Winter Project? Tuesday, Oct 28 2014 

There is enough left, plus a picture or two, that reconstructing this bench which once looked out over the pond is possible. I don’t think we will rebuild the planters, however. Nor will we attempt to replant the hyacinth garden, though it must have been quite elegant in a Victorian fashion: too shady for one thing, leaving aside the practical problems!

Here is Morris Smith, circa 1885, looking east:


Looking up at the remains of the bench today: the triangular shape mid-ground, right.


Wondrous works Monday, Oct 27 2014 

‘Will you cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation?’

This was the text of a resolution passed by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut on Saturday as a proposed sixth baptismal question (it now has to be run through the General Convention twice before being officially adopted, so 2018 at the earliest). As a lay delegate to the convention, this resolution was one of several that I had a particular interest in.

Those of you who know me, know that I have very little patience with the ‘green’ movement. And when this question was posed last year, it had serious problems with obvious political overtones: ‘trigger words’ and very little Scriptural grounding. A year later, and the kinks were worked out. It now reflects the fundamental truth which has been so often warped: the universe is wondrous and we are part of it.

So what does this have to do with this blog? Well today, I spent time working on the annual cutting of unwanted brush up on the house lot, Holly spent time working in the garden, and Jamie spent time cutting the trees in the Spring Lot that I had marked for removal.

The thing is, the ongoing thinning of the Spring Lot, which will eventually result in a towering* grove of Maple, Oak, Beech, Black Birch, and Ash is a long running project. Its final glory won’t be evident for about a century or so. But in a century or so, God willing, someone will have a stand of forest giants. As I have enjoyed the trees that are giants now, so will they. A cathedral of trees and a pond caught at the break of the hill, where the sunset falls. I won’t see them, and the land almost certainly won’t still be in the family. But that does not matter. It will be there in glory.


*when the little guys, that don’t even hit the lower branches of the canopy are 50 feet in height…..

Suburban Scenes Sunday, Oct 26 2014 

The black cur

Was hunting the new turned fields

Strips of rich earth

Between the standing rows of corn

When he flushed the morning doves

Flying hard across the hedgerow

Where blazed all the colors of the fall.

It was a scene worthy of Bruegel

Had the old master ever known

The colors of a new world.

Yet I marveled more at the farmer’s faith

For he was planting winter rye.

And I knew that before the doves’ return

And the golden grain

There would be the bulldozers

Like monstrous city pigeons

Whose success is unrivalled

Even as they die.

The houses would rise from earth entombed.

Mom, this hill is long! Thursday, Oct 23 2014 


And where is My food bucket!


Much drama trying to figure out why he wasn’t eating, finally figured out that it was due to the feral cats having used his food dish for, ah, other purposes.

You will note the path he creates every year in the hay field. Ten plus acres and he walks the same path every time.

Hard to believe that his star used to be a nice neat diamond and a short snip on his nose… some twenty and a half years ago!

(and yes, he has a blanket for particularly cold and wet nights, such as last night’s Nor’Easter!)


Back out to pasture, and yes he has his eyes closed!

New England Swamp Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 

Down in the Maple Hollow in the morning


Randomness Monday, Oct 20 2014 

As a vestry member and parish clerk, I am so glad that the elderly Sugar Maples that are periodically dropping things are not on the church’s property! They are elegant old trees belonging to the neighboring house…but it is never a good sign when two unfriendly and focused gentlemen are walking around taking photographs and staring pointedly at the offending trees!

Talk about a traffic hazard. The river runs hard against a big retaining wall in the center of town, making a lovely pool (I do hope that wall has good footings!). People are forever parked in the breakdown lane of the highway fishing over the side, since it is a good spot. The river has plenty of fish, especially trout, and the combination of deep water, braided channels, and sandbars make the area particularly interesting.  The fishermen are an expected hazard. The unexpected hazard was the gorgeous, large, juvenile bald eagle that was also trying her luck in the spot and flying at about eye level with passing cars. Lovely animal.


Every once in awhile Friday, Oct 17 2014 


Almost garish Thursday, Oct 16 2014 



Insulting bears Wednesday, Oct 15 2014 

One of the places I work at is a store which sells bird food; one of the major complaints (or reasons for not buying) is that there are bears in the area. This is commonly followed by: ‘but that (raiding bird feeders) is because we are moving into their habitat’*

I find this insulting to the bears. The modern eastern black bear is a highly adaptable, incredibly successful animal. Current estimates for its annual population increase in Connecticut and Massachusetts are at 15% to 20% Increase each year since the 1990’s. There were No black bears in Connecticut after c. 1840 and probably much earlier. In the 1980’s the gov’t admitted that there was a breeding population that had returned to the state sometime after World War II. Today the population is estimated at between 500 and 800 bears, there are over three thousand in Massachusetts, which also saw its original population extirpated by the 1800’s.**

We are not moving into bear habitat in New England. The early colonialists did. But the current population? That has moved into the state and has increased, even as the human population has increased. Why? Heavy forest combined with lots, and lots, of garbage cans, dumpsters, bird feeders. And that forest? really heavy on black/red oak, lots of acorns there.

This is not some absurdly sensitive predator that can’t deal with the slightest disturbance to its food chain. This is an intelligent, problem solving, omnivore, with a highly efficient metabolism, and good reproductive success.  Give it a bit more credit. It can thrive in New Jersey for heaven’s sake!



*I also have to refrain from commenting, since the person almost always has an address of x lane, circle, court, or drive all of which indicate modern subdivisions, that if they are so concerned about the environment, why are they supporting suburban sprawl?

**That is an incredible number, since Massachusetts is only around 10,554 square miles: or one bear for every 3.5 square miles. And female bears have ranges of around five to seven square miles, with males a bit larger…

One ladybug, two ladybug, three ladybug, four Tuesday, Oct 14 2014 

(hundred or thousand or….)

The perils of autumn include ladybug swarms. This year they are in two spots: the south wall and the northwest corner.  It is the northwest corner which is most disconcerting, because they have gotten inside and seem to have an affinity for the library ceiling. Ladybug tea is unfortunate.

Thankfully, they aren’t too interested in the southwest corner of that section of the house, which is nice because ladybugs in bed are even more unfortunate.

It is not limited to this house, I was somewhat comforted by observing the inevitable swarms in the church tonight, which is down in the valley.  There, they seemed to be enjoying the northeast corner. I can’t imagine the numbers in the steeple!

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