Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Ticked Off

Oh dear! That "loud" noise I heard as I brushed my head against the pillow one night turned out to be a feeding tick! The sound had made me stop and ask aloud, "What was that noise?" as its hard shell body, attached to my earlobe, scraped against my pillow. It was an alien and unusual sensation, not that of a normal fleshy earlobe on a pillow slip. We dismissed it as Dale having scraped his toenail against the sheet, and went to sleep.

I investigated more fully the following morning, when I put my hand to scratch my ear. Tick, hard body, feeding. I had slept with it attached.

It made me think that maybe a set of tick earrings might be a new marketing style - I've seen insects and birds as earrings, so I thought why not ticks???

Any takers?

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Green Origami


Convoluted folds:

Intricate and exquisite -

Meadow rue unfurls.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Curious Visitor

A curious Rose-breasted Grosbeak came to check out what was happening on our deck last week when we put these trestles out to begin our latest home update project. A not so gross Grosbeak :-)

I couldn't think of the name of the bird, but managed to convey what I meant when I explained, "That's one of the birds on the front of our field guide."

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Moth with a Mohawk

I was happy to finally get a still photo of this chunky-looking native moth (known as the rough prominent, or white-dotted prominent) crawling up and down grass stalks. It looks so feathery and soft.

I was intrigued by its mohawk hairstyle. Apparently the scientific name, Nadata gibbosa references this feature, since gibb refers to the Latin for humped.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Amaryllis Up Close

A hummingbird spied these bright indoor blooms, and came to our window, hovering, in search of a possible nectar source. Thankfully it didn't crash into the window pane.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Mayapple Triumph

 My very first mayapple flower! Such a thrill!

There's a long story that goes with this successful bloom ... about 5 years ago, at a local plant sale, I'd placed the last 2 mayapple seedlings into my cart, having made a BIG deal about my fixation on natives to the people selling the plants. I pulled my wagon along and then stopped to browse, leaving it briefly unattended, while I perused other plantings. When I turned back to drag my wagon, my mayapples were gone, and a woman was walking away with 2 in her hands. I told her she must have taken them from my cart and that they were mine, since I had made a 'scene' about picking up the last 2 off the stand just a few minutes ago. No she said, she hadn't got them off my wagon.

I remembered walking away, highly peeved because I had a solitary plant at home and had been on a mission to buy more so I could get them to propagate and spread. There was no way I could prove she'd taken 'mine' from my cart (even though there were now none on my wagon, and the vendors had been part of the conversation about taking the last 2 not so long ago!). It was infuriating, but I didn't want to make more of a scene than I already had, so left empty-handed. The plant sellers just kind of shrugged at me as if to say "sorry, but what can we do?"

So this mayapple blossom is a triumph! While I never found more to buy locally, the incident has been become part of my garden's lore. 

It has taken probably 5 years to produce two plants!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Ice Worms

A record low for spring in Maine a week ago: temperatures dropped to 30°F overnight, creating these frozen ice worms. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Jacks and Violets

I love the beautifully simple, understory stars - the violets. So underappreciated.

This little bed of violets is punctuated with some stripey jacks

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Layered Realm

I'm thrilled by the different colors, shapes and textures that are appearing before me on a daily basis in my garden. Look at this exquisite juxtaposition of greens:

Meadow rue and fern

Create a layered green realm

Of diverse features

Monday, May 22, 2023

Gorgeous Gaywings

These low-growing, showy natives grow voluntarily all over my yard, in all sorts of places - I didn't plant any of them myself. Their blooms are exquisite, and uniquely shaped. They are in fact, sometimes mistaken for orchids. These plants have the incredible strategy of producing a flower that remains buried and self fertilizes without opening. Way to ensure survival!

They have other common names too, such as flowering wintergreen and fringed polygala, or fringed milkwort. To avoid confusion, the definitive name is Polygaloides paucifolia!

Their seeds are dispersed by ants, a strategy called myrmecochory (seed dispersal), try saying that after a gin and tonic!

Sunday, May 21, 2023


Coddiwomple! What a strange sounding word. In British slang it means "to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination"

Are you a coddiwompler? Maybe you are, but you just didn't know it! 

It's pretty descriptive, I'd say, almost self-describing. Not exactly onomatopoeic, but the way it rolls off the tongue might suggest a non-linear traveling style.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Jelly Bean Egg

I found this tiny pearlescent egg on the lawn - it reminded me of a jelly bean.

It's really tiny, just over half an inch in length, and intact. Did it get kicked out of the nest or dropped over the edge by mistake? I really can't tell which bird it came from since there are no real distinguishing features, but maybe that's the clue!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Beech Balls

These pastel pink balls are lying everywhere, across our entire lawn. We have never noticed them before, in the 10+ years we've lived here! They're the remnants of American beech flowers.


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Red Coils

It's amazing at how different things look when they start off compared to what they end up looking like.

This coiled red spring is an unfurling maidenhair fern, which is as green as they come when mature.

2 days later it has uncurled and spring outwards into 2 main stems

And 4 days later like this - how incredible!

