Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Thursday, December 31, 2009


I heard on the radio today that a blue moon is actually the third of four full moons in a season, not the second in a month - which would mean that tonight's moon is not a blue moon, since winter just started.  It is all just words that we put on universal events that would happen with or without our names, so it is really rather arbitrary.  I still like full moons - kind of neat to be able to see at night, isn't it?  But it's cloudy here, so I can't see the moon now.  Even so, it is brighter outside than one would expect.

And tomorrow is a new year - for people; I don't suppose the critters out in the woods will notice much difference between today and tomorrow, and they certainly don't have to remember to write 2010 instead of 2009!

Best wishes for fun adventures and happy learning in the coming months...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

in between

I just came in from a lovely walk - after sunset, but before dark.  The light at that time of day is wonderful - not for photography, but just for looking.  Everyday things look different, somehow.  Today has been very cold, so it was also very quiet - I didn't hear any songbirds, but just before I turned back into my own yard, I heard a great horned owl calling.  Before long, these wonderful birds will be nesting - yes, in the winter.  How and why they do it that way is a mystery to me, but it seems to work for them.
And there is another wonderful moon rising out there also.  And tomorrow's full moon is a blue moon - the second full moon in a calendar month. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Today it is cold and windy - about 15ºF and feeling colder with the windchill.  At least it is sunny.  A good day to spend more than usual time indoors.  My brother asked about the word "midden" that I used a few posts ago - was I thinking "mitten" and being silly, or just getting bad at spelling?
No, I told him, a midden is a real thing - it is a trash heap.  In my line of work, we refer to a midden as a pile of nutshells or pinecone bracts (scales) and spines left under a tree or on a rock - or on a bridge rail, as in the accompanying photo.

If you look up midden in Wikipedia, it will tell you that a midden is human trash - often shells, since they take a long time to disintegrate - and that an animal midden is food storage.  We call food storage a cache, where I work.  So maybe I am using midden in a colloquial way, but there it is.

And just because it is pretty, here is a frost covered goldenrod stalk I found in the round meadow yesterday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

more skiing

I had another lovely ski today, and saw many deer tracks and mouse tracks.  While the snow we had a few days ago has settled considerably, there are more animal signs to see since it hasn't snowed more, or melted.

I also realized that many people may wonder about those "fisher tracks" under the blog title.  A fisher is sometimes called a fisher cat, but it is not a cat at all, and doesn't even look like one, to me, though small fishers are roughly the size of a large house cat.  Fishers are in the weasel family.  They have the reputation for being fierce and nasty, which isn't surprising, since they are one step down from wolverines.  We see fishers in our yard occasionally, and see their tracks frequently.  The first time I saw one, which turned into a pair, several years ago now, I called our local wildlife office (this was in the days before anything you ever wanted to know was available on the internet).  The person I spoke with told me that they are moving back into this area as the second growth forest is getting older and denser, in spite of continued development.  Two centuries ago they were fairly common around here, and left as more and more land was transformed into field and pasture.  Fishers like moderate to deep forests, where they can hide - they don't much like people.  And they don't generally prey on cats and small dogs either, though they would take one if the catching was easy.  Their favorite food, according to the wildlife guy I spoke to, is gray squirrels - and we have plenty of those!  Another interesting thing I remember learning about fishers is that they are diurnal in the winter and nocturnal in the summer.

A great book to learn more about fishers, and other animals as well, is the Stokes Guide to Animal Tracking and Behavior by Donald and Lillian Stokes.  In fact, most of their books are good - I also have the Reptiles & Amphibians one.  I'm amassing quite a collection of field guides, which is fun because I love books, and each guide has different information about whatever subject it covers.  And more information is always good!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Yesterday, we had our first real snowstorm of the winter.  It started late Saturday night, or maybe very early Sunday, and we woke up to 5" or so of fresh white fluff.  I got to go cross-country skiing three times!  First, I took the dog, then my husband and I went on our town bike path after we dropped our son off to play snow football, and later on I went with my daughter behind our house on the trails there.  All very different adventures - it was still "blizzarding" when I went early, with the dog.  It was that sort of weather where colors disappear into grey and white.  By the time I went with my husband in the early afternoon, it was still snowing, but lightly.  It had stopped snowing by the time my daughter and I headed out, but still looked just beautiful.  We ended up with about a foot of snow, and it is the light, easy-to-shovel kind - I love it.

