nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

in the shelter of the covered bridge – passage for horses

with 2 comments

Why are covered bridges covered? The usual explanation says that a covered bridge lasts longer if the wood is protected from the elements. However there are other explanations.

~

One of these claims the covering of the bridge made it easier to coax horses to cross the river. The horses, accustomed to entering and leaving a barn, would be less alarmed if a bridge was covered.

~

In the early 1900s, when most of the remaining covered bridges in New Brunswick were built, horses were still a common means of conveyance.

~

In my travels to study the plants and animals associated with covered bridges, I have come across three instances of the association between covered bridges and horses.

~

In June, while visiting the Tantramar River #2 (Wheaton Covered Bridge, built in 1916), we saw a team of horses pulling a sight-seeing group across the Tantramar marshes.

~

2015 080_crop

Wheaton Covered Bridge over the Tantramar River in Westmorland County (photo taken June 2015)

~

2015 069_crop

team of horses drawing a sightseeing wagon near Wheaton Covered Bridge (June 2015)

~

A notation in the Nackawic River #5 (Nackawic Siding Covered Bridge, built in 1927) mentions the use of the horse-drawn wagon.

~

DSCF7630_crop

Nackawic Siding Covered Bridge in York County (photo taken 2012)

~

DSCF7641_crop

notation in the Nackawic Siding Covered Bridge (photo taken 2012)

~

And last weekend, in the covered bridge over the Quisibis River (Quisibis River #2, Pont Lavoie, built in 1951), we found a painting of a horse. Whoever painted the horse resisted the urge to make any other black marks on the bridge walls. Clearly, he or she had a single intent – to depict the horse.

~

2015 082_crop

Pont Lavoie over the Quisibis River in Madawaska County (photo taken July 2015)

~

2015 088_crop

portrait of a horse, in the Quisibis River #2 Covered Bridge (photo taken July 2015)

~

When I close my eyes and imagine a covered bridge, I always hear the clatter of horses hooves on the wooden boards …

~

Copyright Jane Tims 2015

 

in the shelter of the covered bridge – Baker Brook #2

leave a comment »

Of the 60 covered bridges in New Brunswick, most are in the southern part of the province. Last week we went to see the three remaining covered bridges in Madawaska County in the north-western part of the province.

~

One of these was Baker Brook #2. It crosses the Baker Brook west of Edmunston and is no longer in service. The bridge has been protected in a small park with a parking area. Bird boxes, flags and hanging flower baskets show there is local stewardship of the bridge.

~

2015 008_crop

Baker Brook #2 in Madawaska County, New Brunswick

~

The Baker Brook #2 bridge was the essence of quiet. As we entered the bridge, the only sound was the patter of rain and the trickle of water under the bridge.

~

2015 016_crop

I don’t get many photos of myself, but this is a good one – I am ready to take notes on the plants and animals I see in the Baker Brook # 2 covered bridge … these notes and my photos and memories become the basis for future poems

~

The bridge is set against a backdrop of tranquil hills and fields. A deer watched us from a hayfield at the north end of the bridge. A white-throated sparrow called once and a crow made a few comments from the top of a round bale of hay. Otherwise, we were alone.

~

2015 062_crop

~

I love the way the lichens have colonized the bridge and follow the boards, like rain, in lines down the outer walls.

~

2015 012_crop

~

Some visitor had left a small collection next to the outer wall of the bridge. Three rocks and a broken bit of glass…

~

2015 032_crop

~

Copyright Jane Tims 2015

Written by jane tims

July 29, 2015 at 7:20 am

along the lake shore

with 4 comments

DSCF2886_crop

along the lake shore

~

shore verbs

~

water simmers at the edge

waves lounge on the shore

discuss the scudding clouds

~

red pine

catches wind

with sticky fingers

~

violets nod

trout lilies tire

fringed loosestrife

hangs its yellow head

~

a spring leaps from the hillside

~

~

IMG252_crop

~

Copyright Jane Tims 2015

Written by jane tims

July 27, 2015 at 7:14 am

beaver slap – Bloomfield Creek Covered Bridge

with 2 comments

On a recent weekend tour of four covered bridges in southern Kings County in New Brunswick, we stopped at Bloomfield Creek. Built in 1917, this bridge is busy and well-used. It crosses a broad creek, very pond-like with its growth of lily pads (the yellow pond-lily Nuphar) and pickerel weed (Pontederia).

2015 167

2015 168

~

Along the grassy banks of the creek is a beaver lodge.

~

2015 203

beaver lodge on the bank of the creek – the beaver has dragged lots of extra branches to keep near the underwater opening of his home

~

A large beaver kept us company while we visited the bridge.  He swam back and forth along the river, in a course we were certain was designed to confuse and hide the location of his lodge.  Most of the time he stayed on the surface – so soothing to watch his smooth brown body ‘towing’ a ‘V’ across the water. Every few minutes he would pause in his swim, arch his body, scissor his tail and lift it perpendicular to the water surface. Then he would slap the water and produce a loud ‘k-thud’ before he dove beneath the surface.  In a minute or so, he would reappear to swim as calmly as before.

