poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘mystery

where we read

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I am a reader. There are stacks of read and unread books wherever you go in my house. There is a Kindle by my living-room chair and a Kobo by my bedside. Since I read multiple books at once, most are marked ‘last-page-read’.  I read the books a bit at a time, choosing whatever I think will suit me on a particular day.



So where do I read? Anywhere!


When I was young, I read in my bedroom. I’d take a flashlight to bed and hide under the covers to read. Mom was not fooled! When we went to Nova Scotia for summer vacation, I read in my grandfather’s orchard. There was a tree-limb perfect for sitting!



During my university days, I read like a mad-woman, as much mystery/romance as I could absorb. I think I wanted solace from my steady diet of science texts and journal articles! My preferred reading place was my car – also a rest from the lab where I did most of my university studies.


I still favour mysteries, especially detective series. Science fiction too. And poetry, always poetry!

A few series I’d recommend:

Chuck Bowie -“Donovan: Thief for Hire

Ann Cleeves – “Sheltland Island Mysteries

Ann Granger –  I like her older “Fran Varady Crime Novels


Through the years, I have been constant in my reading spaces:

  • the car … for years I drove to a park on my lunch hour and cheerfully read the time away. When my son was in his early university days, I never minded waiting for him because I could read while I waited.
  • in bed … as the years go by, reading puts me to sleep faster and faster. It sometimes takes me months to read a particular book!
  • in my accustomed chair in the living room … experience with decades of public service work means I can read with any distraction.
  • in our camp at our table. No distractions, just good company.
  • but never in my planned reading space … when I retired I bought a comfy chair and designed a perfect reading corner. It is a great space to store stuff – books for my next signing, the shower head we haven’t yet installed, two throw pillows no-one wants to sit with and recent purchases not put away. When the chair is empty of stuff, it is filled with Zoë. I never read there …. never, ever.



Where do you read? If you had a special reading spot, do you think you would use it?


Copyright 2018 Jane Tims



Written by jane tims

February 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

in a yellow caravan

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The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame was published in 1908 and has defined the relationship of people to place for four generations.  The story of animal friends and their lives along the river is a magical yet down-to-earth tale.  It solidifies ideas of home, adventure and longing.  It captures (or doesn’t) the insubstantial voice of nature:

… it passes into words and out of them again – I catch them at intervals – then it is dance-music once more, and then nothing but the reeds’ soft thin whispering.

One of the memorable characters of the book is Toad.  He is reckless and arrogant, and constantly gets into trouble, but I think his appeal is the adventurer in all of us.  Some of his adventures are in a bright yellow caravan …


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2003 ‘Toad’s yellow cart, Wind in the Willows’ Jane Tims



 … there, drawn out of the coach house into the open, they saw a gipsy caravan, shining with newness, painted a canary-yellow picked out with green, and red wheels.

‘There you are!’ cried the Toad … ‘There’s real life for you, embodied in that little cart.  The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows … The whole road before you, and a horizon that’s always changing …


My copy of Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame, 2007, Vancouver: Blue Heron Books) was illustrated by Robert Ingpen (what a name for an artist!).  I will leave you with his illustrations of Toad’s yellow caravan …






Copyright  2015  Jane Tims





Written by jane tims

March 13, 2015 at 10:22 am

hidden in the hollow heart of an oak

with 7 comments

Hollow trees create mysterious spaces in the woods. 

When I was young, a hollow in a tree was a secret hiding place for treasures, and one of my favourite books was a Nancy Drew mystery –  “The Message in the Hollow Oak”.   In the story, a hollow tree is used as a secret mailbox between long lost lovers.

Carolyn Keene 1935 The Message in the Hollow Oak   (a later edition, probably around 1965)
The best use of cavities in trees or logs is as habitat for insects, bats, owls and other small animals.  Hollows are good locations for foraging.  They also create shelter, and provide a place for nesting.  Animals who use hollow trees or logs for habitat are called “hollow-dependant”.

a hollow log in the woods

Cavities are usually found in mature trees.  Their importance as habitat is a good reason for protecting older, mature trees in the woodlot.  When my son was young, we made wooden signs saying “DEN TREE” for the older hollow trees in our woods, so we would remember not to cut them down. 

Do you know a hollow tree and would you reach into the cavity to retrieve a letter???



requesting the favour of a reply


these leafless trees

brush against

a linen sky

ink strokes

on rice paper


penned at midnight


hidden in the hollow

heart of an oak

afraid to reach in

to feel only

curls of bark

desiccated leaves


these trees

all seem the same

empty envelopes

parchment ghosts


branches tangled




black spruce scribbled on sky



Published as: ‘an answer in silence’, Spring 1995, The Cormorant XI (2)


© Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 19, 2011 at 6:54 am

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