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Monday meander: Horseshoe crabs and other signs

A moment on the beach.
A moment on the beach.

Here is a moment of extravagant beauty: I drink it liquid from the shells of my hands and almost all of it runs sparkling through my fingers: but beauty is like that, it is a fraction of a second, quickness of a flash and then immediately it escapes.

~ Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life

The end of a day at the beach.
The end of a day at the beach.

It is overcast today here on the Eastern Shore.  There is a weather system that has been labelled 96L off the coast of North Carolina reaching out to us with some of its outer bands of clouds.  No rain is expected here.  Instead, 96L is bringing heavy rains to the Atlantic Ocean 500 miles offshore.

The ocean waves.
The ocean waves.

Did you have a good weekend?  I did.  Lots of rest and relaxation with a few chores thrown in because they couldn’t be avoided.  I played, too.  M and I went to the beach as planned and for the first time in a long time, I went boogie boarding.  Wow, was that fun!  The waves were not perfect, but they were gentle and if you were patient, a good one would come along and take you all the way back to shore.

An alien creature.
An alien creature.

I went for a short walk this morning.  I had planned to stay out for a while because it’s breezy and cool, but the mosquitoes are enjoying the weather too.  In spite of the heavy layer of insect repellent I sprayed myself with before leaving the deck, I was swarmed near the scrounger’s garden, swarmed near the lagoon, swarmed when I approached the woods.  Our mosquitoes are a determined bunch, not allowing themselves to be repelled.  Did you know Maryland has 59 species of mosquito?  Salt marsh mosquitoes, according to some scientists, cause the worst problems in late September and early October.

Spotlighted by the setting sun.
Spotlighted by the setting sun.

I’ve been waffling between showing you photos from the beach and photos from this morning’s short walk.  Let’s just start with the beach and see what develops from there.

Reclaiming.
Reclaiming.

There were a lot of horseshoe crabs shells on the beach.  This is the time year for it.  Horseshoe crabs have to molt to grow, and will usually molt about 16 times over the course of 9 to 12 years.  If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a dead horseshoe crab and a molt.  I’ve read that one way to tell them apart is to have a good look at the shell.  A shell that has been left behind due to molting is likely to be pale and almost translucent.  You can also pick up the shell and look for an opening along the front ridge.

If you look closely (click on the picture to enlarge it), you can see the seam or opening indicating this is a molt.
If you look closely (click on the picture to enlarge it), you can see the seam or opening indicating this is a molt.

The folks that study stuff like this believe that horseshoe crabs of the same age molt around the same time of the year.  Whatever year these guys (and gals) were born, it must have been a good one because there have been quite a few shells washing ashore over the past two weeks.

The horseshoe crab is a fascinating creature.  They’ve been around forever.  Okay, maybe not forever, but for at least 250 million years.  Birds and fish rely on them as a food source (they eat the eggs, the juveniles, and recent molts).  Speaking of food, I read somewhere that the horseshoe crab can go up to a year without eating.

Walking along the shore.
Walking along the shore.

The Monarch butterflies should start appearing soon.  I’ve seen one or two, here and there.  Assateague Island is one of the places where the migrants show up en mass, usually around the last week in September and the first week in October.  Sometimes there is a second wave of migrating Monarchs in mid-October.  I’m hoping to get there this year to see the Monarchs, if they arrive and arrive as scheduled.

Other migratory birds are leaving, staying, or passing through.  I’ve heard the Canada geese honking at sunrise and sunset.  Of all the sounds that signal a change in seasons, I most often associate the honk of the geese with the transitions from winter to spring and from summer to autumn.  Geese are present here throughout all of the seasons, but on the move and talking about it during the transitional times.

The migratory hawks and other raptors will be passing through soon, too, if they’re not doing so already.  The Virginia end of Assateague Island is supposed to be a great place to look for them.  Did you know a large flock of birds of prey, such as hawks, is a “kettle?”  Kettle can also refer to  a group of flying and wheeling birds, not necessarily all of the same species.

One more look at the waves before we leave the beach.
One more look at the waves before we leave the beach.

M and I will be having our first social event here at the ranch on Thursday.  Well, the first aside from having family and friends come for visits.  The renovations to the house are still not finished, but we’ve been here for three summers now, and it’s time to meet some of the local folks.  In this case, the local folks will be colleagues from M’s work.  This won’t be quite the event that we used to have when we lived in northeast Ohio (our Party by the Pond), and it’s being held near an equinox rather than a solstice, but hopefully it will be as much fun.

Fall colors
Fall colors at the edge of the meadow.

Since we are on the subject of fun, don’t forget the annual Walktober event which begins on October 1.  This year’s dates are October 1 through October 25.  In case you’re not sure what Walktober is, the short answer is that participants take a walk and blog about it.  You can tell us about it in words or pictures or in any way you desire.  I’ll round up everyone’s walks during the last week in October and do one grand post about them all.  Click on the Walktober image in the sidebar to your right (it’s the last one in the sidebar) for a little more information about it (that post also has a link to even more information, but I think you can gather what you need from that post alone).

