poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘night sky

snowfall and summer

with 6 comments

snow rocking in hammock




in the hammock

the snow rocks

gently, enthralled by


of fireflies

owl calls


wind harasses

the pines

mutters them miserable

snow fall ceases

stars punctuate

indigo sky


snow dwindles

shrinks and sublimates

the hammock cradles

a frail cadaver, swings

in obedience to

winter storm



Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 2, 2013 at 7:00 am

in the circle of the evergreen wreath

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Every year, during Advent, I either purchase or make a wreath of evergreens to celebrate the coming of Christmas.  Last year, making the wreath, I had a little help.  Zoë decided the perfect place to perch herself was within the circle of the wreath.

Our wreath materials were all obtained on our lake property.  The species we used for our wreath were:

  • White Pine (Pinus Strobus L.)
  • White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.)  also known as Arbor Vitae
  • Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.)
  • Common Juniper (Juniperus communis L.)  -the variety we used was too prickly and I won’t use it again.


At this time of Advent, we wait in the darkest days of the year for Christmas.  The wreath is one of the most endearing symbols of this wait.  Made of evergreens, it speaks to the concept of everlasting love.  To count down the Sundays before Christmas, we light purple and pink candles to symbolize ideas of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.   The lighted candles also represent bringing light into the world.

The wreath is another of those symbols borrowed from pagan times, when the circle represented the ever-changing seasons and the circle of life.  The evergreen stood for the part of life that survives the winter season and  candles symbolized light shining through darkness.



gathering green


in the space between solstice

and the whisper of stars

in a herded sky

daylight shrinks, always one hour

short of rested


in the thicket we gather

armloads, garlands of green

fragrances of cedar and pine

red dogwood twigs

stems of red berry, alder cones

curved boughs of fir


flexible as mattress coils, piled on ground

to rest, await brief

overlap, longest night

and feathering of angel down


watch, through the trees

the struggle

planet light

and pagan fire



© Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

December 5, 2012 at 7:05 am

keeping watch for dragons #8 – campfire dragon

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Late summer is the time for campfires.  We have to be careful, of course, to make sure there is no risk of forest fire and campfires are permitted.  But on an evening when the fire index hotline says OK, and we have a small stack of wood beside the fire pit and a bench for sitting, there is no better way to pass an evening.

Campfires are great places for telling stories.  They are also good places to dream and remember.   A campfire means getting smoke in your eyes, so the images can be a little blurry.  You can watch the sparks lift from the fire and ascend into the dark night.  The question is, are they also watching you … ?



campfire dragons 


dragons prowl

in balsam

back crawl in amber

blisters of pitch


dragons lurk

under mantles of smoke

blacken the stones

spurt throatfuls of fire


dragons leap

to the Drago sky

watch us grow small

with sparking eyes


close their lids

and sleep in flight



©  Jane Tims 1998

Written by jane tims

August 24, 2012 at 7:15 am

places off-planet #5 – Comet Hale-Bopp 1996

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Comet Hale-Bopp could be seen from Earth in late 1996 and early 1997.  Its strange name is from the independent co-discoverers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp.  Hale-Bopp was a large comet, with a nucleus of about 60 miles in diameter.  It had two visible tails, one of gas and one of dust, and had a third tail of sodium.  It has been called the most-observed comet in history.  Hale-Bopp won’t be back until 4385!

I have no specific memory of Hale-Bopp itself, although I do remember a common saying in our household in 1997 was to greet almost every out-of-place object with “Hail!  Bopp!”.  The poem I wrote after seeing the comet is all I have to know how it appeared to me.

Do you remember seeing Hale-Bopp?

photo from Wikimedia Commons, taken by Philipp Salzgeber





also a comet


Hail! bright star


a flare in the western sky

a diamond


a sparkler

embedded in smoke



©  Jane Tims  1997

Written by jane tims

May 14, 2012 at 8:09 am

places off-planet #4 – Comet Hyakutake 1996

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Comet Hyakutake had a nucleus of about 2 km in diameter and a tail-length of 570 million km.  The Ulysses spacecraft is known to have flown through Haykutake’s tail.  One of the comet’s notable characteristics was its blue-green color.  It was bright to the naked eye for only a few days.

I remember Hyakutake as a ‘knock-you-off-your-feet’ surprise.  I knew it could be seen, but I hadn’t made any effort to look for it.  One night as I arrived home, I saw it shining through the trees at the end of the driveway, and climbed the snowbank at the end of the drive to investigate.  I saw the comet and literally stumbled backward in amazement!

