nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘nature

showy wildflowers along New Ireland Road, Albert County, NB

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Last week we went for a drive on the New Ireland Road in Albert County, New Brunswick. Our purpose was to visit the graveyard and to see if we could spot any persisting or escaping flower species from flower gardens associated with the now abandoned settlement.

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New Ireland was once a community along the eastern section of the Shepody Road (now called the New Ireland Road).

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settled in 1816: PO 1857-1892: in 1866 New Ireland was a farming community with 68 families: in 1871 it had a population of 150: in 1898 New Ireland had 1 post office, 1 church and a population of 100: included the community of New Ireland Road: PO 1864-1903: in 1866 New Ireland Road was a farming settlement with approximately 25 families: in 1871 it had a population of 150: in 1898 New Ireland Road had 1 post office and a population of 30: included the community of Kerry which was named for County Kerry in Ireland: PO 1876-1931: in 1898 Kerry was a farming settlement with 1 post office, 1 church and a population of 75: New Ireland was abandoned about 1920 (Source: N.B. Archives, https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Home.aspx?culture=en-CA ).

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Today, only the graveyard (St. Agatha’s Catholic Cemetery) remains.

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… Farmland has sadly returned to forest. Occasionally you can see a culvert that once led into a farmer’s home or field, and there is the occasional rose bush or wild apple tree struggling to survive amid reforested lands. (Source: http://newirelandnb.ca/irish-migration/ )

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Although the rose bush did not show itself, we saw old apple trees and two showy species, viper’s bugloss and golden ragwort. These could be garden escapes but perhaps are just wild volunteers on abandoned ground.

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Viper’s bugloss

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Viper’s bugloss growing at the Fortymile Brook crossing, not far from the former New Ireland settlement

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Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) is also known as blueweed, blue thistle, blue devil, snake flower. It is an introduced plant (from Eurasia) and is often cultivated as an ornamental. It is invasive and lives on calcareous or poor soils. At first glance the plant is like a scrawny lupin. Up to a metre in height, it is very bristly-looking. The tall stem has a number of arching lateral floral stalks where one flower blooms at a time. Flowers are briefly pink as they bloom, changing to blue. The stem and sepals are hairy and the long red stamens add to the bristly appearance. Viper’s bugloss is melliferous (honey producing) since it produces nectar and blue pollen loved by bees, bumblebees and butterflies.

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Golden ragwort

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Senecio long view

Golden ragwort growing along the New Ireland Road

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Golden ragwort (Senecio aureus) is a tall composite with flat-topped flower clusters. The flowers are golden with sparse rays. The basal leaves are long-stemmed and heart-shaped; the leaves on the flower stalk are elongated and finely divided. The plant is native, and grows on wet ground, in low woods and in meadows.

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Senecio leaf shapes

leaf shapes of Senecio aureus – heart-shaped (green leaves) and divided (reddish leaves)

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Senecio flowers

flowers of Senecio aureus

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These two plants will star in a poem about long-gone flower gardens along the New Ireland Road. Wandering along the road, taking photos and researching the flowers are the first steps to building the poem.

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I will be sharing the poem once I have a draft!

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 9, 2018 at 11:19 am

Partridge and Grouse – which are you???

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In New Brunswick, we have three birds which I confuse and name ‘Partridge‘. Remember I am a botanist and come by my bird knowledge through secondary sources.

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a ruffed grouse or a grey partridge? the first clue is habitat (the mainly hardwood woodlands)

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The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a bird of the woodlands (mostly hardwood) and is the bird heard ‘drumming’ in our woods in spring. Its plumage varies from pale brown to bright mahogany. It has a fanning tail and head feathers which stand up like a crown. The feathers around the neck ruff up too. Since these birds are locally referred to as ‘partridge’, there can be confusion between the Ruffed Grouse, the Spruce Grouse and the Grey Partridge.