birdhouse with snow hat


junco tracks


Now that the winter solstice is upon us, we will start to see more daylight. For this, I am grateful.  These dark days at the end of autumn sometimes get me down - it's too hard to be outside!  As I woke up in the dark this morning, the thought that now the days will get longer cheered me up greatly.  I love winter - the snow and the cold, the footprints and middens, the bright blue sky by day and gleaming stars at night - but I like my sunshine also, or at least daylight.  And now we are on the way.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

winter morning

Years ago, before my daughter was born, I was always the one who took the dog for a walk.  We had a different dog then, too.  Then, after the kids were born, it was easier if my husband took the dog, and I dealt with the children.  And that has remained our general pattern, at least on weekdays, ever since.  But yesterday my husband wanted to head out early, but not get up extra early to take the dog, and Wednesday mornings are a little more relaxed because my daughter has a delayed start at school.  SO I got to take the dog at 6am.  These days, I'm almost never outside that early (unless it is to take out the trash or bring in the paper), so it was a real treat to take the dog for a walk.  It was still pretty dark - just getting light in the east - and I could see some of the stars.   Of course it was mostly too early for birds, and too dark to see tracks or other signs, but still exhilarating to be out.  Mostly I sleep late on the days that I can, so I don't get out so early, but maybe I should try it more often - it really is a lovely time to be out, just when most of the world is waking up.

Monday, December 14, 2009

winter sights

Just a couple of images from yesterday's walk.

pretty ice on an intermittent stream near my house

deer track next to human track

Maybe next time I'll try looking up!

Friday, December 11, 2009


So winter is here now, calendar or no.  The temps never even got up to 30ºF today.  But this was the first really chilly day we've had since last winter, so I can't complain, and most of the day was beautifully sunny, which is always nice at this time of year when the days are so short.

Here are some interesting icicles in a new little waterfall in my stream.

And here is one of my birdhouses - somebody obviously thought the doorway was too small.  I hope it is cozy in there now.

Monday, December 7, 2009

chrysalis vs. cocoon

So my daughter was doing her homework, making a vocabulary list that included the word chrysalis, which her teacher defined as belonging to either a butterfly or a moth.  I had always understood that butterflies make chrysalides and moths make cocoons, so I started to do some research.  It's tricky to get basic information, it turns out, and I looked at several websites including some other nature bloggers' pages. 
What I determined was this:  A butterfly has a chrysalis and a moth may have a cocoon.  Some other insects may also make cocoons.  The chrysalis is not made by the butterfly, per se - it is the "skin" that the creature has while the pupal stage is developing.  When the last larval instar sheds, the creature becomes a chrysalis while it pupates.  A cocoon, on the other hand, is created (not grown) by the moth larva to keep itself safe while it pupates.  It is spun with silk, and occasionally incorporates other materials into the casing.  So the chrysalis grows, and the cocoon is built.  I think - if you know otherwise, or more, please let me know!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


So we've now had our first real snow of the year.  Those bits back in October don't really count, because it was too early and didn't seem real and didn't stay long.  This is honest, cold, need-to-shovel white stuff.
It was quite cold earlier, but now the sun is up high and temps are in the mid-30's, so clumps of snow are falling.  All this in a bright winter sun - just beautiful.  Here are some pictures I took this morning on two separate walks.

         Sunrise, Moonset

reverse silhouette


barberries in snow

(Japanese barberry is an alien invasive, but these berries look pretty in the snow, don't they?  Winterberry is a native alternative for red winter berries.)

 white pine needles

Thursday, December 3, 2009

sunny day

Given the date, I would have planned on a chilly day, but my thermometer read 70ºF at one point today!  We had tons of rain last night, about an inch, according to NOAA.  All that water made my stream and tiny pond into a mini raging river.  But by 9am the sun was shining, and what a wind was blowing!  I was surprised to see only one downed tree on my walk this afternoon.  It was an old, dead one that broke into several parts when it fell - it won't block the path for long.
Here's a pic of my itsy bitsy waterfall.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


It's a full moon out there tonight. I'd love to post a picture, but am not capable of such feats of photography, unfortunately, because I wish you could see what I've been watching this evening. The moon rises behind my house, in the east, naturally, and must climb through many trees before it reaches clear skies above the woods. Watching that bright disc - yes, I know it's really an orb, but it looks like a disc to my puny little eyes here - is quite entrancing. I had this Cat Stevens story in book form when I was a kid, and thought of it this evening...