~

2015 197_crop

close-up of the beaver towing the ‘V’

2015 197

2015 190

big splash as the beaver slaps its tail on the water

~

Copyright 2015 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 24, 2015 at 7:29 am

morning chorus

with 3 comments

Each morning I have a short quiet time after rising. I spend this time in my guest bedroom. I do some stretching. I watch the sun rise among the trees. And I try to sort out the morning bird chorus.

~

IMG_3208

~

The morning bird chorus is known to be a complex social interaction among birds of various species – a communication we humans can listen to with wonder, but little understanding.

~

We have lots of birds in our area and the woods are thick with birdsong. Although ours is a residential area, we have many hundred acres of woodland behind us and no houses between us and the river. Our back woods are mixed conifer and hardwood, mostly balsalm fir, spruce, red maple and white birch. We have nearby wetlands and, of course, the river.

~

DSCF3056_crop

~

I now regret not learning to identify the birds from their songs earlier in my life. Although I can name many birds by sight, I have a feeling I know many more by their sounds. This summer I have tuned up my ears and spent lots of hours trying to learn to recognise the birds by their songs. Perhaps because of their variety and complexity, learning the songs is more difficult than just listening and comparing.  Once I have heard a few birds, my memory becomes jumbled trying to distinguish between them.

~

I use three main tools to help me identify and remember bird sounds.

  • mnemonics – short phrases to describe and remember various bird songs. These phrases help narrow down the possibilities when I hear a bird sing. Many lists of bird song mnemonics exist, but I like the simple listing from the Fernbank Science Center in Georgia http://www.fernbank.edu/Birding/mnemonics.htm
  • recorded songs – although there are many sites with bird song recordings, the one I like the best is Dendroica- NatureInstruct http://www.natureinstruct.org/dendroica/spec.php/Dendroica+Canada#sp_select .  Once you select a bird, you can hear calls recorded by birders in various parts of the range.
  • a list of the calls I know and new songs I hear, described in my own words and with a diagram of the way the song progresses, in a shorthand of my own. I use words like: trill, flute, scratch, liquid, repetitive, bored, delirious …

~

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some excellent tips for those who would like to learn the songs of local birds.

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1189#_ga=1.202457239.768663648.1437046200

They suggest listening for rhythm, tone, pitch and repetition of a bird song.  By listening for these qualities, one at a time, you can start to make sense of the variability and help your memory.

~

Here is a list of the participants in this morning’s bird chorus outside my window:

  1. odd high-pitched sound at the first grey light of morning, probably not a bird
  2. immediately, an American Robin – ‘chirrup, cheerup, cheery cheer-up’ – we have a nest of robins at the start of our woods road
  3. a Mourning Dove, intermittent – ‘oo-oo-hoooo’ – very sad sound – a pair perches on the wires along our main road
  4. a White-throated Sparrow – ‘I love dear Canada-Canada-Canada’
  5. a Hermit Thrush – an ethereal, flute-like phrase, repeated over and over, each time at a new pitch – close at first and then gradually moving further away
  6. an Eastern Phoebe – a nasal ‘fee-bee’, repeated – a nest in the eaves of our shed
  7. a Red-breasted Nuthatch – a monotonous low-key ‘yank yank yank yank’, like a cross between a bored duck and a bullfrog
  8. the ‘caw caw caw’ of a Crow

~

I wonder if you ever listen to the morning bird chorus.  What birds do you hear?

~

IMG285_crop

~

Copyright 2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 22, 2015 at 7:25 am

grant from artsnb

with 12 comments

I am so pleased to announce – I have recieved a grant in the field of literary arts (B Category) from artsnb – the New Brunswick Arts Board. The Board has supported my work before, for my poetry manuscripts about ‘growing and gathering local foods’ and ‘harvesting colour’.

~

This new project will be to write a manuscript of poems about plants and animals growing in, around and under covered bridges. ‘In the shelter of the covered bridge’ will  explore the natural history of these covered bridges, looking at how covered bridges modify the landscape and create a special environment for plants and animals. Because of my interest in human history, I’ll include poetry about the people who make use of the spaces of the covered bridge.

~

189

woodpecker holes in an end of the Mill Settlement Covered Bridge – all sorts of possibilities for poetry

~

Since experience is so important to the writing of poetry, one part of my project will be to continue my travels to the covered bridges in the province, especially the 31 covered bridges in the St. John River watershed. Every visit will suggest new subject matter for me to explore with words.

~

Of all the elements of this project, I think I will most enjoy the chance to show how important these bridges are to our natural and cultural history in New Brunswick.

~

Copyright 2015 Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

July 20, 2015 at 7:35 am

linden – linden wing #2

with 4 comments

2015 GARDEN 009_crop

~

~

linden wing #2

~

thin green pale

I hoist my, turn my

tapered, paper sail

to wind-tasks, two

~

first I nudge my mast

of flowers, rudder

to the breeze, my pollen-folk

hitch a ride with the bees

each captured grain a triumph

each launch a score

~

later, I loose my mooring

detach, hoist spinnaker and main

samara of linden

and passenger seeds

sail away

~

~

Copyright 2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 17, 2015 at 7:00 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 310 other followers

%d bloggers like this: