Thursday, June 19, 2008


High: 62°F
Low: 50°F
Conditions: A stalled low pressure system brings more rain and possible thunderstorms today and through the weekend.
It’s been a week filled with cold rain here at caninaturalist headquarters. Daytime temps haven’t risen out of the 60s in over a week, and pervasive damp is making everyone a little cranky. Our usual animal visitors—the hummingbirds and phoebes, whitetail deer and red squirrels—have been scarce this week, which may be one reason Ari has been truncating her walks every day.
When she gets back home, she likes to curl up with her cat friends for warmth and empathy. When that doesn’t prove an effective panacea, Ari tries some of her old puppy tricks, like unmaking our bed.

As this picture indicates, even the exuberance of untucking blankets and sheets can’t really placate the caninaturalist on these dreary days. Frankly, I don’t blame her.

We're trying to find consolation in the fact that there is one group of organisms really benefiting from these conditions: our local plants. After a dry start to the summer, they can really use the rain.

Our favorite perennial enjoying the precipitation is the bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus). This gorgeous perennial grows on both coasts of North America, but it seems to favor the rugged landscape of upland forest and northern coasts. This time of year, it is blooming absolutely everywhere in Maine, and many a field are lit up with its rich colors.

It’s hard for a caninaturalist not to love a plant with a name like lupine (especially when she wears a collar by the same name). We’ve read a few different accounts of how this flower came by its moniker: one source says that it’s because the individual flowers look like dog teeth. Another says its because their silvery appearance glows in the moonlight (which may be why there is a werewolf named Lupin in Harry Potter). My favorite explanation, though, comes from a book called Wildflowers Worth Knowing by Neltje Blanchan. There, Blanchan writes:

Farmers once thought that this plant preyed upon the fertility of their soil, as we see in the derivation of its name, from lupus, a wolf; whereas the lupine contents itself with sterile waste land no one should grudge it--steep, gravelly banks, railroad tracks, [and] exposed sunny hills. . . . It spreads far and wide in thrifty colonies, reflecting the vivid color of June skies, until, as Thoreau says, "the earth is blued with it."

The lupine is another of those interesting plants which go to sleep at night. Some members of the genus erect one half of the leaf and droop the other half until it becomes a vertical instead of the horizontal star it is by day. Sun dial, a popular name for the wild lupine, has reference to this peculiarity. . . . "That the sleep movements
of leaves are in some manner of high importance to the plants which exhibit them," says Darwin, "few will dispute who have observed how complex they sometimes are."

Sleep—and drink—on, lupine. We’ll join you in the sunshine next week.


Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

Those are very pretty flowers! My mom's favorite is purple.


Kathiesbirds said...

Kathryn, tell Ari I empathize with her. The summer of 2003 I was living in Maine and the week of July 4th was so cold and gray that I actually had to turn the heat on! Ah, well, if she wants to escape the cold and gray, come on down to AZ where the sun is shining and we have temps 105 or better right now! BTW, I love lupine! Thanks for the pic!

Kodak the Eskie said...

Ari looks so comfy in those blankies. Hope you warm up soon. It finally just warmed up here in MN. Come visit our blog, we have passed on an award to you, Ari!

Hugs, Kodak

Eve said...

Kathryn, Now I'm going to have to go out next year, when my new lupines are in bloom, with a flash light and check out their night time habits!!! No need to read my next may go now....

Ari...are they putting the blame on you for not making their bed??? Who's a good are!!!!

Anonymous said...

It has been a terrific year for lupines, it must be the (mostly) cool weather.
I read somewhere that lupines are not native to Maine, although on MDI there are smaller native lupines. You've awoken my curiousity so I will have to do a little research, AND sneak out for a midnight look at the sleeping lupines.

Tracey and Huffle said...

I hope Ari is keeping warm in front of the fire!

Huffle Mawson, Honorary Husky and Explorer Cat

Dmitri said...

It's not so bad out there Ari! Those gray rainy days are what make the lupine grow so tall and lovely. You should get some for the sunny spots in your dooryard.

See you soon,

Ferndoggle said...

It's been pretty cool here too...mid 60s/low 70s. I don't think I've ever seen a lupine. They're gorgeous.


Booker the Treeing Walker said...

