What a beautiful Cape Cod summer!

It seems that summer is finally winding down but what a summer it has been here on Cape Cod.  We can still walk barefoot in the sand….
  The morning light has been quite lovely….  Even when it is foggy and a bit gray….
  There’s been time to pop the seed pods of the touch-me-not plants, also called jewelweed….  Mushrooms have been popping up all over….
  And there is still beautiful golden light to be had….  Late summer is the time of yellow….
  And Monarch butterflies…..  There may be a few last water lilies in the ponds…
  And the egrets are gathering in the marshes to feed and fatten up for long flights ahead….  There have been beautiful sunsets….
  And ice cream with beloved grandsons…..
  Building fairy houses with kids in the woods…  And watching for frogs and turtles at the pond….
  There’s been painting at the beach….  Lots and lots of bright sunny days by the sea….
  More lovely sunsets…..  Collecting things to draw….
  Teaching kids how to catch frogs and how to let them go….  There’s been painting in the woods….
 and oh, so many other things….

I love fall but am sad to see the summer leave….it has truly been one of the best I can remember….

Summer kids

As many of you know, getting the kids off the couch and away from the screens to do something fun outdoors is a bit of a passion of mine.

This summer I said yes to helping with the summer programs for kids at the Green Briar Nature Center in East Sandwich and it’s been a blast so far. Every morning you can find us out exploring somewhere or making something ….

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 We hike all over the Game Farm as well as the Briar Patch and sometimes we go out in the canoe catamaran.


 Some days we make toys based on science and some days we paint stuff.


  

One thing we always do is have fun!

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 There’s still plenty of summer left so find a kid and take them outside. You’ll be glad you did and so will they!

Hunting for mushrooms on Cape Cod

Mushrooms fascinate me. They pop up all over and they are all so different. I have attended various workshops over the years and have studied various field guides but there is a lot of complexity to identifying mushrooms properly. If there’s anything that really does need proper ID it is a mushroom, especially if you are thinking of eating one.  

This spring I joined the Cape Cod Mushroom Club and have gone on a couple of their walks. It is really a great way to learn and the leaders have been knowledgeable and terrific. Although I’ve learned a lot about identification and families of mushrooms I’ve also learned the importance of really being thorough.


Not being thorough could kill you or at least make you really sick. See how cute and innocent these little guys look? They are neither….they are different kinds of Amanitas and can make you very, very sick. The white death angel amanita is very common here and can kill you.


On the other hand, some are fine to sample like these black trumpets. Don’t use my photos, etc. as final ID. Have an expert check!


Some are just fun like these fairy stools


And these cool looking yellow headed jelly babies–at least I think that’s what they are.


There are lots of boletes  

And russulas….but prepare to fully identify them which isn’t easy…, 

For me, just learning a little bit more about the world I share with all these interesting life forms is where the fun is….and oh yeah, I like to draw them, too. Later this week I’ll put up photos of the sketches I did on the last walk but for now I’ll leave you with this one…

And then at the oriole feeder….

came all the newly fledged orioles, one after another. My feeder is so busy with young Baltimore orioles these days that they are hanging around in the nearby bushes bickering until they can take a turn. There are half a dozen adult orioles as well, leading me to believe I have at least 3 nests represented. One group has 3, another 2 and one male oriole brings one lone youngster every day….

003These youngsters are not brightly colored like their parents yet, allowing them to be well camouflaged as they flit about from tree to tree, bush to bush. They are foraging for insects as well as enjoying the grape jelly and oranges. Some of them are having a bit of a struggle with balance still and they often go bottoms up! Check out that lemon yellow tail  on the underside!

002This threesome has grown a lot over the week but the first day they arrived they were very unsure about how to get to the feeder so they just waited for dad to show them how it is done. Dad was not feeding them at this time so they begged from each other…sorry for the blurry photo but it does tell the tale…

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Also this week I’ve had some other visitors to the oriole feeder.

010Check out that dull brown coloration when the wings are folded. Great camouflage! But look what happens when the butterfly opens its wings….

