September 22, 2013

Allen Afield: Sights and sounds of new season fall in


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So many plants in New England and the rest of the U.S. came from Eurasia, including many clovers, Queen Anne's lace, oxeye daisy (common daisy), dandelion, hawkweed, yarrow, Japanese knotweed, St. Johnswort, etc. Nearly 1,000 introduced plants have become naturalized in New England.

On my first day of bicycling the Rail Trail along the Kennebec River between Augusta and Gardiner, I noticed that most ground plants along the trail had come from Europe and Asia. In the 16th and 17th centuries, these plants first arrived in hay for livestock and from seed packets for gardens, and they escaped into the wild. We now accept them as natives.

Even honeybees and earthworms came from the Old World, and honeybees now reign as Maine's state insect – an introduced species! Settlers even mixed Old World red foxes with North American red foxes because they wanted a larger fox population to chase.

September is a grand month for studying Mother Nature. But astute observers notice cold weather stealing into Maine an inch at a time, and warm hikes and pleasant pedals won't last. Winter will soon be breathing down our proverbial necks.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:


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