nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘environment

natural treasures – gems from a day in early spring

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After a wet spring, we were not certain when we would be able to reach our camp this year. Although the snow is gone, we don’t want to risk getting stuck or damaging our lane.

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just a week ago there was still snow on the road and the ruts we could see were very spongy

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We were so happy when we were able to drive all the way to our cabin door. We did a bit of tidying, put markers at the base of the little cedars we lost in the tall grass last fall and my husband did some clipping of trees over-growing the road.

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I did a small display of two of the treasures we found last year, a big pine cone and a chunk of pinkish stone.  But I can’t display the best treasures of the day:

  • the back and forth banter of two Barred Owls. This is the big owl who calls ‘Who cooks for you?’
  • the tremolo of a Common Loon on the lake. The tremolo is one of at least four distinctive vocalisations from this bird. The vibrating ‘who-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo’ is usually a call to warn of intruders or to announce arrival at a lake.
  • the ‘I love dear Canada, Canada, Canada’ of the White-throated Sparrow or the nasal ‘fee-bee’ of the Eastern Phoebe.

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I love our trips to our cabin and the treasures offered to us by nature every time we visit.

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Hope you are enjoying the spring season.

All my best,

Jane

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by jane tims

May 2, 2018 at 7:00 am

cornfields and mushrooms 5-5

with 8 comments

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5-5 f

field near Fontpatour (image from Street View)

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Day 5-5 1 Logbook

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Day 5-5 1 map

map showing distance travelled (map from Google maps)

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On April 23rd, my virtual bike trip took me along huge cornfields, reminding me of the big cornfields in southern Ontario …

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huge cornfield

huge cornfield west of Les Grandes Rivieres (image from Street View)

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I was also excited to see small round white shapes in the plowed fields.  I thought they must be mushrooms …

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5-5 e mushrooms

what are those small white things in the fields? (image from Street View)

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I even convinced myself I saw a Chanterelle in one field, even though I know these are usually found in rich woodlands …

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Jane's Chanterelle

it looks a little like a Chanterelle … (image from Street View)

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The joke is on me!!!  I knew what I was really seeing when I biked past a pile of small white stones at the edge of one field …

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5-5 i stones

a pile of white stones (image from Street View)

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Best View: memories of cornfields in southern Ontario …

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'ears and teeth'

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2013 at 7:00 am

a ford in the river 5-3

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houses in Le Gué d'Alleré

houses in Le Gué d’Alleré (image from Street View)

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Day 5-3 1 Logbook

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Day 5-3 1 map

map showing distance travelled (map from Google Maps)

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April 18’s virtual bike ride took me through the town of Le Gué d’Alleré.  A ‘gué’ is a place on a river where the water is shallow enough to allow easy passage, in other words, a ford.

The river in Le Gué d’Alleré was so shallow, it had no water at all.  I know this river sometimes holds water since there is an image embedded in Street View showing the river full of water!

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river in Le Gué d'Alleré

river in Le Gué d’Alleré (image from Street View)

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When I was young, we often visited my grandfather’s farm in Nova Scotia.  One of the places I remember well was the ford across the stream at the end of his road.  The water was shallow at this spot and people from the community would bring their cars to the ford to wash them.  It would not have been good for the environment.  Soap suds and leaking oil and gasoline would pollute the downstream water, probably harming the aquatic life, including the fish people liked to catch.

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ford

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at the intersection

of the lane and the County Road,

a ford crossed the stream–

flat stones and riffles

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in the shade of serviceberry and maple

we watched as distant cousins

washed their cars,

all suds and Daisies

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then took clean cars

further down the road

(further down the stream),

for an hour of fishing

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Best View: an image from my memory …

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'washing the car at the ford'

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

garbage day after Christmas

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One change has occurred in our household during the last few years – Garbage Day after Christmas.  Our garbage is collected at the roadside once per week, on Thursdays.  We used to have at least three big bags of garbage after the frenzy of opening presents and discarding the wrapping paper.  But, since I began wrapping presents in fabric, we have far less garbage after Christmas – no more extra bags of wrapping paper.

I disliked buying wrapping paper every year.  We usually spent a lot of money on wrapping paper and were always running out. It seemed a waste of money and not very environmentally friendly.

A few years ago, I changed to fabric for wrapping.  I waited for the sale on Christmas fabric at my local fabric store and bought several meters in various designs at about $2.00 per meter.   I also bought a large amount of stretchy metallic chord and some pretty ribbon by the meter.  I tore the fabric into different sizes, to cover a variety of gift sizes. I also tried hemming the fabric but I gave that up after tedium set in.  We have never noticed the difference between hemmed and raw-edged fabric.

a variety of Christmas fabric

a variety of Christmas fabric

The challenge of using fabric is closing the fabric securely around the gift, since it’s important to make sure the packages don’t come undone.  We tried various types of closures for the fabric-wrapped presents including tape (doesn’t stick), diaper pins (ugly) and plain ribbon (slippery).  The best way to close the presents securely is to use lots of stretchy metallic chord, supplemented by ribbon.

