nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘memories

Waiting for wild life to pass by

with 6 comments

Back in our Grey Woods is a tiny ‘park’. Just an area I try to keep clean of dead-falls. Years ago, my Mom loved this little area. She found ‘ghost pipe’, also called ‘Indian pipe’ (Monotropa uniflora), growing there. These are parasitic plants without chlorophyll. They are small, less than 20 cm high. The ‘pipe’ is an excellent descriptor since a plant consists of a nodding head on a slender stem.

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My Mom tried to protect these uncommon plants from trampling by putting shingles in the ground to mark the location.

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The ghost pipes no longer grow there. The shingles have rotted and disappeared. Change is inevitable and in this little park, change is likely related to nutrient conditions. My Mom is also gone but I keep the little park to remember the day she tried to save the ghost pipe.

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One addition I made to the area is a small bird feeder. I installed the feeder on an old red maple tree. The feeder is painted iron, moulded in the form of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis lived in Italy at the turn of the thirteenth century and is known for his love of animals and the natural environment. He believed nature was the mirror of God and the animals were his brothers and sisters. He even preached to the birds (Source: Wikipedia).

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DSCN0060.JPG

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ghost pipe

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in grey woods

Saint Francis

cast in iron

watches wild

life pass by

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red squirrel

ceaseless motion

white-tailed deer

pauses, listens

a chipmunk

runs the log

fallen tree

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time also

passes by

Aralia

and bracken

replace white

ghost pipe, once

grew here, all

nature a mirror

of our lives

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

remembering place – Grade Four, part one

with 2 comments

School-wise, Grade 4 was a fragmented year.  I began the year in Medicine Hat at Webster Niblock Elementary.  And then my family moved to a new community forty miles away, and I completed Grade 4 in the school there.

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Webster Niblock Elementary School front yard

Webster Niblock Elementary School front yard

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I have lots of memories of Webster Niblock.  First, there was the walk to school (red path in the aerial photo below).  On one side of the road were houses, but on the other side of the road was prairie.  Today there is a row of houses on that side of the street, but in 1963 the prairie was undeveloped and raw to its very edge.  I was not allowed to wander on the prairie by myself, or to take a shortcut to school.  Later my Dad told me he was always afraid of rattle snakes when we lived in the west.  But I could see the plants that grew at the roadside.

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my route from home to school

my route from home to school

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I still remember the orange-red Prairie Mallow, also known as Scarlett Globemallow (Sphaeralcia coccinea), and the Prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia) with its grape-like berries.  At the corner where I turned from Second Avenue to 11th Street (blue star) was an expanse of pineapple weed (Matricaria Discoidea) – I don’t remember picking or smelling them … to me, they looked like a miniature forest of pine where tiny people could walk.  I think my interest in plants must have begun during those years, encouraged by my Mom who knew the names of all the flowers.

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'Pineapple Weed'

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I also remember specific conversations with my best friend Laureen as we walked to school, including the disagreements we had.  I remember that we talked about my moving away.  We decided we would write letters to one another and we laughed that we would probably carry on our childish fights in those letters.

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Another place I remember well is the ‘courtyard’ where we played at morning and afternoon recess (yellow star).  Spinning tops were all the rage and my Dad made me a wooden top from an empty spool of thread and a matchstick.  We also played marbles and I always lost.

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It was common practice to bring a ‘recess’, a treat to eat at the morning recess break.  My Mom usually sent a small square of fudge wrapped in wax paper or part of an apple.  When a new little girl joined our class, my Mom, who wanted me to make friends, was determined I would be nice to her.  Every day Mom sent a ‘recess’ treat for the little girl.  And every day, I would run up to her, shove the treat into her hand and run away.  I was generally shy and I don’t ever remember of saying a word to her.  I often think about her – today she is a woman of about sixty years who may, from time to time, remember a peculiar child who used to bring her a square of fudge every day and run away.

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Webster Niblock Elementary School rear yard

Webster Niblock Elementary School rear yard (we played with tops in the area by the red post at the corner of the school)

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 11, 2014 at 7:19 am

remembering place – Grade One

with 6 comments

On a ‘mind map’ of my life, what places are clearly marked as important, with bright yellow stickpins of internal memory?

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home

home (map from Google Earth)

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Since I spent most of my younger days in school, it isn’t very surprising that many of those stickpins mark the schools I attended.  One of these is Vincent Massey Elementary School in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

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Vincent Massey Elementary School in 2006 - looks just the same as in the early 1960s

Vincent Massey Elementary School in 2012 – looks just the same as in the early 1960s (image from Street View)

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In the early 1960s there were three elementary schools within a reasonable distance of our house. The story of how I came to attend Vincent Massey was probably one of the first dramatic events in my life to that date.

