Dragonflies the Color of Fall

September 14, 2020


While in Japan I learned that red dragonflies—aka tombo—are considered a sign of autumn. And it seems to be true for Maine as well. Yesterday on a hike I caught sight of one, an autumn meadowhawk I think, in an environment right for mating.

Scarlet dragonfly
alights on a blade of grass—
sun-bathed coastal pond


Chickadees’ September Sound

September 6, 2020

Make no mistake, black-capped chickadees make their signature call (the one that gave them their name) frequently. But it’s not the only sound they make; during the mating season other short songs get blended in. In August the chickadees, along with most other bird species, fall silent and seem to disappear as they go into molt. But in early September the chickadees reappear, and, now that the work of making the next generation is behind them, cry only, and somehow more clearly than ever, chickadee-dee-dee.

Green-gold autumn woods–
once again chickadees are
calling out their name

There are no chickadees in the picture of the woods at the top of the page.  Unfortunately,  by the time I had gone back home and fetched my camera, they were gone.  As compensation, I thought I would repost this shot of a chickadee in February in the crabapple tree near our feeder.

Milkweed and Goldenrod in Full Sun

August 16, 2020

The local bird club maintains a wildlife preserve on the outskirts of town. The preserve is mostly woods but there is also a broad, open field with a lone apple tree at its center.  The field is a legacy from an old farm formerly on the land and  it’s a good habitat for birds that favor grassy meadows. The abundant milkweed is a draw for monarch butterflies.

It was a typical Maine late-summer day yesterday and we decided to take a walk in the preserve.

August’s clear dry light
distilled in the apples’ blush,
fire of monarch wings


Picking Wild Blueberries

August 10, 2020

There are lots of native lowbush blueberry plants growing in the nearby woods, owing to the abundant shade, however, few of these flower and form fruit. But if one takes the time to hike to the top of Bear Mountain, one can find plenty of berries ripened to sweetness in the August sun.

Mountain blueberries—
laughing toddler spots and tastes
bits of fallen sky

What Foraging Fawns Love Best

July 29, 2020

Hostas are attractive and hearty plants bred to offer a range of different sizes, shapes and leaf color.  Little wonder that they’re popular.  I’d guess just about every yard in Maine has a hosta or two (or three) planted along a walk or by a foundation.  Most Mainers also come to learn sooner or later that deer also love hostas.  Along with lilies, hostas seem to be their favorite summertime food.

Now that it’s mid-summer the fawns born in the spring are old enough to do a little foraging on their own.  The hostas are at their tastiest, and the does have already shown their young where to find them.

Hostas at bloom time—
this year too we watch shy fawns
nibble them to stumps

One of a pair of hosta-loving fawns.  The hostas had already been enjoyed–down to their stalk-stumps–and aren’t in the photo.

Not Your Usual Pyrotechnics

July 5, 2020

Yesterday was a different sort of Independence Day, more subdued and reflective.  The City had long since canceled its annual public display, but the paper reported lively sales in what it called “personal fireworks.”  Like many others, we marked the day at home in our small family pod.

Flash of fireflies,
far-off sizzles, pops, and bangs—
COVID July 4th

Photo credit: Mike Lewinski


Greening Rain

June 30, 2020

Last Thursday the dearth of rain that Mainers have been experiencing for the past month and more was given official recognition. US Drought Monitor on its weekly map marked Maine extensively with yellow and beige, indicating areas of abnormal dryness and moderate drought. These are historically uncommon conditions for the State.

But yesterday, the long dry spell broke; several inches of rain fell over most of the State and the rain is continuing today. Thankfully, we seem to be a different color now.

Steady summer rain,
even trunks of trees turned green—
Emerald Land of Oz

Warm Solstice Nights

June 20, 2020

Northern New England and Eastern Canada are experiencing an unusual heat wave right now, registering some of the hottest temperatures in North America. The 92-degree days are difficult to bear (unless you’re lucky enough to be immersed in water), but the nights beckon with soft breezes and magical forms of life.

Night of fireflies—
close by moths with wings like bark
grip the window screens.

Photo credit, Mike Lewinski of Milo, Maine.

Needing Rain in the Days of Rapid Growth

June 6, 2020

We had gone two weeks without rain right at the time of most intense growth, when a heavy downpour broke the spell yesterday afternoon.  This was followed by a significant shower in the early evening. It was not just us humans who were feeling a sense of relief.

Early summer rain—
ten thousand times ten thousand
tender leaves rejoice.