Song of the Sea

Some time at the beach this weekend put me in mind of this little verse that I’d carried in my wallet for a while, but now also have as a framed print in my cubicle at work.

Hear the gulls call in the sky,
the tide lap at the edge of the sand.

I hope you learn to pause in this beauty.
I hope you breathe in the gentlest moments.

If there is sunshine, I hope you lift your face to it.
If there is wind, I hope it moves you.

Look how the sand is swept fresh; the sea is all horizon.
I hope you see how each day has this possibility.

I hope you welcome the quiet as well as the storm.
take deep breaths of salt and sweetness both;

I hope you know it’s the truest air.
See how the waves form one after another

(there’s no human rush to do it all at once)
I hope you live your life one moment at a time.

I hope you focus on what you love.
And, although I know the waves will storm you,

Toss you down and spin your heart around,
I hope you never stop loving what can hurt you.

I hope you learn to float when it’s calm.
I hope you laugh whenever you can.

I hope you roll on and roll on…
See the ocean stir with passion.

I hope you have the courage to throw yourself in.
Fullness is so rare and fleeting

(and there’s always some bad weather coming…)
If there’s a sunset, I hope you watch it.

If there’s moonlight, I hope you dance in it.
I hope your heart finds safe harbor;

But, I hope you know your heart is made for more than that.
I hope you remember when the tide goes out,

It will come back in for you again.
When the sea is singing, I hope you listen,

and I hope you sing along…

from gingras

Anyone else carry little bits of found wisdom with them like I do? What is it and where’d you find it?

A Luka story without photos

This video from Floridacracker of his two (!) Lab puppies reminded me of a story I’d been meaning to share, but which I haven’t been able to get a decent pic to illustrate with.

Luka is a couch hog, but not in the normal way one might expect from a 100 lb. Lab. Instead he likes to perch himself on the back of the couch, in front of the window, where the view and the breeze are best. Here’s an old pic of him from Christmastime in the very same pose, so just imagine the scene without the Xmas decorations and 40 lbs. more Luka squishing those cushions down.

Anyway… outside the window now is a red Chinese Hibiscus standard that had seemed to be drawing the attention of a hummingbird or two. Encouraged, I added a small hummingbird feeder to the pot thinking I would be able to enjoy close up views of the hummers at the feeder. Not so.

He’s taken to barking at any sweet hummingbird that dares to feed there! To begin with he seemed confused by them, almost thinking they were a really big bumblebee, but the zooming and dashing of a curious (or annoyed) hummer is too much for him to take. He scares them all away. Silly dog!

Butterfly, you float on by…

Oh kiss me with your eyelashes tonight
Or eskimo your nose real close to mine

Well butterfly you landed on my mind
Actually landed on my ear, but you crawled inside

and now I see you perfectly behind closed eyes
I want to fly with you, but I don’t want to lie to you…
White Admirals were everywhere, puddling on the dirt roads and fluttering through the sunlit woods. White Admirals are considered the northerly form of Jayne’s more southern Red Spotted Purple. Where their ranges overlap they tend to hybridize and keep us all guessing.

An afternoon at Paul Smith’s

The Adirondack Interpretive Center is a favorite spot of mine, but visiting it seems to be reserved for rainy days only. After surviving the morning at Bloomingdale Bog, the prospect of napping away the rainy afternoon was pretty tempting, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the area around Paul Smith’s. The hiking trails are beautiful, even in the rain, as they showcase what a healthy forest ecosystem looks like. I’m used to seeing woods overbrowsed by deer and full of poison ivy and honeysuckle. Not so in the Adirondacks. The understory is covered in ferns, wildflowers, and unidentifiable fungi. Any help with this one, Jennifer?

It was an excellent time for wildflowering – the spring was late, so I was treated to things that should already have been past bloom. Twinflower is a dainty little thing and was a favorite of Linnaeus, hence it’s latin name Linnaea borealis. I also found Teaberry and Starflower and Blue-Eyed Grass and huge patches of Bunchberry.

The Adirondacks seem to have the perfect climate for Lupines and other garden flowers. Imagine a field of Lupines and Orange Hawkweed with the High Peaks as a backdrop. Gorgeous! Most well-maintained homes and the storefronts in Lake Placid have huge window boxes full of flowers that wouldn’t last a minute here in NJ’s humidity. I’ll admit to some healthy gardener’s envy! (Though I imagine they can’t grow tomatoes worth a crap.)


Homes in the less-touristy areas are… um, interesting. We spend a lot of time in out of the way places and a drive through Onchiota on the way back to our hotel treated us to a house (?) covered with signs like this. Interesting, no? (This was probably the least offensive of the lot.)

A couple people took naps inside the center or watched the birdfeeders, but most of us braved the rain for a walk to the pond and marsh. Best bird here was an American Bittern that flew lazily over the boardwalk. There were some nice dragonflies and Spatterdock was blooming, too.

