ALMOST 100 DOLLARS! I have another usual find to share with you. This was a discovery at low tide in Totman Cove. As I approached the broad beach, I noticed quite a few lobster traps stranded out on the tidal inlet. That is strange, I thought, and headed out to see if anything was left trapped in them. Lo and behold, there were not lobsters, but Sanddollars! A bunch were caught and left high and dry inside the trap, and many more lying in the wet sand nearby. I can only figure that the trap sort of acted like a scoop and pushed them to shallow water where they were exposed at low tide! I started to count these live Sanddollars and reached 97! I put them in a net that I always carry this time of year and carried them out to deeper water for their survival. I am well aware that this is a breeding ground for Sanddollars, though they never seem to get washed ashore. We have found them alive before, but only when there is an extremely low tide. You never know what the tide will bring in to shore.

In the picture you see those Sanddollars and the purple lobster trap (smashed). I have seen these animals brought up in traps where they must be scooped up in the hauling. If you were to look at one of these sanddollars up close and personal, you would find they have short spines that make them fuzzy. Those spines show their relationship to Sea Stars and Urchins - all Echinoderms. Normally, we find them white and dead.

Another unexpected happening occurred this week during more cleanup from the storm that did a job on one of our big White Pines. We had piled the branches and were in the process of hauling them to the transfer station. We were down to the last pile, and as I raked the debris together, out ran a Vole! I had exposed its nest and there were several immature voles lying there unattended. I ran to get my camera, and the mother came back only to run away again as I took a picture. I then proceeded to pile more grass and soft branches to protect the babies, hoping the mother would come back to nurse them. So, we still have a pile of branches waiting for vole maturity.

Lobstermen are getting ready for the busy season and attending to their gear. One of my neighbors was out painting his buoys, and I couldn't resist stopping to record the scene. I complimented him on his choice of colors. He said there are so many lobstermen and each has a different colored buoy. He had to have three colors to make his unique. I will know the owner now, if I find one of these washed up on a beach. Each costs $10 (no sanddollars!), and that doesn't include the labor cost for painting!

The woods are now exploding with new growth. The Sarsaparilla stalks are shooting skyward and will soon have expanded leaves. Right now, they have shiny red leaves that make you think it's poison ivy. The Wood Anemones continue to be prolific, joined in by violets of various colors. I've also spotted Dwarf Ginseng and Goldthread blooming. The tree leaves are miniature, but enlarging everyday. I was particularly interested in small clumps of Oak leaves that had blown free and landed on the ground. It gave me a chance to see their flowers in the beginning stages. Have you ever wondered what flower produces the acorn? Well here you see one of the floral elements (pistil or stamen to be) that will produce those seeds. Unfortunately, I couldn't reattach this fragment of growth. The flower looks like a clump of grapes in this picture.

I saw my first Painted Lady Butterfly this week! The Coltsfoot flowers have now produced puffy seed heads. My peas are up!

5/18/07 Ronnie, richer for these findings!