Saturday, July 17, 2010

Maine being very un-Mainely

This has been an unusual couple of weeks with old fashioned hot weather which reminds me of those long ago days of my youth. I think we used to get some scorchers in August, but July is certainly outdoing itself this year. Today it is in the 90's by my patio which is the shady part of my yard in the afternoon. This noon it was over 100 out there. I do not have AC because there are usually only four or five days all summer when I feel a need for it. If this is going to be the trend, I will have to reconsider.

Due to the early warmth the evergreen tips which are a lovely shade of new green at this time of year, are already beginning to darken. The plants that usually blossom into early August are already losing color. Delphiniums, honeysuckle, day lillies - last week beautiful displays of contrasting color, are now dropping dried blossoms. Too soon they fade away.

Plants in Maine have a short life, for the most part. Perhaps nature planned it that way so every variety can have its day. The Japanese quince, lilacs, mock orange - all bloom in turn in the early spring, and then come the butterfly bushes, Rose of Sharons, obedience plants other mid-summer stars.
Some last into fall, but most give way to the fall flowers. A favorite Maine "flower" is he sun flower which turns its head to the sun as it moves across the sky. Roses do well if the right ones are planted. I lost several rather pricey ones last winter because the snow cover was so light. I'm no gardener, but I know what I like. COLOR, COLOR, COLOR.

Maine has some invasive plant that even the most diligent efforts cannot seem to handle. The purple loose strife is a pretty roadside plant. But, oh! how fast it spreads. It has choked out a lot of native wildflowers, so they tell me.
There used to be fields with indian paint brush, daiseys, tall pink clover - many plants I cannot name. There are still tall cat-o-nine tails in the low lands and in the gutters beside the highways. I like those but when they dry out they burst into gazzillions of fuzzy seeds and if you happen to have brought them into your house - well, it's a nightmare. There are fields of milkweed just blossoming. Milk weed attracts those big green caterpillars that turn into huge moths. They only live long enough to mate, so I am told, and then they are history. I kept one of those caterpillars in a large pickle jar one year. I had no idea that the moth that emerged would be so big! I stood fascinated as the wings unfolded - and unfolded - and unfolded. He was a good six inches across. Of course, I released him after I had taken him to the children's school. Parental show and tell, you know.

Maine is beautiful this time of year. The harbor is full of sails - not all white, and the pier boasts the docking of a cruise ship about every three days. The islands are just slightly blurred by the Atlantic haze and the smell of salt water inspires to breathe deeply.

Things are not as I remember them as a child, but it is still the place I would choose above all others to spend the rest of my days. COME TO MAINE.


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