poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘lake

Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata L.)

with 6 comments

In any season, I think it is important to slow down and look closely at the ground to catch a glimpse of the natural diversity occurring there.    This time of year, in our snowy climate, there are tracks to find, evergreens to notice, and seeds and berries to discover.

Since I am trained as a botanist, looking down is the norm for me.  Often, I fail to look up and see the landscape and horizon.  When we first bought our lake property, it was quite a while before I looked across the lake and realised there were farms and a church on the opposite shore!     

As a result, I identify strongly with Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata L.), a yellow flower we find growing along the lakeshore in early summer.  It has a downward-facing flower and can only ‘see’ the ground.  Its shy demeanour encourages close inspection, but you have to get your own eyes quite low to see a view of its ‘face’. 

Fringed Loosestrife has five yellowish-green petals and a reddish center and blooms from May to July.  The petals are fringed and each is tipped with a ‘tooth’.

The genus is called after King Lysimachus of Thrace who, in legend, used the plant to calm a maddened bull.  Ciliata comes from the Latin word cilium meaning eyelash, referring to the hairs on the stem of each leaf.

Fringed Loosestrife grows in thickets and along shorelines like ours.


Fringed Loosestrife

            (Lysimachia ciliata L.)


at the edge of lake are two perspectives:

distant and near

horizon and shore



            low hills and orchard

            a farm, a steepled church

            the flat of the lake

            three waterfowl


the shore

            yellow Loosestrife

            Fringed petals

            look down


red eye studies

            flat rock and sticky bedstraw

            a wood frog, a feather fern

            winterberry petals new-fallen

            shoe leather, shoe laces


©  Jane Tims  2011


Written by jane tims

December 12, 2011 at 6:42 am

mood of the lake

with 9 comments

One of the very enjoyable experiences of having a property near the lake is listening to the loons.  There is a least one pair of loons on our lake and we see them often.  Usually they call a few times at mid-day or in the evening.  Their cries are varied, ranging from a laughing tremolo to distinctive and melancholy wails, hoots, and yodels.   

We have always been interested in loons and the protection of their habitat.  Loons are especially vulnerable to quickly changing water levels and wave action because they build their nests just at water level.  `Watch Your Wake` programs help boaters protect loon habitat.

In 1994, we participated briefly in the North American Loon Project.  Today there is a similar program, the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, sponsored by Bird Studies Canada.  This is a long term study, using data from volunteers, to assess the health of Canada’s loon population.   

We had little time in those days to participate fully, but we did visit Peltoma Lake in southern New Brunswick, to look at the loons living there.  My journal entry for our visit to Peltoma Lake reads:

May 1, 1994  Sunday

Trip to Peltoma Lake to see if there are any loons.  We are preparing to canoe the lake

about three times this year to make observations.  Disappointed at first

as the lake is lined with cottages and we could see no loons. 

Then we stopped near a small bay and there they were

– nine black and white beauties!     They left the cove as soon as they saw us.


I also wrote a poem about the lake – the mood of the poem suggests it must have been a damp and miserable day.

Last Sunday, we drove out to Peltoma Lake to take some photographs.   The loons and most of the people are gone this time of year.   Although it was cold, the lake sparkled in the sunlight and was anything but dreary.


Peltoma Lake– Sunbury County


Peltoma in rain

is a faded black and white photo

layers of misery, thick and still

the lake, the shore, the mist

the thin chill drizzle


in the coves

the cedar and birch swoon above the water

moved to tears at reflection

the lake broods

over her loons

and the cell-thick pall of algae

smoothed to the shore


cottages hug the lake

like campers huddle a fire

cheerless and smoky

pines on the esker reach

blank windows keep watch

for sparkle on waves 

back flips from the dock

paddles flashing sun

the day is bleak without answer


a muskrat tows a line on the shallows

loons quit the cove

diminish to mist


Peltoma is scowling


© Jane Tims  1994


Written by jane tims

November 11, 2011 at 8:02 am

course of the creek

with 7 comments

Our small cabin is near a lake, an offshoot of the Saint John River.  We have what some would consider poor access to the lake, since there is a marsh between us and the lake shore edge.  But that marsh is a very special place, ever changing and always interesting.

One way it changes, almost daily and certainly seasonally, is with respect to water level.  You could say we are downstream of the entire Saint John River, meaning we are receiver of every fluctuation of the water level in the system.  The situation is made complex by the influence of a major hydroelectric dam at Mactaquac.