Extravagant beauty. I think the roses are more beautiful when we enter the fall season than in the spring.
Extravagant beauty. I think the roses are more beautiful when we enter the fall season than in the spring.

I will post the official Walktober post on September 30 or October 1, and those of you participating can use that post for your pingbacks and/or to leave a link so I’ll know where to find your walk.  The more the merrier, so feel free to spread the word.

Lagoon reflections.
Lagoon reflections.

I think that’s about it from the beach and from the Wabi-Sabi Ranch for today.  Thank you for dropping by and joining me on another meander.  I don’t think we’ll see much of a sunset today, but if it looks like the clouds will clear out (as they often do around sunset), meet me at the Point.  Sunset is at 7:02 PM.

Meadow bouquet. (Or the goldenrod during a Sideshow Bob hair imitation.)
Meadow bouquet. (Or the goldenrod during a Sideshow Bob hair imitation.)

Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂

Meadow grasses.
Meadow grasses.

Today’s joys:  The coolness of an overcast day; potato and black bean burrito for lunch (leftovers from last night’s dinner); fresh spinach; dancing (and dusting, which was the original purpose of being there) in the living room; music to dance by.

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Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

24 thoughts on “Monday meander: Horseshoe crabs and other signs

    1. Thank you so much, Pauline. 🙂 I learned a lot about them today, too, just for this post. That’s one of the things I love about blogging. It forces me to research things before I go babbling on about them. It’s funny because I knew a little about the horseshoe crabs from living here and reading the occasional newspaper article about them, and when I was at the beach two weeks ago, a man was warning us that there were a lot of horseshoe crabs in the water. I told him that they won’t harm him, and then told him what little else I knew about them. There is a sandpiper called the Red Knot that winters in Tierra del Fuego during their summer months. They journey 9300 miles or so to eat the horseshoe crab eggs on the shores here. They eat like crazy and almost double their weight before moving on to the final leg of their journey to the arctic breeding grounds. The man looked surprised and asked, “How do you know all that?!!” I told him I live here and I’m curious, but that’s not the main reason. The main reason is that I blog about this stuff and it’s nice to know a little something about what I take pictures of.

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  1. What a wonderful post, and full of such amazing photos. I couldn’t even choose a favorite.
    It is cloudy here, too, now, but the weekend was beautiful.
    I’m glad you are feeling better and had such a lovely weekend. I did, too–seeing friends and family, enjoying our holiday meal, and attending a wine festival.
    Thank you for the reminder of the Walktober–I had forgotten. 🙂

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  2. Beautiful beach photos – so compelling, wish I was there. Interesting about the horseshoe crabs molting. I heard that their numbers are down, have you heard anything about that?
    You make me want to get in my car and drive to Assateague to see the monarch and bird migration!

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    1. Oh, you should, Eliza!! It’s so beautiful here right now. The birds are more visible now, too. I still haven’t seen any monarchs. I do hope they show up in good numbers this year.
      The horseshoe crab numbers were up this year, at least in our area. The population had been declining, but conservation efforts seem to be paying off. Numbers are down for New England and New York regions.

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  3. So much. So rich. Ahhhh, what a perfect time of year (You have fall colors – oddly the crepe myrtles are already changing despite the temps.) Been looking for those geese, ducks, and monarchs. Don’t think it will be too long for the early arrivals.
    Lovely pictures – surf and turf for real.

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    1. Thank you, Carol. 🙂 Unfortunately, the mosquitoes do go to the beach. It all depends on which way the wind is blowing. An offshore breeze keeps them away. An onshore breeze brings them. They were pretty bad at sunset on the day I took the beach photos in this post.

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  4. A walk on the beach is always soothing. Many thanks. I’ve always said that September is a dry month, and many times is drier than July & August – and that has happened in 2015. We could use rain as well. Then again, odds are that when I get it, the rain then moves your way. Sad to say, no rain is in the forecast.

    The signs of fall are creeping in … and soon the colors of the season will surround us. Thanks for the Walktober reminder. It may be tough for me to get it together this year, but I’ll try.

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    1. You’re welcome, Frank, and thank you. 🙂 We might have some rain sneak in this weekend via a low spinning around near North Carolina. It would be nice if we do because we sure could use it.

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  5. I have a picture of my mother on the beach when she was a little girl, holding up a horseshoe crab by the tail, already the naturalist. I also encountered a live one making its way down the beach on Cumberland Island in Georgia back in 2012. Fascinating ancient creatures…

    Love the “fall colors at the edge of the meadow” picture, that wisp of a moment between summer and autumn beautifully captured…

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    1. It didn’t work, Karma, but I know what you mean. The setting sunlight was shining on/through the shells when I took the photos, and since the shells from molting are almost translucent, it made them look almost gold.
      Thank you. 🙂

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Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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