Sunday, November 29, 2009


We've had some rain this week, quite a bit actually, and now some beautiful, not-too-chilly sunshine.

My desk overlooks our yard and one of the birdfeeders, so I am accustomed to seeing birds through the window, but usually songbirds. Today, a big red-tail hawk was in a tree just at the edge of the yard. She (I'm guessing - it was quite a big bird) sat there for a while, then flew to another tree nearby. My husband and I went out with our cameras (his has a good telephoto lens, but takes film images) and both of us were able to get quite close to the bird. She clearly wasn't threatened by our presence. I see them flying around here quite often, and hear them frequently, but only rarely see them in my yard, so this was a real treat.

Monday, November 23, 2009


black-capped chickadee

tufted titmouse

kinglet (golden-crowned?)

I filled all my feeders this morning. I know it isn't quite Thanksgiving, but it is a chilly, gray morning, and I had the time. And now all sorts of birds are flying around. Above are a few images. (I know they aren't very good, but I'm still learning photography, and I need a camera with a better telephoto lens.) Anyway - the kinglet is interesting because I don't think I've ever seen one before. I know they are around, but when I first saw this one I was afraid there was a hummingbird that hadn't gotten away before the cold weather hit. I think this was a golden-crowned kinglet, but I couldn't get a good look, and by the time I had my binoculars, it had disappeared, so it might have been a ruby-crowned kinglet, although that is less likely, given their usual territories and habits. As always, I'm thrilled to have seen something new!

Friday, November 20, 2009

more hawks

Two hawks were riding thermals today above the center of town as I was stopped at a stoplight. They turned and circled and swayed and swooped - beautiful aerial dancers. Their movement was so fluid and perfectly timed, it was wonderful to watch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I was out with a class of 2nd graders today at the sanctuary where I teach, and we saw a hawk fly through the trees and land fairly close to where we were. Children of that age cannot stay quiet, at least in groups, for long, but this bird did not seem to mind. I think its thoughts were on the next meal, and we were neither good for a meal nor causing it distress, so it pretty much ignored us. I am thinking it was probably a juvenile Cooper's hawk, though it could have been a sharp-shinned hawk. There is a significant amount of difficulty in distinguishing between the two, even for experienced birders, which I am not. Birds seldom sit just so in perfect light and turn slowly so you can get a good look at them from all sides, nor will they fly slowly so you can see their flight forms and patterns. As well, I was teaching, so I could not spend as much time as I otherwise might have to study field marks. And of course I did not have my camera - though in other circumstances I could have used it had I had it with me - the bird stayed perched for quite a long time, even after our group had moved on. The kids certainly seemed interested in looking at the bird, and maybe my excitement at seeing it rubbed off on one or two of them, and he or she (or they) will keep looking for more birds.

Monday, November 16, 2009

amusing observation

I was out walking this afternoon, and noticed that my dog is pretty much the same color as the fallen brown pine needles, while his nose - gray now, since he's on in years - is the same color as the sap-covered pine cones on the ground. His belly is light, but the black that is left on his ears is similar to pine bark after a rainstorm. My pine tree dog!

And just for parity, here is our cat, at one of her birdwatching posts. She's an indoor cat. She doesn't seem to want to go out, and anyway, we lost our previous cat to a coyote.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I put my birdfeeders out on Friday. Sometimes I wait until Thanksgiving, or do it on the occasion of the first snow, but we got our first snow was WAY too early this year, and I got impatient waiting for Thanksgiving. Friday was chilly and rainy, and there were lots of birds around, so I filled two of my feeders. The birds came right away, and already I've had all my regulars - chickadees, titmice, goldfinches, nuthatches, blue jays, cardinals. And also this morning, several white-throated sparrows. There are still quite a few berries around, and even some insects, but I like to see the birds flitting around.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Summer is pretty green around here, not like California, where summer is brown. Winter is our brown time, but there are plenty of greens around in the winter here. Think of pine, spruce, hemlock, cedar and other "evergreen" trees. Also rhododendrons and their relatives, and holly.
But those are all big plants. Some of the most charming are the little ground covers.
I really like old-fashioned wintergreen. It is cute, and it smells nice, and it spreads. The dark green leaves and bright red berries are so cheerful. The woods behind my house has the traditional wintergreen, but there is also the spotted wintergreen, which is actually striped (and sometimes called striped wintergreen). I also have vinca, or periwinkle, around my house, and partridgeberry. These are both groundcovers as well, and the partridgeberry even has a postal stamp!

