Turtles, mushrooms, clematis, cicadas, vanishing blacksmiths

September 11, 2020

I now pause this programming - and attention to COVID-19 - for station identification. You are reading the Cape Gazette. Thank you.

There’s nothing I like better than writing about nature and wildlife. Whenever I’m feeling a little low, I know two things are going on: One, I’m tired. Two, I need to go on a long walk outside. There’s a saying taped to the back of one of the books on my desk. “For an unhappy but otherwise healthy person, there’s no greater medicine than a five-mile walk.” 

I’m a believer.

Anyone who reads this column fairly regularly also knows I love getting contributions from Cape Gazette readers. Debbie Simms sent me several photos recently of a cicada emerging from its shell. Talk about a transformer!

Of course they’re screaming their heads off during these hot and humid days. Becky had her hearing aids tweaked recently. “Do you hear those cicadas? I never realized how loud they are.”  

As I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, the buzzing of the cicadas outside is unceasingly constant. It's like they're competing for the loudest and longest songs.

Wild clematis

Among the sure signs that it’s time for the kids to go back to school are the white and heavy-scented blankets of wild clematis climbing all over trees and bushes.

Cerchio, balloons and turtles

Mike Cerchio, a schoolteacher and veteran head boat captain for the Parsons family Fisherman’s Wharf fleet, dropped me a line back in June. “Not one for drama, but in a three-day period we pulled 20-plus balloons from the water. Can you do a public service announcement? I can only stop the boat so many times, and there are only so many turtles.”

When people let their balloons go, they sail off into the sky, usually blown eastward by our predominantly westerly winds. When they finally run out of helium, they drop into the ocean where they can be ingested by sea turtles that mistake them for one of their favorite foods: jellyfish.

So, give the turtles and the environment a break, and do what you can to keep balloons out of the ocean.

A few days after Mike’s note, he sent another saying he had just passed a large dead turtle floating near the outer wall in the mouth of Delaware Bay.

Amazing mushroom strength

Another local teacher, Nick Foery, sent me a photo of a mushroom that had grown up beneath, and lifted several inches, a concrete spillway beneath one of the downspouts at his Mill Pond Acres home. It amazed him that a growing mushroom could have that much strength. Me too.

It’s definitely mushroom season. Keep an eye out for fairy rings made from circles of toadstools.

Goodbye to John and Hope

The Lewes blacksmith and his wife, Hope, have sold their corner lot in downtown Lewes at the corner of Third and Chestnut where John’s Preservation Forge has been a clanging landmark for three decades. Now John is dismantling the shop and forge and popular gathering place, and hauling truckloads each day to where he will next set up shop. He doesn’t even have two weeks to finish that daunting task before turning the keys over to the new owners.

He and Hope are moving to a more pastoral existence on the banks of the Marshyhope Creek – a tributary of the Nanticoke River – near Hurlock in Maryland.

Their historic, 18th-century house on the lot next to Preservation Forge is still for sale. ‘We don’t have to get out of there yet. All of my focus is on the shop.”  

So, what’s coming to that prominent downtown Lewes location? John said a Maryland couple bought the property and he has no idea what their plans may be. He said they don’t plan to demolish the building John designed and built many years ago. “That’s for now,” he said. “But who knows what they may decide to do later?”

I join many others in wishing Hope and John great happiness in their next adventure.         

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