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Posts Tagged ‘August’

The combination of heat and humidity conspires to slow down even the most energetic among us.  During these late summer days, it’s difficult to find the motivation to take on new challenges.  This land snail, however, seemed pretty determined in its early morning attempt to cross the Salt Marsh Trail.

This brown caterpillar seemed to be on a similar quest.  Caterpillars are everywhere these days.  Unfortunately, not all of them are harmless…

The heat and humidity isn’t slowing these down as they gobble their way through the leaves.  Perhaps they’re just quenching their thirst by eating more fresh greens!  Unfortunately, they are damaging fruit trees and many others in their path.  Between their hunger and the dry summer, farmers are warning of rising food prices in the fall.

At least the birds have lots to eat.  A crab isn’t fast enough for a seagull, even in the morning mist.  Many crab shells litter the trail, remnants of seabirds’ breakfasts.

The shell of this green crab is still fairly fresh.  Its color will later lighten in the sunshine.  Though it appears intact, its insides have already been feasted upon by a hungry bird.

Summer’s slow days are perfect for the living to enjoy the warmth of the sun while it lasts.  Hurricane season is right around the corner.  With warm waters in the North Atlantic, who knows what lies ahead?

On these warm humid days, our view of the path before us is often clouded in fog.   Yet, there is magic in the mist, the least of which is the mystery of the unknown that lies ahead.  Perhaps the best we can expect to do is move slowly forward on the path set before us, simply putting one foot in front of the other while hoping for the best.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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It’s a busy morning in the marsh.  A sandpiper rushes across a stretch of sea-smoothed stones.  If only we could make such sweet piping sounds as we take off in flight to meet our deadlines, Mondays wouldn’t be so bad.

Crabs are sparring with one another just beneath the water’s surface.  The disagreement is over almost as quickly as it’s started, and they respectfully move to their territorial rocks.  Look at all those little fish.  Surely there’s enough for everyone to share.

Mergansers have already had breakfast and are determined to stay close and tight as they move quickly to their next destination.  There are only three young ones left in a brood that might have had eight or more to start with.  Things don’t always work out as planned, but it’s important to move forward and make the most of the day ahead.

A great blue heron wrestles with a long fish.  The bird twists its snake-like neck and turns its head upside down in order to get a better grip.  It could certainly teach us a thing or two on the value of being results-oriented.  Sensing that I am getting much too close for comfort, it takes off with its meal in flight.

The heron below also takes off as I draw near.  The sandpiper wading nearby doesn’t mind its ominous silhouette.  It knows that things usually aren’t as scary and threatening as they might appear at first.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ Wendell Berry

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Summer spills her golden days,
Upon the earth in lust displays.

~ Nora Bozeman

black eye susan

Warm August days bring forth blooms of a yellow color that weren’t noticeable on the landscape a few weeks ago.  These cheerful flowers have a golden glow that mimics the bright summer sun.

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are native to North America and are desirable in gardens for their bright color and quality of low-maintenance.  They’ve been used by native people to treat a variety of ailments from snake bites to earaches.   These yellow daisies  have a flat open design that is especially attractive to butterflies.

wild flowers and grass

Evening-primroses (Onagraceae) open at sunset and close by noon the following day.  Also known as sun cups, they are pollinated by moths that fly from flower to flower during the night hours.  The young shoots of this plant can be eaten in a salad while the roots can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable.  Yet another name for this plant, King’s Cure-all, reveals its myriad medicinal uses, from pain-relief to cough suppression.

light yellow flowers

I haven’t had any luck identifying the plant with light yellow flowers shown above.  It grows profusely along the Salt Marsh Trail.  Does it look familiar to anyone?

Update August 6th:  I’ve discovered that this plant is most likely Sea Radish which is in the Mustard family (cruciferae).

hawkweed

Canada Hawkweed is also a native plant, found growing along roadsides and railway tracks.  Since the trail along the salt marsh follows the old Blueberry Express train track, it’s no surprise that it’s found along there.  Rough Hawkweed, which has hairier stems, grows in my lawn in early July.  Usually considered a weed, it derives its name from the old belief that it was eaten by hawks to improve their eyesight.

golden rod

A few Golden Rod plants are in bloom along the Salt Marsh Trail but not yet in my yard.  Ever since I was a child, their blooming has been a sign for me that the summer was winding down. There are numerous varieties of this plant.  Larger ones have very rigid stalks and can grow several feet tall.

Take time this month to drink in the beauty around you.  If you don’t have a garden of your own, take an extra bit of time to enjoy the flowers growing freely along roadsides.  Enjoy these golden days because…

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

~ William Shakespeare

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