OCTOBER PROBLEMS AND THE CURE OF NATURE........Hello after an unintentional absence. Those of you who have computers know that they can be dependable up to a point. I reached that point and had to take an enforced vacation from the internet and all related activities. I am back in business, and raring to go. To be truthful, I hadn't had much to share with you, but today changed all that. I drove down toward West Point and stopped to check out a Jack-In-The-Pulpit that had been sporting a beautiful red clump of berries. Some animal had dined on those berries and I missed the opportunity, but as I walked back to the car, I was shocked to see a dead bird by the side of the road. A closer look revealed the bird as one of our beautiful Great Blue Herons. It must have stopped to dine in an aquatic habitat that feeds into North Creek. A car must have hit it in its takeoff. I picked it up by its long legs and carried it down to Cat Cove for a picture in a more appropriate habitat. Look closely - it is a rare opportunity to see its beak, eye, legs and brown shoulders. It was a smaller than normal bird (probably immature), but still an astounding one of the birds that make this shoreline its feeding and breeding place of choice.
I did find another Jack-In-The-Pulpit to photograph, and here it is. Usually the leaves have fallen by the wayside, but they are here to remind you of its former self. Those leaves have done their photosynthetic job since spring, enabling the plant to form and ripen its brilliant red fruit. You will notice the sphagnum moss in the background since these are plants of the wetlands.
It has been unusually mild here for this time of the year. We have not had our first frost. My garden continues to produce an abundance of vegetables. I dug my last potatoes today since rain is due in the next day or two. The trees and shrubs, like our friend seen to the left, are beginning to show signs of fall. The Sumac is a brilliant red, but rivaled by the plant you see here. I wonder if you can name it.
I had one amusing encounter with a plant growing near the Kelp Shed. It looked like a mint, and had the characteristic four sided stem as a clue. The flower was not immediately identifiable, so I took home a sample. I had the cutting in a bag and was busy making dinner when my cat started acting up. She started to jump at the bag where I had placed the cutting. I thought that was curious, and opened the bag, upon which she really started going berserk. I thought, maybe this is Catnip, and consulted my field guide. Sure enough, with the help of a cat, I learned we had Catnip growing in the sand near our gathering place on the island. Would you like to see this plant? Here it is.
Since writing the above, my computer again gave me troubles. I will try again, this time not waiting to upload this October report. Like most places in the northeast, we have had 6-8 inches of rain since I last wrote. The Lily Pond, once nearly dry is now full to overflowing. Maybe the muskrats will be back. One of the benefits of this new wealth of moisture is the multitude of fungi that have made dramatic appearances. I took a sampling of the colorful fungi found this week in our woods. See how many you can identify. And yes, there is one item that doesn't fit the category. In this group you may find a Lobster Fungi, Chicken of the Woods, Coral fungi, Yellow Clubs, Birds Nest Fungi, a Lactarius, a Hygrophorous (tiny), a popped open Puffball, a Bolete, Painted Suillus, several Corts, and a Jelly Club.
We still have not had a killing frost here in Maine. Japanese beetles continue to eat my beans and zinnias. I think I may have seen my last Monarch butterfly. I hope they are escaping the heavy rains as they head south. The foliage is starting to change color, and my next entry will attempt to bring you a sampling to rival the fungi you see to your left. I also will be checking the Lobster Pound since I have a feeling that may start being filled shortly.
I hope you are all dry and warm, and enjoying the beauty of nature in the fall of the year.
10/14/05 Bemused Ronnie :-)