American Red Squirrel Going Cray-Cray for Nuts

This weekend an adorable American Red Squirrel — a species that is notably redder, smaller and waaaay feistier than the Eastern Gray Squirrel — was zipping up and down these shrubs, stealing nuts aphid pods. I love his racing stripe. (Red squirrels strike me as a hybrid between a gray squirrel and a chipmunk.)

These shrubs, which front our cabin, look like sumacs, yet not really. I thought all sumacs have bazillions of tiny seed pods…and not these large nut looking things ? (And these definitely don’t look like the evil poison sumac, either. And, like sumacs, they’re already turning red — they’re the first to go each fall. I’m looking to mother-in-law Martie to figure this out for me….)

(Update: These weird things the squirrel is eating are actually “aphid colonies” that contain millions of harmless aphid insects….Sigh. Nature never ceases to amaze me, or occasionally gross me out.)

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Though I haven’t read any of Maeve Binchy’s books in many years, they’re still with me. She was kind of like what smart girls graduated to after devouring Judy Blume’s books.

deborah rose reeves

I only remember the names: Firefly Summer, The Copper Beech, Circle of Friends.

When I heard today that Maeve Binchy had died, I was instantly a girl again, pilfering her books from my mother’s bedside table: Firefly Summer, The Copper Beech, Circle of Friends. So immediate and familiar, those names. But, fifteen or more years later, when I looked those titles up, I recognized very little about their plots or characters, the details and particulars – only hazy images and fragments: I may not have read them at all for all I could truly recall about them.

I feel like I’ve read Tara Road but I cannot say for sure. Perhaps my girlish ear just liked the alliteration in the title Light A Penny Candle, but did I ever read it? All I know is those names are so familiar to me, that at some point in my…

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Pretty, Purposeful Pickerelweed

It’s got a funny name, but this common swamp plant with a pretty purple flower provides food for ducks, rodents, snails, turtles, bees, fish and plenty more critters. And lots of animals use it for shelter. Humans can eat the seeds, too.

You can’t easily spot it here, but it’s actually all over the Basha Kill wetlands. Click the photo to see!

And here it is, up close:

Monarch Butterfly & Buttonbush

monarch on buttonbuch

In mid-July, the stunning Basha Kill wetlands were flush with perfectly ripe buttonbush flowers. These swamp loving plants have zillions of tubular flowers packed into perfect spheres. They smell sweet. I think I’ll get some for next summer!

We learned about this plant while on the mid-summer nature walk, one of many events held by the Basha Kill Area Association.

buttonbush blossom