Hidden Drive Friday, Jan 30 2015 

Driveway? What driveway?


It is actually there, just beyond the young spruce. You are looking north across it. The odd, low evergreen is the Sargent’s Weeping Hemlock, looking flatter than usual due to ice. The curvy snag dead center is on the other side of the driveway. It actually is alive, it is a badly broken black cherry, I really need to prune its top if I am going to keep it.

What does Sherlock Holmes have to do with Esperanza? Tuesday, Jan 27 2015 

Not much actually.

Except, William Gillette was a close friend of Helen Yale (Smith) Ellsworth, daughter of Julie Smith. And Helen, as much as Julie, helped to create Esperanza.*

William and Helen went to school together in Hartford and she very nearly went into theater along with him. His first job outside of school was in New Orleans, what if any connection there was to Morris’ company branch I don’t know. Likely no direct connection, but certainly a useful network to have.

A fun article on him and Sherlock Holmes:


*It is a family thing, which member is most important? All or none?

The furnace is on Monday, Jan 26 2015 


Do note the carefully positioned mice!

Pond in winter Sunday, Jan 25 2015 


Woodpeckers Saturday, Jan 24 2015 

I am routinely baffled by a certain set of people who come into the shop: those who despise woodpeckers. The usual claim is that the woodpeckers are destroying their house.

I always have to hold my tongue. It is unwise to tell a customer that if a woodpecker is going to town on the house it is because the house has bugs. This does not a sale make. Furthermore, I often suspect that they have seen a woodpecker precisely once and have chosen it for the day’s daily dose of crazy.

But what really baffles me is the houses these people must be living in. If any place had a set of buildings that Should be woodpecker territory it is this place. God knows how many thousands of feet of old wood clapboards we have. I am certainly not measuring them. And not a woodpecker hole in sight. And it isn’t like we don’t have woodpeckers: Pileated, Red-Bellied, Downy, Hairy, Sapsuckers, they all live here.  All of them actively working away in the woods.

So is it that modern lumber is no good and is readily colonized by bugs? Or is it that we have, deliberately, left plenty of natural snags in our woods? Or both?


Winter views Friday, Jan 23 2015 


Are always fascinating. Foreground trees are mostly Norway Spruce. The odd triple trunk in the center is a River Birch (why Do people insist on planting them in small spaces? That one is not small…), beyond is the Ginkgo, the big oak and the Cucumber Magnolia.  In the summer the River Birch largely obscures the magnolia and to a lesser extent the other two trees, which shortens the view considerably.

And others!

And the more I look at it, the more I think I will go back and look at pictures from previous years, that leaning Norway doesn’t seem right. Sigh…

Some days Thursday, Jan 22 2015 

Some days one gets bogged down by the size of this place, the eternal questions of ‘how to pay’ and ‘who will care for it next’? No good answers there.

But then there are days like today. When the sun is shifting north in the bright, blue winter sky: cold and clear. But the light is alive. When the hemlocks, pines, and spruces are shining evergreen. When countless shrubs have turned to color: red and gold glints in and amongst the gray, green, brown bark. The rugosa roses are a deep ruby color. I was looking particularly closely at them since I was thinning the section along the gravel path. It is so much easier in the winter when one can see the structure and walk where one needs to walk.

Winter is long and dark. This is true. But every day, even in the cold, is lovely and full of life. We overlook it so often and then a moment will reach out and we will be alive.

In the dark Wednesday, Jan 21 2015 

or not. A constant in this state is grumbling about the evil utility companies. But you know….they really aren’t that bad….Somebody did something (or a tree did something) and knocked the power out at about 11:30 last night. By 12:15 am it was back on.  Middle of the night. They have crews on constant standby. And a lot of them. And we take it for granted. Actually, we tend to grumble that it went out at all. But considering the size, age, and complexity of the system; that it works at all is a minor miracle.

Still we do have a generator, large, noisy, gas-guzzling, and very tough.  Thankfully, the furnace doesn’t take much power, but does need a little bit to get started. And I don’t think that bypassing that little starter would be very wise!Keeping the fish pond unfrozen would be a trick too.

I am glad the power came back on. I don’t want to have to use the generator. But I wouldn’t not have it. Sort of like a fire extinguisher or a first aid kit. You don’t buy it with the intention of needing it, or the desire to use it. You buy it because if you don’t have it and you do need it, it is much too late to get it.

Under load Monday, Jan 19 2015 

The big old pine at the corner, which has been a picturesque snag for as long as I can remember*, finally toppled in the rain and the wind. It made the expected mess out of the surrounding area; but it missed the young spruce, and the sheep laurel, mountain ash, shadblow, etc will probably recover just fine. However….it isn’t actually, quite on the ground. The butt end and some of the branches are, but most of its weight is being taken by a four inch red maple that it fell on and bent double…and didn’t quite break.**  Not really a problem, I’d just leave it. But I would like to fix the boundary fence that it smashed. Only, the top of the maple (under load and ready to recoil like a demented trebuchet) is tangled in the fence, and the pine is leaning on it.  And I have a nasty feeling that if I poked at the fence, Something would let go. Boing!!

Or maybe anyone who is fool enough to walk through that area will get what they deserve? Still it would be nice if it was actually on the ground. I dislike hung trees.***

*Over twenty years, amazing how wood lasts.

**I had sort of intended to leave that maple, but there are more than enough of them.

***of course there is also the Damocles Sword bit of another tree, suspended above that same bit of fence, thoughtfully left by the state…

Amongst the giants Saturday, Jan 17 2015 


From front to back: (off screen, itty bitty American Beech), Red Oak, Cucumber Magnolia, (really, really, itty, bitty white oak) Tulip Tree. Spacing is around 30-45 feet between trees, the beech is closer to the oak than any of the others, because the oak is elderly.

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