The purple flower, in my enhanced photo, is a Lupine (Lupin). This variety is the perennial version that blooms in the Spring and early Summer. It belongs to the legume family and, when it goes to seed, produces small edible pea-like pods. Many countries, on the Mediterranean Sea, serve the brine soaked pods as appetizers. In fact, the plant’s resistance to cooler temperatures, make it a cash crop which is beginning to rival even soy beans.

Natural Patterns 2 I have quite a large area of these beauties at my camp. They are hardy and prolific. The foliage of these flowers is quite distinct. Upon close examination, the leaves have fine “hairs”. (click on my photo for a closer look) That feature makes the delightful, large fronds water-repellent. The lupine patch is my first visit, with my camera, immediately after a rain shower since the foliage offers wonderful droplet shots.

The name Lupine comes from the Latin, Lupinus. It means “belonging to the wolf” and describes the manner, in which, it ravages the land where it dwells. They are so beautiful and range from one foot to four feet tall. Lupine are certainly welcome to ravage my woodland retreat!

Lupines (Photo credit: RahelSharon)

Birding with My Granddaughter

2651594282_ef987cc879_bThe human brain is a fascinating subject. I can’t get too much information about what scientists are finding to be “the way we learn and remember”. As an early childhood educator, the little “sponges” around me have me in awe.

I remember showing my daughter her first glimpse of a butterfly in the wild. She was about 18 months old and quite a chatterbox. She returned to the same spot…same flower, the next day and asked, “Butterfly?”. My first parental reaction was, “Wow! I have a genius on my hands!” Then the truth grabbed me. Of course she’d think about butterflies in that spot. That’s the only place her brain has ever witnessed one.

Adults have so many more experiences and, therefore, filter and connect images and ideas in a “wasteful” way. We have to cast off some of our information in order to keep a tidy collection. Kids are that wonderful “clean slate” that we adore. It’s no wonder that kids can learn multiple languages far more easily than adults. They have no competing categories or files in their brains to interfere with their memorization efforts.

Keeping this in mind, I have tried to make up little games with my granddaughter in order to teach her to notice and identify birds by their songs. I must have done this instinctively with my day care babies because I was stopped in the grocery store by a few parents and grandparents who pointed the “blame” for their nature walk interruptions on me.

“He just froze and said, Hear that Grandma? That’s Mr. Blue Jay singing.”

“She kept shushing me as we walked so she could listen for the birds.”

I just love hearing such “complaints”!

As for my granddaughter and me, we make up our own little phrases for familiar bird songs. I don’t know if there are different bird dialects but sometimes the professional translations just don’t fit the sounds that we hear. The only one that seems universal is the Chickadee. “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee” is our translation too…but we also know there is a sound that Chickadees make other than their name. We think it says “JEAN-nee”.

Eastern Phoebes are our favorite. Their first part sounds something like “Phoebe…Phoebe” but it ends with “She DID it!”.  At least that is our own label and it always makes us laugh.

When we look through books, I will point out the birds and reminder her of our own game and the sounds. Recently, I pointed out a Nuthatch in a book and reminded her of that bird who’s always laughing at us from the trees.

I cannot emphasize enough what a wonderful world we can open up to kids when we teach them to listen and notice what too many adults have no time for.


There are many myths and proverbs about this delicate insect. They exist all over the world and are arguably the true “mankind’s best friend”. They eat mosquito larvae and adults in huge quantities.  (Paste this link into your browser for some fun information on those myths.)

The dragonfly spends most of its life as a nymph. They hatch from eggs in ponds and eat like crazy. These nymphs resemble underwater “wormy bugs”. A dragonfly can eat amounts equal to its own weight in 30 minutes. They simply eat anything that moves.

As beautiful and delicate as they are, these little “buggers” are fierce predators. Even as adults, few insects can evade them. I just read on an informational site that from fossil records there were some huge varieties “back in the day”. If their temperament and appetite corresponded with our dragonflies, and they lived today, our cats and small dogs might well be disappearing.

They are cousins of the tinier damselflies. Damselflies can easily be distinguished from dragonflies by the way they hold their wings along their “needle-like” bodies when at rest. They were referred to as “sewing needles” when I was a kid and we’d run from them in fear of our mouths being sewn shut!


I hadn’t realized that photographing Nature was an endurance sport until I chased these guys around to try for a capture. Next time I see either of the above insects, I’m going to say,”Thanks and keep up the mosquito dining!”

…and to mosquitoes, “Sucks to be you when dragonflies are in town!”

