poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘conservation

early schooling – the fate of older buildings

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Since our first drive to the Grand Lake area to find old schools in the landscape, we have kept an eye out for others. I am realising these buildings have met one of three fates:

  • demolition – lost forever to the landscape
  • deterioration – left to decay and eventual collapse
  • re-purposing – restoration and maintenance for use as camps, sheds or community use


For example, the Bunker Hill School in Rusagonis, New Brunswick has been well maintained and is used as a meeting place in the community. The old school has been recently painted and has a wheel-chair ramp.


Bunker Hill School Rusagonis Station

Bunker Hill School, Rusagonis Station, Sunbury County, New Brunswick


The conservation of older buildings in the landscape is problematic. They have historical value, create community character, and serve as a reminder of the past. On the other hand, for derelict buildings without purpose, liability soon exceeds value. We are at a time in our history when the buildings associated with growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are succumbing to the vagaries of time. Older designs, although often sturdy, are not energy-efficient and don’t always fit our modern ideas of efficiency and convenience, or our 21st century need for parking areas, central heating, and convenient washrooms. As a result many older buildings, including churches, schools, halls and stores are lost from the landscape.


Mill Road School, Gagetown 2

old school at Mill Road, near Gagetown, Queens County, New Brunswick (Verified as Lawfield School, Gagetown #1)


Do you have older school buildings in your community and what has been/will be their fate?


Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 6, 2016 at 7:00 am

writing a novel – next in the series !

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Having sent my first novel ‘Open to the Skies’ (aka ‘Saving the Landing Church’) out to three publishers, I have begun my next novel in the series.  I intend for the series to focus on the adventures of running a writers’ retreat.  Same characters, same setting, same struggle to be a part of the community.


Title: unknown

Working Title: ‘Crossing at a Walk’

Setting: a writers’ retreat – the renovated Landing Church, the hall and the rectory now used as a Learning Center, a Sleeping Hall and a home and base of operations for Sadie and Tom

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer; her husband Tom, a retired welder; people from the community; writers participating in the first weekend of the writers’ retreat

Plot: Sadie wants the first writers’ retreat to go smoothly, but the history of an old covered bridge keeps getting in the way


My first novel was about an abandoned church.  The subject of this book will be yet another feature of our built landscape, one also having a difficult time … the covered bridge.  In the 1940s there were 340 covered bridges in New Brunswick.  Today there are only 60.


I chuckle all the time about my ‘Saving The …’ series.  Lots of buildings to save out there!  However, I have no intention of sinking into the formulaic (Sadie falls in love with the … and takes steps to save the …).  Instead, each story will take a unique approach to honoring the bit of built landscape it portrays!




As I have said, in New Brunswick, we have 60 remaining covered bridges.  Their numbers are dwindling, the losses due to flooding, fire and vandalism.  For a look at the covered bridges in New Brunswick, see the map and photos at


So how does a covered bridge get in the way of a well planned writers’ retreat?

  • Sadie includes a local tour during the retreat, to introduce the writers to the community and give them new experiences to write about.  The covered bridge is outside the tour loop, but a couple of the writers would love to go there.
  • the covered bridge is part of the community’s history.  Inside the bridge are the carved initials of some of the many people who have lingered there.  The writers want to know ‘who was Phoebe?’ a girl whose name is carved in the bridge and imprinted on the memories of some of the members of the community.
  • after the retreat is over, heavy rains and flooding threaten the bridge to its very foundations.  Can the bridge be saved and will Sadie be willing to take on the cause of another community icon?



Sadie … my main character … a writer and weaver … she wants the first weekend of the writers’ retreat to go smoothly …  I still think she needs an afternoon at the hairdressers


Sadie’s husband Tom … a welder with a fatal case of welder’s lung … a likeable fellow, he refused to die in the first novel … I wonder what will happen to him in ‘Crossing at a Walk’?



Copyright  2015  Jane Tims


preserving coastal marsh (day 24 and 25)

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The last few days of my virtual biking have reminded me of the need to preserve coastal areas, including barrier beaches and coastal salt marsh.  Day 24 and 25 of my virtual travels took me along Youghall Beach near Bathurst.  This barrier beach has been almost entirely developed with seasonal and year-round residences.



map showing distance travelled (map from Google Maps)


8-24  March 24, 2014   35 minutes (south of Youghall Beach to  Youghall)

8-25  March 25, 2014   30 minutes ( Youghall to south of Youghall) 


aerial view of Peters River salt marsh (right) and Youghall Beach (left)  (image from Street View)

aerial view of Peters River salt marsh (right) and Youghall Beach (left) (image from Street View)


Peters River salt marsh

Peters River salt marsh (image from Street View)


One of the reasons to protect barrier beaches from development is the close association with coastal marshes and their sensitive wild life.  For example, the coastal marshes in the Bathurst area, including the coastal salt marshes of the Peters River near Youghall Beach, are home to the Maritime Ringlet Butterfly.  The Maritime Ringlet (Coenonympha nipisiquit McDunnough) is a small butterfly with a wing-span of four centimeters.  It is buff-and-rusty-coloured, with a dark eyespot.


