Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Layered Greens

I love looking down and seeing the variety of shapes, colors, height and textures that the foliage of my natives provide.

Very special!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Virile Crayfish

We found this poor dying northern crayfish (also known as the virile crayfish) washed up on a beach in our lake. It looked so perfect and beautiful, but alas, it didn't make it. 

Spectacular pincers with orange tips!

It was a little smelly, so I tried drying it out using salt. I left it out on my deck during this 'process,' in the hopes I could keep the chitinous skeleton in my treasure collection. But no! After maybe a week of being outside, not smelling, and looking better than ever, it disappeared off my deck, probably taken by a raccoon. Maybe they like salted crayfish, a particular delicacy? Bummer.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Googly Eyes


These seeds fascinate and draw my admiration EACH and every time they appear. These are doll's eyes, the seeds of white baneberry. The plant is toxic to humans if ingested, but I think the whole 'message' of this display is "don't come close" - it looks rather creepy.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Nice Jumper

Another lovely native! The two-striped or yellow-striped grasshopper. This might be the northern red tibia-ed subspecies (Melanoplus bivittatus femoratus). The details are quite lovely.

This is a special creature: it has a variable metabolism, so its internal temperature can vary. It means they aren't easily stressed by temperature and environmental fluctuations, since they have the ability to 'blend' with whatever's going on around them ... kind of like the idea of being cold-blooded.

They overwinter as eggs, which are food for many other critters.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Roots are Showing!

What a glorious contrast this exposed root makes against the varied mosses of my yard. Quite stunning.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Ant Alates

It looked as if the lawn/moss below me was moving - was I feeling dizzy? On closer inspection, it was worker ants (orange) scuttling about and getting their alates (winged) out of the nest and on their way for a mating ritual. It made the entire ground seem alive!

I suspect these might be the short horned (yellow) meadow ant, a subterranean eastern North American species that forms multiqueen colonies.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Gorgeous Frog

 Beautiful, exquisite creature: our pickerel frog. It secretes toxins through its skin, making it unpalatable to many mammals, birds, reptiles and other amphibians.

These frogs are intolerant of pollution, so are a good indicator of a still healthy ecosystem. They will overwinter in the mud and debris of ponds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Sunny Goldenrods

For your viewing pleasure - late summer sunshine! Goldenrods abound.

Becoming ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Thread of a Haiku


Ethereal thread,

As if floating in mid air -

Arrow-shaped spider

This Micrathena Spider (Micrathena sagittata) is native to eastern North America

Monday, August 22, 2022

Fawned Upon

I'm hyperventilating! I'm so excited - I encountered two spotted fawns in my woods whilst walking quietly along my boardwalk. It had been raining overnight, and everything was wet and fresh - the light breeze forced the  excess water that had pooled on the leaves to drop all around me, but I was undaunted by the sporadic showers.

As soon as I 'spotted' them, I froze, watched and waited. They had seen me, and froze too. Then one of them was overcome with curiosity, and began cautiously advancing towards me. Each time it stopped to assess the situation before moving forward again, it thumped its right foot onto the ground - a thrumming, a challenge. Would I have to run along the slippery boardwalk, away from a charging fawn? I didn't think so, but wondered if their Mom might decide to put in an appearance ... I didn't dare look around or swivel my head, for fear of frightening the fawn away. I watched like an unbreathing statue.

My set of photos show the encounter lasted 4 minutes, before the advancing fawn snorted and turned tail. So special - it was lovely while it lasted!

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Cooking Adaptations

In 96°F weather, who wants to heat their home with the side effects of preparing a hot meal? Who wants to boil pasta and create steam inside, or switch the oven on to 400°F to cook a roast dinner, or bake a cake? Who wants 'global' warming inside their house? (Hmm, I shouldn't even run a vacuum cleaner, since it will generate heat in the house - best excuse ever!)

I've resorted to using our outside gas grill to prepare dinner during this hot summer. I have an outdoor table, and carry my cutting board, vegetables, utensils, and condiments outside for my prep and supervision - chicken in a creamy sauce in a pan on the grid, boiling rice, Thai curry in a saucepan over the grill, sautéed potatoes, pasta. I don't experiment much with grilling meat directly over flames and grid, but I can still use my grill to whip up a meal in my outdoor kitchen. When the pasta is boiled, I drain it outside, letting the hot water drain through the colander onto the decking.

Plus, there are the added benefits of being outside to experience the sunset

I've been investigating no-bake desserts, too - some cheesecakes, ice creams and fridge (icebox) cakes, which may need a small amount of microwaving to cook the thickening agent, 5-7 minutes.

Will climate change drive us back outside, back to more primitive, down-to-earth ways, to cope ... ?

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Fascinating Babies

I removed an enormous Chinese mystery snail (invasive) from a log in our cove and left it on our dock. It got stood on and crushed, so I bent down to take a look:

I was thrilled to see baby snails, fully formed inside the crushed body. I'd read that this species gives birth to live young, and here was the evidence, right in front of me. It was thrilling!

I floated them all in a frisbee with water, and using tweezers, I counted 15 intact babies with shells and 5 pink jelly blobs left after the crushing.

I'm not sure what the pink blobs are ... embryos? The literature suggests that females carry varying stages of offspring at any one time. Maybe it's food for their young?

