Friday, March 31, 2023

Indiscretionary Searches

I did a Google search of my photos to illustrate yesterday's post about waste, but just about everything I tried came up empty - no results found. I kept trying different words to describe what I was looking for - waste, poop, feces, droppings, dung, scat, excrement, and stool - and along the way, geeky old me found it amazing that we have so many ways of describing this 'unsavory' part of life. 

Of course, 'stool' yielded many photos, but only the 3 or 4 legged kind, mostly in the background - as you can see from the results below, and not the kind of stool I had in mind. If Google can find 'stool' or 'lighthouse' on pics I haven't added keywords to, why not poop?

It was interesting to me because I know for a fact that I have photographed things such as this (animal scat) on many occasions. Google is obviously trying to 'purify' my searches and get my focus out of the toilet ... there is clearly a filter to prevent such searches ... hmm, a decomposition of sorts, a metaphorical or virtual cleansing?

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Redefining Waste

We all know the adage 'One person's trash is another person's treasure,' so how about 'one creature's poop is another creature's food?' It sounds icky and unpleasant, but to the creature who needs it to survive, it's wonderful. 

Flies rush to the odor of fresh poop - it ensures their survival. They lay their eggs in it, so their larvae have something to feed on when they hatch. Perhaps flies might wonder how our babies can eat pureed apples!

And of course, Dung Beetles feed on feces. Even insect excrement has its benefits - it is an organic fertilizer and improves the soil.

Molds grow on animal feces too, using it as a substrate from which to gain sustenance, and at the same time breaking it down. One of them is known as hairy poop mold - I'm sure we can all picture it, but in case you might be wondering ...

Microbes such as this are a good thing - they're the perfect way to 'get rid of' the by-products of each species and keep the nutrients in the system without them causing disease or spreading illnesses.

Waste is part of the process of life and recycling, so waste is not the end-product, but a stage in a process that keeps re-packaging nutrients into something useful. Decomposition and the breaking down of nutrients is a normal, natural process to sustain life on earth.

The idea of something being called waste relates to its usefulness (or lack thereof) to its producer. Many organisms benefit and depend on the by-products of others, which to them is not waste, but life-giving. So let's 're-package' the idea of waste!

Waste to me is anything that is unnecessary, not sustainable and not recyclable i.e. some of the things WE humans create. This is waste:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A Book Well Traveled

I have been waiting a long time to receive my copy of "Final Draft" written by my friend Shelley Burbank and I'm happy to report that it's finally here!

This book has had quite the journey through the postal system, with inexplicable twists, turns and doubling back on itself before getting here. I'm sure Olivia Lively was busy solving a mystery on the way, hence the convoluted route!

Here's what we know - she left Avenal, NJ (1), traveled to Windsor, CT (2), then on to Springfield, MA (3), before doing an inexplicable U-turn and making her way down to Jersey City (4). Maybe she was covering her tracks or had to follow an unexpected lead, because she then made a detour all the way down to Philadelphia, PA (5), before making another stop at Jersey City (6). From here, she headed back up to Springfield in Massachusetts again (7), and then made her way directly to southern Maine, and finally Limerick (8). She even dallied a few days at some of her stops, but whatever Olivia Lively was investigating remains top secret. Follow her journey below:

She has now arrived - relaxed, and ready for some Maine sunshine, and perhaps more P. I. work ... can't wait to read what's between the covers!

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

TV Time

It's that time of year again - the TV's have returned. Turkey Vultures, that is. They are my favorite harbingers of spring. I know the arrival of robins, mergansers and bluebirds are also special, but to me the TVs' obvious sovereignty over the spring skies encapsulates it best.

I love the distinctive way they fly - unique, a tell-tale giveaway. It's described as dihedral flight (they hold their wings in the shape of a V as they teeter in high level winds).

I spotted my first one of this year to mark the Ides of March (3/15) and was so very excited that I had to put it on my blog!

Flirting with thermals

These masterful scavengers

Rock dihedral flight.


Monday, March 27, 2023

Troll Toes

These troll toes need a pedicure, don't you think? Is that an ingrown toenail I see, or just a fungus? Maybe some moisturizing cream is needed?

Or do you see a multi-headed, blind salamander? Wrinkled tortoise skin?

What a lovely creature this piece of ginger is!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

What Does Your Growlery Look Like?

I love the word growlery - it is thought that the concept was coined by Charles Dickens in Bleak House. It is the place to which one retreats to vent one's fury with the world, or to distill a bad temper. A place to go and growl!

