EARLY SEASON DELIGHTS:The Memorial weekend was absolutely beautiful - sunny and warm. I was able to get a lot of gardening done, and did make one trip down to Totman Cove. The gardening always brings unexpected rewards. The activity puts you in close contact with the earth which sometimes results in important discoveries. I was cleaning up the gardens at West Point when I noticed a small butterfly flashing orange wings. I was able to catch it for a closer look. Here is a butterfly that, when at rest, holds its wings upright and together, often hiding the colorful top sides. I tried a trick my friend Ed suggested - placing the insect in the refrigerator to quiet the animal and make it more cooperative photographically. It worked! I brought the cooled insect outside to try for a picture and here is the result. It is a small butterfly called a Copper. It lays its eggs on a plant that grows rampant in my gardens - Sheep Sorrel. I walked the tiny butterfly over to some Sorrel and let it go, none the worse for the refrigeration.

I picked a low tide and ventured down to Totman Cove. While walking to the beach, I admired the Clintonia, now in full bloom. Canada Mayflower is everywhere, and False Solomon's Seal is just ready to advertise its flowers. Doll's Eye is visible with its fuzzy looking head of blossoms. As I climbed down on to the beach, I stopped to look for those "gold bugs" that dine on emerging foliage of Bindweed. These insects are fascinating to me. They are among the Tortoise beetle family members and shine like pure gold. They hide on the underside of leaves of the morning glory family, but you can see the chewing they have done.

Once I got past the gold bugs, I started my usual search of beach debris. Totman Cove is a shallow tidal beach that opens directly south and out to sea. All kinds of sealife remnants find their way ashore, but if you venture out on the tidal flats you can find live animals hiding. I picked up a couple of live Moonsnails that had been left stranded. They may be found plowing through the wet sand, but if disturbed will retreat into their shells and close their door. The larger of the two snails is alive, but has pulled into its shell with the brown operculum (door) holding its moisture until the tide comes back in. The smaller shell was empty, but how colorful it is! These are carnivorous snails. They drill holes in clams, or even other moonsnails they may come in contact with.

I collected a lot of beach debris to share with you. I was particularly attracted to the Sea Moss that had washed ashore and was in the process of bleaching white. This is a seaweed that you can collect for dessert! It can be cooked in milk to make a pudding that solidifies with the help of the seaweed's gelatinous makeup. If you look carefully at all these things I've picked up, you should find a bird's back skeleton, 3 yellow lobster claw rubber bands, a bleached crab carapace, sea lettuce, sea colander, a piece of driftwood, a battered razor clam, dulse, and fingers of kelp and rockweed. The Sea Moss clumps are of varying colors - cream, pink and purple.

I am finally connected to my GWI provider and should now be able to keep these pages up to date in Maine. I have to say that the weather has not been cooperative for camping. It never seems to stop raining. I hope it is sunny where you are. 6/8/06 Welcome back, Ronnie!