Yes, we still have a few Monarchs to worry about. This one emerged from its chrysalis this week and took a couple of days to take flight. I hope the sun and warmth encourages him (yes, it is a male!) to start that long journey to Mexico. I saw a few flying out on the shoreline, fighting the winds.

The full moon has taken center stage, and that means extremely low tides for a few days. I went down to Totman Cove and trudged around in the sand and muck to turn up a few specimens as seen here. See what you can find in this collection. It is rather unusual to find Sea Stars in this protected cove, but I found two. I always look for Moon Snails and here you see two with their doors closed, two half dug into the sand, an empty drilled shell and a large broken shell from this specie. Under that small sea star is a Hermit Crab that has taken up housing in an empty moon shell. The sea weed at the bottom is encrusted with Spirobis, a strange kind of marine worm that builds coiled castles in which to live. For some reason, there is an abundance of these creatures in the cove. You may also notice a bubble formation in the right bottom corner, that just happened to be included in the picture. So, even in chilly October waters, these animals survive, even though they may not flourish.

Fall does continue to make its mark in the natural scene. I love to watch the beauty of Winterberry provide color - both now while the leaves are still attached, and later when the berries cling to leafless branches. They almost forecast a Christmas (which also is making its seasonal appearance in stores.......and it isn't even November as yet!).

While flowers are scarce, I am finding a few surprises. It is always interesting to see a patch of blooming plants when the season dictates a definite slowdown in fertility. I've seen Orange Hawkweed, Purple Vetch, Queen Anne's Lace, Fall Dandelions, and Wild Radish in bloom. I was rather startled to find Forsythia making a statement about the mild autumnal weather. That shrub's leaves fall quite late, and the buds may have gotten mixed messages.

So as you can see, the approach of colder weather is not a clear cut thing. Somehow the insects and other animals will get the message, while plants will adjust in the long run. I guess it is the same with people. On a warm day, people still flock to beaches leaving barefoot tracks in the sand. On the other hand, I see wool caps in use on cool windy days. I've given up swimming outside, but that water is always inviting. What is happening in your next of the woods to keep you on your toes?

10/26/07 Tantalized Ronnie.