poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘summer on the farm

final touches

with 8 comments

So, after a month of organizing and sorting the poems in my ‘forty-years-of-writing bone pile,’ I have three illustrated books of poetry ready for the next step:

‘niche’ – poems about the spaces occupied by plants and animals, including humans, as they search for home. A good friend of mine has written the Foreword for ‘niche’ and I am looking forward to adding his name to the cover.

niche cover pp

‘blueberries and mink: summers on my grandfather’s farm’ – poems about life on the farm and the changes over the years.

Blueberries and mink cover pp

‘ghosts are lonely here’ – poems about abandoned buildings and other elements of the countryside.

ghosts are lonely here cover pp


Now that I have everything sorted, I know I have more collections to work on, but this is enough for now. My computer is more organized than it has been in years..

The next step in the process is to request Proofs. Once I get these proofs, I will do one more round of edits and make a few final decisions on formatting. Then I will publish them, using KDP. I have no intention of marketing these. I will get enough copies for family and friends who would like to read them.

Requesting Proofs is tricky right now. Amazon has turned its efforts to making and shipping Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). I don’t mind being patient.


Sample drawings from the three poetry books:

drosera cropped paperback

Dandy paperback

abandoned church


All my best

Staying in my bubble!


Written by jane tims

April 28, 2020 at 7:00 am

illustrating poetry

with 14 comments

I am in the process of creating several books of poetry from the many poems I have written over the years. I am now working on the third book, poems about life on my grandfather’s farm. The title will be ‘blueberries and mink’ since these were the main products of the farm.


There are about forty poems in this collection. I have decided how I will order the poems and done much of the formatting. Since I illustrate the books I write, the next task is to pair the poems with drawings I have done.


For some poems, as I wrote, I had an image in my head that my hands could draw. A good example is the poem ‘patience.’ One of the lines describes ‘staring down a cow.’ The drawing was fun to do.


outstaring a cow paperback


In some cases, a drawing I did for another purpose will find a home in my ‘blueberries and mink’ manuscript. An example is the drawing of old pop bottles I did for a blog post a few years ago. These bottles look much like the ones that used to sit on a window ledge in a shed at my grandfather’s farm.


old pop bottles cropped


Once I have inserted the formatted drawings into the book, I have to make sure they are distributed evenly through the book. Sometimes a poem and its drawing can be relocated. Sometimes I have to do another drawing to fill a gap.


Next, from the drawings, I have to pick one for the cover of the book. I want the covers for these books to be similar in style with the book title and author name superimposed.


A couple of the possible covers I am working on are shown below.


poetry books

alt cover


all my best,

staying home,


Written by jane tims

April 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

small scale economy – picking berries

with 6 comments


'five blue berries'


small-scale economy


my box of berries spilled

on the footpath,

between leaves

of Kalmia and wintergreen

hawkweed and cow pies


the cousins, their boxes brimming,

stood gawking, dismayed,

I was certain they were thinking

dumb city girl, spilled her berries

box only half full anyway


instead, they gathered around me

sympathy in every hand

scooped most of the berries

into the box

added a few from nearby bushes


seventeen cents he paid me

half the value of a box at full

the cousins had picked a crate or more,

remembered the wasted berries, left on the trail

and wept at the loss



Published as: ‘small scale economy’, Canadian Stories 16 (94), December 2013/ January 2014

Copyright 2014 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

swing in the orchard

with 4 comments

On this cold and snowy day …

'willow swing'



in the orchard


the old swing

soothes its child

its ropes fray

squeak with laughter


if you hang around under apple trees

you understand the patchy shade

the reason the grass grows only so high


in summer, the boy ties the swing high in the tree

and the mower moves under

brings Timothy to its knees


spares field mice and bedstraw

makes mounds of hay to land on



Copyright   2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 20, 2014 at 7:25 am

gathering eggs

with 6 comments

When we visited my grandfather’s farm in the 1960s, boredom was never a problem.  Every day brought a new discovery or learning.  One of the best activities was to help in the gathering of eggs.