014It is hard to see the full coloration on the inside in this photo but I got good looks, if not good photos, of this little guy and I believe it to be what is called a question mark butterfly. That really is its name, by the way, and they are not uncommon here at this time of year.

012I’ve had other butterflies visit the feeder as well but none as cooperative as this one when it came to posing for the camera.

I also have catbirds visiting this feeder but so far I have only succeeded in capturing a gray blur….

Happy July, everyone!

 

Nature sketching on Cape Cod to welcome in summer

I love to sketch, I love nature and I love traveling around Cape Cod so on this sunny day in late June I packed my lunch and my sketching materials and headed to the lower Cape, hopefully beating the summer crowds.

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I then headed to one of my favorite places for sketching flowers, etc., Fort Hill in Eastham.

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It was picture perfect there, with fields full of flowers like these sweet peas…

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I got out my trusty pen and little red Moleskine notebook and began to sketch. Almost all my field sketches are done in ink. I add the color later at home. This allows me to stand while I draw and to move along from subject to subject easily and quickly.

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Later, I add the watercolor washes like these…

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Sometimes, though, I find a spot where it is perfect to just hang out a bit and paint, like this one in the beech woods by the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, where I also went today. This spot is a favorite of mine going back to childhood and I have to say it still has the same magic for me today.

   

  I highly recommend getting out to do a little sketching and writing or even just daydreaming. It helps to capture a moment, an observation and refines our observation skills, something we can always improve upon. Never mind about talent or experience. Just begin where you are.

Happy summer!

 

Falling away from summer…..

It’s that time of year again. It seems a bit early for this chilly weather but here it is…

At the beach we are getting some drama in the sky…

001The seaside goldenrod is in bloom….

 

012The dusty miller is giving the dunes a nice warm feeling….

013The beach grasses are beginning to turn color…

017And all along the shore are the shells of molting crabs, horseshoe crabs and the leftover shells from gull meals like this sweet scallop….

023I’ll be posting more late summer and early fall pictures soon. Have a great week and don’t forget to get outside!

 

 

 

 

 

Beach art

Everyone knows about making sand castles at the beach but there are lots of other fun art related projects one can do with any age kid but adults, too. The best part is you don’t need a thing except a willingness to gather materials and a lot of imagination.

We found this lovely lady left behind on the beach one day a few weeks ago….I have no idea who made her but they obviously lavished a lot of love and care on her.

012I often like to do some rock and sand art with the kids I teach in the summer and they come up with some amazing pieces. One day we made rock turtles and these are some of the ones the kids, ages 9-12, came up with.

020Check out the attention to detail in this one

017and this one….

023This one was smaller

024but they were all imaginative and fun

019The next few days on the Cape will be picture perfect for all sorts of outdoor activities but if you find yourself at the beach, why not make a rock and sand picture of your own?

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Happy First Day of August!

These last few days here have been so perfect that they almost make up for all that horrid heat and humidity that preceded them!

I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been busy. I’ve been making shell necklaces with kids down at the Hyannis Harbor on Thursday afternoons…

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Hanging out with the greenheads….

Greenheads at the barMaking fun shark necklaces to sell in local shops….

020Sketching outside…

002and just enjoying some of the most beautiful places on earth…

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How about you?

 

 

Cape Cod Summer

Yep, it’s a hot one out there….

I’ve been pretty busy so I have to say I’ve been hotter than I’ve been cool these last few weeks. It’s okay…it’s so pretty out there I can’t complain too much…

There have been a lot of days like this one, complete with the kids

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and sunsets like this one….

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There have been lots of birds…

033lots of flowers

006and lots of lovely summer moments….

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Here comes summer!

What a crazy spring it’s been around here! Hot, cold, wet, dry, windy, wild, nutty weather every week….

007But some days, like this recent day in Chatham have been spectacularly beautiful….

005With just sand and sea and sky….

012The simplicity of beautiful shells….

Bay or Blue-eyed Scallop Shell

 

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It’s all beautiful right now so get out there and enjoy it before the crowds all come!