|Male (note large antennae)|
Click on any photo to enlarge.
lights, or days, immobile until night. The rarity of sightings, pale green color and serene flight of these large moths trigger inquires into symbolic meaning and also inspire poetry. This topic has been written about at length in a May 2013 posting of this blog. Briefly, the moths emerge in late May or early June to a 5-10 day lifespan as winged moths. Males seek females by following the trace of pheromones she has released into the night air. He finds her, they mate, she lays 100-300 eggs over a few nights. There is no male display competition. The first male to get to a female is the winner.
|Horse chestnut flowers|
The large brown nuts which fall from spiky pods in the fall are informally known as conkers, and if from an American species common in the mid-west, buckeyes. Unlike American Chestnut, the wood from Horse Chestnut has poor decay resistance. It is also of low density compared to hardwoods, and thus not desirable for building nor as firewood.
|Pink Lady's Slipper - flower height|
about two inches, atop a stem 6-12".
The Pink Lady's Slipper (or Lady Slipper) is indigenous to eastern U.S. and Canada. This is the most common of several species found in Maine. This member of the orchid family is not easy to grow as a potted plant, nor away from it's natural habitat, as it requires partial shade plus the very acidic soil one finds in pine/spruce/hemlock forests. Better to admire it in situ. This is New Hampshire's official state wildflower.
WEATHER: Not easily portrayed by a photo, but weather trends are affecting southeastern Maine which also impact the Damariscotta area. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has weather data for Portland, Maine dating back to 1870. Over this period annual precipitation has increased by 18% (from 40 to 47 inches) while average temperature has warmed two degrees and snowfall decreased by 13% (from 75 to 65 inches).
|Fish ladder at south end of lake|
As so much of nature's seasonal timing is temperature driven, there are noticeable shifts. Alewives (an ocean-living, fresh-water spawning fish) move into rivers to spawn when the water temperature exceeds 51 degrees Fahrenheit. The photo shows the top end of the fish ladder at Damariscotta Lake. This is the latest in a string of constructions intended to allow alewives to detour around the mill dams. After breeding, the alewives return to the ocean. A check against old records would probably confirm that alewives now return to the lake weeks earlier than in the past.
Like salmon, the alewife can become a landlocked (100% freshwater) species. Wherever this happens, the freshwater fish breeds to a smaller size - closer to six inches compared to the ocean visitors' 10-12 inch length. These lake-bound fish can succumb to massive die-offs whenever the water warms too much. Lake Michigan's beaches have been the scene of hundreds of tons of rotting fish washing up onto the sand.
|Buckeye Bell Foundry 1910|
LOBSTER: Obviously, no lobsters are harvested from Damariscotta Lake, but anyone who visits Maine without dining on lobster at least once is a fool. (Or a vegetarian. Or keeping kosher. There are ongoing debates whether lobster is halal or haram.) Maine's catch per year has been topping 100 million pounds the past few years, with an expectation that 2014 will be similar. Thirty years ago the catch was consistently under 40 million. So far, "off-the-boat" prices are a bit higher than the lows of 2012 and 2013. There is a sense that the increased yield is a consequence of warmer water, far fewer lobster-eating fish, plus a tightly regulated harvest practice that returns egg-bearing females, too small, and too large lobsters to the ocean. These practices promote reproduction.
STONE WALLS: Much of southern Maine and neighboring states are woodlands threaded by stone walls. It helps to know that during the Colonial era stone was the last choice of materials for fencing fields. Farming through the 1600’s consisted of laborious clearing of small fields for vegetables, corn and livestock feed. These plots were bordered by cut brush and branches. The fields were stump-filled and worked by hand. As the brush fences rotted they were replaced by fences made of logs laid horizontally so the ends would overlap as the fence zig-zagged along the edge of a field. The goal, always, was to keep livestock out of the fields.
|Bedrock, or 'ledge' in New England parlance, showing evidence of|
being scraped by loose stones being dragged along at the
underside of a glacier. Grooves align north to south.
Post-Colonial northern Maine still had significant treelands, but southern Maine became sheep country. By 1870, Maine had more sheep than people (as did New Hampshire and Vermont). Sheep pasture was also typically post and rail over stone, sometimes augmented by barbed wire.