Having spent the warmer days of last month sunning themselves on logs and stumps, turtles can now be seen ponderously scooting their way across lawns, roads, and beaches in search of a suitable place to lay their eggs. Painted turtles are just one of the turtle species we have in Maine that are currently laying eggs.
Some iconic members of the Aster family include dandelions, sunflowers, daisies, sunchokes, lettuce, burdock, and artichokes, to name just seven of the over 23,000 species that exist in this plant family around the world. Once you start to keep an eye out for the sheer diversity of the Aster family’s daisy-shaped flowers, their numbers make sense. But is that daisy a single flower?
Warm air, hot sun, and the endless shades of green and songs of birds and evening peepers invite us to sit outdoors and contemplate this new season that seems to have arrived so quickly. That daydream quickly turns to reality, however, for being still outdoors is impossible this time of year, due to the nosy swarms of our bitty, buzzing, biting neighbors: blackflies.
An apple tree in full bloom is a sight, smell, and sound to behold. If you’d ever doubted whether summer would actually arrive, apple flowers tell us that it will, no matter what the weather report says. But beyond their beauty and use to us today, apple trees reveal a crisp slice of springtime necessity as rich as the flavor of apple pie.
Leaves are still absent from many of our trees, and those that have emerged are thin, small, and quite translucent. This allows the sunlight to pour onto the forest floor giving rise to the countless spring wildflowers that give us a burst of early color in these otherwise drab vernal woods. Giving a sudden splash of mottled green and vivid yellow is one such ephemeral wildflower and the subject of today’s program: trout lilies.
You haven’t experienced mud season in Maine if you haven’t seen someone selling fiddleheads on the roadside next to a hand-painted sign. This native, wild vegetable provides an earthy, green addition to quiches, omelettes, pizza, or all on their own as a cooked side dish. They freeze well and are easy to pick, process, and prepare. These young ostrich ferns provide our only reliably edible fiddlehead in Maine.
Supporting all living things are a whole host of what scientists consider abiotic factors, or nonliving things, without which life would not exist. These unsung heroes of the wilds include air, water, and stone—the very canvas of our planet’s vast wilderness masterpiece. One of these vital abiotic factors is the feature of today’s program: spring runoff.
Imagine being the size of a sesame seed and trying to survive in the great outdoors. Just about everything seems bigger than you, you lack wings, so it takes forever to get around, too much sun can make you dry out and die, and your only source of food is trapped inside mammals and birds that are much larger and faster than you are. To adapt to this intimidating situation, you spend most of your time waiting—perhaps on the tip of a blade of grass on the border between forest and field—for what might feel like a once in a lifetime chance that some creature might brush by you and offer a long-awaited meal. It sounds like a tough life, doesn’t it?
While we humans spent the last month shaking off the four Nor’easters that swept across New England week after week, the little silvery smelts were ponderously ascending tidal rivers across the state. By the third week in March, the tiny fish—often only six to twelve inches long—found themselves at the head of the tide in the larger rivers…