Here are some photos of my local flora...

Chimaphila maculata spotted wintergreen

Gaultheria procumbens wintergreen

with berries

Mitchella repens partridgeberry (left) and Vinca minor periwinkle

Monday, November 9, 2009

spring already?

Today started at 30ºF, but soon warmed up to 70ºF or thereabouts. So very nice for November! I'm reminded now that it is fall, as the sun has just about left my bottom-of-the-hill home. Still, the forecast is for nice days all week.

Here's a picture of my yard, showing that it is indeed fall, in spite of today's weather.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

green leaves

Most of the leaves are down around here now, except for some of the oaks, and the beeches of course, which keep their brown leaves on until spring. But I noticed a large shrub today that is still green. It's not a rhododendron or another evergreen, it is a pussy willow. A quick internet search gives me no information as to when they generally drop their leaves, but I'll have to keep an eye on this. Always something new!

Friday, October 30, 2009

red berries

Here are some pics of bright red fall berries.

winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

The winterberry is a plant I keep trying to get into my yard. I've got some on the edge of my yard, and I often scatter berries in other places, hoping they will spread. Winterberries need more than one bush to produce berries, because some bushes produce male flowers and some bushes produce female flowers. They are in the Ilex family, as is holly, which also must grow in pairs or groups to have berries.

spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

The spicebush berries don't cover their leafless shrubs the way winterberries do, but they are just as bright if you find them. This is a plant that I had never heard of until five or six years ago. At that time I was doing some research into wetland restoration, and I discovered that I have spicebush all over my property. It is a lovely plant, in all seasons. It blooms early, smells nice, has pretty leaves that turn yellow in the fall, and the trunks and twigs are interestingly shaped, so it is nice to look at in the wintertime.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

which season?

So I am pretty well convinced that it is fall. There are leaves coming down all over the place, especially in yesterday's wet, windy weather. It gets cooler each day. The days are getting shorter - or at least, the amount of daylight in each day is decreasing.
But look at this!

This is a skunk cabbage! And I took this picture less than an hour ago!
I thought skunk cabbage was a SPRING plant. I'm not sure exactly what this means, but I am very surprised and curious. It has not been a particularly warm fall. I don't think that the flies that act as pollinators for skunk cabbage are still around. I found three of these today, the first by accident as I was inspecting the edge of my stream, and the subsequent two when I searched for more. Will they last in this stage through the winter? Are they mutants? Is it the result of climate change? It will be interesting to watch...

Monday, October 26, 2009


Lots of times I walk in the woods and don't see any animals. Sometimes I hear birds, but don't see them hidden in the leaves. Yet I always know they have been there, and sometimes I can tell how recently - or at least if it was recently or quite some time ago.
Here are some images of evidence of creatures besides myself and my dog.

a small tunnel entrance (mouse? vole?)

scat (deer)

a clawed log (skunk?)

a stripped pine cone (red squirrel)

chewed acorns (chipmunk?)

tree holes (woodpecker)

