I don’t have much time today but did want to put up this book I just finished, “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball.
The book tells the tale of the author’s adventures as she moves from New York City to an upstate farm to follow love and some dreams. The book chronicles the first year of this very ambitious, hard working and interesting couple as they decide to offer food year round to their community. They learn how to take care of and “harvest” animals of many kinds, how to grow wheat and more vegetables than my grandmother could’ve shaken a stick at. It’s a great story so if you’re in the mood to read about how some people walk the walk as well as talk the talk in the organic farming CSA movement, this is one to look for.
I could never do this but I am always interested in the people who do. It is quite humbling and inspiring at the same time.
We live in an almost urban area and our plot of land is less than a fifth of an acre. We sit on a corner so have streets on two sides and also houses to the back and the other side as well as across the street. It is an old neighborhood so there are lots of trees and flowers and lots of wonderful neighbors. There is a surprising amount of wildlife.
Behind the house is a stand of 3 Norway spruces that are quite tall. The one on the left suffered a blow from Hurricane Bob years ago and lost its top half. As you can see, it is now taller than the other two. The middle tree is the one I’d like you to look at. See that spikey point way up top? It is the favorite singing spot of all the birds in my neighborhood each spring. There are robins, cardinals, orioles, grackles, crows, blue jays and others that take turns singing away from here as loudly as they can. This morning we had a great crested flycatcher up there raising a ruckus for about half an hour before he left to chase a competitor.
No worries. Mr. Cardinal took right over. Who knew such a humble perch would play such an important role in local bird dynamics? Do you have a spot in your yard that the birds use to declare their intentions?
And yes, that is fog you see….we’ve been having foggy days while the north side and west have been enjoying lots of sunshine…ah, the joys of living up the street from Nantucket Sound. That’s okay, later in the season that same proximity will keep us cooler with daily afternoon sea breezes….
Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!
So what’s the best thing to do when the sun finally comes out and you have an hour or so off for lunch? Take your lunch and sketchbook to the beach and hang out for a while with your bare feet in the warm sand. I chose a place where I knew I would be out of the beaten path–in fact I never saw another person on the beach though there were many on the beaches around me. There were terns flirting, ospreys calling and clear water changing tides. The air smelled clean, warm and salty, a true sign of spring on the Cape.
This was my walk down to a little quiet cove….
the first of the rosa rugosas, also called beach roses, are just now in bloom….
and as I sat quietly in the sand making notes of the birds and plants around me the fiddler crabs came out to play.
Fiddler crabs often retreat to their holes when they hear footsteps or see you coming but if you stand or sit quietly on the sand they will slowly emerge and begin to go about their business. In this case their business was waving their big claws in the air, which is both a challenge to other males in the area and a come on down gesture for any lady crabs in the area.
If you click on the pictures you will see them a little better and should be able to read my notes as well…
Tough way to spend a lunch break but someone had to do it….
about this time of year….
even with all the gray skies and the misty mornings there is hope growing on the ground…
New leaves are popping out all over giving everything a fresh limey feel…
with the most delicate lovely blossoms are promising delicious berries very soon…
It can’t rain forever. In fact even now, the sun is trying to peek through the clouds…
The forecast calls for another dull gray and wet week so maybe it’s a good time to sit back with some nice tea or coffee, a dog or cat nearby or on your lap and have a good read. I read all sorts of books, both fiction and non fiction but I love finding a good, well written, interesting and even fun nature book to read. Fortunately there are a lot of them out there and over the next couple of months I will highlight some of my favorites.
Of these three, if you can only choose one….please choose “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. This is a small book and perhaps one of the best books I’ve read in years. It is so beautifully written, is so focused and lovely that it is unforgettable. It is also small enough to read in an afternoon or evening and I couldn’t put it down. It’s that good. And yes, it is in part about the sound of a wild snail eating and it is impossible to describe how profound and wonderful that turns out to be.
I am just now reading “Setttled in the Wild” by Susan Hand Shetterly and it is also an enjoyable read though not up to par with Bailey’s book. It is always hard to read the next book after one that is so wonderful, don’t you think?
As for the Wildbranch book….I found it basically unreadable but maybe that’s just me. Way too self conscious and pedantic for my taste….and I was so hopeful when I found it. Wildbranch is a well known workshop for the best up and coming nature writers but if this is the best they can find…well, I’m not feeling very hopeful about it.
All three of these books I found at the wonderful Clarence Hay library at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History here on the Cape.
Did you know you can find watercress here on the Cape? Yes, it is the edible, well known watercress and no, I am not going to tell you exactly where to find it since the supply is limited and the ducks and other animals like it too….
but I will show you what it looks like….happy gathering!
and this will give you a clue as to what sort of place to look for…
The big plants are skunk cabbage and no, you don’t want to eat that stinky stuff….
Do you gather wild watercress or other wild edibles?
are good rainy day activities when I can’t get outside and this week I had plenty of opportunity to do some painting.
I painted this little chipping sparrow yesterday. I am working on a project that will involve a lot of detail and since that isn’t my usual way of working I am practicing with little pieces like this one.
Today I painted these little diamondback terrapins from a photo I took a few years ago while working at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. They may look small and cute but this tiny painting took hours to do!
Both these little paintings are now for sale in my MaryRichmondDesign shop on Etsy.
is about the best you can do this week so here are some pictures from my travels down Cape yesterday.
The view from Fort Hill was softened in the fog until there was no ocean to see….
This old apple tree nearly blended into the phragmites and the marsh beyond like a soft impressionist painting…
Monet himself would have loved this red grass…
and he probably would have loved the fields of wild yellow mustard as well…
Sure it’s nice to have a warm sunny day but there’s something quite lovely about a misty foggy day as well. Good thing, since we have quite a few of them at this time of year!
why not get out your pencils and paints and paint some flowers? I cut these flowers in my yard and brought them inside to paint in the last rainy day session we had…
Just have some fun. Let the kids join in, too. Don’t worry about the finished piece as much as the fun part of the process—painting it!
Saturday was a beautiful warm day here after days of gray skies and cold temperatures and the turtles were out in full force taking in the sun. Turtles are reptiles and actually need the vitamins from the sunshine to stay healthy. This is why people who keep lizards, snakes and turtles indoors need special lighting. And yes, being ectothermic (cold blooded) they also appreciate the warmth.
At first view this just looks like an idyllic pond scene. Click on the picture to enlarge it and you’ll see there are dozens of painted turtles in this photo. Some are on the green boggy area while others are on the log in the background.
Here’s a nice close up of a group of painted turtles, very alert as I took their picture. I used my zoom lens so as not to alarm them. Turtles can slip into the water faster than you can say boo.
This little guy was all by himself near the edge of the pond and was only about 2″ long.
This sight really caught our attention. The yellow you see in the center is a painted turtle and a good sized painted turtle at that. So who is that big turtle behind it? A huge snapping turtle! This is an unusual picture for snapping turtles usually hang out in the water except when laying eggs. They sun themselves while floating at the surface of the water and can often be seen doing so by folks out in kayaks and canoes.
Here’s a view from the backside. You can see that gnarly tail and hind legs just hanging out in the sun.
These are the most common turtles on the Cape but we have other turtles here as well….can you name them?
photos taken by me in Bourne on May 14