In spring, the river floods, and the marsh is covered by water…

In normal years, the water levels become quite low, and our marsh is high and dry.  We can walk on it, to reach the outer shore of the lake…

the green in the foreground is the marsh

In wet years, like this has been, the water stays high and there is a pond between us and the main lake…

On Saturday, I went rowing on the pond in my small red rowboat.   I rowed out to the edge of the lake and then followed the deeper waters of the small winding creek back into the marsh as far as I could go without grounding the boat.  Last year I could see pumpkinseed sunfish in the creek water, but not this time.

Most of the grasses in the marsh are Spartina pectinata Link., broad-leaf cord-grass, ordinarily associated with salt marshes.  Actually, salt water is characteristic of the lower parts of the Saint John River – the salt water wedge extends as high as Washademoak Lake, and the tidal influence is measurable to above Fredericton!

At the outer shore of the pond, where the creek enters the lake, I was surprised and delighted to find a few stems of wild rice (Zizania aquatica L.).  This is not native to New Brunswick, but is often planted along shores to attract waterfowl and is now found all along the Saint John River and in many lakes.  The grass is distinctive because the pistillate (female) flowers are in a group near the top of the plant while the staminate (male) flowers are on horizontal banches below.

I am an awkward rower.  Usually, to improve my control and reduce my speed, I row the boat backward, stern first!  In spite of my lack of speed, it is an adventure to be on the water, to become a bit of an explorer.  My need to know the ways of the pond reminds me of my attempts to understand the path my life has taken.

characteristics of creek


clumsy row in the marsh pond

to seek the course of the creek

the strand of water’s flow

to nourish pond define

its shape conduit

to the lake


a slender S through grass emergent

pondweed and cord-grass vague

deviation from clarity hyaline the interface

of freshwater and salt and pumpkinseed

turn their flat bodies to intercept

the flow find the break in the mat of sedge

narrow simplicity of weed-free bottom



and find

the inevitable

thread in flow of

story the theme to bind

the words and water into one


© Jane Tims 2011

edge of lake

with 3 comments

Water is essential to my health, not only because I need it to drink.  I also need to see water.  Whether it’s the water of a stream, river, lake or ocean, being near water comforts and enlivens me.  

I like the transitions too, the places where land and water meet – the seashore, the margins of a brook, or the shoreline of a lake.  Birds and other animals love ‘edge’ – places where the food is plentiful and cover is available.  We go to the lake shore to watch loons diving for fish, deer wading in the marsh grass and ducks ‘dabbling’ along the shore. 

edge of lake


evening edge


of lake

a corner torn

from the loaf of hills

red with setting        


faint click

sun gone

dusk and bread crumbs scattered


nasal chuckle

from the farther shore

arrows etched on glass        


blue-winged teal

under wings a glimpse

of summer night


greedy for crust and crumbs


© Jane Tims  1998

evening edge of lake

Written by jane tims

August 29, 2011 at 7:12 am

deep waters – Clear Lake

with one comment

As a result of my work, I have been privileged to see some remote, very special places in New Brunswick. 

One of these is Clear Lake, a pristine lake in the south west area of the province.  To reach Clear Lake, we canoed across Sparks Lake and made the short portage from Sparks to Clear.  The portage crosses the narrow divide between two watersheds – Sparks Lake eventually flows into the Magaguadavic River, while Clear Lake is part of the Pocologan River system.

topographic map showing Clear Lake, Horseback Lake and Sparks Lake

Clear Lake is a deep lake with remarkably clear water.  Lake depth measurements from the New Brunswick Aquatic Data Warehouse show the maximum measured depth to be 29.6 meters (97 feet), although deeper depths have been recorded.  Stones on the bottom of the lake look like they are only centimetres away, but when you put your hand into the water, you quickly realise they are far out of reach.

standing beside Horseback Lake, a small lake just west of Clear Lake, October 1992 (photo by J. O'K.)


Clear Lake


behind us

dry leaves settle

waves on Sparks and Redrock


Clear Lake

bottle blue

silences our chatter

reeds and aluminium



we glide


between islands

group of seven trees

flung southward

quartz cobbles

rim the shore

dark Porcupine

bristles with conifers

tangled in the surface

plunge eighteen fathoms

to a cove

gathered in arms

of granite and pine

a cabin perched green

shadows peering

over the edge                                               


sudden and silent

sunken logs

caressed by crescent suns

cast through ripples

only a touch away


through the mirror


numb fingers search




essence always

out of reach



in the clear lake         



Published as: “Clear Lake”, 1999, River Revue 5


© Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 26, 2011 at 6:57 am

%d bloggers like this: