img_9860Narragansett Beach was the place to be on Sunday, just before the supermoon. Astronomers don’t use that term, which was coined by an astrologer in the 1970s. The technical term is perigee-syzygy. Nit-picking aside, the proximity of the moon to earth resulted in a greater variability between high and low tides. This was the beach on Sunday afternoon. Huge and glorious, and the tide wasn’t even all the way out.

img_9865If you look closely, you can see a diver’s flag next to what remains of a sunken barge. In the nearly 20 years I have lived in southern RI, I have never seen that wreck exposed.


When our dog took a dip in this large tidal pool, we were all (including the dog) surprised when two large fish started jumping out of the water as she swam. Obviously they had become trapped, and there was enough water to keep them alive. We couldn’t tell what species they were, but there were at least a foot long. I wonder if they made it back to sea.

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Adventures in bird feeding

img_9818This is what happened to our bird feeder pole on one recent night. YIKES!!!! Whatever the animal was, it bent a sturdy metal pole in a very unequivocal way. Could it have been a black bear? We may never know.

Whatever it was, it also destroyed my  expensive, metal “squirrel-proof” feeder, which I found in pieces on the ground.

img_9822And of course, the suet feeder was trashed, too.

img_9820So now, I have to take all the feeders in at night – the ones that are still usable. We may spring for a wildlife camera just to see what the heck is so strong that it can do that to a feeder pole. If we do, I’ll be sure to post photos.

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Found in the woods

img_9792On a recent hike in the woods, we came across this nest on the ground next to the trail. Many years ago, I would have picked it up and taken it home to tuck into my Christmas tree. Now, though, I am a faithful practitioner of “Leave no Trace,” so we moved it a bit further off the trail and left it there.

This was a particularly stunning nest, which appears to have been constructed from just two materials: lichens, and on the inside, pine needles. It was so light, I barely felt it on my hand. I looked it up in my nest book and also online, and I think it was made by a flycatcher. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to chime in.

img_9784The leaves have been spectacular this fall, despite the drought and the caterpillar infestations, especially the revolting gypsy moths. We saw plenty of gypsy moth egg masses on the tree trunks, so next summer is shaping up to be another tough one for our trees. But these days, I am trying to live in the moment and just enjoy the stunning colors.

img_9796I have always enjoyed looking at the interesting plant communities that grow on boulders. This one was playing host to a few pine seedlings, some princess pine and several mosses. Those fallen leaves should break down nicely.

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Bulb planting time

img_9775Eeeek!!!!! It’s the “garden monster,” just in time for Halloween. This is the hand of a woman who has spent the entire weekend planting spring bulbs. I am starting a garden from scratch, and I thought I would begin with bulbs. They are among my favorite garden plants – so colorful and welcome when they emerge in the spring.

I might have gone a little overboard, though. In all, I ordered 640 bulbs of various types. Here’s what I bought: two crocus varieties, one a pale blue and the other an interesting orange color, Iris Katherine Hodgkin, a lovely little blue-green rock garden-sized iris. 100 scilla, the intense blue “Siberica,” that I remember spreading all over people’s lawns when I was growing up, two  species tulips; Linifolia, a bright red, and Clusiana Cynthia, which is orange and red. If you have never grown species tulips, you should give them a try. They are much hardier than the hybrids, and they spread.

I planted several narcissus: Professor Einstein, Geranium, Avalanche, Minnow, and Baby Moon, a miniature cultivar that I planted near our mail box. I also bought muscari, or grape hyacinth, “Paradoxum,” which looked interesting in the catalog.

I looked at the alliums, but they are pretty pricey, so I can wait for a year or two to get those.

I planted the bulbs throughout the lawn, at the bases of trees – wherever I thought they would be interesting and surprising. It’s a good thing I have a mattock, because I needed to it hack through roots and sod to create the planting beds. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos in the spring and post them here. I am now going to take Advil and try to get the dirt off my hands.


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Random bird stuff

img_9764If you were a sparrow and you had somehow found your way into a Home Depot, which department would you live in? The bird seed section, of course! This must be every bird’s fantasy.


As I was taking the dog out one last time before I left for work, I saw a flock of wild turkeys browsing in the grass in the circle at the end of the street. When they saw us coming out of our house, they made their way across the road and up the neighbor’s lawn. They didn’t seem to be in any hurry and I was treated to a good long look.

I’ve been seeing lots of turkeys lately. Maybe it’s because we are practically knee-deep in acorns this fall, and turkeys love to eat acorns. (They must have incredibly strong beaks.)

On my way home today, I came upon another large flock, grazing on both sides of the road. Encountering wildlife is always a pleasant surprise –  like being let in on a secret.



