April Showers bring . . .

May showers!

v-green yard

It feels like it has rained every day for the past week, but the grass is certainly green.

v-pool (1)

And the vernal pool full. Between today’s downpours I visited it a couple of times, so excited by my findings.

v-wood frog eggs developing

The wood frog eggs had turned green with a symbiotic algae and I could see the tadpoles developing inside.

v-tadpoles 2

The green coloring made the their eggs contrast with the salamander masses. I was thrilled to see movement among the green and realized that . . . drum roll please . . .

v-tadpoles 6

my babies were slowing hatching. Of course, they are mine–even though the frog pond is located on a neighboring property. I’ve been an expectant mother for several weeks, and now . . . I’m nervous about the future, as any parent would be.

v-tadpoles 1

Will my babies survive? Will they have an opportunity to transform into their terrestrial forms?

v-tadpoles 7

Or will the pond dry up too soon as it has the last few years? I guess I’ll be forced to continue to stop by. Oh darn! One thing I have noted since the ice melted: I’ve yet to see a predacious diving beetle and there are hardly any mosquito larvae flipping about. That’s good for the tadpoles on one end of the spectrum and not so good on the other. To be food and to eat food.

v-sallie eggs 1

I also wondered, will the  white and opaque masses of the spotted salamander eggs turn green like they are supposed to–also dependent on a symbiotic algae?

v-hole 4

After checking on my wee ones, I walked the pond’s perimeter and noticed activity at a spot I’ve been keeping an eye on in the southwest corner. Well, not current activity, but recent. For the first time this year, a hole has been excavated.

v-hole 3

It’s the same hole that was excavated last year. Darker debris was piled in front.


At about three or so inches across, I wondered who owned it. Too small for foxes, and certainly too wet. Too big for chipmunks and a dirty dooryard. Could it be a mink? Do they leave a messy dooryard? I found the same hole excavated last year, but never any other evidence of the maker. I’ll continue to check for any other signs.


My eyes reverted back to the pool, where raindrops and reflections created an artistic display.

v-maple dust lichen

And then I pulled myself away, frozen were my fingers. The greenness of the world continued to show its face everywhere I turned from the maple-dust lichen to . . .

v-white pine

young white pines, their candelabras growing long,

v-maple leaf and samara

red maple samaras upon old leaves,

v-cherry 1

and cherry flowers developing.


What do April showers bring? Mayflowers (trailing arbutus), of course,

v-Canada mayflower 2

Canada mayflowers,

v-tulip 1

and garden May flowers.



Close to Home

It’s a no-Mondate Monday since we just returned from vacation. My guy felt the need to work and I felt the need to stick close to home.

Stepping outside, the aromatic smell of lilacs and honeysuckle envelope me. It reminds me of my childhood home, where the lilacs grew outside the bedroom I shared with my sister. And that reminds me of Mom and Dad and the fact that it’s Memorial Day and we always went to the parade in town and sometimes we marched in it and other times we rode in the back of our neighbor’s car because she was the head of the VNA and the school nurse, and we always bought crepe paper poppies from the veterans to honor them and my father, grandfathers, uncles and cousins. Thank you to all who have and do serve.


We purchased our home 22 years ago. The previous owners had green thumbs and though the house had been empty for ten years before we bought it, their toil was still evident. I have a green pinky, so the gardens aren’t what they once were. I am excited, however, that some of the flowers they nurtured continue to thrive. Such is the case with this white lilac.

purple lilac

And the purple, that forms part of the windscreen on the edge of the yard.

The fragrance is mixed in with . . .


that of the honeysuckle. Both buzz with pollinators seeking their sweet nectar.

strawberry 2

Wild Strawberries are just that as they creep through the gardens and lawn.

Flowers and leaves grow separately on long, slender stalks.
With milk-white flowers, whence soon shall sweet
Rich fruitage, to the taste and smell
Pleasant alike, the Strawberry weaves
Its coronet of three-fold leaves,
In mazes through the sloping wood.


Another edible, the Highbush Blueberries.

Canada Mayflower

Atop one of the stone walls, at its base and below many trees, the Canada Mayflower blooms.

star flowers

A wildflower that some consider common is the Starflower. Look closely and you may see that there are seven stamen, seven petals and seven sepals. How common is that?

Interrupted 2

We have plenty of ferns throughout the yard and woods, but I like this one–the Interrupted Fern. It speaks its name.

Interrupted fern

On larger fronds, brown fertile pinnae or leaflets interrupt the green sterile leaflets.


And then there is that hitchhiker, the Lupine. Each year it moves to a different spot.

Lupine 2

I love to watch the flower open from the bottom up.

lady slipper

I saved the best for last. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve lived in this house for more than two decades and though I’ve seen Lady’s Slippers in other places, today I stumbled upon this one in our yard. A member of the Orchid family, it features the typical three petals in an atypical fashion. The pouch (or slipper or moccasin), called the labellum, is actually one petal–inflated and veined as you can see. The two remaining narrow petals twist and extend to the sides. Overall, it reminds me of a lady holding out her skirt as she curtsies.

Though bees help with pollination, they hardly reap the rewards of sweet nectar. It’s a symbiotic relationship with a fungi that helps the Lady’s Slipper germinate. And then, it still takes a few years for the germinated seed to produce leaves and about 3-5  years before it produces a flower. Once established, however, it may live for 20-30 years or more. So apparently this wildflower has been present for at least eight years, but I only discovered it today.

Staying close to home certainly offered sweet wonders.

May Day Celebration

And just like that, it’s May. May Day. Memories of our sons quietly delivering flowers to neighbors and friends flashed through my mind this morning. I’ve a feeling they choose not to remember, but at the time they loved sneaking up to doors, depositing small baskets of flowers and then dashing away.


