poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Groundhog Gale

crossing the river

with 10 comments

In New Brunswick, the Saint John River watershed accounts for more than one-third of the province.  It is a majestic river, almost 700 kilometers long, beginning in Maine and Quebec as small tributaries and gradually gaining in width and volume as it flows towards the Bay of Fundy. 

One of the best things about living near the Saint John River is its cable ferries. 

There are several bridges, of course, but no means of transport across the Saint John River can compare with the mini-voyage experience of crossing the river on a summer day with the wind in your hair and the dazzle of water in your eyes.  It is always interesting watching the ferryman packing the cars in like sardines on the busy days.  There is usually some interesting local event posted on the bulletin board.  And New Brunswick’s river ferries are free to ride!

In 1978, I made several trips on a ferry that was only in operation for a short time.  This was the car ferry at Cambridge-Narrows on Washademoak Lake, part of Washademoak River, one of the large tributaries to the Saint John River.  It operated for a few months after the covered bridge there was flattened in the Groundhog Gale of February 2, 1976.  The new bridge was built shortly afterward in 1978 and only local people remember the ferry. 

However, I remember the ferry at Cambridge-Narrows very well.  I wrote the poem ‘Lights on the Lake’ one evening as I took the ferry across the Narrows and felt the peacefulness of the small community winding down from the summer season.     

For a short history of Cambridge-Narrows and a photograph of the covered bridge after it was destroyed by the Groundhog Gale, see 


Lights on the Lake





fairy bulbs on masts

sunset on sail

amber to trace

the ferry’s quiet crossing



leaded porch lights

propane glow

twin headlights

joust along the cottage road



strings of lantern

patio voices, clinking and laughter

fires on the beach

sparks stirred toward the sky



waves flirt with stars

Aurora Borealis leaps

fireflies blink

brief messages of love




comes an evening at summer’s end    crowd and fireflies are gone   night storms    shuttered windows 

darkened doors  the charred remains of fires

on the shore


and     through the trees     a ruby gleam

a choir practices its song



© Jane Tims 1978

Written by jane tims

September 10, 2011 at 6:51 am

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