Tuesday, May 16, 2023


Aaah, leaves are filling in all the gaps between twigs, branches, trunks and sky. We're getting some shade too, as we are slowly being separated from neighbors, roads and pathways by our own tent of translucent greenery.

Here are some individual contributors

Virginia creeper

Sensitive fern

Monday, May 15, 2023

Waspish Things

Bronze beech leaf cases:

 Bits dangling down like wasp legs

As they drift to earth

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Morning Yoga

This little cutie treated us to quite an entertaining display of her morning preening routine - her adept flexibility and speed made her contortions difficult to capture.

Saturday, May 13, 2023


I have wanted one of these gorgeous, early spring flowering shrubs for a very long time - Viburnum lantanoides. It's a spectacular bush when in bloom - I found this one along the roadside in our neighborhood.

I'm entranced by both its impressive flat-topped flower head

and its beautifully textured twin leaves

SO, SO green with envy!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Fragile Beauty

Spring's ephemerals,

Sprinkled like confetti flakes -

Fragile, delicate.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

That Darn Dam

Oh woe! The long saga of our dam flashboards washing away and being replaced has resumed ... the deluge (almost 4 inches overnight) and heavy winds we experienced on April 30/May 1 added a new chapter to the narrative.

The spring storm flooded our yard and dock to a level never seen before. We tether our dock boards onto the frame, but still, they were floating and displaced. And there was no way to walk out there to fix them.

We kept dragging our kayaks and loungers further up the yard, only to find they needed moving yet again as the feeder streams delivered their input later, after the rain had stopped. 

The flooding was too much for the flashboards at the dam, and about 1/4 of them were washed away - again. So another fix is being planned, necessitating dropping the water level down deliberately to enable workers to work safely on the wall. Below is a shot of how it looked 6 days after the rain - quite a considerable drop; I just hope they're harnessing the power for the hydroelectric facility.

It still has more lowering to go, and it looks different each day. This has, unfortunately, put a damper on my investigation of shallow wetlands for plants putting on a spring bloom, since there is no way through the mud and silt without water. And it's now waaaaaay lower than when this pic was taken.

The plan is to get the repair done and refilling completed by the Memorial day weekend.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Frog chorus

Musical chorus

Of wood frogs, like ducks quacking -

- a quackophony?


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Spring Azure

What a lovely name for a butterfly - the spring azure (Celastrina ladon). It's one of the first to show up in the spring, and quite diminutive, about an inch in size with wings closed. 

When it flies, the inside of its wings displays a beautiful pastel blue, but disappointingly, I wasn't able to capture it with its wings spread. 😞

The butterfly was feeding on the tiny azure bluets that grow up in lawns in clumps - the flowers are small and delicate, so pursuing this flying beauty from clump to clump in the lawn had me leopard-crawling all over the still-damp spongey earth, with very little success.

But I had fun trying!

Monday, May 8, 2023

Native Joys


A favorite thing -

Spreading appreciation

Of maint'nance free plants

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Turkey Helpers

I walked around my garden beds last week, hoping to see signs of my Jefferson twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) emerging from the leaf litter, but it wasn't showing through at all. I decided not to uncover it, but instead wait for it to emerge on its own.

Lo and behold, a day later, it was uncovered and showing its new growth - it had been aided by turkeys rifling through the leaf litter for grubs and seeds.

Wow! I was amazed. Maybe this is one of the ways in which ecosystems left alone manage to thrive and survive, naturally. Nature doesn't need our "help" - be ecologically responsible, and leave the leaves!

And no, this wasn't the kind of wild turkey that inspired this post!

Friday, May 5, 2023

Stinking Benjamin


Exquisite beauty

Known as stinking Benjamin

For its wet dog smell

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Adventures with a Stinkpot

I managed to capture this slow moving, ancient-looking dinosaur of a creature in a net last week, in an attempt to get its proper ID. This is the common musk turtle, Sternotherus odoratus, my first encounter with this species.

Photo by Dale Schultz

It was surprisingly easy to grab, so easy in fact, that I initially thought I'd caught a dead or dying specimen. I lifted it out of my net whilst still sitting out on the water in my kayak, but was so surprised when it suddenly started moving, that I dropped it onto my lap. Now it was crawling around on me and into the bottom of my kayak! Eek, that caused a momentary panic, but I managed to gather my courage and pick it up in my hands again, knowing it was alive. I then removed all the litter I had collected in my bucket, and put the turtle into it instead (it was preferable to have litter loose in my kayak than a sharp clawed turtle).

Back home I had the opportunity to get a few up close photos, and to consult my field guides. Look at those sharp claws! And that mouth has the look of someone who's just taken out their false teeth.

Its feet look very different, broad and webbed for swimming, when they're in use. My daughter also noticed that they look hennaed

There are some yellow lines on its triangular head:

A view of the fleshy looking tail beneath its shell

The underside, or plastron, is quite strikingly marked. It's also interesting to me how much flesh is exposed despite having a shell and base.

Photo by Dale Schultz

As you might guess from the common name, stinkpot, this turtle emits a musky odor when stressed, and is said to often bite when first captured!