poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘rock

a snippet of landscape – glacial erratics and boulder fields

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Last week we went for a drive to explore some of the back roads in Sunbury County.  As we drove, we encountered large boulders everywhere along the road.  I know from my reading and a course years ago, these are a remnant of the glaciers that once covered this area.  Large boulders were carried along by the ice and deposited on the landscape far from their place of origin.

In one place, a clear-cut lay the landscape bare and we were able to see how frequently these glacial erratics occurred in the area.    In the photo, you can see the boulders scattered in a ‘boulder field’.   These boulders would have been deposited here by a glacier, thousands of years ago, perhaps during the Wisconsinan glaciation when almost all of Canada was covered by ice.

It is strange to drive along the road today and know that thousands of years ago, a sheet of ice, perhaps a few kilometers thick, would have covered us.



gravel pit


ten thousand years it took

a glacial stream to set

the sinew of the esker –

cobbles sorted to layers,

screened by a giant hand


ten scant years to sever

esker snake from his tail –

the excavator bucket

reaching, fingers lifting sand,

pit-run, ready for road



Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

Written by jane tims

August 27, 2012 at 7:14 am

snippets of landscape – ice falls on rock walls

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When highways are built, they often cut through the bedrock, leaving rock walls along the margins of the road.  If these intersect a brook or seep of water, the result is a waterfall on the face of the rock.  In spring or summer, rains can create wild cataracts.  In winter the water freezes, building frozen walls of blue-shadowed ice.  In sunlight, especially when they begin to melt, these ice falls are dazzling.



one warm hand


icicles seep between

layers of rock frozen

curtains separate

inner room from winter storm

glass barrier between blue

light and sheltered eyes

memory of water flows

along the face of the rock

one warm hand melts ice

consolation, condensation

on the inward glass



© Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

March 10, 2012 at 7:43 am

monuments in stone

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inuksuk n. (plural inuksuit) a stone landmark or cairn used by Arctic and northern peoples to mark a point of reference or a place of significance; an Inuit cultural symbol.

inunnguaq n. (plural inunnguat) a stone cairn in the shape of a human figure, meant to represent a human figure, and distinguished from an inuksuk.


Our rock project is progressing slowly.  We are collecting rocks for a stone monument.  Since I want this to be a sculptural piece, I am sure the rocks we select will play a role in the final look of the monument.

One possibiity is to build an inuksuk.  These stone landmarks are a part of the culture of the north, but they have caught the general imagination and are now encountered throughout Canada.  On our trip out west, the inuksuk built along the Trans-Canada highway in Manitoba were particularly memorable.

For a few years, the inuksuk (plural inuksuit) and inunnguaq were common along the New Maryland highway in New Brunswick.  On the stretch of road between New Maryland and Fredericton, the highway is carved through rock and outcrops are part of the roadscape.  A women who walked along the road every morning for a few years was responsible for building many of the inuksuit.  The local newspaper did a story on her, explaining that she walked and built the monuments as exercise following by-pass surgery.  She wore a white jogging outfit with black splotches and was fondly referred to as the ‘Cow Lady’.  

The ‘Cow Lady’ no longer walks the road and her inuksuit and inunnguat have fallen into disrepair.  I remember her fondly and dedicate the poem below to her.


Inunnguaq 101


these are the hill people

sometimes without arms and legs

sometimes with other, alien parts

but proud

honor the woman who walks here


sometimes toppled

often reassembled

constructed one day at a time

optimism of increment

a community on the hillside


©  Jane Tims  2004

Written by jane tims

November 18, 2011 at 5:26 am

plans for a rocky road

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This fall, we have begun a new landscaping project, using rocks to embellish a length of road on our property. 

On our travels this summer, we were impressed by the many ways home landscapers use stone as a signature element.  Some of these ventures were as simple as a stone wall snaking through the woods.  Some had elaborate stone benches, stone sculptures, or carefully-built piles of stones. 

We have an offshoot to our driveway, intended some day to form half of a circular road.  Over the years, we have added some stone embellishments to this road and its associated path, so it seems to me to be the perfect place to develop our own rock project.  

To date, we have the following features in place, some in an advanced state of disrepair:

  • two stone pillars, about three feet in diameter – each is a page-wire cage filled with rock
  • an ‘old-fashioned’ rock wall constructed of granite stones, each about the size of a large honeydew melon
  • a lopsided (fallen-down) sundial built of small angular rocks in the shape of a cone 
  • a chunk of black basalt, a five-sided, columnar volcanic feature, harvested from the shore where my ancestors came to Canada via shipwreck
  • a stone ‘stream’ built years ago before we purchased more property and Fern Gully Brook entered our lives – this stream is a one foot wide course of small stones screened from a pile of pit-run gravel.  It ‘runs’ from a small artificial pond and is now completely overflowing with dry leaves.
existing rock and stone features on the road and path

Over the next months, we want to add some features to the road:

  • rebuild our formerly wonderful granite fire pit in a new location along the road
  • create two new lengths of stone wall to match the existing wall
  • build a stone statue or monument 
  • lay out a circle of stones to mark the one area where we can see the Milky Way from our property (star-gazing is difficult since we have so many trees) 
  • build a stone embankment-with-moss feature to emulate a lovely roadway we saw at my brother’s wedding last year.
rock and stone features we plan to add

Over the next year, it is my intention to report back on the progress made on our Rock Project.  If you never hear another word about this project, remember – I like to plan.