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The school I was assigned to attend was determined by the School Board.   The summer just before I was to attend school for the first time, a delegate of the School Board came around the neighborhood to let the parents know which school their children would attend.  Mom and Dad were not at home when the representative came to call.  My Mom got the information second-hand, from the mother of my best friend, just across the street.

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from home to school in Grade One

from home to school in Grade One (map from Google Earth)

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Mom and Dad were quite alarmed to discover I was to go to Vincent Massey Elementary School, seven blocks away.  This may not seem far today – my son attended Grade One in a community 13 kilometers away.  But in those days, there was no school bus and my Mom had my eighteen-month-old brother to care for.  I would have to get to school on my own two feet.

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My brother and I in 1960 - I had been in Grade One for three months when the picture was taken - I look like I could easily make those seven blocks to school!

My brother and I in 1960 – I had been in Grade One for three months when the picture was taken – I look like I could easily make those seven blocks to school!

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I remember the discussions well – about the best route for me to take, about what we would do about dinner time, about the dangers of taking to strangers.  We did a couple of dry runs.  I can still remember my Mom showing me how to cross the busy four-lane Division Avenue.  Up to this point, I had not been allowed to go beyond our own block by myself.

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Division Avenue

Division Avenue in 2012 (image from Street View) – I remember standing on the curb looking at the traffic whizzing back and forth … no crosswalk!!!!

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The first day at school, the drama expanded.  Mom had told me to be very careful to listen for my first name – Alexandra.  I was usually called by my second name – Jane – so this was a major worry for me.  On that first morning, all the students were assembled in the gymn.  We sat on the floor and our names were called, one by one.  I listened for that long, strange first name as each name was called.  And, at the very end, I was all alone in the gymn … no one had called the name Alexandra.

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The teachers were very nice, of course.  I was told not to worry, and Mrs. MacDonald, a teacher of one of the Grade One classes, came to get me.

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As it turned out, the neighbor had given my Mom the wrong information.  Today, knowing urban planning as I do, I think ‘Division Avenue’ might have provided the first clue!!!!

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I had a great year.  I walked to school with friends.  We stuck to the planned route for a while, but ended up taking shortcuts through various yards.  By the end of the year, I was taking the city bus, dropping my quarter into the slot like a pro.  I stayed with Mrs. MacDonald for my first year of school and emerged from the grade convinced that rabbit was spelled ‘raddit’ (no fault of the teacher’s).

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Mrs. McDonald's Grade One class (I am first left in bottom row; Mrs. McDonald is at upper left)

Mrs. McDonald’s Grade One class (I am first left in bottom row; Mrs. McDonald is at upper left)

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The next year, properly directed by the School Board, I was sent to Crescent Heights Elementary School, two blocks away, and another stickpin on my ‘mind map’ …

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

remembering place: a gift on a spring day

with 8 comments

swing chair voyages.png

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When I was a teenager, my family lived in Lower Sackville in Nova Scotia.  I went to Junior High and Senior High there and began my university days.

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I have many great memories of living in our house … of spending time with friends and family.  I remember painting the kitchen cupboards with my Dad, painting a huge seascape on the living room wall, decorating the Christmas tree with the ‘help’ of our dog Snoopy, and doing homework and learning to sew while watching Audie Murphy movies.  One of my earliest ‘projects’ was raising wild violets from seed along the back fence.  I can remember spending hours on the phone with my friend Donna, pulling the long telephone cord down the basement stairs so I could sit and giggle in privacy.

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On that same phone, my sister and I practiced for days how we would be the tenth caller to win tickets to see Elvis Presley in Halifax.  When the moment came, we counted the time just as we had carefully calculated.  Then I dialed in, at the precise moment.  They answered!  And, in my excitement, I HUNG UP.  My sister was so put out at me.  And we will never know if we were the lucky tenth caller!  We never did see Elvis in person.

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As an exercise for a writing class I am taking, I wrote a little about attending my best friend’s wedding after graduation in 1972.  I walked to the church which was just at the bottom of our street.  As I wrote the story, I thought how I would like to see that street, to better remember the walk I took.  So, I went to Street View (Google Earth).  I began at the top of the hill and virtually ‘walked ‘ along the street where I had lived.  At the first of the walk, I saw our house in July of 2012, when the Street View image was taken.  I was amazed to see how the trees we planted had grown …  the house is hard to see !

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Lower Scackville house 1

the house where we used to live, the trees all grown

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A few more ‘steps’ and Street View switched to an image taken in May of 2009.  I turned back to ‘see’ the house.  And this is what I saw …

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Lower Scackville house 2

Forsythia in bloom in front of the house where I used to live

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My Mom loved the big Forsythia that grew in our front yard.  She always said it reminded her of my grandmother (her mother).  And there it was, in full bloom and grown huge over the 40 years since we lived there.  What a lovely gift on a spring day!

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 21, 2014 at 7:06 am

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