gathering eggs


first breath after rooster presses

crowbar under sun catches

dew in the three-angled strawberry leaves

and light pings sapphire,

red, amber, emerald to opening eyes

I see Dandy waiting

black and white counterpoint to rainbow


he greets me, ignores

the chickens scratching

along random lines, we trek

to the barn together

push the man-door, open the pen


Diane has promised a gather

of eggs, shows me how

to shoo the hen, part the straw,

roll the egg into my hand,

build the stack in the basket

set each in a three-angled

cradle of eggs


Dandy watches the rooster

red comb and wattles,

amber neck, iridescent tail

ignores white eggs and chickens



Previously published as ‘gathering eggs’, Canadian Stories 15 (84), April 2012

Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

November 5, 2012 at 7:26 am

growing and gathering – value

with 10 comments

These days I am working to complete my manuscript of poems on the subject of ‘growing and gathering’ local foods.

As I sort my poems, I find several are about the ‘value’ of wild plants as food.

Sometimes this value is simple value for money.  Every cup of blueberries I pick is one I don’t have to buy.  When I pick enough berries to freeze, I can have blueberries or blackberries when they cost a fortune to buy fresh at the store.  I am also bringing the warm summer and its memories forward into the chill of winter.

A few of my poems focus on the value of substitution.  For example, I will never run out of tea leaves for my daily tea break.  I have Pineapple Weed, Sorrel and Sweet-fern teas to make.  Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law, and my own little herb garden, I have a rack of fresh herbs drying, including Camomile and several varieties of Mint.  If I run out of salad ingredients, I have a stash of salad greens just outside my door.

Storage is the subject matter of a few of my poems.  When I was young, my Mom showed us how to collect Spruce Gum from the trees for a sticky but tasty chew.  During my project, I learned that some woodsmen make little wooden boxes for the gum, to keep it for later use.  I also have a few poems about making jelly and jam.

Thinking about the value of food, I can’t forget the people for whom growing and gathering local foods is an occupation, not just a ‘hobby’.  I have written poems about the people who sell shad and fiddleheads and lobster from their roadside trucks, about children who earn their summer money by picking and selling berries, and, of course, about the farmer.

Last but not least, there is just the joy of finding or producing and eating your own food.  I always say, the best part of a home garden is the taste of the first carrot or the snap of the first wax bean!

What do you think is the greatest value associated with growing and gathering local foods?

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

©  Jane Tims  2012

playing the parlour organ

with 12 comments

Within my grandfather’s house were rooms we were not allowed to enter, except under very special circumstances.  One of these was the parlour.

My ‘need’ to practice the piano allowed me access to this sanctum.  For each day of our vacation, I was allowed to practice on the old pump organ.  The organ belonged to my grandmother and my Dad could remember sitting on her lap while she played.

I was not an eager player and spent a lot of time testing the effect of the various ‘stops’ on the organ.  These were white knobs with mysterious black words printed on each.  When you pulled a stop, various connections were created to make the organ sound a certain way.  Now for a memory I am not sure is true or only something I imagined – one of the stops, if pulled, would make the keys play an octave below where I was playing.  They moved of their own accord and made me feel I was playing a duet with a ghostly partner!

One of the songs I chose to play on the organ was Evening Chimes.  It was an easy song and made a good impression.

'Evening Chimes', Michael Aaron Piano Course - Grade One. Mills Music Inc., New York. 1945.

Since I knew Evening Chimes by heart, my eyes could wander over the embellishments of the Victorian-aged organ as I was playing.  Its designs included flowers, leaves, exclamation marks, serpent-like creatures and four stylised figures of an octopus!  This last I could ascribe to a childish imagination, but since my sister now has my grandmother’s parlour organ,  I can verify the existence of those odd oceanic figures on the front of the organ!