For me, the fun began this morning when I joined a small group intent on birding at the Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge. Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds, Pine Siskins, Waterthrush, Mallards, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Goldfinches and a few others were singing and flitting about.


The bridge, itself, is worth viewing from any vantage point.


And then I drove to Sweden (Sweden, Maine, that is) to join a couple of friends on a tramp through the woods.

moss 2

Along the way, this May Day basket presented itself.

1000 shades of green

Moss covered rocks and stumps bring to mind my father and his Scottish heritage. The faeries or fair folk, as they prefer to be known, quietly present themselves in areas like this. Some day, I may share the fairy tale I wrote a few years ago.

witch hazel

The Witch Hazel still holds its leaves.

beech leaf

As do most American beech trees, but this one is beginning to leaf out.


The insects don’t stand a chance against the methodic hammering of the pileated woodpecker who created these holes.

carpenter ant

At the base of the tree, the reason for the pileated’s work was revealed; sawdust created by carpenter ants. This tree must hum before it drums.

rock tree

I actually stopped talking, ever so briefly, when I saw this.

rock tree 2

How in the world?

rock tree 3

We think we know, but what are your thoughts?


Meanwhile–a tree grows around a rock.

oak acrorn germinating

One of my favorite wonders of today. A red oak acorn germinating on the gravelly road–not exactly a quality site to begin life.

skunk cabbage

False Hellibore shines brightly,

skunk 2

slowly unfurling its smooth-edged, pleated leaves,


beside Powers Brook as it meanders by on its way to Stearns Pond.

beaver 1

It was a day of this and that, including beaver works.


The lodge.


And two large dams, the second being in the background to the center right.

 canada mayflower

It’s May Day and we noticed that Canada Mayflower is beginning to leaf out.


 But . . . we’ve been paying attention to Trailing Arbutus, aka Mayflower, whenever we tramp, and today–blossoms


accompanied by that delicate sweet scent.

A reason to celebrate. Happy May Day.

Quiet Beauty

Sixty-five degrees in the shade. Time to shed a few layers. And so I did before I stumbled through the snow to my sit spot. I didn’t feel like wearing snowshoes, so it felt like I was digging post holes again.


I set up camp at the opening of the cowpath. Shades of green, brown and white surrounded me. Once in a while I spied a touch of contrast–one red berry on a Wintergreen and a few weathered purplish-red berries of a Canada Mayflower.

canada mayflower

The deer had moved through yesterday afternoon and again this morning. We watched them cross the field, which is still snow-covered. They paused by the stonewall to browse before climbing over it and into our woods. Their presence was noted everywhere.

stone wall deer

juniper 2juniper 3

Before moving on, they stopped at the junipers that grow along one section of the stonewall. The shrubs are filled with berries–green, blue and even gray. I find it curious that these berries are supposed to provide food for deer and yet, there are still so many there. All of the exposed juniper bushes are laden with berries.


Right at the opening of the cowpath is this decaying log. I’ve observed the life it supports for the past few years. It reminds me of a similar log below a tree in my childhood backyard. My two playmates and I named the tree “Treetonic” and we each had a chosen branch that served as our home. Mine was the lowest one–I was the more cautious of the three. We used to dig small chunks out of the log below to create our “meals” of meat and vegetables. Wow–I can’t believe I remember that.

Back to the present–two years ago I found a couple of tiny white pine saplings growing on this log, but today there was no sight of them. Often, I’ve discovered acorn shells. And once, close to Halloween, I found plugs of red squirrel hair–lots of it. It was extremely soft, about an inch or more long, white at the base, then black, and topped with reddish brown–which had some black specks. I called it the Frankenhair Mystery in honor of Halloween and the fact that “Frankenstorm” Sandy was on the horizon.

Today, it was the mossy mat that made me pull out my colored pencils. A tree dies, falls to the ground, begins to decompose. Lichens colonize it, blown in as spores in the air–a topic for another day. Moss grows over the lichen, taking advantage of moisture trapped in the organic matter. Eventually, the moss adds to the organic material and helps build a soil base. Once the moss mat is established, grasses, sedges, ferns and herbs invade–arriving by wind-borne spores or seeds (or perhaps even via rainwater and spring tales, aka snow fleas, as suggested in “A Chemical Romance . . . Among the Mosses” in the winter 2012 issue of Northern Woodlands magazine.)

common haircap

The moss mat, like that created by this Common Haircap Moss, takes on vertical complexity–soil,  moisture, organic matter all build up. Plant richness increases. If the soil builds up sufficiently, it can support more extensive root systems of woody plants, like the white pine sapling.


Common Haircap Moss grows in thick patches everywhere I look. Using my hand lens, I can see that the narrow, lance-shaped leaves have toothed edges. I love getting a closer look through the lens. I can see how the leaves clasp the stem. Then I looked at the spore capsule with its copper-wiry stem and four-sided hood that looks like it’s seen better days–because it has.


I’m not sure about this photo–I thought I was looking at two different mosses, but it may be that one is a moist form of haircap and the other is a dry form, with the leaves drawn in–but it does seem to have a wilder appearance. What wowed me when I looked through the lens was the color of the stem. Without the lens, it looked like it was basic brown. A closer look revealed reds, and pinks, and yellows and greens. And scaly leaves hugging the stem. Maybe as time goes on I’ll have a better idea of what it is–but I’m so glad I took the time to view it up close, where it quietly revealed its beauty on a day dedicated to quiet reflection.


Days when I make time to wander and wonder and discover the quiet beauty that surrounds me are my favorite kind of days.

Thanks for tagging along to enjoy today’s wonder.