Summer Friends

Mother came looking for her little ones, who were goofing off in our yard. Their father stood behind the tree line hollering.
Is it just me or does this log look like an animal?
Other end of same old tree, filled with freshwater mussels.

Watched this sparrow sit on roof with inchworm for at least ten minutes without eating his snack.

To Be Idle and Blessed

Baltimore Oriole, enjoying his insect with a bit of grape jelly. This is the first summer that we have hosted two pairs of baltimore orioles. In the past we heard and saw them for a day or two, if at all. This year we sprung into action and started plying them with their favorite treats.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Baltimore (male)

We watched this bald eagle fly from a very small island on the lake to one of the largest – and there we found his (her?) nest. Didn’t get a clear photo of the bird in the nest.

This garter snake ( Thamnophis sirtalis) was watching me watch him.
Loon chicks. Counted 20 adults and three chicks on the lake today.
Practicing preening and grooming with mom. Dad paddled nearby. Hard to get a great shot given the distance I keep.
This mother and her two chicks were on the opposite side of the lake from the parents with a single chick. (I found the latter pair’s nest in our cove last month.)
The pair – with their mom just outside of the shot on the right hand side.

The hoot of an old friend

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2:30 a.m. and I am out in the driveway with my little old lady dog.  We’ve been at this schedule for many months now, and I do my best to remain partially asleep while also not slipping on the ice that has been plaguing us all winter.  On nights when the sky is clear I steal glances into the twinkling heavens, then dart my eyes back to my dog, watching her maneuver ice on arthritic joints.

Tonight I heard my old friend the barred owl.  Owl sightings have been non-existent this winter.  We’ve not even heard them calling in the distance.  But now – finally! – my friend is outside in the treeline that hugs our waterfront.  Small blessings.  A bird calls in the night and a weary woman feels the corners of her lips turn up in a genuine smile.

DSCN1918Several cardinal pairs have been with us this winter.  The male cardinal’s blood-red plumes always draw my attention.  Typically animals survive by blending in, going unnoticed, keeping under the radar.  Not so, male cardinal.  Wearing the most audacious outfit in a bleak landscape and not even worried about the hawks and eagles that come to my land to find lunch.

I did a little research on why the cardinal has survived despite his flamboyant coloring:

The bottom line seems to be that his enjoys using his fancy gear to show off for the ladies more than he cares about dulling down and hiding out from danger. Living on the edge, then.


Last winter I stood in the woods for forty five minutes, snow lightly falling, and watched this pileated woodpecker fling chunks of wood from this tree.  I could spend happy hours every day wandering the woods and watching the winged and furred and slippery creatures that share this land with us.

If ever you can’t find me look to the woods.  You’ll find my laptop bag will lead you into the trail.  I will have dropped its heavy weight from my tired shoulders and left it for ants to explore and ferns to grow around.

Farmers Wall in autumn

I will be stepping lightly, so you won’t be able to locate my by listening for tromping feet.  Rather, listening for my singing.  Then walk until you come to a  bend in the trail  where you’ll find my cracked cell phone lies ringing.  Don’t answer it.  Just veer right.  Ten paces and you’re over a knoll and deep in an old pine forest.  See the water in the distance?  You’ll find me at its edge, crouched or bent or otherwise scheming to capture a photo of a lovely creature – or a footprint or just the water slipping by on its way to somewhere else.  You won’t be able to mistake me for anyone else.  I’ll be the grinning girl clutching a camera.


Winged creatures

While boating this weekend my husband and I eagerly scanned the lake for the domestic goose on the loose.  (It’s probably a Toulouse.)  My husband spotted an inflatable swan and declared that we’d found my friend.  Moments later I saw that my goose had indeed found his friend.  With apologies to the stranger in the photo.  His belly and beer can shall remain anonymous for all time.


Four phoebes have hatched out in the nest under the deck.  So excited to see them.

Annabessacook in July

Osprey nest on eastern shore of lake.  This season is the first time I’ve seen ospreys nesting in this tree.  There are juveniles in the nest.

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Adult feeding juveniles, although I’m not clear on what I’m seeing in front of the adult’s chest.  Note the abundant crop of pine cones. 

Mid-afternoon yesterday we smelled skunk in the woods.  Shortly thereafter two playful fawns emerged from the same area.  Our youngest dog was fixated on the same section of woods before the skunk sprayed.  The horse (deer?) flies were driving these fawns insane. 


Note flies on “shoulder blade.”


My husband and I were twenty feet from these deer, as they were just off the edge of the driveway.  My dog watched through the window and finally started whining, which caused the fawns to run back to the woods.