What would YOUR growlery look like?

Copied & redrawn from Pinterest

The Collins dictionary noted this noun to be "archaic" to mean, a place to retreat to, alone, when ill-humoured.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Seasonal Farming


Dormant in winter

Equipment stands forlornly

Waiting for the sun

Friday, March 24, 2023

Earth Hour

Did you know that our artificial lights impact and disturb many nocturnal activities of the natural world?

Here are a few ways our light pollution affects other species:

- blinds nighttime pollinators
- affects sex hormone release in insects
- misdirects egg-laying - and hatchling- sea turtles
- confuses migratory birds
- upsets the seasonal rhythms of trees

We can learn to reduce artificial lighting at night, and be mindful of its impact on other species. We can turn off non-essential lights, and also re-evaluate our lighting needs (plus, it's wasteful of electricity). The goal is to reduce skyglow to help our fellow planetarians.

Why not take part in Earth Hour tomorrow and commit to an hour without, or with fewer, lights?

Sat, Mar 25, 2023 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM (a World Wild Fund for Nature initiative to encourage us "to turn off non-essential electric lights, for one hour ... as a symbol of commitment to the planet.")

Of note: While studies have shown that LED lights have a smaller carbon footprint, new research is indicating that they suppress the production of melatonin, therefore affecting animal behavior (LEDs are more blue/white than older orange/yellow hued incandescents).

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Passing By

I pass so many beautiful, old buildings and structures when I drive to appointments or stores, that I decided to leave earlier than necessary and take some extra time to stop and showcase some of them. This might be an old water tower.

Not knowing when this house might collapse in on itself, I stopped to photograph it too, while it was still whole. There are many that I have missed in the past that are now just a pile of rubble.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

World Water Day

We need to keep our water supplies as clean as we are able.

One way to do this is to keep plastics out of our water supply, not only for our own good health, but also for that of other living organisms.

A reminder from the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Reserve on World Water Day:

Plastic "is harmful to wildlife and takes a [...] long time to degrade. When it does break down, it becomes harmful microplastics that wildlife and seafood-consuming people ingest."

Let's not pollute our own "nest" and leave a devastating figurative footprint such as this, as our signature.

(Poster borrowed from the Internet; not mine))

When will we ever learn?

Tuesday, March 21, 2023


What a thrill it is to see our deer visitors from our windows - they feel safe and non-threatened, and we get to see them from the comfort of our home! It's interesting to watch the young ones play and frolic about in between foraging. Sometimes one will run round and round in large frenzied loops like it has a crazy itch it's trying to shake.

We've watched them suddenly sink into the deep snow when they walk slowly, and it makes their traverse look quite ungainly. They will choose already worn paths whenever possible, making sure to step carefully into the depressions made by other footprints, mirroring the exact gait of previous animals. After a new dumping of snow, they have to break trail again. They do sink and stumble less when they run across the snow. 

Every now and then one will accost another with its forelegs flailing out in front of it. We've seen herds of 3,  7 and 11 so far. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Sunset Melt


Spring melt at sunset

        Spreads pools of hot pink liquid

                On slushy blue ice

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Power Loss

During our most recent wet, windy, snowy Nor'easter, we lost power and Internet at the same instant that this explosion appeared on our TV screens! (we were watching 'Narcos')

It was like being in the midst of the explosion - instantly, everything went black. What perfect timing!

It was a long, disturbed night. We weren't cold, but the sounds we were hearing in the darkness were unnerving - was that a tree thudding down, or just snow sliding off the roof, sending off vibrations as it hit the deck? Was that ice hitting the windows, or branches and pine needles? Did the howling come from the wind in the trees, or was it a train rolling by?

The outage lasted 20 hours. When I drove out of our community the next day, I passed a convoy of 11 power company trucks at the roadside, collaborating and strategizing. Even after a trip to the grocery store and a Dr. appointment in Biddeford, I still got home before power was restored. But this time around, the timing was quite acceptable, really: we lost power after dinner, and close to bed-time, and it came back on about 6PM when it was time to make dinner the next day. We slept through half of it, and had daylight for the other half. So, all in all, not a bad experience.

Saturday, March 18, 2023


Aren't these delicate curls beautiful? They must inspire jewelry makers ... these two would make a lovely design for a set of drop earrings


This one is like a bejeweled pendant that would look great on a chain around my neck

Friday, March 17, 2023


Coppery leaf bud:
American beech prepares
To open its scales
And reveal its leaves'
Pleated folds and downy hairs;
Green luminescence. 

