Smack Dab In Front Of Me


Sometimes I’m amazed at the wonders that are right before my eyes. OK, more than sometimes.


For the past two years, I’ve noticed this plant as I sat on my porch rocker. The greenish-yellow flower tinged with purple doesn’t last long, but it’s delicate in form. If you look closely, you may see that it’s shaped like a slipper. The pouch of a lady’s slipper? No, but it is a member of the orchid family, thus the similar structure. This is a helleborine, which is actually a non-native.

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The hair-covered stem almost looks like it’s been coated with powder. With clasping leaves and that thick fuzzy stem, I keyed it out to Epipactis helleborine, aka broad-leaved helleborine. Strong and beautiful.

c-Rabbit-foot clover 1

Another non-native that is especially common along roadsides right now is rabbit-foot clover. I love this common name for it does look like the good-luck charms we used to have as kids–which were supposed to be a rabbit’s foot. Were they really taken from rabbits? Left or right, front or back?  Which pocket where you supposed to carry it in? And did it actually bring good luck? I don’t know, but the feathery structure and tad of pink among the white and green makes this flower appear as something more unique than common. Delicate and dainty.

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A third non-native that I see blooming everywhere right now–Queen Anne’s Lace. Apparently, Queen Anne liked to work with lace and the red dot that you see in the center of the inflorescence represents the blood that dripped when she accidentally pricked herself with a needle. After the flower finishes blooming, its spoke-like branches curl inward and form a “bird’s nest” structure while the seeds develop. Legendary and intricate.

c-ant on pearly everlasting

Finally, a native. The flowers of pearly everlasting. And an ant. Notice its body color–shining iridescent in the sunlight. Yes, even ants can be worth a view. And while these flowers may look huge, think about the size of an ant. I just happened to be in their faces. Three cool things about pearly everlasting. First, the white “petals” are actually bracts that surround the yellow disk flowers. (Bracts are usually green and leafy.) Second, the flowerheads do look like pearls and those white bracts remain so that  even after the central disk flowers wilt, the pearl structure continues to exist. (They look great in dried flower arrangements.) And third, the lance-shaped leaves are cottony and have an aqua-white or silvery tinge that makes them stand out among green-leaved plants.  Unforgettable and forevermore.


Morning dew glistened like tiny beads on a sensitive fern frond this morning.

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But one of my favorite finds later in the day was the fertile stalks of sensitive ferns. Check out the beadlike structure that houses the spores. These will stand tall all winter, turn a burgundy brown and after the spores are finally released, they’ll take on a lacy look. Notice how the beads appear on one side of the stalk. They look like they could be made of polymer clay. Prolific and creative.

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As I was looking about, a pair of marsh bluets demonstrated their mating behavior. He is the darker one and has grabbed onto her thorax behind her head with the claspers at the tip of his tail. She actually has species-specific grooves intended for this. And she has apparently decided he is the one for this moment because she’s lifting her body toward his to form the heart-shaped wheel, meaning she’s ready to receive his sperm. He’ll first check to see if she’s received any sperm from another male, which if discovered, he’ll remove before inserting his own. Once the mating is over, he’ll guard her to make sure no other males happen along. Curious and crazy.

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One of my favorite in my face experiences today occurred when this white-faced meadowhawk dragonfly let me enter its personal space. It posed for moments on end and then flew off, only to return for another face-to-face meet and greet. The face of a young one is yellow to begin and changes to white as it matures. While the adult male has a red body, females and young males are yellowish brown. So this is one of the latter two. I swear it smiled at me. I certainly smiled back.

We were smack dab in each others faces–the better to see you, my dear.


Ladies’ Weekend 2015

While it was Ladies’ Day Out here in western Maine, I drove west to Vermont, to celebrate with friends in a different manner.

Brownington, Vermont, was the destination–as three of us drove north and west to converge at a friend’s farmhouse. And then the Talk Fest began.

Yes, instead of a Shop Fest, we enjoyed a Talk Fest. Of course, unless you want to buy eggs, there’s not much shopping to be done in Brownington. That’s the beauty of it. Plus, we aren’t shoppers.

What we did do, which is also a little unusual for a ladies’ weekend, was go on a quest for my ancestral roots. (Thanks B.M.D., P.S. and B.C. for humoring me)

And at the South Cemetery in South Barton, we found what I was seeking.

Folsom 2

My greatX3 grandparents and other ancestors are buried here in a small valley below Crystal Lake (once known as Belle Pond). According to various census reports, they were farmers and I have to wonder if one of the small homes in the area belonged to them, or if there is a foundation somewhere nearby. A future hunt?

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Wildflowers growing on the hill between the cemetery and road feature an abundance of Queen Anne’s Lace. Like a spray of fireworks, the fruiting structure extends in various directions.

andrew f

Dana A F

Alonzo Dana

Finding physical evidence of those who came before made my heart sing. They were here. They worked this land. They breathed this air. They were born, grew up and carved out a living here. They were farmers who sowed their own seeds. And some of them died here.

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Queen Anne’s Lace is prolific in spreading its seeds by the wind.

Dana Folsom

They served their country and some didn’t return, like my great-great grandfather. And while my great grandmother was born here, she and my great grandfather moved to Massachusetts and then New Hampshire–I have to wonder why.

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Some seeds land nearby; others float away in the wind. I must have inherited some of g.g.’s genes.

Willoughby Cemetery

We’d spent enough time reading the headstones and appreciating the lives they represented.

WL, Haystack, Pisgah, Hor

It was time to continue our Talk Fest and take a peek at the peak’s our hostess knows so well. Haystack, Pisgah and Hor create the backdrop of Willoughby Lake.

deer print

We stumbled upon deer prints and . . .

beaver chew

beaver works. The latter forced us to look further, but we couldn’t find any evidence of a lodge or dam, just more beaver chews along the beach–perhaps they floated in from another locale.

Prospect Hill Observatory

We climbed the Prospect Hill Observatory and took in the 360˚ views. Rolling hills, farms, villages, mountains and . . .

Oh Canada

Canada. My great grandfather came from Canada–perhaps right over there. I’m not sure–I’m still trying to figure out his lineage.

horseshoe print

This print is one in a series of tracks that lead up and around the observatory. A couple of Amish families have moved into the neighborhood in the past year–a horseshoe print.

Sisters & Brenna

We left our own prints at the geographic survey mark when we posed for a selfie–photobombed by another lady–Brenna.


The Orleans Historical Society has protected this land and the buildings you see here. Brownington is a picturesque village located along the former stage coach route that led from Canada to Boston.

stone house 2

Thirty-five years ago, when our hostess moved here for a teaching job, she earned her keep by keeping an eye on this building. Stone House sign

Local lore has it that Twilight quarried the granite blocks and erected the building on his own. He used a single ox–on a treadmill on staging–to raise the blocks and when the last stone was placed, he couldn’t figure out how to lower the beast, so he roasted it.

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It was time to go. We embraced each other and gave thanks to our hostess and host, and for our lasting friendship–as we looked ahead to next year’s gathering. Ancestors below Belle Pond, Queen Anne’s Lace, Brenna and us–a perfect combination for a Ladies’ Weekend.