I wouldn't have thought to deliberately crush one to see what was inside! Since examining this specimen, I've been struggling to get the smell of snail innards out of my nasal passages - my olfactory memory is way too strong for my own good.

These young snails look quite lovely when their shells are pearlescent


Possible Impact (

"What are the impacts and ecology of the Chinese mystery snails?
As the Chinese mystery snails are lower-trophic species in freshwater ecosystems which have not evolved to incorporate those large snails in their food webs, we anticipate indirect and unexpected impacts. In other studies in the USA, Chinese mystery snails, in conjunction with other invasive species, have been implicated in algal blooms, reduction of native mollusk species and changing fish food web dynamics."

Friday, August 19, 2022


I found this leech between my fingers after a swim some hours before, so it had already had its fill (it can be satiated for months, and up to 2 years after a full feed - glad I could be of help 🤷). It's basically a locomoting hypodermic needle with a blood storage organ, the stuff of science fiction (but this has been real life for millions of years)! That thin elongated part is the head end, and there are suckers for attachment at each end.

The markings on it were beautiful, and watching it move was fascinating. I've just read that leeches have 34 body segments packed into that little space!

The best way to remove a leech, besides waiting 30-45 minutes for it to finish its meal, is to pull the skin taut on either side of its head end, and slide a clean fingernail, blade or thin credit card between its body and yours and then flick it away. You really want to avoid forcing it to regurgitate. 

I'm fortunate in not reacting badly to leech bites, so I can look at them dispassionately, and even appreciatively, unlike my husband. He appears to have an allergic reaction, even when he doesn't forcibly remove the critter - his skin becomes swollen, purple/black and blistered. Here's a pic with a chipmunk hiding the purple toe (the blisters are not even at the site of the bite!).

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Black Forest Cake Chronicles

I faced my baking nemesis head on again this year - a Black Forest Cake - and experienced the usual disappointment in my presentation.

Whilst weighing the butter, and subsequently the chocolate, I briefly registered in my mind that the amounts going onto the scale didn't tally well with the printed value on the package labels. I continued the recipe, nonetheless (ack, why didn't I pay attention to my fleeting mental query?).

I then couldn't work out why the cake didn't seem cooked as it usually does after the set time (20 minutes). I gave it another 10 minutes, and then another 8, which means it was cooking for almost double the recommended time. I reluctantly took it out, let it cool for 15 minutes, and then tried to get it out of the pan, unsuccessfully of course! There was no way that combination of ingredients was going to hold together ...

There was way too much butter and chocolate proportionately to the other ingredients for the gateau to hold together - I had to have mis-measured it, and should have reset my scale when I had momentary doubts. Well, the only thing for it was to move forward ... so I made a soft chocolate frosting and poured it over the whole thing, served it with black cherries, liqueur and whipped cream and declared it done - close your eyes and eat it like a pudding or trifle.

There was a LOT of cleanup to do afterwards ... the whisk in the melted chocolate wasn't balanced and flipped out of the bowl onto the floor and upwards onto my cabinets, I wasn't wearing an apron, and the powdered sugar was, well, powdery and vapory!

I wrote about a similar saga in 2020

Wednesday, August 17, 2022



Nuphar lutea:

Called cow lily, spatterdock, 

Yellow pond lily.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Delicate Beauty

 What a beautiful inflorescence! My (native) nodding onion

The pastel mauve of the petals is understatedly stunning!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Unexpected Pleasure

Setting off early,

Coffee stowed in my thermos,

Spotted fawns appear!


Sunday, August 14, 2022


My thoughts on being loyal - it's an intrinsic value or principle that you either live by or don't, and it applies to all areas of one's life.

If one can't be loyal to a spouse, forget about being loyal to one's country! 

Perhaps this is one of the reasons we scrutinize the private lives of public officials - it gives us a gauge of their moral compass ...

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Sweet Encounter

What an adorable little bird - such a brave Redbreasted nuthatch. It alighted on this feeder, just above my head. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Graceful Pondweeds

I'm always thrilled to see these gorgeously colored, swirling pondweeds. Their underwater leaves sway gracefully beneath the surface, a striking burnt orange that swirls with the currents. They have floating leaves as well, which have a totally different color and shape, as can be seen below. It's really calming and beautiful to swim amongst them.

They can look like a piece of abstract art when captured in a current.

I believe this is Potamageton gramineus, known as variable leaf or grassy pondweed.

The inflorescence, fruit and floating leaves in a tray 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Blooming Bagpipers

The Latin name for bladderworts, Utricularia, is a reference to the use of animal bladders, or bags, that trap microscopic prey. They are highly specialized aquatic insectivorous plants that don't have roots, and can also photosynthesize. A multitasker! In other words, it's an opportunistic, floating mass of bladders with pretty flowers.

The flowers can be hard to notice among all the other large, showy aquatic contestants. They are delicate, sitting up on a fragile stalk that barely holds the bloom up out of the water. Most bladderworts have yellow flowers, but this one, the great purple bladderwort, actually has purple/pink flowers.


... until you find a variant. Yes, the great purple bladderwort named for the color of its flowers, Utricularia purpurea, can have white flowers (I believe this is quite common). May I present the purple flowered bladderwort with white flowers - there's always one breaking the 'rules'! I have both types flowering in my cove.

The underwater foliage is quite beautiful to

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Uses of Watercraft



Surveying plants + Workout

Sunset Cruising

Fireworks Displays