(Vernation is the arrangement of young leaves in leaf buds before opening)

Thursday, March 16, 2023


Yes, we had a Nor'easter again this week, but I shall regard it as a minor hiccup ... the melt is still progressing overall in the direction I prefer. We have this 

And this

Despite this

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel capsules

Dry out, split, and curl backwards

Revealing two seeds

Once they have ripened,

They are forcibly discharged,

Up to twenty feet!

(P.S. That's why they're also referred to as the Snapping hazelnut!)

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Spring Buds

My skunk cabbages, Symplocarpus foetidus, are beginning to bloom! This is always a promising first sign of spring, along with the uplifting and incessant bird calls.

The unusual looking buds usually appear before the vernal equinox, and often long before the snow melts. The lush green leaves appear after it has finished flowering.

It's a plant of low-lying, wet, marshy areas, and has become endangered in places that are being drained and cleared for human habitation.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Old Bags

Hannaford tries to promote recycling and thrift with regard to their free produce bags, but it's way too subtle - the signs at the produce department look like part of the wallpaper. It needs to be more in our faces, impactful. We need more nudging, more reminders, perhaps also fewer stations with bag dispensers to make us walk back and forth to reach them? The provision of free bags next to each fruit or vegetable display encourages us to use more of them.

Hannaford's signs suggest re-using their 'free' bags, or using other multi-use bags for produce. How many of us stop to read them? 

If we each slowed down and created a 'system' for keeping once-used produce bags aside, ready for the next visit to the store as we do with other re-usable shopping bags, we'd save a lot. Maybe make some light string bags for use in the store - they work just as well as plastic, and you don't have to fiddle around trying to get the edges to open!

A sole pineapple doesn't NEED to be bagged - it's a self-contained, sturdy fruit. A hand of bananas joined together is just fine unbagged in a shopping cart, so is a bunch of carrots, and vine tomatoes. 

Free bags? We've all heard the adage 'there's no such thing as a free lunch' in economics - it applies to 'free' plastic too. Where is the incentive to reduce, to plan ahead, to take some responsibility? How about we have 5c added to each produce purchase in a store bag? We need to pay for our wasteful ways, to be more accountable to our environment. Sometimes we need a little incentive to stop and think about our excessive conveniences. 

Sadly, it's only when it hits our wallets that we begin to care ... plastics are NOT free.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Rosy Thoughts

As we spring forward and manipulate our time-keeping, my thoughts leap towards spring and our vigorous, bee-supporting native roses. I'm lucky enough to have two of them in my yard - Rosa palustris and R. virginiana.

Native roses aren't anywhere near as picky and nurturing-needy as artificially cultivated varieties, so they're perfect for my style of gardening. Low maintenance, check! And, they're drought tolerant. 

According to this Indigenous Landscapes Blog, native roses support "at least 135 different species of native moths/butterflies as host plants" as well as sustaining bee populations. Also, if you "match the native rose species to the proper condition," you’ll never have to water them as they are well adapted.  
So why not add some native roses to your collection?

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Floor Art

Let's have more light! 

Ooh, doesn't this look special? A little bit of abstract art to appreciate this weekend.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

From Clouds to Concrete

 We've had all manner of snow types this year. 

Sometimes it was so cold that I couldn't believe there was enough moisture in the air to snow. But it did, and the crystals were well-formed and distinct: large, air-filled flakes that floated wispily back and forth on their way to the ground in a frivolous dance. They were like pieces of tissue floating back and forth (like the little bits your Dad would tear off to staunch the nicks made whilst shaving). Clearing this snow away is like shoveling feathers of down, or maybe it's simply a matter of shoveling clouds! 

Other times the snow was heavy enough to fall in straight vertical sheets. It looked like a shower curtain, but visibly white, not transparent rain. It was as if it couldn't make up its mind whether it was rain or snow. This kind is laden with moisture, compacting as it lands and sticking to itself, laying on the roof as a compressed sheet. Shoveling this kind is like lifting concrete.

And then there are the 50 shades in between these types! I like the chinkling kind that we hear hitting windows and other surfaces as it falls - I call it snow hail, just for fun.

It's no wonder the Eskimo-Aleut have so many descriptions of snow - they were astutely noting the different conditions leading to a variety in snow types. Their traditional knowledge is rooted in experience and interaction with the environment, of recognizing patterns and cycles through the ages. So valuable.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023