poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘picnic

a Heidi picnic

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When I was a child, one of my favorite books was Johanna Spyri’s Heidi.  I loved reading about Heidi and Peter’s trips to the alpine meadow to watch over the goats.  And I loved the simplicity of their dinner … milk and cheese and bread.  My favorite picnic lunch is a version of theirs and I always think of it as a ‘Heidi Picnic’.


A week ago, my husband and I took a short vacation in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  We followed the Route des Sommets, a trail of roadways through the elevations of the Quebec Appalachians …


view along the Route des Sommets in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

view along the Route des Sommets in the Eastern Townships of Quebec


We admired the architecture of the churches – spires and rose windows …


Catholic church in East Angus, Quebec

Catholic church in East Angus, Quebec


and we sampled the local food, squeaky cheese curds, herbed cheese, sweet honey, crisp Lobo apples, and yeasty artisan bread … our Heidi picnic …


our Heidi picnic in Quebec

our Heidi picnic in Quebec


Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

September 22, 2014 at 7:16 am

a woodland stream in southern Alberta

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When we were children, living in Alberta, Mom and Dad took us for drives on the weekends.  Usually, we explored the prairie roads or the landscape of the South Saskatchewan River.  Sometimes, though, we sought the wooded areas of southern Alberta. 

A place we visited more than once was a small wooded stream in the Cypress Hills.  We called it ‘Greyburn Gap’, probably after the nearby community of Greyburn’s Gap.  The site had a picnic table and shelter, woods to explore, and the little stream. 

The Cypress Hills area is an eroded plateau, rising above the Alberta and Saskatchewan prairies.  It was left unglaciated during the last ice age and has a flora and fauna much different than the surrounding prairie.  Part of the Cypress Hills is protected as the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.

Elkwater Lake and the wooded landscape of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park as they appeared in 1967

My parents were raised in Nova Scotia and were accustomed to the forests of the Atlantic Provinces.   The Cypress Hills, and the woods of Elkwater Lake, where we had a cabin, must have helped them feel more at home in Alberta. 

mixed woods of Elkwater Lake area (2002)

our cabin at Elkwater Lake (1967)


Greyburn Gap, Alberta


I remember    a brook threaded through the trees like string   

black water in the gap between gossamer and fern

a fence to mark its moving   a fallen fir

to tangle its water    our hands

trailing in the eddy


a jug of root beer   sunk to the neck   to move the brook’s cold shiver

into our summer bodies



 © Jane Tims, 2011

Written by jane tims

August 24, 2011 at 8:04 am

the location of our picnic table

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Back in our grey woods is a place we don’t visit regularly any more.  Our picnic table is there, in a mossy area among mature spruce and fir, at the top of a slope.  It overlooks a wet spot in the woods.  In the spring the wet area becomes an ephemeral stream, and a series of vernal pools among the mosses and ferns.

down-slope of the picnic table is a ferny area with an ephemeral stream... the dark areas in the photo are pools of water

Once, almost 28 years ago, the space was perfect for our new picnic table.  The table was given to my newborn son by his Great-Aunt Jane and we took considerable care in choosing its location. 

our picnic table in the woods

In years past, we took a picnic lunch there regularly.  Sometimes I went there to write.

Today I pass the table when I follow the path through the woods, but I haven’t stopped to eat a picnic there in years.   Another family has taken over, probably of Groundhogs (Marmota monax).  They have built a labyrinth of burrows among the tree roots in the soft soil of the slope.  Where each burrow exits is a mound, the remains of deep-earth excavation.  One of the six burrow openings is larger than the others.  My reading tells me this complex of burrows and exits provides quick escape from predators, a place to store food, and a place to hibernate.

the main entrance to the burrows, under the roots of a fir

Once this place was the ideal location for our new picnic table and our family picnics.  Now the same site is perfect habitat for the Groundhog family.                                                    


concerning the location

of our new picnic table


share a meal with the unknown

to make it your friend


we find a clearing

near the path

where the sun will shine at noon

where we will not have to cut the trees

where the neighbours’ voices

and the passing cars

are quiet 


we load the picnic table

into the cart

haul it through the woods

behind the Yamaha


we eat peanut butter sandwiches

and applesauce

drink cola

and sunshine


we laugh

make friends with the woods

and with each other



© Jane Tims 1983

Written by jane tims

August 20, 2011 at 7:32 am

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