nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘community

garden escapes: balm-of-Gilead

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My mom used to take me for a walk around the garden when I visited. One of her favorite trees was the balm-of-Gilead. Her original tree had escaped into other places along the driveway and she loved its tenacity. She always pulled a leaf from a low branch and crushed it to bring forth the smell … slightly medicinal, aromatic and balsamic. I also love the colour, green with a tinge of orange bronze.

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The balm-of-Gilead (Populus × jackii or P.× gileadensis), is the hybrid between balsam poplar and eastern cottonwood. This hybrid is sometimes planted as a shade tree, and sometimes escapes from cultivation.

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As we drive the roads of abandoned houses and community, I often see balm-of-Gilead before I see any other garden escapes.

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In 1898,  Beaufort, Carleton County, was a community with 1 post office and a population of 100. Today, there is only one, modern house in the community. But remnants of old gardens still remain. We saw many garden plants, both persisting and escaping: monkshood, dropwort, orange day-lily and butter-and-eggs. There were also apple trees and a poplar I identified as balm-of-Gilead.

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Today Beaufort is a long, lonely road with only traces of the former community.

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I took a slip of Mom’s balm-of-Gilead and planted it at our cabin property. It is taking its time, growing a little more each year. I think, when I am gone, perhaps this tree will have grown and be sending out descendants of its own.

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

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Take care, stay safe.

Don’t get Covid-tired.

Be tenacious like the balm-of-Gilead.

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 3, 2020 at 7:00 am

abandoned gardens: a pantoum about lilacs

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Over the years, faced by change, some communities continue to thrive. Others, once vigorous, may decline and disappear. Sometimes, communities may hang on but individual homes may be abandoned. Abandonment can occur if the owner moves away or dies, or if aspects of the home become unsustainable (for example, a water source dries up).

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When a home is abandoned, what becomes of the vegetable garden, so carefully tended, or the flower gardens, each plant chosen with love and care?

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Annuals are usually the first to go, although biennials may continue to grow for a year and some plants, like sweet William or pansies, may reseed. Perennials may thrive, sometimes for years. Rhubarb, chives and berry crops often continue to grow in a vegetable garden. In the flower garden, peonies, day-lilies and phlox may bloom year after year. Trees and shrubs often persist.

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63 rhubard Dugan Road

rhubarb persisting in an old garden

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In my poetry project about abandoned gardens, I want to learn more about various poetry forms. The poem below is written as a pantoum. A pantoum consists of four line stanzas. The second and forth lines of the preceding stanza are used as the first and third lines of the next. The first line of the poem may also be used as the last.

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The poem below is written about an abandoned house in central New Brunswick. Keep in mind, these properties are still owed by someone and the owners may care a great deal about them and perhaps use the property if not the house.

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lilac bush next to an old house

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lilacs persist

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delicate scribble of winter wren

lilac, a cushion of shadow and green

props the abandoned house

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

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lilac, a cushion of shadow and green

at night leaves peer in windows

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

features sculpted by overlapping leaves

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at night they peer in windows

stare, front windows to back yard

features sculpted by overlapping leaves

scented panicles of purple bloom

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stare, front windows to back yard

noses tuned to lilac sweet

scented panicles of purple bloom

lilacs persist and thrive

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noses tuned to lilac sweet

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

lilacs persist and thrive

delicate scribble of winter wren

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lilacs~

This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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Perhaps we can learn from the lilac …

persist and thrive.

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 6, 2020 at 7:00 am

first draft

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This past weekend, I finished the first draft of the third novel in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series. This is my favorite part of the long process of working on a book.

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I plan my novel to an extent. From the beginning, I knew the basic story: Kaye Eliot finds a packet of old postcards and is set on a search for a valuable stone. The idea for the story was sparked way back in 1989 when I first saw an abandoned stone house during field work in Nova Scotia. I also had most of my characters to work with: Kaye and her husband and two kids. And Daniel Cutter, a stonemason, a character introduced in Book Two of the series. To read Book Two (Something the Sundial Said), click here.