I don't always, or even often, know who exactly has been there, but I love knowing that there is a whole web of lives going on around me, even if I can't see all the actors. It is thrilling to me to know the little that I do, and to be allowed in as far as I am.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

indian summer

It was warm, warm, warm today - just lovely. And lots of leaves came down in the breeze. Tomorrow is supposed to be cold again...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Do you know how many kinds of Euonymus plants there are? I didn't - I still don't - but there are lots. It can be a shrub, a bush, a tree, a creeping vine.... In English is can be known as wintercreeper, spindle-tree, burning bush, and other names as well.
I already knew about the burning bush, E. alatus, also called winged euonymus, because it is an invasive and there is tons of it around my house.
The wintercreeper I also knew was a euonymus, E. fortunei, and I learned that it has become invasive in some areas.
What I recently learned is this: The spindle tree can be one of several forms of the tree. (At least I think so. There is a fair bit of information online, but sometimes it is hard to parse.) There is a native tree in this area, Euonymus atropurpureus, sometimes call eastern wahoo. There is an Asian type of the tree called E. bungeanus, also called winterberry euonymus. And there is the European euonymus, aptly named E. europaeus. They are similar in looks, size and fruit.
Whatever variety you may come across - don't eat the berries. It appears that at one time they were used for medicinal purposes, but there are other, safer medicines available today.
And in case you want to know more, the euonymus are in the plant family celastraceae, which includes japanese bittersweet, another greedy invasive in these parts.
There's ALWAYS more to learn...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

fall afternoon

More lovely light this afternoon. Perhaps that is why fall is often my favorite season - the light and the colors are so inspiring. It got warm again today - temps in the 60s - which was quite nice after last week's cold spell.

Here's a blossom from the witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) I wrote about recently, and a pic of an entire shrub (and my daughter).

Monday, October 19, 2009


Just a quick post about some cool bugs. The sun came out and it was a gorgeous day - most of the snow melted, except in some always-shady spots - but it never got warm; temps in the 50s. As the sun was setting (early at my house, down in the hollow, surrounded by trees as I am), I saw these little bugs that looked like fluff - maybe they were some sort of flies. They were moving up and down in the air, in a fairly large group. It looked like they were bouncing, except that they were really flying. It was pretty neat.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

almost winter?

So this morning's rain turned to snow! That's twice now, and it's still October...
But I did notice, on my afternoon walk, that the witch hazel in the woods behind my house is blooming. There are two kinds of witch hazel - one that blooms late in the fall, and one that blooms early in the spring, late winter, really. So depending on the variety, witch hazel blooms last of the season, or first, but either way, it is fun to see blooms when few are around. The bushes that grow wild behind my house are the fall blooming type, Hamamelis virginiana, while the one I planted in my yard is the February blooming type, Hamamelis vernalis. To me they look quite similar, and I can't tell them apart, except when they are blooming.
As well as being an interesting plant, witch hazel is medicinal - I have a bottle in my medicine cupboard. It is good for bug bites, small cuts and other such ailments that benefit from an astringent. It has been used for centuries, and is still good today, as evidenced by this Boston Globe article.
And it is supposed to warm up as the week progresses, so I don't think the snow will stick around.

bright spot

It's a rainy, chilly day here today, but here is a bright leaf to cheer things up.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

morning light

The weather forecast for today was pretty miserable, rainy and cold. It is cold, but so far no rain, and a fair bit of sun. I had a lovely morning walk as the sun was coming up - about 7:30, since it is the middle of October. I love getting to sleep in AND see the sunrise in the same morning.
In the round meadow, I found an American Elm that I had never noticed before. I think the sunlight was hitting it just right, so as to catch my eye. The story of the American Elm is a sad one, as so many trees have died as a result of a fungal infection. Perhaps someday we will again see such great trees as lined many of our streets in the past. In the meantime, here is a photo of the one in my nearby meadow. It is good to know that some are still around.

Friday, October 16, 2009

later on

So the rain stopped, but the temps stayed low today - maybe a high of 40, 45 in the bits of sun that made it through. We seem to be having a yellow fall. Some of the swamp maples (red maples) are red, but the bulk of the color this year is yellow - quite pretty. I had some nice photos of yellow sassafras and oak leaves, but zapped them somehow, getting them off the camera - I'll have to take some more tomorrow.

weather report

It has turned to rain, but it was snowing just a little while ago! I do like a nice snowfall, but this is a little early for my taste!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Fall is definitely here now. There was frost in my yard this morning, and we get it late in the season, because we are protected by many, many trees. Busy days these - chipmunks are scurrying around the stone wall, collecting goodies to store up for when the snow buries the ground; I saw a red squirrel with a pine cone almost as long as itself the other day, and it was climbing and jumping from tree to tree, stopping occasionally to pull off a few bracts and eat the seeds hidden inside. The berries seem to be gone from my dogwood tree, and I've seen flocks of birds on grasses and other seed plants. Soon it will be time to get out my feeders and start filling them with the black oil sunflower seeds that bring so many winter birds to my yard. I usually wait until the first snow, or Thanksgiving, whichever comes earlier.

