The Wrack is our collective logbook on the web. Here you will find hundreds of articles on myriad topics, all tied to these two thousand acres of protected coastal land and the yesteryear cluster that lends them identity.
Why "The Wrack"? In its cycles of ebb and flow, the sea transports a melange of weed, shell, bone, feather, wood, rope, and trash from place to place, then deposits it at the furthest reach of spent surf. This former flotsam is full of interesting stuff for anybody who cares to kneel and take a look. Now and then, the line of wrack reveals a treasure.
The Reserve held its sixth annual Monarch Rescue yesterday! Two education staff and seventeen wonderfully enthusiastic volunteers of all ages set out in search of monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillars in fields that will be mowed within the next couple of weeks. Select Reserve fields are mowed each year in an effort to maintain this vital habitat, rather than allow it to eventually grow into forest. The mowing also serves to keep invasive plant species in check.
Each year since 2010 (with the exception of 2011, when no rescue was conducted), the Monarch Rescue teams were tasked with combing the fields while inspecting individual milkweed plants to look for signs of monarchs. Any found eggs and caterpillars were then brought to a field not slated for mowing that year. Milkweed leaves with eggs on the underside were stapled to secure milkweed leaf undersides. Caterpillars were moved to secure milkweed plants. The graph below shows the number of eggs and caterpillars found during each of the six rescues.
When I heard that the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge would be celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer, I thought "Cool, and I was there at the beginning."
I remember my family taking a jaunt down Route 9 from my grandparents' house in Kennebunk after a ho-hum conversation about some Rachel Carson land that had just opened up. After a short drive, we piled out of grandpa's Bonneville and walked into the woods.
The day was bright, but the sun was muted by a closed canopy most of the way. We strolled along in single file, following a path softened by pine needles, until we reached an opening where sunlight burst through to the forest floor. The effect was profound: Beaming light, a scent of pine and sea air, and an enveloping quiet that belied the presence of my brothers and me. I've no idea how long that moment lingered or how the spell was broken, but I recall that glade as a cathedral, that instant a locus. I was in awe. In Nature.
August 21st is my 38th birthday. The odometer keeping track of my trips around the Sun just rolled over 22.2 billion miles. There’s still plenty of tread on the tires. I am beginning to notice a few twinges of maturity, though. Joint pains, hair loss, reflexive stubbornness, the irrepressible need to give advice – the signs of creeping codgerdom.
Goldenrods are coming. You need not look far to see this harbinger of summer’s end. It's blooming in every field and roadside.
There are 19 species of goldenrod native to Maine that begin blooming in August and continue through fall. Allergy sufferers have maligned this beautiful plant as the source of their misery, but goldenrod, with its large, heavy, sticky pollen grains, is pollinated by insects and not by wind. The real culprit of our itchy eyes and runny noses is ragweed, which blooms at the same time and is pollinated by wind. Ambrosia artemisiifolia, common ragweed, is too elegant a name for the source of our misery, in my opinion.
The orange ruffles hadn’t been there last week, but now they were impossible to miss. Overnight, it seemed, a chicken-of-the-woods had returned to roost on the old oak stump in our yard.
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