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As I write, I let the characters and story take me where they want to go. Sometimes this takes me in unusual directions. Unless an idea is ridiculous, I usually run with it.

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The props I encounter in the story have their own push and pull. The stone house, the postcards, a stone chimney, a set of architectural plans. When these objects are repeated in the story, they become symbols of ideas in the book.

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stone house Upper Canada Village

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The next stage in writing is the revision. This means reading the book, cover to cover, over and over. I will fix the misspellings and grammar, I add some description. I polish the dialogue. I adjust the story points. I fix the names of villages and bridges and social groups in the story. I do some research. Revision takes the bulk of the time devoted to writing the book, probably 80%. I do at least ten revision sweeps.

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I love the first revision. Although I wrote the first draft, reading it for the first time, cover to cover, is like discovering a new book.

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stone wall

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Next post, I will talk about choosing a title for the book, not as easy as it may seem.

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All my best.

Please stay safe.

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

Watercolour lessons #3

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If you are staying at home more than usual in the coming weeks, I hope you have an interest to pursue, one to relax and involve you.

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I have been taking watercolour painting lessons. As part of our recent practice of self-isolation, the lessons themselves have been postponed. But, with what I have learned, I can practice and enjoy what I find very relaxing. There is something calming about watching the colour flow from the brush to the paper, especially when using the wet on wet technique (paper is wetted prior to adding colour).

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This afternoon I painted two studies of the Teton mountains which we visited in 2001 (totally from memory). I thought the first painting could use improvement, especially with respect to the trees on the right side and the water in the lower half of the painting. Actually, I don’t think painting 2 is an improvement. Copying watercolour is more difficult since the paint has a mind of its own. Also, the second painting lacks the spontaneity of the first.

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As a result of this post, I give you two possible activities to help you during isolation:

1. have a look at the two and tell me which you think is best and in what respects.

2. pick up the tools for an activity you love and spend some time doing.

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We are a social species. Although social-distancing and self-isolation are different for us, we are also a thinking species. We can understand that success against the coronavirus requires a community response. I have faith that we will soon be able to return to our normal activities.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 15, 2020 at 5:03 pm

New mystery novel – How Her Garden Grew

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Merry, Merry

Quite contrary

How does your garden grow?

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Announcement: My new mystery novel ‘How Her Garden Grew‘ is now available on Amazon in paperback. The Kindle version will be available in a few days.

How Her Garden Grew’ is the first in my series of Kaye Eliot mysteries. Kaye is a busy mother with a business to run, two active children and an accountant husband who can’t seem to get free of tax time! The books will take us back to the 1990’s, to a time before cell phones and computers were a key ingredient of family life.

‘How Her Garden Grew’ is a novel about coping with stress, the strength of family, the problems of community, a century-old garden and a strange character called the Grinning Tun.

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In the 1990s, Kaye Eliot comes to Acadia Creek to spend a quiet summer with her two children. But instead of passing stress-free days of swimming and hiking, she finds herself embedded in mystery after mystery. A missing vagrant and a gang of thieves have the community worried. Neighbours seem determined to occupy all of Kaye’s time and energy in restoration of an old flower garden. To add to the mayhem, Kaye and her kids have stumbled on a century-old legend of a treasure buried on the property, a packet of forgotten letters from a woman named Maria Merriweather and an old map of the garden. And they dig up a sinister sea shell. A sea shell who looks like a grinning skull and will not stay where he is put. Can Kaye recover her calm or will she be the victim of neighbors, vagrants, thieves and a shell called the Grinning Tun? Restoring Maria’s garden seems a great idea, until Kaye discovers how Maria’s garden grew.

