poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘vernal pool

a moment of beautiful – through a stained glass window

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the space: the big maple outside our front door

the beautiful: seeing a squirrel in the tree through the stained glass window in our stairwell


As I was working at my desk, my husband called to me.  Through our stained glass window, he could see a silhouette of our grey squirrel.  I’m glad the squirrel waited long enough for me to snap his picture!

squirrel through stained glass

Can you see the squirrel through the stained glass?

©  Jane Tims 2013

Written by jane tims

February 25, 2013 at 7:59 am

snippets of landscape – vernal pools and the spring migration

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At the edges of our Grey Woods are several places where ‘vernal pools’ form.  As a result, these spring evenings are alive with the peeping and croaking of various frogs and toads.

‘Vernal pools’ are temporary accumulations of water in depressions.  This water may originate from snow accumulations or from rising water tables.  The word ‘vernal’ comes from the Latin ver meaning spring.

Although vernal pools are ephemeral, they create habitat for many animals, including insects and amphibians, often at critical life stages.  Amphibians such as Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica), Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum), and Blue Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) depend on vernal pools for laying their eggs and development of tadpoles.  Other amphibians you may encounter in a vernal pool include Spring Peepers, Grey Tree Frogs and Bull Frogs.

During a rainy night in late April or early May, you may be fortunate enough to observe the early spring migration of Wood Frogs and other species as they make their way to breeding locations.  These frogs have remained all winter in hibernation and have unthawed in the early spring rains.  Unfortunately, many must cross roads to get to the ponds and vernal pools where they will lay their eggs, and many become casualties of their attempts to cross the road.



an uncertain spring migration


if it rains

the night road

leads home

to lowlands

and hollows

vernal pools

north of the highway

swollen with rain


mists crawl

towards me


sweep the windshield

frogs cross the roadway

follow ancestral memory

blurred by rain


some nights

the tail-lights ahead

are my only family

red streamers on wet pavement

tadpoles from the eggmass

grow legs

absorb their tails

follow the road


I watch

the phone poles

the potholes

the hidden driveways

the headlight echo on trees

frog legs

crushed on the pavement

mailboxes with uncertain names


the centre line is a zipper

seals the left side

to the right

the coming home

with the leaving

frogs plead

from the wetlands

never saying goodbye


Published as: ‘an uncertain spring migration’, Spring 1997, Green’s Magazine XXV (3).


© Jane Tims  2011


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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