Category Archives: Moon Challenge

New Moon, New Year

Photo of Horned Lark

Today marks the start of my Blog-free Moon Challenge.  As a result, I won't post again until the next New Moon (January 30, 2014). In the meantime, you can...

...browse the archives by topic using the Explore button in the top menu bar

...type a keyword or phrase into the search box on the sidebar (e.g., Chipping Sparrow)

...or peruse the full site index (organized alphabetically by title).

Additionally, I invite you to browse my recommended books, DVDs and audio picks.  No need to buy these resources -- instead, support your local library.  Okay, enough for now.  I've got Horned Larks (pictured) to watch.  See you in a month!

New Moon Challenge: “Who Am I?”

My Moon Challenge for the past moon has been to keep a running list of every species that I consumed. Two people inspired this challenge: Rob Fergus (aka The Birdchaser) who recently identified 1000 species of life in 30 days in an effort to appreciate biodiversity and Arthur Haines who described the importance of a nutritionally varied diet (see Dietary Diversity:  The Forgotten "Vitamin" in Successful Diets).

So, here's the detailed list of the 109 species that I consumed from 11/3 - 12/2. Thanks to my freezer, I'm still enjoying many species of wild berries (pictured) that I gathered in summer. Now I ask, "Who are you?"

Photo of Black Huckleberry Photo of Blue Huckleberry Photo of Hillside Blueberry

Capital letter key: O (organic or pastured), W (wild), F (feral), - (chemical/non-organic agriculture)

# # ANIMALS # Origin
1 O Cow Bos primigenius Maine
2 O Goat Capra aegagrus hircus Maine
3 W Herring family Clupeidae Atlantic Ocean
4 W Cod Gadus sp. Atlantic Ocean
5 O Chicken Gallus gallus domesticus Maine
6 W Haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus Atlantic Ocean
7 W Mussel Mytilus edulis Maine
8 W White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus Maine
9 W Pink Salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha Pacific Ocean
10 W Coho Salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch Pacific Ocean
11 W Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka Pacific Ocean
12 W Northern Shrimp Pandalus borealis Gulf of Maine
13 W Atlantic Sea Scallop Placopecten magellanicus Atlantic Ocean
14 O Pig Sus scrofa domesticus Maine
15 W Yellowfin Tuna Thunnus albacares Pacific Ocean
16 W Black Bear Ursus americanus Maine
 # # FUNGI # Origin
1 O White Button Agaricus bisporus USA
2 O Reishi Ganoderma lucidum China
3 W Maitake Grifola frondosa Plainville, MA
4 W Chaga Inonotus obliquus Maine
5 O Shiitake Lentinula edodes China
1 W Wakame Alaria esculenta Schoodic Peninsula (SP), Maine
2 - Chlorella Chlorella vulgaris Korea
3 W Atlantic Kombu Laminaria digitata SP, Maine
4 W Kelp Laminaria longicruris SP, Maine
5 W Dulse Palmaria palmata SP, Maine
6 W Wild Atlantic Nori Porphyra umbilicalis SP, Maine
# # PLANTS # Origin
1 - Kiwifruit Actinidia deliciosa New Zealand / USA
2 O Leeks Allium ampeloprasum Maine
3 - Onion Allium cepa USA
4 - Lemon Verbena Aloysia citrodora -
5 - Pineapple Ananas comosus USA
6 O Dill Weed Anethum graveolens -
7 O Celery Apium graveolens USA
8 O Burdock Arctium lappa USA
9 W Black Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa Wrentham, MA
10 - Asparagus Asparagus officinalis -
11 O Oatstraw Avena sativa USA
12 O Swiss Chard / Beet Beta vulgaris Maine
13 - Birch Betula sp. -
14 O Mustard Seed Brassica sp. -
15 O Chili flakes Capsicum annuum -
16 O Quinoa Chenopodium quinoa -
17 - Chicory, Endive Cichorium intybus -
18 O Cinnamon Cinnamomum cassia Indonesia
19 O Lemon Citrus × limon -
20 - Grapefruit Citrus × paradisi -
21 - Orange Citrus × sinensis -
22 - Tangerine Citrus tangerina -
23 W Sweet-fern Comptonia peregrina Plainville, MA
24 O Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna Bulgaria
25 W Hawthorn Crataegus sp. Wells, ME
26 - Buttercup / Hubbard Squash Cucurbita maxima Wales, ME
27 - Butternut Squash Cucurbita moschata Wales, ME
28 O Pumpkin / Acorn / Delicata Cucurbita pepo USA
29 O Turmeric Curcuma longa  -
30 - Artichoke Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus Peru
31 O Carrot Daucus carota USA
32 W Autumn-olive Elaeagnus umbellata Maine
33 - Arugula Eruca sativa USA
34 W Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica Plainville, MA
35 - Fennel Foeniculum vulgare USA
36 W Eastern Spicy-wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens Kennebunkport, ME
37 W Black Huckleberry Gaylussacia baccata Plainville, MA
38 W Blue Huckleberry Gaylussacia frondosa Plainville, MA
39 - Barley Hordeum vulgare -
40 - Sweet Potato Ipomoea batatas USA
41 O Lettuce Lactuca sativa California
42 - Red Lentil Lens culinaris Canada
43 F Apple Malus domestica Kennebunkport, ME
44 O Peppermint Mentha sp. Plainville, MA
45 W Small Bayberry Morella caroliniensis Plainville, MA
46 - Banana Musa acuminata Columbia
47 - Olive Oil Olea europaea Italy/Tunisia/Greece/Spain
48 - Rice Oryza sativa India
49 - Parsnip Pastinaca sativa USA
50 - Green Bean Phaseolus vulgaris France
51 W Pitch Pine Pinus rigida Plainville, MA
52 W Eastern White Pine Pinus strubus Cumberland, RI
53 O Black Pepper Piper nigrum India
54 - Green Pea Pisum sativum Canada
55 W Beach Plum Prunus maritima Oguinquit, ME
56 W Black Cherry Prunus serotina Plainville, MA
57 - Radish Raphanus sativus Quebec, Canada
58 O Garden Rhubarb Rheum rhabarbarum Plainville, MA
59 O Dog Rose Rosa canina Chile
60 W Beach Rose Rosa rugosa Biddeford Pool, ME
61 O Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Arizona
62 W Common Blackberry Rubus allegheniensis Plainville, MA
63 O Red Raspberry Rubus idaeus Germany
64 - Black Raspberry Rubus occidentalis -
65 - Sugar Cane Saccharum spp. -
66 O Sage Salvia officinalis USA
67 - Rye Secale cereale -
68 O Tomato Solanum lycopersicum Maine
69 - Eggplant Solanum melongena -
70 O Potato Solanum tuberosum Maine
71 W Goldenrod Solidago sp. Plainville, MA
72 W Common Dandelion Taraxacum officinale Kennebunkport, ME
73 O Thyme Thymus vulgaris Turkey
74 W Cat-tail Typha sp. Maine
75 O Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica Bulgaria
76 W Common Lowbush Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium Plainville, MA
77 W Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum Plainville, MA
78 W Large Cranberry Vaccinium macrocarpon Biddeford Pool, Maine
79 W Hillside Blueberry Vaccinium pallidum Plainville, MA
80 - Grape Vitis vinifera -
81 - Corn Zea mays USA
82 W Wild Rice Zizania sp. Maine

New Moon Challenge: Wild Berry Butterfly Recap

Photo of "blue" Black Huckleberry

From one New Moon to the next (July 8th to August 6th), I was able to locate 41 species of butterflies. During that same period, I gathered more than 41 pounds of wild fruit, including various cherries, blackberries, chokeberries, blueberries, and huckleberries*.  Visit my New England Wild Edible Monthly Guide for links to many of the fruits I foraged, and enjoy the following slide show, which samples more than two dozen species of butterflies who I found flying in mid-summer. (Click any image for the full screen viewer.)

*Note: Black Huckleberries are typically black and shiny, but as the top photo shows, sometimes the fruit are dark blue and covered with a bloom.  Blue Huckleberry is another species altogether, with light blue fruit borne on longer stalks in spaced out clusters.  (The photo below shows a comparison of the two).  Both species, regardless of color, are tasty when ripe!

Photo of Black and Blue Huckleberry Comparison

New Moon Challenge: Sit Spot Recap

Photo of Pond Scene

My sit spot underwent dramatic changes over the past Moon cycle. On the Full Moon, I posted some of my observations (read At the Edge of the Pond), and today I'd like to share a video montage of my sit spot challenge. I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds from my pond-side seat.

Did you recognize the Fish Crow who came to visit one day? How about the trilling American Toads?  Did you know Japanese Knotweed could grow so tall in just a few short weeks?

Note: The New Moon is a great time to begin a challenge of your own.  Visit the Moon Challenges page for some of my recommendations.

At the Edge of the Pond

After resting my bike against an old red maple, I take a moment to listen and look around. Noting the familiar sounds of the many resident birds, I approach my pond-side sit spot and make myself comfortable atop a large rock. From my south-facing seat, I can see the open water through the filtering branches of several familiar shrubs and trees. Scanning from left to right, I see the massive northern red oak, the flowering pussy willows, the leaning alders still holding a few spent male flowers, the gray birch trees with unopened catkins, the short clump of sweet-gale and finally the fruiting red maple. While some appearances have changed since I was here last, not one of these friends is out of position.

The herbaceous layer is another matter entirely. Sprouting nearly overnight, new stalks of green growth have appeared where a few days prior there was only mud. Hummocks sport green blades of hair, skunk cabbage leaves are unfurling and spotted touch-me-not seedlings have begun to rise. Behind me, Japanese knotweed stalks are bursting from the soil – in a few short weeks this stand will become a green wall, lasting until fall.

Photo of Eastern Phoebe

Out on the pond, a mallard pair patrols the water's edge and a male wood duck occasionally whistles from a shady hidden location. A red-tailed hawk sails high over the pond. Below, small groups of tree and northern rough-winged swallows zip by, busily snatching insects on the wing. Snapping turtles surface and practice their floating-island poses, while painted turtles stack up on logs to catch some rays. The pair of eastern phoebes works the far shore, snacking as they go, and great blue heron hunts patiently in ankle-deep water, waiting for passing prey to present themselves. Out of view, but not out of earshot, I hear a few migrant warblers singing away.

I hear movement in the leaf litter to my right. Perhaps the resident song sparrows are heading my way, or perhaps an American robin is searching for worms? As I tune in on the sound, I realize the maker is neither – but rather a four-legged one. Leaf rustle gives way to noisy chatter. Red squirrel, ever alert, is no doubt also aware of me.

As I watch a silent common garter snake warming up in the sun, a snore comes from the nearby mud. I think to give my own snore in return, but resist the temptation. Despite their frequent sounds, I've yet to see a pickerel frog hop by. I wonder, when will the American toads begin to trill?

As I sit on my rock, the sun advances. Before long, an hour has gone by. How can it be, I think to myself, I've only just arrived. But perhaps that's precisely it, I have arrived, by quieting my mental chatter and setting aside past and future, if only for an hour each day.

I best be on my way, I say silently, but I'll see you all soon.


Notes: The above story stems from my current Sit Spot Challenge.  I heard the first toads trilling on 4/17.  The bird pictured is an Eastern Phoebe.