In Fall-Spring 2013-2014, I planted several poems by derek beaulieu, Sandra Ridley, and Monty Reid in a nut grove (primarily black walnut) at the Kemptville campus of the University of Guelph. Each poet was given a row, give or take (the rows were not entirely even). I’ve described the impetus for this on this site before, but, briefly, this grove seemed to be a space that community memory had lost (if it had even had it to begin with). The grove is located between cedar hedges; to one side of the cedar hedge is a field to the east and a sequence of pine plantations to the west. To the north, apple trees at the far end and poplars (now quite huge). To the south an highly resonant forest, rich in a sort of ponderous quiet, the kind of quiet ellipses suggest. Accompanied, of course, by rustlings, sharp bird cries and chatter, leaves, things that move.
The grove is full of long grass that gets blown over in wind, communities of milkweed, batches of ragweed, and patches where bird feathers make evident the presence of predatory birds.I found it through an exploratory walk one fall — and wondered about the trees and why the small metal placards in front of them were empty. Filling them with poems seemed both an interesting and humorous notion; over time, the poems might get taken or drift or simply erode.
It is now fall 2016, and of those poems there is only one left of derek beaulieu’s. There are two of Sandra Ridley’s poems. All of Monty Reid’s are gone. One of Sandra’s has wind-drifted from her row over to derek beaulieu’s row and sits in the tall grass facing his poem. Her other poem is tucked into the low branches of a bush that I have not as yet identified. It’s not a nut tree.
It is time for a new series of poems in the grove. There seems to be more foot traffic there,probably because the College has a visible security presence that shoos dog walkers away from the two elementary schools that have taken space and directs them toward the unknown: “Just go that way, through the gate and across the fields, there’s lots of space out there…”. There is, but it’s shared by many species, and some poems ~
Seems like this guy saw Bowering’s poem in the woods. “Saw your poem in the woods,” he said. Now, I know him. We’ve chatted quite a bit, as he runs the Home Hardware not far from me, and sometimes we talk nuts and bolts and plexiglass and sometimes we talk music and sometimes we talk projects like poetry. And he walks, often the same sorts of places I do. But this is the first time someone local has actually said something about the poem in the woods. “Where? Which poem?” I said. There are a few. “Can’t remember the name, but it had something about kissing in Parliament.” “Ah,” I said. “Ferguson Forest Centre. George Bowering.” “Yeah. I think so. Neat. It’s right by a little bridge, and a bit in.” Yep. That’s the one. Thing is, though, that I could swear that that poem went missing. And now….it’s back? So it’s been missing for 2 or so years. So…someone replanted it? In snow? I’ll have to go and recheck the site; it’s been awhile. Get some new pics to post. Maybe tomorrow. I think I have a Bowering chapbook somewhere. Maybe I’ll drop one off at the Home Hardware….
January 1, 2015 – and not too long before I’m internationally based – so rout/e may adopt a different landscape for awhile. In the meantime, over this month, I have a few sites to check: yesterday returned to Baxter Conservation Area to revise derek beaulieu’s piece, or the absence thereof. Have taken measurements and will be adjusting the installation to accommodate my upcoming absence (can’t check on it when I’m gone) and also the varying temperatures and climate conditions that occur in the winter/spring here. Flooding…. a rawlings’ piece, “I will not ruin the environment”, is the last one of the series that I initially started. The others have all been taken or moved to places unknown to me. A short description of it can be found if you follow the arawlings link. It seemed fitting to check on it today – I’m thinking it is cold enough that the puddles that overtake the track will be frozen. angela’s piece (which I’d checked on in the summer) had fallen face up in a puddle and somehow had escaped the tire treads of the ATV enthusiasts roaring through. I re-placed it out of the way, leaning near some hawthorn and old maple, backed by juniper scrub, but it was difficult to photograph because the track and mud were so puddled that I was constantly slipping. The track is lined with trash; someone categorized/archived the trash into discrete piles around 2012/13. Since then, the ATV enthusiasts have altered the track so that it is really more puddle than track – fantastic in the spring for those of us who love frogs, but problematic for walking in the spring and, really, right into the fall. The puddles don’t drain well when they’re so large; the beaver ponds don’t assist with that, either. For everyone who has participated in rout/e, and everyone who has followed it, many thanks and very best for 2105!
Well, it’s very exciting to be collaborating with Katherine Forster, who coordinates programs at Petrie Island. She’s interested in putting some poems there, so are aiming to have them there by Thanksgiving weekend! More details to come!