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First in the nation

img_9662These five turbines sit 3 1/2 miles off the coast of Block Island, RI. Deepwater 1  is the first offshore wind farm in the United States, and a very big deal for “Little Rhody.” You can see the turbines from the beaches of the south coast, but recently, I was invited by Rhode Island Sea Grant to see the wind farm from the water.

img_9652We travelled to the wind farm on a high speed ferry, which left from Newport. The trip took less than an hour. At one point, the captain had to stop the vessel to allow a large pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins to swim past. Rather than swimming by, they decided to linger for a while, coming right up to the boat to check us out. It was an unexpected and delightful bonus.


When we reached the turbines, the platforms and towers seemed immense from the water, and they are: 684 feet tall with blades that are 240 feet long.  The project cost $300 million to build, and the turbines are expected to begin producing power in November.


Here’s one of the turbines. My neck got sore looking up at them.

img_9680This installation will supply all of Block Island’s electricity, replacing a polluting diesel generator. Power will be sent to the mainland through an underground cable which has been buried 10-feet under the sea bed.

Whether or not you support wind power – and some people don’t – seeing the turbines up close is a memorable experience.

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Fall, my favorite


This one of the things  I love about fall. I was driving to Misquamicut in Westerly when I came upon a bunch of cars stopped by the side of the road, and this is why. Egrets staging before they leave for warmer states. A beautiful sight and totally worth stopping for.

img_9593The woods are looking a bit less ravaged than they did in September after the gypsy moth infestation. We had to give up hiking altogether for most of the summer, because it was too hot, especially for the dog.  The drought persists, though, and every stream is dry. It still feels great to be back on the trail.

img_9435We spent a weekend in Brattleboro, Vermont, an interesting town with some intriguing views.

img_9441Our dog actually thought she was going to be invited into this pastry shop. Dogs are so optimistic.

img_9444Look at the top window. There’s a group of dead houseplants there. A wee bit creepy – as if someone left in a terrible hurry.

img_9463We took the slowest possible way home, along a country road that wound from Vermont to the Berkshires. I had to stop and take a photo of these friendly horses, who hurried up to the fence when they saw us.

I will leave you with another image from a recent hike in RI. Can you spot the corgi?



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Just don’t add ice

img_9362How many of these tempting displays have you seen at your supermarket or big box store? More than a few, I’ll bet. These orchids, which are Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, are grown by the millions. The tag says to just drop a couple of ice cubes into the pot every week or so and the plant will be fine.

As an orchid grower and member of a RI orchid society, I can tell you that two ice cubes are not remotely enough water for “phals,” which also hate having anything cold on their roots. So the plant usually dies and the buyer goes out and gets another one. This would have been completely unnecessary if the owner had simply brought the plant to  the sink every week and watered it well until water ran out the bottom of the pot.


We had a respected orchid-grower speak at our last orchid club meeting, and he warned that  the invasion of masses of Taiwanese plants is driving the growers – the people who really know orchids and sell way more species than phals – out of business. One of my favorite growers closed shop just this year.

If you like orchids, keep an eye out for orchid shows in your area and go. Check out the amazing variety of plants and buy directly from a grower, whose orchids, in most cases, will be no more expensive than the big box plants.

And please, if you already have one of those big box plants, do NOT add ice.

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img_9485On this first day of fall, I awoke to temperatures in the 60s.  And low humidity. It was such a relief, and so nice not to be sweating for a change!

I took the above photo earlier this week, when we finally had a good, soaking rain. It wasn’t enough to mitigate the drought, but it was very welcome. I had to wait in my car until it let up enough for me to go out, so I just sat there and enjoyed it – and took a few pictures.

I am grateful to be living in a state where the seasons change.

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Peach roulette

img_9364As anyone who has ever grown their own food knows, once you taste fresh garden produce, the stuff at the supermarket doesn’t come close. I do not grow peaches, and they are rather difficult to cultivate here in Rhode Island, so I am therefore relegated to peaches from the supermarket. But I have tasted really good peaches in my lifetime, so I know the difference.

Every time I buy peaches at our local stores, I might as well be rolling the dice at a casino. I bring them home to ripen, and they smell and look good, but then when I bite or cut into them, they’re mealy. This has happened so often this summer that it’s come to the point where I feel like a chump for believing that the peaches I buy will actually tastes good.

img_9367Meanwhile, my sister in Canada has been GORGING on Canadian peaches, which are available by the basketful. A bit smaller than the crap we are getting here, they are juicy and flavorful and satisfying.

I don’t even want to think about all the money I’ve wasted on inedible, mealy disappointing fruit. I will not buy another peach this season.

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