Bloomingdale Bog

Hmm… let’s see. I was in the Adirondacks for 4 days and took 244 photos. Assuming that at least half of those are total crap and that I post an average of 5 pics a day, that means you’ll have to listen to me ramble on about this quickie trip for about a month.

Thank your lucky stars I won’t be subjecting you to that.


Except for a few special stories or images, there’s really no other way to do this than day by day. So turn your head if you haven’t the stomach for it. I’ll try to be quick.

We spent Saturday morning in a place called Bloomingdale Bog. The name might sound familiar to some because there was a Northern Hawk Owl there a couple winters ago… I know a few people who made the trek up to see it. Bloomingdale Bog strikes fear in my heart because it’s usually so infested with mosquitos and black flies that it’s a horrendous way to waste time birding, but the bugs were tolerable this year. It’s a great place to find boreal birds.

Bunchberry… my absolute favorite flower from the northwoods… it likes shady, moist acidic soil and was in bloom almost everywhere we went. Down on my knees to photograph them was like looking at a tiny forest of miniature dogwood trees. I wish I could grow this at home.

The soft needles of a tamarack twig… these turn gold in fall and then drop for the winter. Love ’em!

While I was poking around in the leaf litter with the camera, the rest of the group was birding. Imagine that! I don’t know what they were listening for, but they eventually found one *must-see* bird on the trip…

Here they are looking at a Black-backed Woodpecker way up in the top of a black spruce snag. Cool bird… I’ll have some pics to share on another day.

What’s neat to me about a boreal bog is how similiar the plant life is to what I find in the Pine Barrens here in NJ. Those little red bits are British Soldier Lichen amid some type of star moss and reindeer lichen. Star moss is common in the Pine Barrens, but the British Soldiers are a good find there.

Sheep Laurel is also really common in the Pine Barrens, but it was putting on a gorgeous show there in the misty bog. Lest you think I spent all my time goofing off looking at plants, you should know that I was one of only two people to see a Gray Jay – and we saw it only because we were goofing off looking at flowers. So there.

Aww… this is Spencer and he had a grand time in the Adirondacks! A great little dog brought along by someone in our group – he provided much needed boredom relief when the birding was slow. And yes, there’ll be more pics of Spencer.

So… that was Saturday morning before lunch. The birds had been good – Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, singing White-throated Sparrows and Juncos (what a treat to hear them in summer!) and Lincoln’s Sparrow. Oh! Forgot to mention that I finally get to add Pileated Woodpecker to my life list – about time, I think. We spotted it along the road just outside of Lake Placid.

A detour along the way

As if the ride to Upstate NY wasn’t already long enough, we took a couple hour detour along the way to search for some special sparrows that had recently been seen in a random field about an hour off the thruway. So special that I can’t even remember which sparrows, but I think it may have been Henslow’s. Like any good detour, we didn’t find what we’d been looking for, but instead amused ourselves with what was at hand. There were Bobolinks, always a treat, but as is typical I lost interest after about ten minutes and wandered away with the camera.

If anything convinces me of my ADD tendencies, it’s birding with a group of *serious birders*. You know the type. And then there’s me: wandering around studying the sky in between checking my email, chasing butterflies, cracking jokes or complaining about something, puzzling over wildflowers. Just look at these people! How do they manage such sustained intensity?

The weedy field invited me; up to my knees in birdfoot trefoil and chickory I found a kestral preening on the powerline and hazy hills in the distance. All those flowers at my feet and the insects that tended them kept me interested for a good while.
One nice thing about birding with a varied group of people is that there’s bound to be someone among them who knows the answer to most any question I can dream up. We’re all at least marginally interested in something other than birds and the expertise of others comes in handy. I’d have quickly given up trying to ID this skipper, but Pete knew it right away as a European Skipper (one of two introduced butterflies) and ID’d the flower for me.
There were quite a few fellow plant nerds in the group and we happily geeked our way through the weekend identifying any wildflower we came across, or at least, trying to. We only got so far as to know this was a knapweed; not the Spotted Knapweed that’s so invasive out west, but some other we couldn’t decide on.

This was a nice detour, as they go, but I was so glad to finally get to Saranac Lake and stretch my legs in the bogs and forests of the Adirondacks for the rest of the weekend.

More tomorrow…

From Whiteface

The cloud cover at Whiteface Mountain cleared just enough for us today to enjoy some nice views… (please click on the pic!) I could see Lake Champlain from the summit, but not Montreal. This is a partial view of Lake Placid, btw. There’ll be days of pics (yawn!) when I’ve recovered some and slept. There were singing Bicknell’s and Swainson’s today and a far-off view of a Bald Eagle from the very tip of Whiteface.


Happy to be home.