Those lupines are gorgeous! I would love to go sniffing in that field! When my Human Samantha was little, her favorite booker was "Miss Rumphius" ... the "Lupine Lady!" It's about a lady who plants them everywhere she goes!

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

Woo khall 'em lupine - I khall 'em pretty!

YES, like K(h)at, my mom's favourite kholour is purple -I wear three purple khollars - one is a WOLFPAKHK one !!

I do have to khwestion the napping too khlose to the enemy!!!

PeeEssWoo: Mom's spelling and such was in need of khorrekhtion - that's why we deleted and rekhommented1

Lorenza said...

I do the same with my mom's covers until they are comfy to sleep on them!
Those flowers are beautiful.
Kisses and hugs

Kapp pack said...

Ari looks very comfy! THe flowers are bewootiful!

Woo woo, KA

Holly said...

We have plenty of rain here, so if you need more, we'll send you some!

You look very comfy in the bed. Bed is one of my most favorite places!! It's VERY comfy!


kayla the sheltie said...

what beautiful flowers!! and what a beautiful doggie too!!

umekotyan said...

Good evening Ari.
Lupinus is a beautiful flower.
A purple flower is impressive.
The leaf is done and a lot.
A lot of flowers are seedy. :)

from loved ume tyan

The Daily Echo said...

Woo! For a minute there we thought you found a plant that grew collars and leashes! We hope your dreary weather moves away soon so you can enjoy your walks once again.

The Army of Four said...

Oh, those Lupine things are cool! How do they taste?
I'd love to have a kit-cat friend! I think they'd be tons of fun to hang out with.
Play bows,

Naturegirl said...

Ari I too am cranky and lying around mussing up my bed! Rain rain and more rain but the flowers are drinking it up and having a grand time!Lupines are one flower I want in my garden and those blue colors are just right for me! Loved reading this post and thank you for coming by my Peony Party! Ari I love your eyes and in this post I read them well...bored!!
Woof pat pat..NG Hello Kathryn!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying, "Hi". So it's cold in your part of the country. We just had a heat wave with temperatures ranging from 107 to 113 degrees.

I love lupines and I have tried to grow them here in California. Of course I don't have a green thumb.

Blue said...

He there!

I've always liked lupins, they're an old cottage garden flower here in the UK.
Sadly, the ones now mainly grown are a strain of Russell Lupins, much bigger & gaudy than the original wildier delicate variety. They originated when a gardener in Yorkshire, not a nurseryman or trained botanist, started selecting & re selecting the flowers growing on his vegitable plot.
But I remember seeing lots of the pretty wild ones in bloom last June when driving across on Vancouver Island.
Did you know an old thought is that they distroy the earths ferility because of they're connection with the wolf! Don't know where that comes from but found it in a flower book.

Best wishes, pats & pets

Franki V said...

We have a lupine patch on the boulevard about six blocks from our house. Tomorrow night I will take the camera and sneak up on those sleeping lupines and snap a photo.:-)
Our weather has been cool and cloudy too. We are not complaining by any means!

Maverick the Pirate said...

Harrrrr Ari
looks like you have cabbin fever Harrrrr I hope everyting gets back to order soon Harrrr.
Cap'n Maverick the Pirate

Gus and Louie said...

Those are really beautiful flowers. In Texas in the Spring we have the Blue Bonnets. They grow along roadways and they are protected but they have almost the same color..
Mom took a picture of a strange bird at the lake and she was wondering if you could identify it for her.. It isn't a very good picture so she didn't want to post it. She is kind of annal that way. Can she email it to you? It has like a purple head and orange legs..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus and Louie

Gary,Charity,Katie&Louis said...

Poor Ari! I hope the rain lets up soon so she can fully enjoy her walks. I know the rain is important, but she looks like she could really use a break from it.

xoxo from her Newfie pals, Katie and Louis

Sandpiper said...

Lupines are among my favorite flowers. Ari looks so comfortable there. :) Sweet!

Rhea said...

Gorgeous Lupine flowers!! I think it's hilarious Ari unmakes the bed. hehe

Our Annie seems to want to jump on the bed while I'm making it up with clean sheets. Every time...

Twinville said...

Poor Ari looks so glum :(

But those lupines are quite gorgeous. I love purple flowers.