poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘white pine


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Wind is not visible, yet we can describe the shape of the wind.  Along the shores of our lakes, White Pines are wind-blown into irregular forms to show the direction of the prevailing wind.  In my poem ‘Clear Lake’ (see the post for August 26, 2011, ‘deep waters – Clear Lake’ under the category ‘waterways’), I describe these as “group of seven trees/ flung southward”.  Artists from the Group of Seven were famous for their depiction of this symbol of the Canadian wilderness.   A good example is the painting ‘White Pine’ by A.J. Casson.

'White Pine' by A.J. Casson, from the book 'Images of Nature: Canadian Poets and the Group of Seven' compiled by David Booth, Kids Can Press, Toronto, 1995.

In winter, the shape of the snow also captures the three dimensional form of the wind.  The easiest manifestation of this is the way horizontal surfaces record the direction of blowing snow. 

Snowdrifts form as the wind blows quantities of snow into shapes resembling dunes of sand.   As kids on the prairie, we loved these snowdrifts since we could tunnel in them and build fantastic snow shelters.   Today, I can watch the drifts build across our lawn and transform its flat surface into the artistry of the wind.





after the storm

                        snow heaps

                        high against the wall

fingers of the wind sculpt

                        etch shadows

                        into vacant white


sunshine flashes

                        summons prisms

                        from hollows of snow

warmth shivers through the drift


                        into cataract


a tendril of snow


                        damply to the wall 

a lingering winter ivy



Published as: ‘Drift’, 1994, The Cormorant (Fall 1994) XI (1)


©  Jane Tims   2011

Written by jane tims

January 4, 2012 at 6:42 am

in the branches of the White Pine

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Since finding the bird nests at our lake property last weekend, I have been thinking about the birds we see there in summer.  Our cabin looks out on a very bushy, young White Pine where birds love to nest and hide.   
the White Pine is the larger tree to the left of the road

The most frequent denizens of the pine are a pair of Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus).   They prefer berries for food and so are in their ideal habitat.  Our property must look like a big dinner plate to them, with its orderly presentation of wild strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, hawthorn and winterberry.

Another bird who stops to rest in the pine is the American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), also known as the Thistle bird.  These are seed-eating birds who fly across the fields in a distinctive pattern of loops.  They are also one of the most common birds at our winter bird feeder. 



building homes


we fly kites

to learn the field and sky

set copper whirligigs to spin


          yellow flirt crosses blue


          potato-chip potato-chip potato-chip


we build our cabin

with 2 by 4s, boards and trusses

woodscrews and spiral nails


          firm framework 

          woven grass and birch 

          bark rim and spider silk


you fill walls with fiberglass

I quilt curtains for windows


          goldfinch waits while his female tucks

          her nest with thistledown

          tufts of cattail, puffs of dandelion


© Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

December 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm

jane 9 squirrels 1

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Again, I am in competition with the squirrels (see ‘competing with the squirrels #1 and #2’, in the Category ‘competing for niche space’). 

Christmas is coming and this year, I am decorating with natural elements.  One of these is a ceramic bowl of large pine cones. 

We have several large White Pine (Pinus Strobus L.) on our property and from time to time, they produce masses of beautiful pine cones, perfect for my decorations.  White Pine are easy to remember in this area, since they have their needles in bundles of five.  The cones are between 10 and 15 cm long and are a favourite food for squirrels.   

My husband came in last weekend and announced there were lots of the big cones in the pine tree next to our lawn. “Watch for them to fall, and then you should hurry to collect them,” said my savvy husband (he remembers the sad tale of the ripening hazelnuts). 

I waited a couple of days and then went scavenging.  And now, I am supreme.  I have gathered enough cones for our Christmas.  I saw a few cones with the lower scales and seeds nibbled away, but I found plenty for me.   My hands were sticky, true, but I was so happy.  All I can say is, with an emphasis approaching smug, “CH-CH-Ch-chchchchch-ch.”

just to show that the squirrels do have lots of pine nuts… these cones are about half eaten


in November


we gather pine cones

snakes of lion’s paw


cedar boughs

and holly

we walk the wild ways

pruners and scissors

baskets and stout cord

bind bunches

of branches

balsam and cedar  

blood berries

and evergreen

garlands of fir

rosehips and acorns, gilded


and prickles

and thorns


©  Jane Tims 2011

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