by Lorrie Hoeh
On Sunday morning Mike and I did a reconnoiter in the National Forest to see the situation with wild blueberries in a field we know of. They are there all right, but we judge the crop to be only “fair.” We’ll continue looking for good picking places, because blueberries freeze very well and make a welcome addition in winter to a bowl of cereal, a batch of muffins or pancakes, or even a bowl of ice cream.
The starflowers and Indian cucumber root are out, just as the painted trillium has faded. The starflower has lovely, many-petaled white blooms about 1/2 of an inch across above a whorl of pointed leaves. The cucumber root boasts two whorls of leaves, more symmetrical than those of starflowers, with one rising above the other on a second stem, and the white blossom atop that. By the way, it can be found on p. 102 in Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers. According to Euell Gib-bons, the root is edible and has a taste reminiscent of cucumbers. I can personally attest to the truth of that.
Jennifer in Andover keeps me informed of wildlife activity around her home and gardens. Late last week she wrote that hummingbirds (male only) had arrived. I promptly told Mike, who disap-peared downstairs to find the hummingbird feeders. He no sooner put them up than we had a male hovering around one of them. Said bird has been back to partake of the boiled sugar water we sup-plied, and we expect to see many more before long.
Also seen by Jennifer were rose-breasted grosbeaks. She thinks she might have two nesting pairs. She heard one male singing and then being answered by a short tweet from the female. There have been three deer grazing on ferns near her garden. Foxglove planted near the other flowers seem to deter the deer from eating them.
Our neighbor on Broad Street, Frank Vogt, has very kindly provided us with several buckets of his home-brewed compost, which we have been using to amend the soil in the vegetable and flower gardens we are creating. Frank is also always good for some good-natured give-and-take and inter-esting anecdotes about life in Bethel.
When the blue jays aren’t hogging the sunflower seeds in the window feeder, we get the occa-sional cardinal, titmouse, or nuthatch. There is also a stunning white-crowned sparrow who has been a frequent visitor. On Monday morning Jake and I walked down Eden Lane to the Eden Ridge Condos. In the surrounding woods we heard wood thrushes singing their “ee-o-lee, ee-o-lay” song. They have been rare in recent years, much to my consternation, even though their cousins, the hermit thrushes, have been very much in evidence. It’s great to hear them again.
On our Sunday morning walk in the National Forest, we heard several warblers, among them the chestnut-sided warbler, yellowthroat, the black-throated green, and the black-throated blue, as well as ovenbirds and birds whose songs I couldn’t identify. We met a ranger who named a redstart’s song, but I guess I need to listen to the bird CD again and get some more songs in my head.
The honeysuckle is about to bloom along the back border, as well as the Russian olive trees. A friend informs us that the Russian olive is now considered an invasive species. There is certainly a lot of it around, along Paradise Road and in other yards. Said friend and I agreed, however, that we rather like it, so there!
Don’t forget the Trek Across Maine on June 18 to 20, a fundraiser for the American Lung Associa-tion. If you or a loved one has had lung disease, tuberculosis, COPD, or other lung or breathing problems, you know how important this is. Flat Road resident Christine Trefethen will be riding her bike in the Trek, and would welcome your donations. I urge you to support her with a contribu-tion. You can Google “Trek Across Maine,” click on “Pledge,” type in Christine’s name, and follow directions to pledge. Or you can send a check, made out to ALA/Maine, to Chris at PO Box 667, Be-thel, ME 04217.
Last week I had contributions of West Bethel news from a couple of different sources. I would love to hear from more of you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 824-2917. Enjoy these lovely spring days!