nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘plants and animals

spaces underground – a wasp nest

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Not far from where I sit-for-a-bit on my walk in our woods, I found a nest of wasps. Built underground, beneath the roots of a spruce tree, this nest has been revealed by some digging marauder (a skunk or raccoon) trying to get at the wasp larvae.  The nest is interesting to watch, but caution is necessary.

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When I found the nest, I took a little time to learn the difference between wasps and hornets. Hornets build their nests above ground and are larger, with black and white striped bodies. Wasps sometimes build nests underground and are small (1-2.5 cm), with black and yellow striped bodies. The insects in the underground nest are definitely wasps.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

August 28, 2017 at 7:06 am

getting the better of … a squirrel?

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At readings of my book within easy reach, I often include the poem ‘beaked hazelnuts’ and tell my audience:

If I don’t pick my hazelnuts by August 6, the squirrels will get there ahead of me. They watch the calendar!

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hazelnuts viewed from the underside of the shrub canopy

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The Beaked Hazelnut is a wiry shrub found in mixed woods. The edible nut is contained in a bristly, beaked husk. We have three clumps of the shrubs in our yard, probably sprung from the stashes of squirrels over the years!

For my battles with the squirrels over the hazelnuts, just have a look at

https://janetims.com/2011/08/07/competing-with-the-squirrels/

and

https://janetims.com/2011/08/18/competing-with-the-squirrels-2/

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This year, I also watched the calendar. And on August 5, I picked most of the hazelnuts on our hazelnut ‘trees’. Picking is tricky because those pods are covered with sticky sharp hairs that irritate thumb and fingers.

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Never-the-less, I have a small bowl of hazelnuts to call my own (I left a few for the squirrels, more than they ever did for me). Now I will wait for them to dry and then have a little feast!

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beaked hazelnuts

(Corylus cornuta Marsh.)

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hazelnuts hang

husks curve

translucent, lime

they ripen

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this year, they are mine

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uptight red squirrels agitate, on guard, we watch

the hazelnuts ripen, slow as cobwebs falling, nut pies

browning through the glass of the oven door

green berries losing yellow, making blue

dust motes in a crook of light

float, small hooked hairs

shine

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two more days

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hesitate

and red squirrels

bury their hazelnuts

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From within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016)

https://www.amazon.ca/Within-Easy-Reach-Jane-Spavold/dp/1988299004

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

August 9, 2017 at 7:45 am

morning birdcalls – Northern Parula

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After a hot day, a cool night. This morning, our windows are wide open and a Northern Parula is busy in our grey woods.

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His distinctive call – ‘whirrrr-zip’ – has an upward lilt at the end. I can catch only a glimpse of him, certainly not long enough for a photograph.

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The Northern Parula is a small warbler with a bright orangy-yellow upper breast. He builds his nests of Old Man’s Beard lichen (Usnea spp.) – there is lots of this lichen hanging from the trees in our grey woods, so of course he is here!  This is a watercolour I did of him last year.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

end of winter

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Although I love winter, it is so heartening to see all of nature enjoying the melting snowpack and the return of warmer days …

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As bits of fields reveal themselves, the white-tailed deer are out and about, feeding on young sprouts and the left-overs of last year’s harvest …

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The deer are not timid at all, but if the camera makes that whirring sound (remember The Lost World: Jurassic Park?) they are off in a flash, white tails lifted …

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

April 7, 2017 at 7:09 am

one room schools – distractions on the way to school

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I am thinking about the ways landscape would have influenced the day at a one room school in New Brunswick one hundred years ago. As we drove some of the back roads in the Stanley area this past weekend, I tried to think like a child on the way to school. So many distractions!

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First, the views. Fields green with new corn, yellow with buttercups, winter-white with daisies …

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And daisies to pick, perhaps a bouquet for a favorite teacher …

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Brooks to cross, and the lure of watching for fingerlings in the clear water …

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And a farmer’s pond, with ducks to watch, fish to feed, frogs to hunt and cat-tails …

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Hillsides of fragrant hay-scented fern to roll in …

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Orchards to play in and ripe fruit to gather …

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It makes me wonder how anyone ever made it to school.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

 

 

songs in the grey woods – ovenbird, over and over

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This week we had a meeting of our writing group Fictional Friends. We are trying something new – dedicating our whole meeting to one person’s writing. The writer ‘in the spotlight’ talks about writing goals and the problems they encounter.  Then they describe their current project, giving a synopsis. They read and the group provides constructive comments. We found this first session helpful for everyone present and we plan another session, with a focus on another writer’s work. I think each member of the group learned something applicable to his or her own writing.

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This session was held at my house. I left the back screen open, to let in some air. More than air comes in – at a meeting last month, the sound of our next door neighbour’s rooster crowing provided a backdrop to some reading about rural themes. At this week’s meeting, an Ovenbird decided to start singing in the woods behind our house. ‘Teacher, teacher, teacher’ he said, over and over. Perhaps he was making a commentary on our particular way of learning.

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The Ovenbird is a large warbler, olive-brown. He reminds me of a thrust because of his streaked white breast. He has an orange crest, a white ring around each eye, a white throat and a dark line below his cheek. My drawing is from a photo by Ann Gardner, used with permission. http://www.anngardnerphotography.com/

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Do you belong to a writing group? What methods does your group use to help one another?

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Copyright 2016  Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

June 10, 2016 at 7:07 am

songs in the grey woods – northern parula

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A friend, a knowledgeable wetland biologist, has been helping me learn some new bird songs. Last week, I identified the song of the Northern Parula. This is a bird I have never seen, though I scan those tree tops with the binoculars until my arms ache. I have heard its song so many times and always wondered what it was. The song is a long whirrrrr, flowed by a short, upward flipWhirrrr -flip. Whirrrr- flip. This morning it was the first song of the morning bird chorus!

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May 20, 2016 'Northern Parula' Jane Tims

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It drives me crazy to hear him sing, be able to find the tree he is perched in, but not see him. My painting is how I think he must look, based on descriptions on the net.

The Parula is a blue-grey bird with a yellow throat, and a yellow and white breast. He has a white crescent above and below his eye and two white wing bars. A bright and beautiful bird! He has an association with a lichen I love, Usnea subfloridana, Old Man’s Beard. He uses the lichen to build his hanging nest.

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Usnea subfloridana on the snow

Usnea subfloridana on the snow – usually found hanging in our maple, spruce and fir trees

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

May 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

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