Friday, September 4, 2015

Beach Combing

Two weekends ago, I finally got my day-alone-at-the-beach.

It was one of those days on which I needed to just run away from home.I brought a sandwich and pastry from my favorite bakery, my new paint box, and a book...all the beach essentials.
This particular beach is the best one I know for shells washing up on shore.
Including perfect sand dollars.
Maybe this beach makes for such good combing because it's a couple of mile hike over a small "mountain" to the parking area, so no one wants to pick any up and carry them back.
At least how I felt.
Besides, I don't have room for any more shells on my dusty bathroom shelves.

So I did my beach combing by camera.
So many colors and shapes.
They brightened a gray day.

And I returned home somewhat restored.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Weekend Things ~ Last Hurrah

With school looming on Monday morning and September's calendar chocka-block full of weekend events and activities, we made one last pilgrimage to the beach last Sunday.

We had perfect beach weather--hot enough to make swimming in the cold water appealing, but not so hot the sand scorches the bottoms of your feet.

We managed to drag the kids out to an island when low tide revealed the sand bar causeway.

But otherwise, they spent the whole beach day in the manner of old people--reading in lawn chairs.

I tried soaking up enough sun and sand to last me through the long winter ahead (the Old Farmer's Almanac says it's going to be another doozy).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wild Wednesday ~ Late August

Now that wildflower season is winding down for the year, I thought I'd change the name of this post to "Wild Wednesday," so that I can share other wild things going on in the neighborhood.
This is the time of year when dewy mornings make spiderwebs especially visible, and when we see more of our eight-legged friends (indoors and out), such as the yellow argiope, or garden spider (Argiope aurantia). Argiopes are orb-weaver spiders; their webs are of the classic spiderweb shape, with a zig-zag stabilimentum in the center. There are many theories regarding what purpose this structure serves, from camouflage to warning birds away to attracting insects to sunblock.
Tall white aster (Doellingeria umbellata, Aster family) dominates our fields right now.

Most of them are from hip to waist-high on me, but this plant, one of a cluster of them growing in  a shady corner of our back field rises over my head.

Several other species of aster have come into bloom in the last few days. I had thought that these were calico aster, but now I'm not so sure. I think asters may fall into the category with goldenrods--enjoy but don't worry about what species they are--at least for the rest of this year.

I did manage to i.d. one easy goldenrod; growing on an island in the ocean, with thick, waxy leaves, it's seaside goldenrod (Solidago semperivens, Aster family).
But otherwise, goldenrods growing around my house have me stumped...even with I thought I had correctly identified last summer, I'm finding reason to doubt my conclusions.

This flower came as a surprise to me--it's growing all along our driveway, but I don't remember seeing it last summer when I was surveying plants for my naturalist class. It's called red fast brassier (Odontites vernus, Broomrape family), and is a non-native, but a pretty little one.

Garden evening primrose (Oenothera glazioviana, Evening primrose family) is also blooming now.
Finally, one of my favorite driveway-side flowers,  which GoBotany calls purple orpine, but Newcomb calls live forever (a name I much prefer) (Hylotelephium telephium, Orpine family). It's a succulent (formerly known as sedum), and so brightly incongruous growing among all of these tall, yellow and white flowers.
What's blooming in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Day

E and Z started school yesterday.
They weren't too thrilled by the prospect. 
And who can blame them? 
It was too nice of a day to spend inside a classroom. 
It turns out Z had good reason to be apprehensive--he hurt himself on the playground at recess.
His legs, as they say here in Maine, are all stove up, and he's missing the second day of school. 

We're making good use of ice, ibuprofen, arnica, and castor oil (my grandmother's old timey bruise remedy).
 I'm hoping he'll be back on his feet--and back in school--tomorrow.
Meanwhile, M and I attended freshman orientation last night and he started high school today. I'm feeling a surprising lack of sentimentality over this momentous occasion--I didn't even get out of bed to see him off this morning, let along take pictures of him getting on the bus (for which he wouldn't have thanked me anyway). I think I'm just feeling such great relief to have gotten to this point--after a year of struggle convincing him this school is the right choice (we don't have a HS in our town, so we get to choose) and a summer of anxiety expressed as surly teenagerness. I'm expecting to see him arrive home this afternoon wound up with excitement over the new friends, new experiences, and new challenges ahead. We'll see...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday ~ Home Again

Back to Maine wildflowers this week....many, but not all, of which I captured along my driveway.

The rabbit-foot clover (Trifolium arvense, Pea family) has already moved on to the fluffy seed-head stage, but was blooming all through late July. It's a sweet little plant, and prolific along the gravelly edges of roads and driveways, but easily overlooked.
I spied this yellow pine-sap (Hypopitys monotropa, Heath family) growing in the woods a couple of weeks ago. It's a parasitic plant that gets its energy from tree roots, and thus has no use for chlorophyll.
This is another flower that was blooming in profusion along our driveway in the last two or three weeks but has gone by now: fringed yellow-loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata, Marlberry family).
Just starting to go by now are the meadowsweets which had been gracing our fields with their pretty little flower clusters. White meadowsweet (Spiraea alba, Rose family).
And rosy meadowsweet (Spiraea tomentosa).

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta, Aster family) are still going strong.
Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota, Carrot family) is starting to take over the fields.
I just noticed the other evening that all Queen Anne's lace flowers were turned to face the setting sun. I thought only sunflowers did that, but now I'm wondering what other flowers do this.

The first asters have come into bloom--tall white-aster (Doelingeria umbellata, Aster family), an easy one to remember because they are tall (anywhere from waist height to over my head) and white.
And several goldenrod (Solidago spp., Aster family) are blooming now. Last summer I made it my mission to try to identify all of the goldenrods I saw (in part as a reaction to never having realized there was more than one species--let alone dozens--of goldenrod before), but this year I'm not feeling that energetic, and I don't remember any of the specifics from the ones I puzzled out last year. For now we'll just call them "goldenrod."

This is a fun little flower that I never even noticed before last summer--pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea, Aster family). The petals (or ray flowers, I suppose) are very dry and crinkly feeling and it is apparently good for dried flower arrangements.
Down along our river a bunch of new flowers came into bloom white we were away, including: spotted jewelweed (Impatiens capensis, Touch-me-not family).
I think this is a skullcap--I came to mad dog skullcap (Scutellaria laterilora, Mint family) using Newcomb's, but looking at the pictures on GoBotany, I'm not so sure. Any ideas?
We've always called this mint growing on rocky sand bars in the river water mint (Mentha aquatica, Mint family), but after looking at online pictures, I'm wondering if it's wild mint (Mentha canadensis). C and the boys like to collect the leaves and make tea, but it has a strong medicinal smell/taste that I can't stand.
This arrow-leaved tearthumb (Persicaria sagittata, Buckwheat family) was growing all tangled up with the jewelweed, skullcap, and the next flower. It's aptly named for the spiny barbs that grow all along the stem.
And finally, a flower whose appearance I look forward to all summer: cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis, Harebell family). It's always a thrill to see these bright read blossoms appear along the river banks.

What's blooming in your neck of the woods?
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