Tadpole that neighbor’s child found at lake edge.

A victim of wind and inattention.

This white duck/goose (what is it?) stands out along the shoreline.  It has been in the same location for a few weeks.  Note the female and chick in the background.  There are two ducklings but you can only see one in this photo.  Duckling is at base of mother’s chest.


Osprey catching lunch.




For reasons I cannot fathom, my husband does not find countless turtle pictures nearly as interesting as I do.  So, here you go:

This gal came up onto the lawn (sand pile) as my second big turtle (snapper, rather than red-eared) sighting for the season.  Note the bit of shell (a “scute”) that is peeling at the rear of her shell.

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She wasted no time in circling, laying and heading back to the lake.



Much to my surprise I can remain motionless for a long time propped up on my elbows on a paint-peeled porch to capture film of insanely slow (deliberate? patient?) mama turtles.  I do not envy them even a tiny bit.

I believe that the very next day I had my third snapper sighting in a week.


I think she’s lovely.  Clearly I missed my calling about thirty years ago.


I especially like how these ladies come to handle their business without regard for the slugs and leaves they are dragging with them.  But then again I’ve spent only limited time with jelly-and-snot strewn children and so probably should not be surprised at all that this mama hasn’t got time to fix herself up.


Unfortunately their eggs do not survive the night.  Ever. A track left in the sand matched near the eggs left by this turtle matched up with a weasel print.  We also have a skunk that does nightly rounds at about the time my old lady dog needs to go out.  Not sure who to blame.  The first night (maybe after my first turtle, posted a few days ago) I put a milk crate over the eggs (or over the hole in which she’d hidden the eggs about six inches down under hard-packed dirt) and put three pieces of slate on top to anchor it down.  A critter climbed into the crate and dug out the eggs.



Being heavy on ambition and light on talent, I rigged up a milk crate that was not only anchored with slate but surrounded by it too.  Of course I have never played that video game (Tetrus?) where you make shapes fit together and I nearly failed tenth grade geometry, so I had to include some sticks into the bargain…


Honestly, if you don’t love me yet there must be something wrong with you.  I kill me.  I think my husband may want to kill me…

Despite my undeniable cleverness, the eggs were eaten.  A weasel (I matched a print) dug a lovely hole under this Hunger-Games like apparatus.

Here is what I’ve learned: my dogs like to eat turtle egg shells and the little kids around the corner are young enough to believe me when I tell them the egg shell remains belong to already-hatched turtles.  Oh – and half a turtle shell fits on child’s fingertips as nicely as do black Thanksgiving olives.

And just when you think the turtles and weasels couldn’t be anymore entertaining, along comes a door toad:

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Now I need to sleep.  And then (alas!!) I need to earn some income.  Had to get these photos out to you so I can focus on much less exciting things.

A Turtle in the Field and A Rainbow in Someone’s Cloud

Late last week I was so pleased to glance up and see the clouds had given way to a sunset that threw orange light on the lake, an apology for seven weeks of clouds and rain.

orange sunset

Several nights later, after a rain that fell briefly from angry clouds, I looked out toward the fields and saw a double rainbow.   I do not recall what I thought about rainbows when I was a little girl, although today these multicolored arcs made by light striking water droplets inspire joy and sorrow.  I always feel like I’ve won a prize at the fair when I am treated to the sight of a rainbow (single or double).  But I am also reminded of two particular individuals who’ve departed too soon from earth, at separate times and compliments of distinct cancer diagnoses.  What do rainbows mean to you?

In Maya Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter (Random House, 2008) she urges the reader to “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”  I think she was on to something.  I notice she didn’t say, “But only if they look like you or vote like you or smile at you first.”

Today’s weather would have required that we be a fan in somebody’s window.  Today was hot.  I mean HOT.  For Maine, anyhow.  Ozone levels were dangerously high, which should be no surprise since Maine’s geographic location makes us the “tail pipe” of the nation.  That is, pollution from other states blows in on the Gulf Stream and dirties up our air and lungs.

So it seems like maybe today was too hot for this snapper to climb two hundred feet up the slope of our yard to lay eggs.

turtle laying

I feel like this old gal is plain tired and grouchy, but I’m probably reading her all wrong.

turtle mission

Eventually she headed for the rock wall that separates lawn from forest.

turtle tail

Hiding in the leaves – or resting in the shade?

turtle hide and seekHer handy work below.  May not look like much to us, but it means the world to her (even if she wouldn’t quite put it that way.)

turtle egg siteI’d rather have a backyard that creates breeding habitat for wildlife than a manicured lawn that grows lush with chemical assistance.