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So what or who is the Grinning Tun? The Grinning Tun is a sea shell, plucked from the sands of a faraway tropical shore. But this is a sea shell with a difference. It will not stay put! Shove it in the warming oven and, next morning, it sits on top of the stove. Bury it in the ground and it is found in the root cellar. And it grins. It thinks of the possibilities. And it links a mystery in the 1990’s with one in the 1870’s.

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To get your copy of ‘How Her Garden Grew’, go to Amazon here. If you are in the Fredericton area, I will be reading from the book and signing copies at the Authors Coffee House in Nasonworth later in May (more details soon)!

Hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 27, 2019 at 7:13 pm

celebration of a covered bridge

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Do you love covered bridges?

Have you done any writing about the Patrick Owens Bridge or any other covered bridge?

On Saturday August 25, 2018 at 2:00 pm join us at the Rusagonis Covered Bridge Park to celebrate our Bridge.

  • We will hear from Jeff Carr, MLA.
  • Linda Cogswell will tell us a bit about the history of the bridge.
  • I will be reading from my book ‘in the shelter of the covered bridge’ (Chapel Street Editions, 2017) and $10 from every sale of my book will be donated for the upkeep of the Park.
  • Rose Burke will read a piece about the Upper Mills Bridge and cross-border travel in former years.
  • Ian LeTourneau, Fredericton’s Cultural Laureate, will read his poem about the loss of the Bell Covered Bridge.
  • We will also have an ‘open mic’ where you can join others in reading from your own work (about bridges or any other related theme).

We will have cake and lemonade as part of the afternoon. There will also be a BBQ, courtesy of MLA Jeff Carr! Everyone is welcome!

Let me know if you would like to read (in the comments or at timstims@nbnet.nb.ca).

Patrick Owens Bridge rainbow.JPG

All my best,

Jane

Available now – Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill

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For those who are reading my Meniscus science fiction series, my new book Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill is now available at Westminster Books in Fredericton and from Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats here.

I will be launching this new book at Westminster Books on May 25, 2018 at 7:00, so mark your calendars!

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Humans on the planet Meniscus have had it hard. Used as slaves by the Dock-winders and Gel-heads, they live without hope, deprived of family and community. A few Humans have escaped and band together to build the first Human community on the planet. Odymn and the Slain are part of the community of Themble Hill but can they escape interference from the Dock-winders?

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a plan for Themble Hill.jpg

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You will enjoy the continuing adventures of Odymn and the Slain, as Odymn tries to recover from a parkour accident and cope with the Slain’s former girlfriend.

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Find out who is lighting a line of purple gettle-shells (the Meniscus version of the Jack-o-lantern) on the heights of The Fault where the Dock-winders can see them!

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For more information and an excerpt from Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill,  click here.

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five books

Now available … fourth in the Meniscus Series: The Village at Themble Hill

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The new book in the Meniscus Science Fiction Series is now available. In The Town at Themble Hill, humans on the alien planet Meniscus continue to search for freedom and a safe place to live.

My heroine Odymn, who is expert at the art of parkour, sometimes also called free-running, navigates the landscape with runs, leaps and vaults. She never falls. Or does she? Find out how Odymn copes with a loss of her independence.

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Meniscus: The Town at Themble Hill

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… On the alien planet Meniscus, against all odds, a small group of Humans works to forge a new life together. When a Dock-winder drone pays them a visit, Odymn and the Slain trek along the heights of The Fault, to make certain the community is not in danger of invasion. They find a new way to scale The Fault and a perfect location for building a new village. Matters are complicated when Odymn is injured on a parkour run and the Slain’s former girlfriend joins the group. Faced with a dangerous journey through the Themble Wood and the hardships of building a new community, are the Humans in more danger from themselves, the alien landscape, or their Doc-winder overlords?

 

… In the fourth book of the Meniscus series, The Village at Themble Hill chronicles the first days of community life on a planet where Humans are not allowed to associate and freedom is always at risk.

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home is the safest place … so build a home …

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Get the paperback version of Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill here. The Kindle version will be available soon. For readers in the Fredericton area, Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill will be available at Westminster Books after May 1st.