This butterfly is endangered, because it faces extinction.  It is ‘endemic’ to the salt marshes of the Baie-des-Chaleurs – this is the only place in the world where this butterfly lives.   The butterfly can only live in the salt marsh – the Maritime Ringlet caterpillar lives on salt marsh grasses (Spartina patens) and the adult uses Sea Lavender (Limonium nashii) as its nectar source.


Government and conservation groups in New Brunswick have worked together to educate homeowners about protecting the Maritime Ringlet Butterfly.  They list practical steps people can take to ensure the habitat of this endangered butterfly is protected.  These include: not filling in the marsh, not burning marsh grasses, not using vehicles in the marsh, not picking marsh wildflowers such as Sea Lavender, and not going into the marsh.  For more information on the Maritime Ringlet Butterfly and its protection, see


March 27, 2014  'Maritime Ringlet Butterfly'  Jane Tims

March 27, 2014 ‘Maritime Ringlet Butterfly’ Jane Tims


Copyright 2014  Jane Tims

growing and gathering

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Many of my recent posts are associated with my writing project, ‘growing and gathering’.   My aim is to write a poetry manuscript about collecting and producing local foods.  So far, I have concentrated on ‘edible wild plants’ in my blog, but the full scope of the project will include poems on gardening and other aspects of aquiring local foods.

My process so far has included research into a particular wild plant, a trip to see it in the wild and perhaps gather it for eating, a piece of prose on the characteristics of the plant, a pencil drawing (becoming more and more a part of my thought process), and a poem or poems about the edible plant.

As my project progresses, I am generating many poems.  I am also starting to think about how I will assemble this information into a manuscript.

One of the first steps toward assembling the manuscript is to decide what themes are emerging.   This will help me decide how the poems relate to one another, as well as identify the gaps.

Major themes so far are:

~ companionship (for example, picking berries with a friend)

the results of an hour of blackberry picking with my husband

~ competition (for example, trying to get those hazelnuts before the squirrels)

hazelnuts on the tree…almost ripe…who will get them, the squirrels or me?

~ time (this includes historical uses of wild edibles, as well as seasonal and lifetime components of eating local)

a ‘graveyard’ of old apple trees

~ ethics (this includes ecosystem concerns about eating wild plants when they are struggling to survive in reduced habitat)

a patch of Trout Lily in the hardwoods… edible… but should I harvest when this type of habitat is disappearing?

~ barriers to gathering local foods (for example, why do I buy bags of salad greens when Dandelion greens, Violet leaves and Wood-sorrel grow right outside my door?)

a salad of Dandelion greens and Purple Violets

In my upcoming posts, I want to explore each of these themes.



berry picking


fingers stain indigo

berry juice as blood

withdrawn by eager



berry picking sticks

to me, burrs

and brambles

hooks and eyes

inseparable as

contentment and picking berries


even as I struggle

berries ripen

shake free

fall to ground



©  Jane Tims  2012

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum Ker)

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Two weeks ago, we had a memorable drive and hike along the South Branch Dunbar Stream, north of Fredericton.  The wet hardwoods along the intervale areas of the stream were green with understory plants and dotted with spring wildflowers.  One of the plants growing there in profusion is the Trout Lily.  The Trout Lily is colonial, covering slopes in rich, moist hardwoods.  Its red and green mottled leaves grow thick on the hummocks, beside the Wood Anemone and Purple Trillium.  The area where we were hiking was not far from the stream and there was evidence it had been flooded earlier in the year.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum Ker) is also known as the Dog’s Tooth Violet, Yellow Adder’s-tongue, Fawn-lily, and, in French, ail doux.  Its generic name is from the Greek erythros meaning ‘red’, a reference to the purple-flowered European species.

The Trout Lily was barely beginning its blooming when we were there, but it will be almost over by now.  The flowers usually bloom from March to May.  They are yellow and lily-like, with six divisions.  The petals curve backward as they mature.

The young leaves are edible but should only be gathered if they are very abundant in order to conserve the species.  To prepare the leaves for eating, clean them, boil them for 10 to 15 minutes and serve with vinegar.  The bulb-like ‘corm’ is also edible; it should be cooked about 25 minutes and served with butter.  Again, the bulbs should only be gathered if the plant is very plentiful, and only a small percentage of the plants should be harvested to enable the plant to thrive.  Also, the usual warning applies, only harvest if you are absolutely certain of the identification.



Trout Lily

(Erythronium americanum Ker)


on a hike in the hardwood

north of the Dunbar Stream

you discover Trout Lily in profusion

mottled purple, overlapping

as the scales of adder, dinosaur or dragon


you know these plants as edible

the leaves a salad, or pot-herb

and, deep underground, the corm

flavoured like garlic


you fall to your knees

to dig, to gather

and hesitate,

examine your motives –

you, with two granola bars in your knapsack

and a bottle of water from Ontario



©  Jane Tims  2012

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.
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