Mouse tunnels in the grass - can you see them?

A cool millipede I found in the yard.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I couldn't take a photo of this, so I'll try to describe it. The tops of the trees are changing color these days, and various plants throughout the forest change at different rates. Today as I was walking there was a yellow skim about 18" above the forest floor. Ferns (I didn't bother to check on what species - I was too entranced by the overall visual image) are turning yellow, and they are all about the same height, with few other plants at the same level. So we ended up with a broken film of yellow ferns at about knee height. It struck me as similar to a thin film of ice on a pond, late on a winter morning when it has begun to break up into smaller pieces in the sunshine - the ice is lighter (due to reflection) than the surrounding water. Make any sense? Well, it was beautiful.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

so cool!

I just saw the coolest thing! I'm sitting here at my computer, which has a window looking over a deck and the yard behind it. A moth fluttered by the window, and immediately afterward a blue jay landed on the deck railing. THEN the moth flew back over the blue jay, which took off, caught the moth in mid-air, and flew off to land in a tree. And then presumably ate the poor moth. Nature at its best.

A quick update on the sassafras - so far it looks good. Today is rainy, which will help it adjust.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Today I dug up a little sassafras plant from the woods behind my house, and transplanted it to my yard. I've wanted one for a long time, but they are notoriously hard to transplant. This particular plant looks sturdy, and was right on the edge of the trail, where it might get damaged, so I figured I'd give it a chance at my house. We'll see if it takes. Sassafras is a cool plant. It has a variety of leaves - it is sometimes called the "gloves and mittens plant", and besides, the name is really cool. Say it like it's a curse word - it really lets out stress! (Kind of makes me think of Yosemite Sam and "sufferin' succotash!")

Saturday, September 26, 2009

it's really fall

Frost this morning! Not at my house, which is protected by many trees, but up the hill, on the power lines and in the open meadow, there was a lovely autumnal frost - just a nip, and a reminder that the seasons progress.

And I saw a new bird - for me. A blue-headed vireo. I gather from reading that they are fairly common around here, but this was my first exposure. Just goes to show that you can always learn something new. It's a pretty little bird, from the glimpse I could get - it was way up high in some oaks.

I've mentioned that there are lots of acorns this year - well, even the Boston Globe thought it was front page news! Check it out at Boston dot com. Here's my pic of some local acorns.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

poison ivy

Okay, so I kind of like poison ivy. I don't mean that I like the rash I get when I rub up against the plant, but you've got to admire a plant that is so adaptable and sturdy. Besides, birds apparently like the berries. I've yet to see berries on a p.i. plant, maybe because the birds eat them so quickly.

There are all sorts of horror stories about poison ivy. My uncle who was burning brush and didn't realize that there were p.i. branches in the pile because it was winter and all the leaves were off - he breathed in the smoke and the urushiol can be carried that way - nasty! Or my neighbor who didn't realize that poison ivy could climb, and spent a day pulling vines off a tree at his house - itcho! Or my friend's son, who had a systemic reaction (that means he got a rash all over his whole body) while on a vacation trip - no fun!

And then there are the lucky few who are not allergic to the oil. I remember my grandfather's brother clearing out a ditch full of poison ivy. He was wearing long sleeves and gloves, but he was right in the middle of it all, and had no adverse reaction.

I have a sensitivity to the plant, but not a strong one. As long as I am properly covered and careful, I usually only end up with one small itchy spot, or perhaps two, in the course of a summer. A good thing, because my yard seems to have loads of poison ivy. I spray when it springs up near heavy-traffic areas, but there is more than I can even hope to control. It's just part of living in southern New England.

Here are some photos. Can you pick out the virginia creeper, and semi-lookalike cousin of poison ivy?

Remember, poison ivy has many "disguises" - the leaves may be shiny or dull, smooth or serrated, various shades of green or red, and the plant may be climbing or shrubby or trailing, but it always has three leaflets (a leaflet is a part of a compound leaf).
"Leaflets three, let it be!"