poetry and prose about place

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Ice dance

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In southern New Brunswick, we are recovering from a snow and ice storm. My husband has been in the tractor, removing snow and ice, for two days. Between runs with lunch and diesel, I am reading Ann Cleeves, one of my favourite UK detective authors. The phone rings and I am wrenched from a very different kind of storm in the Shetlands to a neighbour who wants the services of an ice-gobbling tractor.


As the sun goes down, I re-live the beauty of the day. Chickadees, a downy woodpecker and a red squirrel spent the afternoon competing for the sunflower seeds in our feeder. Every tree is laden with ice and the wind stirs up powdery snow-devils across open places. The evening begins with memories of glassy trees and the faint tinkling of their twigs and branches.


Every twig wears

A diamond bracelet.

A wrist turned,

Just so,

To join in the dance.



All my best,


Written by jane tims

January 22, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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a moment of beautiful – sun on icy drops of rain

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After the rain overnight and some icy temperatures, the melting ice on the Old Man’s Beard lichen and the ice coat clinging to the branches made for a beautiful scene outside my guest room window. To add to the show, a stray reflection of sun projected dazzles of light on the garage doors.



Copyright 2015 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 12, 2015 at 12:31 am

Posted in a moment of beautiful

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winter water-scape

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On our drive to Black’s Harbour this past Monday, we took the cross-country highway #785.  It travels directly to the southern part of the province through the woods.

Many streams cross the roadway.  All are lined in snow, but the center channel is just a sheet of ice away in most streams and rivers.  In some cases, the water is moving so swiftly, the ice has been breached by the flow.  The result is a carved ice-world of frozen water.  At these openings in the frozen river, you can catch a glimpse of the winter water-scape: the layers of ice, the icicles and frosted caverns beneath the smooth upper layer of ice and snow.

winter stream


winter water-scape


under the ice

the river registers

its sinew


carves a crystal path

between layers

of frost


transparent panes

of polished glass,

lofted by pillars of ice


ice caverns, edged by froth

a mingling of winter breath

and river tears


Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

February 1, 2013 at 7:19 am

by the frozen lake, next year

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It’s mild here today and we are expecting lots of snow.  I’m working on my novel, doing edits.

I want this post to include an excerpt from my work, so I have chosen a wintry bit.

In this excerpt, the protagonist, Sadie, and her husband are near the edge of the lake, on the property they have bought.  They’re planning to bring the Landing Church to this location, to build a writer’s retreat.

Sadie’s husband, Tom, isn’t well.  He’s dying.  His way of coping is to be a stoic, to face his death as inevitable, and to plan his wife’s life out for her.  Usually, he talks about what she’ll be doing this time next year.  Until now, he’s refused to include himself in any talk of the future.  But, as the novel progresses, his thinking is changing.


the frozen lake


The lake, in the grip of November, had frozen to plates of glass, interrupted by pebbly bands where the wind mixed snow into the surface of the ice.  The distant shore presented itself in silhouette, an indigo strip between the lake and the brighter sky.  The dark images of trees were frozen into the surface of the ice.  The air was crisp, but we sat, as we did in summer, on the bench by the lake’s edge.

‘Next year,’ said Tom,  ‘we’ll clear the ice for skating.  And we’ll build a bonfire, here by the shore.  There’s certainly enough dead wood to fuel it.’

I sat still, watching the lake and thinking about Tom’s words –  ‘next year’ and ‘we’.  These words were so different from what he would have said, even three weeks ago.  Ordinarily, he’d be making plans for me alone.  Ordinarily, he’d have said ’Next year, you’ll clear the ice for skating.’

We sat in silence, as we always did, just watching the lake.  Tom probably didn’t notice how thoughtful I’d become.  I wondered how I’d missed it, this transition from ‘no future’ to ‘plans for tomorrow’.  Plans to be shared by us both.  My hands began to tremble.

To distract myself, I found a flat stone embedded in the frost at my feet.  I stood, moving a little closer to the edge of the lake.  I turned my arm and cradled the stone in my hand.  I pulled my arm back and propelled the stone toward the ice.  It hit with a clear ping and bounced across the surface, leaving a line of clear notes in its wake.  I tried another one.  It sang a semi-tone higher, and the ice vibrated between the crisp air and the ice-cold water below.   Tom bent and loosened another flat stone from the ground.  He stood beside me.  In another minute, the ice was ringing with the song of skipping stones.

We’d soon depleted the shore of every loose flat rock.  The lake was still and silent.  No note remained in its repertoire.  The ice in front of us was littered with flat grey stones. 

‘No skating this year,’ said Tom.  ‘We’ve planted enough trippers to last into next spring.’

We turned from the lake and followed the path back to the field.  As we navigated the alders and rounded a corner, we came suddenly on a sturdy bush of bright red berries.  ‘Look, Sadie.  Winterberry holly,’ said Tom. ‘It usually grows by the lake, but here it is, in our field.  Our very own burning bush.’  

The bush glowed with orange-red berries, set off by bronze-colored leaves, not yet fallen.  In the silver and grey of the thicket, it was a gift…



bush of winterberry holly


If you have any comments, good or bad, about this piece of writing, let me know.  Is there anything you don’t understand?  I there anything I could better explain?  Have you ever skipped stones on  the ice of a lake or pond?


Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

Written by jane tims

December 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

a moment of beautiful – ice in the ditch

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the space: a ditch along the road

the beautiful: a skim of new ice


When nights are icy cold after a day of spring warmth, water freezes in the ditches.  Ephemeral, this skim of new ice will be gone as soon as the morning sun overtops the trees.

The ice is frail, but if you are careful, you can lift a pane of this natural glass and see the world through a different window.



ditch ice


on the last sub-zero night in March

we forge swords and slivers

cast a lens, a barrier to warm


below ditch ice are sinuous

arrangements of water and breath

nostrils grope for airways

peer through frozen skim

as though through windows

learn the underside of pane



© Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

April 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

ice is nice

with 5 comments

Our snow is slow in coming this year.  We have had three snowfalls, but each, in its turn, has been rained or warmed away.   If our ups and downs of temperature continue, the scant layer of snow on the ground this morning will be gone by Saturday.

However, winter is manifesting itself in other ways.  I am wearing another sweater-layer this week.  Our grey woods are muttering with chill cracking sounds.  And ice is forming on the river and along the lake edge, gradually covering the surfaces with white and grey.

Ice – the frozen state of water…  water is critical because it is a key component of our ecosystem and we need water to drink.  Also, an unusual property of ice is responsible for keeping our ecosystem healthy.

Frozen water is about 8% less dense than liquid water.  This means ice floats.  As a result, bodies of water such as rivers, ponds and lakes, do not freeze from the bottom up.  Instead, when water freezes at the surface, critical habitat is left under the ice for living things to survive and thrive.  This is especially important for the bacterial and algal colonies at the base of the food chain.

Ice, therefore, is nice.




river ice


ice builds in shallows

at the rim of river, incremental

embellishment to glass, surrounds

willow stem and reed, thickness

increased as frost penetrates, sharp

edges cauterized by cold


©  Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

December 21, 2011 at 6:43 am

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