Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Epigaea repens

When I see this photo of Epigaea repens, I automatically experience its magnificent scent. It's known as Trailing Arbutus, and may also be referred to as the Mayflower or Plymouth Mayflower, or Ground Laurel. This is the state flower of Massachusetts. Other plants are also known colloquially as mayflowers, for example the Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

These plants are unobtrusive and low to the ground, creeping along the surface - it's easy to miss them! They're sensitive to environmental disturbance, especially forestry operations.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Kayaking to my Kayak

When that 18" of snow melted within days, followed by some heavy rain showers our yard quickly became flooded.

 I'd need a watercraft to get to my kayak (incidentally, our kayak rack broke with the weight of accumulating snow on one side of the rack)
And some parts of our boardwalk had pools of water beneath them

It didn't stay wet for long though.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Horror!

The wind- and snow- fall damage from the April 4 storm has been horrific to see. Healthy trees broke under the weight of their own branches that were weakened by snow accumulation on one side only, making the weight distribution very uneven.

Our boardwalk was lifted and buckled by a tree that keeled over into our cove

We also lost these two beauts: the far one lifted an incredibly large area of moss with its root base.

As it fell, it carved a deep hole on its lake side as its roots dipped in and slid backwards. The pic below shows the gouge it created as it fell, and into which Dale unknowingly stepped when snow still lay on the ground, getting his foot totally wet.

The two trees, once paired upwards to the sky are now lying parallel over the water

Hell hath no fury like Mother Nature scorned, is what I say: we have abused her for too long! Now we pay the price ...

We were so fortunate not to have had any damage to our home or car. A Weber BBQ that we stored in the woods was completely crushed and destroyed by a heavy branch, but it was a spare, anyway.

 We're slowly clearing debris from the pathways and recreational areas of the yard, and will leave a whole lot as handy "thickets" (for nesting or shelter) for wildlife in the woods. I see no need to burn yard clippings, nor to haul them away to another location.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Parabolic Trees


Flexible birches

Curve parabolically

When snow traps their tips


Friday, April 26, 2024

Downed Things

After our spring snowstorm, I found these catkins that had obviously come down with the broken branches. But they still matured and over a week later released a lot of pollen!

Pine needles looking a little like droopy palms (to me!)

These are downed Maple buds, tightly packed.

But I'm glad to see that their efforts weren't wasted: a week later the flowers opened and shed pollen, despite the branches being detached from the main tree.

Some beautifully colored fungi - they look like corn kernels up close.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Ghost Leaves

Leaves past their expiration date! Looking rather papery and fragile

Pale and ghostly leaves
Ridged veins and midrib stand out
Looking skeletal

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Loon Moon

Approaching full moon,

Haunting call punctures the night -

Common Loons are back!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Not My Camelot

We traveled home the day after the eclipse (as did many other eclipsers) - traffic was slow and heavy, but moving along, at least. We had planned to stop and visit the King Arthur Baking Company Store en route home. It would not only break up the journey, but give us an opportunity to find the elusive rye flour that I've been seeking in my local stores .

Lots of other people had the same idea, though, and the line for the bakery was extremely long; so long in fact, that we changed our minds about buying confectioneries to take home. 

Boy, did they have an array of flours and flour mixtures to choose from! Most were blends and mixes that made for convenience whilst baking. I usually mix my own blends, so wasn't looking for convenience, just basic raw ingredients.

The whole experience here rubbed me up the wrong way. First of all, it wasn't cheaper to buy regular all-purpose flour here - it cost the same as at my local Hannaford. I expected that shopping at their own outlet would have brought the costs down.

Secondly, I wasn't too impressed that the only package labeled 'rye flour' that I found was listed as a blend, with all-purpose flour listed as the first ingredient! Despite this cheaper mix, it was priced the same as the other pure, specialized flours. Okay, so I'm a little more picky than most, but I felt cheated being asked to pay specialized flour prices when regular flour was part of that blend. Not only that, I eventually found pure rye, labeled as 'Pumpernickel Flour,' but it was oh, so pricey - $15 for 3 lbs. It made me even more grouchy. When I got home, I also discovered that buying the same item online from Amazon would have cost 2/3 of the price ... in fact, we were ripped off! (Small things ... breathe ...)

So, while King Arthur might have appreciated Camelot, I didn't exactly find this to be my place of idyll and happiness.

Baking lessons at King Arthur campus

Altogether, the traffic slowness after this little detour added about an hour onto our journey home, which wasn't too bad. It was a hot 70°F day, and we had to use the AC to stay cool after that exasperating escapade!


Monday, April 22, 2024

Unless ...

Unless ... someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” - The Lorax, Dr. Seuss.

It's up to us to take responsibility for what we have done to our planet by DOING something about it. Start by picking up litter that is not only unsightly, but some is hazardous to wildlife, soils, and streams.

April 22 was designated as Earth Day 54 years ago as a way to show support for environmental protection. It's a beautiful planet. It's the only one we have - let's cherish, and fix what we can. Start by planting a hardy native in your yard.


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Earth Day Reminder

April 22 is Earth Day. It's a day I personally earmark to pick up trash in my neighborhood - it gives me a great feeling of community and accomplishment to do this; so fulfilling. We can each find some small way to give back to the earth.

If you don't like picking up trash, do something else - begin composting, resolve to be less wasteful, leave yard debris for pollinators this year, practice No-Mow May, re-think your use of single use plastic bags, or remove fishing line from branches at the shore when you're out this summer.