Did you see Comet Hyakutake in 1996?


photo is from Wikimedia Commons

taken by E. Kolmhofer and H. Raab of the Johannes-Kepler-Observatory




a comet


she runs in the solar wind

pale night woman

her face to the sun

hair and petals     streaming


ephemeral, strewn in whispers

soft fistfuls of light

tresses tangled

in the fingers of the forest



©  Jane Tims  1997

Written by jane tims

May 11, 2012 at 9:04 am

places off-planet #3 – Halley’s Comet 1986

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Halley’s Comet, first recorded by astronomers in 240 BCE, has been a regular visitor through the ages, although people did not realise they were seeing the same comet until astronomer Edmund Halley determined this in 1705.  Halley’s Comet makes an elliptical orbit of the sun and returns to view approximately every 75 years.  It was last seen in 1986.  Halley’s Comet is composed of dust, ice water and other frozen gasses, and was described by astronomer Fred Whipple as a ‘dirty snowball’.  Its nucleus is 15 km long, 8 km wide and 8 km thick; its tail is as much as 100 million km long!

We saw Halley’s Comet as a family, waking in the middle of the night, and driving to a nearby hill overlooking a big field with French Lake and its treeless wetlands in the distance.  The night sky was overcast with a thin high-elevation cloud, so our view was not the best.  However, to me, it was marvellous… a huge (relative to the size of the stars) ball of fuzzy light.  My son can barely remember our watch on the hillside, all swathed in blankets.  However, when it returns in 2061 and he is 78 years old, he will be able to say he saw it twice!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons, taken by Kuiper Airborne Observatory



Halley’s  1987


we choose a roadside watching place

beside a farmer’s field

across from the cemetery

few trees

few lights


we set the alarm for three

coax one another

into the icy car

in awe for an hour

at the comet    fuzzy      indistinct

four fingers above the horizon


too undefined, too faint

for the dirty snowball

they predicted

I scrape our breath from the window

I see it, says my son, only three

I think


he sleeps between us until ten o’clock

his blanket a soft ball

pressed to his nose


almost eighty

he waits for the return


I saw it when I was only young

I think



©  Jane Tims 1997

Written by jane tims

May 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

places off-planet #2 – three comets

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In my life so far, I have seen three major comets – Halley’s Comet in 1986, Hyakutake in 1996, and Hale-Bopp in 1997.  There have been comets since then, I know, but I have always been asleep!

A comet is composed of a ‘nucleus’ of rock, dust and frozen gas, and a tail.  The tail is formed when the gasses in the nucleus are heated by the sun and create an atmosphere or ‘coma’.  The sun’s radiation and the solar wind cause the coma to flow away from the sun as a tail.  Since the comet can be moving away from the sun, sometimes this means the comet moves in the direction of its tail!

How many comets have you seen?





from the Greek



to wear long hair


©  Jane Tims 1997


Written by jane tims

May 5, 2012 at 6:36 am

places off-planet #1 – watching the stars

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For me, star-gazing is a warm-weather activity.  The winter, although dazzling in its displays of stars, is too cold for my arthritic joints and the immobility of prolonged star study.

So, as May approaches, I am looking forward to spending some time outside, to locate some old friends in the sky and to meet some new sky-folk!

I am lucky to live in an area not overly polluted with night light.  At our home, although trees make viewing sporadic, stray light from street and yard lights is not a problem.  At our lake property, the surroundings are utterly dark and the sky is stunning, studded with stars.

If you want to do some stargazing, you need three things to get a good start:

  •      a star chart or a planisphere (a combination of a star chart and a viewer). My favourite planisphere is downloadable and printable, from the National Research Council at

  •      a reclining lawn chair (so you can relax and your neck will not ache)
  •      a flashlight with a clear red cover (this is to prevent your eyes from becoming light-adapted as you check the star-chart).

Another helpful item, to see groupings of stars more clearly, or to see details of the moon:

  •      a pair of binoculars

Are you a stargazer?  What are your favorite ‘tools-of-the-trade’?



the search for wind

and stars


these are not the winds I sought to stand in

I wanted a zephyr to ruffle the bluets in spring

a breeze to whip the silver wind chime to frenzy


instead I cower from night moans

the rattle at the window

the street where a dust daemon lurks

near every wall, lifts the leaves

grinds them to powder


I gaze at the skies

watch for Altair and Orion

the never- random pulse to signal man


but all the lights in the night sky

are not stars

the moon who solemn watches

as his face is peeled away

the comet drawing scant thoughts across darkness

its tears a storm of falling stars


I walk with sorrow

it rests behind the eyes

and cannot swell to tears


the truth so simple

yet impossible to know-

you need only stand

and the hill will form beneath your feet

and the roaring shrink

to the breath of love across your face


©  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

April 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

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