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'jump to the stack'paperback

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Copyright Jane Tims 2018

Little Free Library 

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I have heard about these little free libraries, appearing in cities all over North America. And now we have at least two in Fredericton.

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‘little free library’ on University Avenue in Fredericton

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Charming and whimsical …

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‘little free library’ in Sunshine Gardens in Fredericton

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A delightful expression of community! I love the stump or stone step so a child can borrow from the little library!

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The idea is simple … take a book, leave a book. It’s a way to find some great new reading, visit a part of the community you may not know well and promote literacy.

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As of this morning, I have left a copy of my poetry book within easy reach’ at two of these tiny libraries, one in Sunshine Gardens and one on University Avenue. If you want to go on a treasure hunt and borrow a book, make sure to take a book with you to trade! Happy reading!

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 6, 2016 at 9:17 pm

old schools in the landscape

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In my last few posts, I have focussed on my research toward a new poetry project I will be beginning. I know there are interesting stories to be told about the ‘inside’ of the one room school. Because of my interests in botany and community history, I would like to reflect on the ‘outside’ of the one room school – its surroundings and geographic location.

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I still have to do some thinking about this project. I know that people who attended one room schools will have stories to tell about how the local terrain and landscape influenced their schooling.

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A school’s surroundings would have impacted learning in many ways. For example, the view of a lake from the school window may have caused many a pupil to settle into daydreams.  Interesting fields, hills, and watercourses would provide the teacher with opportunities for nature study.

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The location of the school would also influence recess and lunch-time activities. My Dad wrote about damming a local stream so they could skate in the winter months. The same stream meant fishing in May and June. A nearby hillside would be great for sledding in January and February. Trees in the school yard?  – A place to climb or to hang a swing.

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'willow swing'

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Students walked to school before the 1950s. The study I made of schools in Upham Parish, New Brunswick suggests that students walked as many as three miles to school in the late 1800s. Hills made the long walk to school more difficult. The winds by a lake or other shore land would be bitter on a winter day. Rivers, lakes and wetlands meant a place to hunt tadpoles. A spring by the road? – A cool drink. My Uncle, forced to wear a hat/scarf he hated, used the bridge on the way to school as a place to hide his headgear!

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One room schools were located near clusters of houses and various community activities. The walk to school may have passed a church, a post office or a community store. Hardwood forests meant lumber mills and, in spring, maple syrup and the sugar shack. Good land meant farms; grazing land meant cows to outstare.

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On a drive last weekend, we found an older building along the Saint John River that may have been a school. The Upper Queensbury Community Hall has all the characteristics of a one room school – the steep roof, rectangular footprint, and tall side windows.

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Upper Queensbury Community Hall 1

Upper Queensbury Community Hall near Nackawic, New Brunswick. I will have to make some inquiries to find out if it was a school house at one time.

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A look at a map shows some of the landscape features in the area.

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Queensbury

Map showing landscape features of part of Queensbury Parish, near Nackawic, New Brunswick. The yellow dot is the location of the Upper Queensbury Community Hall which may have been a one room school.

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The Saint John River was nearby, although further than it is today since the Mactaquac Dam (built in 1968) has raised the level of the water. The river’s possibilities for fishing, skating and boating were only a downhill trek away. The terrain is gently undulating, as the names of nearby communities (Day Hill and Granite Hill) suggest. Local geographic points the community children may have known include the many-tiered Coac Falls and Coac Lake (an old road runs past the community hall back through the woods to the lake, about a mile away). The aerial photo (taken near the end of September) shows the red of the cranberry bog – picking cranberries may have been a well-known activity. Sugar maples are common in the area, as are old ‘sugar shacks’. When I interview people who went to the one room school I will have to remember to ask them about their memories of these places.

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Writing poetry about these ideas will be so much fun!

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Copyright  2016  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 9, 2016 at 7:11 am

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