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Ruffed Grouse crossing the Old Shepody Road in eastern New Brunswick

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Ruffed Grouse in our grey woods

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The Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) is a bird of mainly coniferous woodlands. It eats spruce and pine needles. It is a chicken-like bird with variable plumage, mostly grey and black in the male and grey-brown in the female. The bird has a fanning tail, but does not raise its head feathers the way the Ruffed Grouse does. For a good photo of the Spruce Grouse see https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Spruce_Grouse/id

The Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix) is a bird of open areas and grass lands. It is a roundish bird with a brown back and grey sides and neck. The chest-area has a darker brown mark. When startled, the bird flies upwards on rounded wings. For a good photo of a Grey Partridge see https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Gray_Partridge/id

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 6, 2018 at 4:32 pm

bracket fungi

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On a drive last weekend, we saw this great example of bracket fungi growing on an old maple.

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Bracket fungi belong to a group of fungi called polypores. These produce the characteristic spore-producing bodies called conks. The shelf-shaped or bracket-shaped conks are a reproductive outgrowth of the main fungal body called the mycelium. As with all fungi, the mycelium is mostly unseen since it resides in wood or soil.

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Polypores are a significant part of the forest ecosystem because they are agents of wood decay. These fungi are efficient decomposers of lignin and cellulose.

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On a more fanciful note, the brackets of these fungi always remind me of ‘faerie stairs’, a way to ascend an ancient tree.

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bracket fungi

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in this forest

(staid

practical

grey)

could any form

construe to magic?

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fairy rings

moths in spectral flight

spider webs, witches brooms

burrows and subterranean

rooms, hollows in wizened

logs, red toadstools

white-spotted, mottled

frogs

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bracket fungi

steps ascending

a branchless tree

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(Previously published October 28, 2011 http://www.nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com )

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 4, 2018 at 7:00 am

scribble bird

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Winter Wren

Troglodytes hiemalis

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How to find

centre of forest.

Joy the objective.

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Tiny tail

shivers as he sings.

Delirious trill.

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Troglodyte

darts into thickets,

creeps into crevasses.

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Lifts an eyebrow,

joins a chime of wrens.

Elusive ripple,

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varied trill,

incoherent whir,

tremble to warble.

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Distinguish

the note, the half-note,

the tone, the tangle.

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Forget where

you once were going,

indecisive

scribble bird.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 3, 2018 at 9:11 pm

a feast of wild strawberries

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This week at our cabin the wild strawberries are hanging from their stems. When I see them I think of the sweet wild strawberry jam my mom used to make. And, after this weekend, I will think of  cedar waxwings.

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As we sat in the cabin, eating our dinner, we saw a bird making trips between the birch tree in front of the cabin and the grassy field to the side, where the wild strawberries grow.

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My husband identified the bird and spotted where it perched in the tree. The cedar waxwing is one of the common birds at the cabin. They love to eat fruit and we have wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries on the property.

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There were two cedar waxwings on the branch, sharing a meal of wild strawberries. Sharing fruit is a ritual behavior between male and female cedar waxwings.

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The cedar waxwings nest in our big white pines and sing in the top branches of other nearby trees. I will never see them without thinking of their little feast of berries.

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All my best,

Jane

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Written by jane tims

June 27, 2018 at 7:00 am

A place to be still

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I love to be outside but my knees do not always cooperate. So, I make certain I have a place to sit on my walk-about. I love my concrete bench. I get a great view of the yard. In spring there are crocuses. At this time of year, a huge patch of sensitive fern. In fall there will be red maple leaves. But the bench is cold. Not a place to sit for long! Not a place to linger.

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A place to be still

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Cold concrete,

embedded, still,

where leaves

of purple crocus

press through turf,

sensitive fern

overtakes lawn,

autumn builds

layer on layer.

Cold concrete,

embedded, still.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

Birdbath

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Our copper birdbath includes a silver-coloured metal bird, in case no real birds come to call. In the shade of the maple tree the water shimmers. But the little silver bird never flutters, not even a feather.

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birdbath

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embedded in dapple

edge of copper

silver bird never moves

never flutters a feather

never pecks a sparkle

from crystal water

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bird with heartbeat

and dusty wing-feathers

lands for a bath

sputters and splashes

chooses to ignore

immobile effigy

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 9, 2018 at 9:25 pm

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