming settlement with approximately 12 families. This information comes from an information-packed website from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick: ‘Place Names of New Brunswick: Where is Home? New Brunswick Communities Past and Present’. By typing the name of a community, you can discover information about original land grants, the size of a community in the eighteen hundreds, how many families lived there, the population and whether there was a post office, store, or church.  http://archives.gnb.ca/exhibits/communities/Home.aspx?culture=en-CA

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I am sorry these are not better photos, but the colour among all the green shows the remnants of a flower garden that someone once loved.

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Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) …

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Common Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) …

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Some more Foxglove and blue Bachelors Button (Centaurea cyanus) …

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Lupin  (Lupinus perennis). I don’t know the identity of the white flowers, but they make a lovely overall ‘bouquet’!

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Have you seen any abandoned flower gardens? Do you wonder what stories they would tell?

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

August 24, 2016 at 7:38 am

one room school houses – hiding in the landscape

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Last Friday, we took a drive along the west side of Grand Lake, in the Youngs Cove area of Queens County, New Brunswick. We were searching for old one room school houses. As far as I know, there is no list for these buildings in Queens County, New Brunswick, although a list does exist for nearby Kings County.

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I had seen one old school in the Whites Cove area, so we began there. This school was operated as a local craft store for a few years but is now a private cottage. The one room school is in good shape, painted bright red. The round plaque in the gable of the roof says 1837. The building had two front doors – one for boys and one for girls.

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Whites Cove school house

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We then continued toward Chipman, taking old roads when possible. I know that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, each small community (each Parish) had its own school, so we watched for the tell-tale design of the one room school house – a small, rectangular, one-storey building with a steep-sloped roof and rather high side walls. Each school had two or three tall rectangular windows on each side and one or two front doors. Some New Brunswick schools had a small anteroom or vestibule on the front. The bell-tower common on school houses in the United States was not typical of one room schools in New Brunswick.

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We followed the road along the shoreline of the peninsulas extending into Grand Lake. In particular, we were watching for the older homes that show what the community may have looked like a hundred years ago.

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As we came over a hill, we first saw the Rees school house. It had some of the characteristics I describe above. However, I am new to one room school hunting, so I was not really certain this little building had once been a school. And then my husband pointed to the sign on the small road opposite the building – School House Lane. The school house was being used as a cottage and was in poor condition with broken windows and a crumbled brick chimney. But I was happy to see the original stone foundation, a straight roof line, a large flat stone as a threshold, original clapboard on the front of the building, and evidence of the original vestibule.

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Rees school house

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Thrilled by our discovery, we continued to the next community and followed a side road. Almost immediately, we saw the Cumberland Bay School, announced by a sign above the door. It was a typical school house design, built on a hill. There was a rock foundation (with some brick) and a straight roof. The building was in good shape with evidence of regular maintenance and use, perhaps as a hall. A cold wind was howling and I felt sorry for the kids who must have come to school in all kinds of bitter weather.

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Cumberland Bay school house

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After seeing three school houses, we felt like pros. We took the next road along the shore, toward Cox Point, and found a school house outside the community of Range. It was set back from the road, used in conjunction with a family cottage. The roof was straight, the side windows were intact  and the shingles were in good repair.

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Range school house

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I was delighted with our drive – we had discovered three school houses we did not know about! I also got a feel for some of the characteristics of these buildings and how they fit into the local landscape.

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Old Schools in Youngs Cove area 2016

a map showing the old school houses we found … you can see a pattern emerging … I expect there were once school houses in some of the other communities indicated on the map

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Why am I interested in this topic? My interests in landscape, the environment and history all come into play. I am also beginning to think about my next poetry project and have decided to explore the idea of school houses in the landscape.

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To do this project, I will think about the setting of the school house in the community and how topography (hills and lakes and rivers), vegetation (fields and forests, orchards and big old swinging-trees) and other built landscape (bridges, churches, stores and farms) would have influenced the students, teachers and members of the community.  Visits to old schools, some talk with people who remember attending these old school houses and reading at the Provincial Archives would give me lots of material for my writing.

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Do you have examples of old one room school houses in your area? Did you attend school in a one room school house? I would love to hear your stories!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Happy Easter!!!

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I once decorated for Easter almost as much as for Christmas. But I am busier than ever and won’t get out all those boxes this year. However, I cannot resist putting my small bunnies and chicks/ducks out on display. Happy Easter!!!

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Do you decorate for Easter?

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 26, 2016 at 6:12 pm

washday

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A few years ago, we took a vacation to les Îles de la Madeleines, also known as the Magdalen Islands, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and part of the Province of Quebec.  We loved the ferry rides to and from the Islands, the endless white sand beaches, the artisans, and the demonstrations of wind sailing.  Most of all, I loved the colourful houses.  I always planned to try to capture the beaches and those houses in a painting.  I finally completed my tryptic called ‘washday #1’, ‘washday #2’ and ‘washday #3’.