Copyright   Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

November 13, 2011 at 7:27 am

the stone between farms

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How do you show the boundary line between you and your neighbor? 

At Ågersta Village in Uppland, Sweden, is a rune stone positioned to mark a boundary between two properties.  The stone is carved with two serpent creatures entwined, their heads in profile.  Each has two sets of legs, the forelegs strong, and the rear legs weak and helpless. 

The stone was carved by Balle, a frequent carver of rune stones in Sweden, and raised by Vidhugse, in memory of his father.  The boundry, established in the twelfth century, showed the boudary until 1856 when the property lines were finally changed!

The inscription reads, in part: Hiær mun standa stæinn miđli byia – “Here shall stand the stone between farms.”

from my imagination and not the rune stone at Ågersta Village



stone between farms

            (rune stone in Ågersta Village, Uppland)

                                                                      Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone…

                                                                                                                      – Deuteronomy 19:14


ninth morning already

irate I rise

gather my tools

trudge to the hillside


stone waits for me, Balle

(master carver of runes)

shadows pulled into dragon

compete with guidelines

‘what is not’ more complete than ‘what is’


another fair day

Vidhugse to the west and south

Austmadr to the east 

surely their bickering over boundaries

will cease


by noon the sun

embroils the rock

streaks my brow with sweat

floods the serpent creature’s clever eye

lip lappets drip


mosquitoes dither about

the creature’s profile acquires

the look of an insect head

reckless slip of the rune tool

could end its smirk


hill of rock dust

settles on my shoe

birches stir the air

odor of leaf layer

memory smell of Birka


© Jane Tims 2005

Written by jane tims

October 8, 2011 at 6:49 am

niche beneath waterfall

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This past weekend, we made a visit to two of New Brunswick’s waterfalls: Erbs Falls and Smith Falls, both on the Kingston Peninsula.   

Erbs Falls begins as a quickening of the water of Peters Brook in a narrowing gorge.

 At this time of year, the water proceeds in one of two pathways, down the labyrinth of the fish ladder…

…or into a deep, narrow gorge through the bedrock…

… to emerge into the sunlight as Erbs Falls.

Smith Falls begins as a series of smaller falls in the brook.  The path runs along the brook, so we saw every ripple and dip.

Upper Moss Glen Falls

The water plunges over the lip of the falls…

…flows past a small cave…

… and forces its way between rocks over the lower part of the falls.

Waterfalls are the ultimate experience of water.  At the base of the waterfall are the mingled sounds of the thundering water and the gurgle of the stream.  The shade and mists are cooling, refreshing.  Sneakers get wet, hands are washed in cold water, and balance is tested as you follow the downward path of the waterfall.

I also like to think about the shape of the rock under the falls.  I watch the spout and flume of the water to see what solid shapes beneath the flow have shaped the waterfall.  I try to see through the white curtain of water to see the rock and stone, and understand how they are both revealed and concealed by the waterfall.

beneath waterfall


what can I do

to cover me

feign a drip of waterfall

from a single eye

or a flume

from the fluid of two


shall I arrange

my hair to hide beneath

my skin a wasp-nest

paper waterfall

hung lightly


who will see me

if I place my hands on rock

freckles are dapples of sun

fingernail glints of mica

or whorls in fingerprint

swirl like water


the spare notes of white-throat

or fluid jubilee of robin

flow over, compose sheet

music of quarter notes

to cover me


sitting here

on the edge of the bed

far from waterfall

electric fan for breeze

electric bulbs for sparkle

down-filled white duvet 

to hide beneath


© Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

August 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

‘niche’ on a rock

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In July, we went to the Saint Martins area  for the day and spent some time exploring the caves and beach-combing.  We  also took the short drive to the lighthouse at Quaco Head.  The lighthouse is perched on the cliff overlooking Quaco Bay. 

the Quaco Head Lighthouse ....... “The present Quaco Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1966 and consists of a square tower rising from one corner of a concrete fog signal building. The light in its lantern room produces a white flash every ten seconds, while the fog signal emits a three-second blast every thirty seconds, when needed.” from

If you look out over the Bay, you can see some exposed rocks where sea birds make their home, and,  to the north-east, Martin Head, about 30 kilometers away.

the view to the north-east ...... Martin Head is on the horizon, to the left

Wildflowers were everywhere, but what caught my eye was a lichen on a flat rock at the base of the lighthouse.  It was bright orange, like a splash of paint. 

There are two orange lichens that live on rocks in the coastal area of New Brunswick, Xanthoria and Caloplaca.  The orange lichen I found at Quaco Head is likely one of two species: Xanthoria sorediata (Vain.) Poelt or Xanthoria elegans (Link) Th. Fr.

bright orange Xanthoria lichen on a rock .... there are also two or more other species of lichen present

A lichen is not a plant, but a composite organism, consisting of an algae and a fungus, living together in a symbiotic, mutually beneficial, relationship.



                       Swallow Tail Lighthouse, Grand Manan


air saltfresh and balsam

walls lapped by a juniper sea

pale mimic of the salt sea

battering its foundations

                      its endurance

                      a mystery

until I found

an iron ring

anchored deep

in rock

almost lost

in lichen

                  Xanthoria orange

lifted and dropped

run round

its axis

                  clashing on stone

                  creak and clank of the metal door

                  echoes climbing the welded stair

                  ground glass grit of the light 

                  fog washed clang of the channel bell

rock lashed to the lighthouse

salt breakers turned to stone


Published as: ‘Ringing’, Spring 1995, The Cormorant XI (2)


© Jane Tims

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