poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘skipping stones

by the frozen lake, next year

with 12 comments

It’s mild here today and we are expecting lots of snow.  I’m working on my novel, doing edits.

I want this post to include an excerpt from my work, so I have chosen a wintry bit.

In this excerpt, the protagonist, Sadie, and her husband are near the edge of the lake, on the property they have bought.  They’re planning to bring the Landing Church to this location, to build a writer’s retreat.

Sadie’s husband, Tom, isn’t well.  He’s dying.  His way of coping is to be a stoic, to face his death as inevitable, and to plan his wife’s life out for her.  Usually, he talks about what she’ll be doing this time next year.  Until now, he’s refused to include himself in any talk of the future.  But, as the novel progresses, his thinking is changing.


the frozen lake


The lake, in the grip of November, had frozen to plates of glass, interrupted by pebbly bands where the wind mixed snow into the surface of the ice.  The distant shore presented itself in silhouette, an indigo strip between the lake and the brighter sky.  The dark images of trees were frozen into the surface of the ice.  The air was crisp, but we sat, as we did in summer, on the bench by the lake’s edge.

‘Next year,’ said Tom,  ‘we’ll clear the ice for skating.  And we’ll build a bonfire, here by the shore.  There’s certainly enough dead wood to fuel it.’

I sat still, watching the lake and thinking about Tom’s words –  ‘next year’ and ‘we’.  These words were so different from what he would have said, even three weeks ago.  Ordinarily, he’d be making plans for me alone.  Ordinarily, he’d have said ’Next year, you’ll clear the ice for skating.’

We sat in silence, as we always did, just watching the lake.  Tom probably didn’t notice how thoughtful I’d become.  I wondered how I’d missed it, this transition from ‘no future’ to ‘plans for tomorrow’.  Plans to be shared by us both.  My hands began to tremble.

To distract myself, I found a flat stone embedded in the frost at my feet.  I stood, moving a little closer to the edge of the lake.  I turned my arm and cradled the stone in my hand.  I pulled my arm back and propelled the stone toward the ice.  It hit with a clear ping and bounced across the surface, leaving a line of clear notes in its wake.  I tried another one.  It sang a semi-tone higher, and the ice vibrated between the crisp air and the ice-cold water below.   Tom bent and loosened another flat stone from the ground.  He stood beside me.  In another minute, the ice was ringing with the song of skipping stones.

We’d soon depleted the shore of every loose flat rock.  The lake was still and silent.  No note remained in its repertoire.  The ice in front of us was littered with flat grey stones. 

‘No skating this year,’ said Tom.  ‘We’ve planted enough trippers to last into next spring.’

We turned from the lake and followed the path back to the field.  As we navigated the alders and rounded a corner, we came suddenly on a sturdy bush of bright red berries.  ‘Look, Sadie.  Winterberry holly,’ said Tom. ‘It usually grows by the lake, but here it is, in our field.  Our very own burning bush.’  

The bush glowed with orange-red berries, set off by bronze-colored leaves, not yet fallen.  In the silver and grey of the thicket, it was a gift…



bush of winterberry holly


If you have any comments, good or bad, about this piece of writing, let me know.  Is there anything you don’t understand?  I there anything I could better explain?  Have you ever skipped stones on  the ice of a lake or pond?


Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

Written by jane tims

December 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

crossing the river #2

with 2 comments

In the 1970s, when my husband and I had only known each other for about a month, we were stranded for three hours on a ferry that quit half way across the river.  The ferryman just shrugged, said he’d be back, and rowed away in the lifeboat. 

We were desperate.  For an hour, we skipped stones across the water.  I don’t believe there was a single stone or pebble or grain of sand left on the ferry deck!  We talked, of course, and probably found out how much we had in common. We’ve been together for almost 33 years. 

When the ferryman returned, he brought some sandwiches his wife had made for us and the news we would have to wait two more hours for the Coast Guard to come up the river from Saint John to tow us to the shore. 

Needless to say, we were eventually rescued.   And I have never experienced a ferry breakdown again.

some of these would be excellent for skipping


skipping stones


collect your stones

select for flat and smooth

stones with knowledge

embedded flight and float

pile your stones


hold your hand

like this, curl your finger

round the stone, flat curve against

your palm, coddled

cover of a book

you never want to end


swoop back

arm and index finger

parallel to shore, release




                                                                              the way



                                                                                                                 with edge

                                                                                                                                     of skim





concentric rings

connect and scatter


select another stone



© Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

September 16, 2011 at 7:17 am

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