Here's a historical pictorial summary of my obsession:

One hour's worth of work!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Non-eclipse Part of our Visit

Here are some non-eclipse photos from our visit to VT. 

Christa used to play board games with my kids, during which time German was spoken, as part of their homeschooling experience. As immigrants, she and I share a lot of common ground and we have remained good friends long after the kids flew the nest.

A beautiful sunset from the cupola

Views of the distant mountains from the cupola

Fields and forest from the cupola - it gives a lovely elevated perspective

This smart kitty was found catching rays up in the cupola, but didn't seem interested in the view.

Pensive moments, as our time together drew to a close 

Superimposed images - I loved the gold edged outline.

I wonder what Christa will arrange for our next visit (how do you top an eclipse?).

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Nature of Awe

It was whilst experiencing the eclipse that I realized I was IN AWE. Awe makes one feel small and insignificant in the presence of something grand and jaw-dropping - it's almost like a primal punch in the gut!

And according to NASA, "The prominences spotted during the eclipse were many times larger than Earth itself" - how small and insignificant does that make one feel! Seeing such a spectacle initiates a feeling of insignificance, and of how unimportant our individual lives are in the grand scheme of things - sobering indeed. It's grounding and humbling to realize that we are essentially inconsequential - illusions of grandeur or self-importance have no substantive role in the Universe, they are delusions we harbor about ourselves.

In considering and analyzing the nature of this experience even more, I became acutely tuned in to this phenomenon when 'the science of awe' was referenced in the book I was reading (Heartbreak, by Florence Williams). How serendipitous! I just had to read more!

Psychologists Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt have studied the science of awe. They assert that while awe can be either positive or negative, the ability to be MOVED deeply is what helps put our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world into perspective. It becomes a transcendent experience - awe can "shift our attention away from ourselves, make us feel like we are part of something greater than ourselves, change our perception of time, and even make us more generous toward others."

This diminished focus on the self can be life changing. By seeing that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, we can develop a healthy perspective and sense of belonging to the earth, and be open to wonder and amazement.

So, do you still have the capability to be awestruck?


Thursday, April 18, 2024


A total eclipse is something to be seen to be believed. I've been completely gobsmacked by the experience. It's definitely a worthwhile and amazing event WORTH going out of one's way for. It's taken me a while to write about it, because I've been trying to process the awe and magnificence of being present for such an amazing spectacle.

The photo that follows was taken at the beginning of the eclipse, with just a small segment obscured by the moon. We used binoculars to project the image onto the deck.

We also made a few pinhole projectors (using different sized holes) to view the eclipse, some of which were more effective than others.


Though we had special glasses to view the event, it wasn't easy to capture the eclipse directly with a cell phone camera, and without filters. So what I captured was mostly the effects of the eclipse, or what I could capture whilst placing the glasses in front of my camera - without blinding myself in the process.

Here is our 'crowd', oohing and aahing

The clarity of shadows was intense, and distinctly sharp

The flare in my camera lens at the bottom of the pic is projecting the stage of the eclipse (not deliberate).

When darkness descended, we could clearly see Venus' light shining brightly to the bottom right of the sun and moon.

Of special note, was the incredibly obvious solar prominence that we were able to see with the naked eye and which consistently glowed a pink/red color in contrast to the gold light of the corona. They were red plumes of plasma arching in a loop from the corona, like a ruby on a gold ring.

I wasn't able to capture the phenomenon myself, but have included this photo from this site, Solar prominence, which shows it clearly - the plumes appeared in a different location from our viewing spot.

Credit: Andy Kastrup, ProTronics Technologies, Inc.

It was an incredible experience to have witnessed - I'm definitely cosmically mindblown.

Highly recommended!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Collage of Darkness

To view the total solar eclipse, we had the opportunity of staying with our friend Christa, whom we had not seen since the pandemic, which is way too long. Her home was right in the path of the 2024 totality, so we could comfortably watch the eclipse from her deck, and have the luxury of a hot shower as well! Other things in our favor were minimal cloud cover, and no crowds to jostle with - en route to our destination, we had seen vendors setting up stalls to sell eclipse t-shirts and other paraphernalia along the highway - way to help cause traffic jams!

But for us, the stars were (literally) aligned for a perfect end to our recent "suffering."

It was strange to observe the light dimming slowly as the eclipse began - the light being emitted seemed strangely flat; just a weird light. It wasn't very noticeable or dark initially, just a strange light emanating as if a storm was approaching ominously, or that a mildly orangey-yellow filter was being used. As totality approached, semi-darkness seem to RUSH in. It felt eerie and unnerving to have darkness upon us so early in the day, and to have it materialize rapidly, only to have it reversed 3 minutes later. It got suddenly cold, too (dropping in the region of 10°F). The return to light after totality seemed less unusual in color, and it was quickly bright again.

A series of stills, taken a minute apart, approaching and including the total eclipse's effect on the landscape.

It was so incredibly weird to experience a "sunset" effect in a 360 swathe all around us, not just the west, to which we are used. It definitely messes with your mind - as it did with other creatures: just before totality, crows stopped cawing and everything went silent. And then an owl called, as if it were dusk hunting time. Bats came out and flew around during the few minutes of darkness, and then clambered, confused, back up into their dark roosts when it got light again. I'm not the only one who was mind-blown 😀

Here are the same pictures taken over 5 minutes, presented individually. The differences in light intensity, even within each minute changed rapidly - so incredibly amazing a spectacle to have watched. Definitely mind-blowing! 

3:25 PM
3:26 PM
3:27 PM
3:28 PM
3:29 PM

Yet more tomorrow!