By Terry Golson

Here in southern Maine, we have both invasive and native species of thistles. Pollinators love all of them, but not farmers. They render pastures and hay fields useless. Goats are one of the few animals to eat thistles, and even for them it’s a plant of last resort.


Thank you to Louise, who suggested the name Thistle for Hattie’s baby. It’s quite appropriate for a porcupine, a creature that is persistent in its residency, despite attempts to uproot it, and attractive despite its spikes.


Even porcupines don’t eat thistles. They do, though, love clover. Knowing this, last year I planted red clover in an area disturbed by construction. Hattie grazes here almost every night. She’s not in this photo, but you can see her favored dining area.


It’s full-on late summer here. Maple trees are already changing color! (Which is a bit unsettling as it seems too early for that.) The goldenrod is in bloom. There’s a background chorus of brrrs, chirps and whines from insects. We’re also hearing the strange call of a great horned owlet insisting that it’s hungry (the parents feed it long after it’s fledged.)


It’s mushroom season. My dog is little, but still, this fungus is as big as he is!


I do love the colors of this time of year and the textures in the field, but I’m not looking forward to winter. I could use another couple of months of summer.


I could, however, do without the muggy, steamy days that we’ve been having. An occasional one in Maine is not unheard of, but a string of them just isn’t right! Tonka still needs to move, and I need horse time for my mental health. The heat index for the next three days will be above 100 F. Tonka will likely spend these sweltering days in the shade of his stall, but he still needs to move, and I need horse-time for my mental health, so I’ll be hand-walking. Or maybe get on bareback (we did this last week and Tonka rather liked the relaxed walk – I’m not the sort of rider who gallops around bareback!) We’ll be indoors because when it’s humid and hot, the deer flies and mosquitos are unbearable.


There. I’ve done my complaining. I look forward to summer and am sad when it goes, but really, it’s not my favorite time of year. Here in Maine, though, the chill returns quickly. We’ve got a trail ride planned for Monday when the temperature dips down to the 70s. Soon enough it’ll be sweater weather. Thistle and Hattie will be feasting on acorns. Tonka will be growing in his winter coat. Sweater weather. My favorite. Then, soon enough, I’ll be complaining about ice and snow underfoot.

What’s the weather like where you are? I know that for many of you out west my grumblings about humidity are piddling compared to the furnace and smokey air that you’re dealing with. My thoughts are with you. Tell me how you’re doing!

18 thoughts on “Thistle

  • Louise

    I’m glad you like the name Thistle! I’m also in Maine this summer, visiting on our boat. I see the high heat warnings for inland, but today it is chilly and foggy along the coast. We’re hunkered down and cozy on board and have pulled out our knee socks and sweaters 🙂

    • Terry Golson Post author

      Exactly why people visit coastal Maine in the summer. I love the rocky coast far more than the few sand beaches that we have. Love the cold ocean.The breeze. Even when the weather is bad, it’s a fine place to be. I’m a bit inland, but our forests temper the heat. Just wish the mosquitoes didn’t like it as much as we do 🙂 Enjoy your time here!

  • Sara Russell

    I love to see your photos and hear about your home and surrounding area. It seems to be very peaceful! Of course, my favorite area of interest is Tonka and what he is doing. It is like icing on the cake to hear about everything else.The scenery is so beautiful and so different from where I am. I live in central FL, near Tampa, and we are hot for months on end. It usually does not start getting cooler here until the end of October, and then it is usually in the seventies instead of nineties. We usually have summer thunderstorms in the late afternoons. My horses are about 45 min away, but in a wonderful barn with my dear friends

  • Michelle McMillen

    If it has to be hot (we’re in another heat wave, too), then at least spare me a sauna. You have every right to complain if you have humidity on top of the heat. We are so dry I doubt I’ll ever see another fungus!!! Headed out to ride Stella before it heats up beyond the 80s.

  • Jane in Hawaii

    I grew up in Hawaii and we had those purple thistles in the pastures. My horse used to eat the flower buds off the tops…

  • chickencarol

    I love the name Thistle and think it really suits a porcupine. Lovely to see little Scooter too and of course Tonker always looks beautiful. Here in the UK we have not had much of a summer this year. A dry spring then lots of summer rain and only short bursts of sun. Summer is slipping away with so little sun but then I read about the floods and the fires elsewhere and know that I shouldn’t complain. But there again, we British, are famed for talking/complaining about our weather and yet compared to you we have it easy!

  • Gin

    We have had a very hot, humid summer. Actually typical for here, the last few years we have had it easy. We have had haze from some of the wildfires this year also, I had a light coating of ash on my car one morning. My heart goes out to those near the fires.
    Horses are mostly hanging out in the loafing shed away from the big horsefiles that are coming out now. Heat doesn’t bother me near as much as the cold. I dread winter more every year.
    Thistle is a good name for the porcupette. It’s mother is kind of frazzled looking in your previous post about them. Cute.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      I agree that Hattie looks frazzled when around Thistle. On her own, she takes her time, eating methodically. When with Thistle she’s not as at ease. I don’t know if it’s because she’s being a protective mom or because porcupines would rather be by themselves. The company of another, even a child, isn’t welcome.

  • Shaste

    We’re having daytime highs around 100 in Olympia WA which is way too hot for my taste. It’s been a terribly dry summer, haven’t had rain for two months. Everything is dusty and crunchy. Very much looking forward to (hopefully) rain this fall!

    We have those big purple thistles too. My old Arab would eat the flower tops off. Since he passed they have been rather spreading.. no natural predator to keep them in check

    • Terry Golson Post author

      You’re the second reader that had a horse who ate thistle tops. Horses do have lips capable of taking just the flower. I bet they’re delicious.

  • Nina Iannatuono

    Heat index of 110F forecast for Thursday in Maryland hunt country! Good day to hide in the barn with a big fan on!

  • Judy Throm

    Hi Terry,
    Thistle looks like he belongs in one of the old Thornton Burgess children’s book illustrated by Harrison Cady, and Scooter’s mushroom looks like an elfin birdbath! I love reading about the adventures of Tonka, Terry and Steve,
    Weather here in Washington DC is mostly poohey – hot and humid with ferocious rain storms between 3pm and 9pm! Fifty+ years ago when I moved here from Kansas, I said “at least I won’t have to worry about tornados” -boy was I wrong about that!

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