lots of ribbon

lots of ribbon

a present held secure with stretchy chord

a present held secure with stretchy chord

To secure tags is easy.  I use cut up Christmas cards for tags (I have enough card tags to last us 20 years at the current rate of gift-giving).  I secure the tags by tucking them securely under the ribbon or chord, or by punching a hole in the tag and securing it with string or ribbon.

pile of gifts wrapped in fabric

tags are easy to add

I asked a few people what they liked best about unwrapping paper-wrapped presents, and they always say the sound of the paper crinkling and tearing is a factor.  So this year, I included a thin wrapping of tissue paper with each gift, at a fraction of the cost of wrapping paper.

one layer of tissue paper

I now include one layer of tissue paper inside to add to the enjoyment of opening the gift

I think it takes a little longer to wrap gifts using fabric, but, to me, they are just as pretty.

The method pays for itself within 2 or 3 years.  You do have to ask friends and relatives to return the fabric and ribbon after they have unwrapped their presents!!!

fabric wrapped gifts under the tree

fabric-wrapped gifts under the tree – a couple of paper-wrapped presents are hiding out among the fabric-wrapped gifts … can you spot them????

Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

December 28, 2012 at 7:32 am

burrballs, weedballs and manganese concretions

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As I slowly clean out my office in preparation for my retirement, I am encountering the collected mementoes of 33 years of work.  One of the oddest items I kept through the years is a plastic case filled with six hard black gobs, about 4 to 6 centimetres in diameter.  They look like burnt chocolate chip cookies, but I assure you, even my baking is not that bad!

These are called iron-manganese concretions.  They were found in the late 1990’s on the bottom of a lake in New Brunswick.

The occurrence of ‘balls’ in lakes and other bodies of water has been an interest of mine.  In my experience, and in the reading I have done, I have encountered three different natural spherical formations in the Maritime Provinces.  One of these is found along the ocean shore.  The other two are found on the bottoms of lakes.

These are:

Water-rolled Weed Balls:

This was A.H. MacKay’s suggested name for ‘sea-balls’, compact balls of seaweeds and other materials found on a beach near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  MacKay wrote a paper about these balls for the Transactions of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science in 1906.  These strange formations were first reported by a teacher, Mary Bowers, who wrote to MacKay about their occurrence on a beach at Upper Kingsburg, along the mouth of the LaHave River.  She wrote: “I have seen up to 200 balls on a short strip of beach…”     MacKay described them as 1 ½ to 5 inches in diameter, composed of rolled-up remains of brown algae.  The balls also incorporated red seaweeds, sea sponges, and small sea shells.  MacKay wrote: “…Their structure in the different forms examined suggest their formation from light ridges of algae left by the retreating tide on flat sandy shallows. Under the sun, the weeds curl and lock into masses which, when moved over the sand by alternate tides and winds, occasionally produce very round balls.”

Kedron Balls:

These spherical balls of organic matter, a natural formation on the bottom of Little Kedron Lake, near Oromocto Lake in York County, New Brunswick, were described in 1904 by the naturalist William Ganong.  Needles of fir and spruce from the forest surrounding the lake roll together with twigs, sandy silt and other vegetable matter on the lake bottom, gradually forming these soft compact spheres.

In his book Walden, Thoreau describes similar balls of organic matter from Sandy Pond in Lincoln, Massachusetts: “… I have found, in considerable quantities, curious balls, composed apparently of fine grass or roots, of pipewort, perhaps, from half an inch to four inches in diameter, and perfectly spherical.  These wash back and forth in shallow water on a sandy bottom, and are sometimes cast on the shore.”

Iron-Manganese Concretions:

The examples I have were given to me by a friend who collected them at Balls Lake, a small lake near Cape Spencer in Saint John County, New Brunswick.    These are natural formations, known as polymetallic or manganese nodules, built in successive layers of iron and manganese hydroxides around a core.  The result is a spherical formation, rough and knobby on the surface.  The concretions range in size, but most, like the specimens I have, are the size of a small potato.  Manganese concretions form in both lakes and salt-water.

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water-rolled weeds

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begin with

a pinch of sand

a thread

a gesture, word

a fir leans

over the lake edge

drops a single leaf

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layers spool

from chemistry of water

sediment

or a fluff of needles

quilting, quilting

soft balls wind

forward and back

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gather, gather

while sunreels

ravel scene by scene

a bobbin

accepts the thread

and first line

builds to story

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©  Jane Tims  2012

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Some reading about burrballs and weedballs:

W.F. Ganong. 1904. ‘On Vegetable-, or Burr-, Balls from Little Kedron Lake, New Brunswick’. Bulletin of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick v: 304.

A.H. MacKay.  1906.  ‘Water-Rolled Weed Balls’. Transactions of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science XI: 667-670.  Available on-line at:  http://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/12593/v11_p4_a8_MacKay_water-rolled_weed-balls.pdf?sequence=1  Accessed February 28, 2012.

Henry David Thoreau. 1954. ‘Ponds’, Walden or Life in the Woods.  Pennsylvania State University, 154.

Written by jane tims

April 4, 2012 at 6:43 am

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