Finding My Place

My daughter spotted this Monarch Butterfly last weekend. If you know anything about Monarchs, you know adults observed this time of year are on their last days. They have returned to lay their eggs on milkweed plants and then they die.

I raced over to get a photo and realized the butterfly was not going very far. It climbed onto my sneaker and rested before fluttering off at an anemic pace.

As I was reviewing my photos today, this one reached out and said something that I was not outwardly aware of.

“You’ve found your place.” The photo shouted.

My most comfortable footwear has seen its better days but wears its age like a testimonial to fun. The butterfly sits and we shared in a moment…then off.

I would not trade those sneakers  (which I bought second hand from a thrift store) or the place where I was wearing them for pearls and lace.

Fancy I am not.

It’s okay for others but not for me.

I can be quite the chatterbox if a subject interests me. Spending my days with kids is fun but not full of deep thoughts or dialogs.

Most of all, I enjoy watching .

Kids and Nature are my favorite subjects and it wasn’t until I learned how to watch them, that I could thoroughly enjoy them.

Yes, I am fortunate to have found a place to enjoy…My place in this world.

After the initial posting of my photo and observation, I was thinking of a topic that the butterfly brought to mind.

That moment, and that butterfly, are traveling around the world via my blog.

Might they make a difference or effect someone?

I have not read this book but am familiar with Chaos Theory from many discussions I’ve had on the subject with a friend of mine. I’m putting this book on my wish list.

Ever wonder about the people you meet and experiences you have? Are coincidences real? Is everything related in some subliminal way?

I’ll be exploring these questions and so can you.


I enjoy watching these spiders. Crab spiders , well, resemble crabs. They have longer front legs and stick them out. Their bodies are flat too.

The one above is a Flower Spider. 200 species of crab spiders, including this one, live in the United States. The coolest thing about them is that they are “free-living” spiders. No webs for these guys. They just wait to ambush prey while sitting on flowers. Although their jaws (chelicerae) are very small, they have potent venom to immobilize their prey and eat at their leisure.

Goldenrod Spider (belongs to Crab Spider family)

These spiders are able to change color over several days. Of course, I assume the color is supposed to help them blend in. Think the Goldenrod Spider (above) is on the wrong flower? What a show-off!

The crab spider (below) has the right idea.

Look for these amazing hunters on daisies and other wildflowers. (Especially if Mom or Dad tends to be a little creeped out over spiders. Check those wild bouquets!)

I am especially fond of “free-living” spiders. Jumping spiders and Wolf spiders are among them. These guys turn to face you as an adversary even with their size disadvantage!  Gotta admire their spunk 🙂

Remember: You can click on these photos (more than once) for a better look.


The link above is to a short video that I made several years ago. It is about these amazing frogs. I’m sure that I’ve posted it before in my blogging adventures but thought I’d like to add it to my new NATURE KNOWLEDGE series.

Wood Frogs are being studied for their amazing ability to keep from freezing solid while buried only inches beneath leaves and woodland debris. They spend most of their time on the forest floor but this time of year, sing into the night while gathering to lay eggs in vernal pools and ponds.  Once you’ve heard their serenade, it is hard to ever consider not noticing them before!

The act of reproduction is called amplexus. Males cling to females while waiting for her to deposit eggs which they then fertilize with a cloud of sperm right after she deposits them. (On rare occasions, the number of males clinging to one female can weigh her down to the point of drowning her!)

Spotted salamanders lay their eggs during the same time period. In the case of spotted salamanders, the males leave sperm on the pond/pool floor. The female scoops up the sperm, beneath her tail, and her eggs are fertilized internally.

Often, the wood frog offspring and salamander offspring compete and eat each other in their journey to mature.

There are always dramas for survival taking place in nature, especially in the Spring.



Many of those buzzing insects that keep you on edge are not bees. They are some of the many nature-made copycats. Animals and insects alike, have wonderful imposters. Hoverflies are often mistaken for bees. There are many varieties found world wide. These clever flies have mimicked the appearance of bees to ward off predators.

These insects are quite harmless to people, unless those people trip and fall while ducking and running from what they believe is a bee. 🙂

Many varieties have larvae who feed on aphids. Aphids are responsible for tens of millions of dollars in crop damage each year.

A hoverfly’s value as a pollinator is equal to bees as well. Another name for these beauties is syrphid flies. They feed on nectar and pollen while they hover around flowers.

For quick identification, wasps and bees have two pairs of wings. Hoverflies have only one. After you have looked closely, the differences will be easier to spot.

The next time you consider swatting at a bee, take a closer look. Wouldn’t want to be fooled by Mother Nature , would you?

I’ll be showcasing a large variety of imposters in this series so stay tuned!