Vox Angelica 8 Fţ


practice required

repeated bars and D.C. al fine

the E flat I could never

remember, stretch that little

finger, make it behave, do

tricky slurs and grace notes


to coax these from the organ

was like pounding on felt

and my feet

unused to pumping

supplied inappropriate pace


so I played Evening Chimes, folk song

over and over

rang church bells

imitated angels, impressed

my pious grandfather

and demonstrated piano prowess


© Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

April 13, 2012 at 7:01 am

a moment of beautiful – a swing in the orchard

with 18 comments

the space: in the shade of a tree

the beautiful: an old wooden swing

The sight of a swing hanging from the solid limb of an old tree recalls happy hours of swinging when I was a child.

On my grandfather’s farm, the swing was a swing-chair, and I spent hours pushing the old swing to its limits (see ‘in the apple orchard’  the post for August 9, 2011, under the category ‘my grandfather’s farm’).  At home in Ralston, Alberta, the community playground had an adult-sized swing set, strong enough to withstand our approach of ‘stand on the seat and pump’.  And, when my son was little, we had an old-fashioned board and rope swing – it was a little off-kilter and seemed to go side-to-side rather than forward-and-backward but I remember he and I had lots of fun.

My own childhood story about board and rope swings is bitter-sweet.  My Dad built me a swing and hung it from the rafters in the basement of our house in Medicine Hat.  I loved it, but … one day I let go of the ropes and fell backwards, hitting my head on the concrete floor.  I can still remember the intense pain and the big black star that dominated my vision for a moment.  People who know me will say this explains a lot.



swing sway


the old swing

hangs frayed from a limb

of the apple tree


hips as she waits

for the downtown bus

rocking learned

in baby years

when rhythm brought peace

and a quiet evening



© Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

March 31, 2012 at 7:05 am

a conch shell doorstop

with one comment

Do you have a conch shell for a doorstop in your home?

If you visit a farm or home museum in the Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island), look down as you enter the house.  You will often see a large sea shell used as a doorstop.  These are usually a conch-type shell (the Queen Conch is a large Caribbean sea-snail).  The shells were usually brought to maritime doorways by seafarers who collected them on their travels. 

My grandfather’s house had one of these shells, a large white conch with a pearly pink interior and whorls of spines.  Always on duty at the door of the glassed-in porch, it was an imported marvel of the exotic seas. 

I remember my Dad holding it to my ear, saying, “listen”.  From deep within the shell came the steady hum of the ocean, like the sound of waves advancing and pulling back from the shore.

This shell was part of my Dad’s life, growing up in the big farmhouse.  As an adult, Dad gradually built his own collection of sea shells, large and small, usually buying them at auctions.  A couple of the large shells are now in my own home.  When I am far from the ocean, I can still lift one of those shells to my ear and hear its eternal roar.     





kitchen door kept

open with a conch shell



spines cropped

by incoming and outgoing

careless cousins



complaining ocean

captured roar



© Jane Tims 2011

Copyright Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

December 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

in the apple tree

with 4 comments

How many hours did I read in the apple tree in my grandfather’s orchard? 

At least a couple of hours every day were spent lost in a book. 

I was ten or so and my reading was relatively simple – Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, Blue Castle, animal stories by Thorton W. Burgess , and books about a young adventurer named Madge Morton.   Most of these were books my Mom had given me, and a few were borrowed from my aunt’s summer house.   Have a look at ‘books about natural spaces’ to see some of my favorites.  Are you old enough to remember some of them?

The search for a comfortable place to read has often eluded me.  Today I read at my desk or in the car.  Anything more soothing and I fall asleep, in spite of the quality of the read. 

Where is your favorite place to read a book? 


reading in the orchard


comfortable limb of

apple tree, how many

books read in the days of

summer,  mysteries, tales  of

plucky girls, animals personified, sunlight

and apple-shadows highlight words

sentences and paragraphs read at

a glance, breezes turning pages

faster than I read, solve

the crime, blood as red as apples

creaky doors and creepy windows

branches rub together somewhere in

the orchard, forget to go in

for supper, my mother’s voice written into

story, calling


© Jane Tims 2011



Written by jane tims

September 14, 2011 at 7:43 am

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