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June 9, 2015 'washday#1' Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday#1’ Jane Tims

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June 9, 2015 'washday#2' Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday#2’ Jane Tims

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June 9, 2015 'washday#3' Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday#3’ Jane Tims

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And the three together:

June 9, 2015 'washday'  Jane Tims

June 9, 2015 ‘washday’ Jane Tims

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

forward direction

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Going over some older writing, I discovered the poem below. Retired now, I remember days when I thought I couldn’t take another minute of work situations I can’t now even remember.  A good message for me when I feel stressed.  Ask myself if I will even recall the circumstances of this moment years from now.  The photos are from a drive to work in 2011.

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in car-contained wrath

aftermath of a stress-filled day

a shadow cloud of dots and dashes crosses

my road, there and gone

feathered beings, perhaps

a murmuration of birds

or an incantation of angels

wing tips backward beating

frail quills and  a message

to go forward

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early autumn morning

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lots of fog on a morning commute

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looks like this was a drive ‘to’ work and I was late … no wonder I was stressed!

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green means ‘go forward’

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 3, 2015 at 7:02 am

places for writers … writing workshops – part two

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Sometimes the ‘place’ experienced at a writing workshop is the local area, the community where the workshop is held.  I wrote this poem in 2014 after a writing workshop at WordSpring in Saint Andrews (New Brunswick) …

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'oak leaves and acorns'

‘oak leaves and acorns’

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encounters

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on a windy night

in Saint Andrews, a toad

out of place, hop-toddies across

the street

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also, on Prince of Wales, a deer

pauses on the sidewalk, stares

up the hill, and I hesitate

before driving on

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in the Algonquin, a light

switches on, in the room I know is mine

and a couple huddles on the hotel porch

their attitude more suited to summer

than a night when leaves skip

mottled across the street

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Previously published in ‘writing weekend’, June, 2014,  http://www.nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com

Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 15, 2015 at 7:51 am

places for writers … writing workshops – part one

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St. Thomas University workshop ‘Understanding Our Stories’, facilitated by Deborah Carr, 2015

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For a writer, spring is often a time for attending writing workshops. Last month I attended part three of a workshop about writing life stories. In the next couple of months, I plan to attend short courses as part of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick’s WordSpring weekend, and a workshop about nature writing ( http://www.natureofwords.com/writing-workshops/write-in-nature/ ).

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Partly because my current fiction project ‘Crossing at a Walk’ is about a writers’ retreat, I have been thinking about the spaces where writing workshops are held. I have attended workshops at hotels with comfortable meeting rooms and lovely gardens. I have also been at workshops in huge community auditoriums and cosy private homes. One year my writing group went to a retreat at the Abbey in Rogersville in eastern New Brunswick and experienced simple dormitory surroundings in a very spiritual setting.

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Some of the rooms have been so noisy or full of echoes thinking is impossible. Some spaces are quiet, meditative.  Auditoriums can be freezing cold. Workshops in summer can be stifling and hot. I remember one July week at the University of New Brunswick during the Maritime Writers’ Workshop … every writer in the poetry workshop had an electric fan. Our instructor shook her head and said, ‘Those poets, they want to carry their own space with them!’

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I think the most variable aspect of space in the writers’ workshop is the ‘chair’. Some are comfortable, built to allow both body and mind to relax.  At one workshop the designer chairs were so flimsy, I spent the entire time worrying I would fall to the floor!

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Although I have attended many workshops on writing, in many different spaces, I continue to benefit from these experiences and to learn more about the craft of writing.

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  1. Every workshop facilitator or leader offers a unique perspective on approaches to writing. It is rare for me to leave a workshop without some new technique or method for improving my writing.
  2. Writing workshops cover a variety of themes. I am a writer of poetry and fiction, but I have received some of my most valuable training from workshops about writing screenplays and non – fiction.
  3. Learnings can be so simple, obvious even. For example, it seems I have to be reminded, over and over, to try techniques such as writing from the perspective of various characters.
  4. Workshops create an opportunity to meet other writers. Meeting old and new friends and renewing past acquaintances is a constant source of inspiration for me.
  5. The workshops I attend contribute to my own history of being a writer and demonstrate my interest in the writing community and in improving my skills as a writer. Even retired, I continue to build my resumé since publication and grant applications are an important part of my writing life.

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Hot or cold, noisy or quiet, on chairs designed to break backs or to summon comfort, the workshop space itself can be a source of experience and inspiration. A lot of those chairs, cold spaces and pinging echoes have found their ways into my writing. For some reason, the places I encounter on the drive home from a workshop also make it into my poems.

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Have you attended any writing workshops and has the workshop space influenced your writing for better or worse?

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Copyright  2015 Jane Tims

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