Archive for June, 2012

Back to my hometown in Mongolia

I couldn’t stay away.

I miss Mongolia too much. So Monday, July 2, I’m heading back to Murun, my hometown in Mongolia, for about 3 weeks. I’ll see my friends and the beautiful Mongolian countryside.  And I’ll also work on my little business importing crafts from the local Mongolian artisans to America.  I’ll be missing a few weeks of summer in Marblehead but I’ll be back in time to get in some more sailing and trips to the Farmers Market.

Sailboats scattered across my view of the ocean










Natural surprises in Marblehead

I had two very interesting interactions with nature this past week.  Last weekend, we had a little family reunion at my home.  After most people had left, my daughter and I went out to do an errand. When we returned and pulled the car into the drive, she spotted something in the flowers growing atop a wall next to the car.  She was eye level with the flowers and, at first, she thought it was just a bee buzzing around the flowers. But it didn’t really look like a bee. It looked like a very, very tiny humming bird—less than an inch long.  I jumped out of the car to take a look and we both watched it darting here and there, sucking the nectar and its little wings a blur of movement.  How could it be?  Did hummingbirds come that small?

Less than an inch in size, it looked just like a tiny hummingbird except for the feelers–which you could hardly see.

After it flitted away, we googled a few descriptive words and discovered it was a hummingbird moth.  We’d never heard of one before (see photo).  After Tracy left the next day, I picked up a book she had been reading from my library, My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell.  It’s one of my favorite books, incredibly funny about the Durrell’s family life on the island of Corfu. There, on one of the first pages in the book, Durrell describes some of the creatures he spots on the island, including the hummingbird moth!  What a coincidence!

You won’t believe this marine (?) interloper

The other interaction is even more incredible.  We had a 3-day heat wave—100 degrees on my back porch, and late Saturday some big thunderstorms rolled through.  It did cool things off and so, Sunday morning, I thought I’d take an early bike ride in the cool fresh air.  About seven, I went down the back steps to the yard to get my bike stored under the back porch.  The grass was still very wet.  Just before I reached the bike, I saw something small and dark lying in the grass in front of me.   Then I looked closer and saw it was alive and it looked like a little lobster, about 6 inches long.  I bent down to see better and sure enough, that’s exactly what it was. When I reached for it, it began to crawl away. I picked it up and it waved its little claws trying to wiggle out of my grasp.  I put it down and ran to get my camera.  It was too small to get very far on its own.   Then I got a pail of water, dumped in a little salt, and plopped the lobster into it.

This is what I first saw on the way to get my bike

No one was around to show it to, so I proceeded on my bike ride. When I returned, my neighbor, David Breashears, was home and I invited him over to see it.  He was as befuddled as I was.  So far, the only explanation we can come up with is that perhaps a seagull had picked it up and during the thunderstorm had been blown landward by the winds and dropped the lobster in my yard.  No doubt it was a bit befuddled away from the water. If you have other theories, you’re welcome to share them.

I contacted my friend Ellie who used to keep a saltwater aquarium of sea creatures at the school where she worked.  She stopped by to admire the little guy—oops, she determined it is a girl.  We’ve named her Lobelia.  Then we went to get a bucket of seawater plus some rocks and gravel since Ellie says the lobsters like to have a little shelter and even can concoct one if give the raw materials.  We also picked up a few periwinkles and another crab so Lobelia won’t starve. ‘

You can see more clearly in this photo

I’ll probably only keep her a day or two to show the neighbors and then put her back into a nice deep pool among the rocks on the edge of a little island nearby reached by a natural causeway—and one of the best habitats for lobster breeding on the East Coast.  What tales she will have to tell of her adventures!

THIS JUST IN:  My neighbors up by Redds Pond (a freshwater pond about a block up the hill from my house) just came down to see my lobster and they claim it is a crayfish, apparently lots of them this year at the pond.  Seagulls and cormorants also hang out around the pond.  I’ve checked it out on the web and it is possible.  The two species are exactly alike except one likes fresh water and the other salt water plus one is bigger than the other—in my case however it could be a small lobster.  Either way, what’s it doing in my backyard?

Final sad note:  I left it in the saltwater overnight and it didn’t survive—so must have been a crayfish.


June 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

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