HAPPY FACES...Hello from a smiley face inspired by a lot of shells piled up on Sailboat Beach. The speckled stone attracted my attention. Some of you know that I like to paint stones to look like animals, and this one caught my eye. Then, I started to select and admire the various colored shells, and had the idea of making this face. I want YOU to tell me what shells were used to make the facial features. (I will identify them at the end of this epistle, but do your best). It was a gray day and starting to rain. I took this picture of the gray scene where I was hiking. I wonder if you can figure out where I took this picture....?!

As you can see, we have lost most of our snow. I saw three deer on the island, so know that these are survivors. Their fur coats are now gray, not the red/brown of the warmer seasons. I see lots of their tracks on the beaches, but have yet to see a deer bed since the snow doesn't seem to hang around long enough to bare witness to their habits.

I did do some tracking before the snow melted, and felt sure that these tracks you see are Raccoon. I was checking out a chiseled hole under one of the latrines, hoping to see porcupine tracks. These tracks were near the latrine, but I can't say they led away from the hole. I should have made a measurement of these tracings, because after checking my tracking books I wasn't sure who made them. Later I headed down to check out the porcupine dens, hoping to find some definitive tracks exiting or entering. There was a lot of activity around the den entrances, but the tracks were not that clear.

Now we have lost our snow, so I revert back to seasonal pictures including this of Balsam Cones. Most of us are picking out our Christmas trees, and Balsam is a favorite. I came across a Balsam tree that was growing along the rocky shoreline. I was able to see its cones that were quite low and in the process of losing their scales. These cones sit on branches vertically. The scales drop off, releasing the seeds. As this happens, the stalk of the cone remains, sort of like the wick of a candle. Most cones hang down and drop their seeds, or else fall off, enabling the seeds to disperse.

OK, time to identify the shell features in that face at the top of the page. I hope you recognized the smiling mouth as a Mussel. The nose above it is a Dogwinkle - a common carnivorous snail, native to our area. The eyes are Limpets, those univalve suction cup-like shells that adhere to our rocks. The eyebrows are beautiful yellow Smooth Periwinkles. Sometimes, these snails are more brown in color. They are vegetarians, and sometimes masquerade as air bladders on Rockweed. They are round and small, but that yellow color makes them stand out in a crowd! How did you do? Oh..that scene was taken from the rocks above Sanddollar Beach, looking south toward Bounty Cove and Sailboat Beaches.
12/15/06 Smiley faced Ronnie.