A time for going Thursday, Sep 29 2016 

There are always those first fall days, when the low storm clouds are chasing across the sky, the earliest trees are turning, and the air has changed. A time for going.

One of the oddest animals around these days are the geese that do not go.  There are many migratory flocks of Canada geese of course.  But there are also the non-migratory.  They cluster, an ingathering of scattered pairs.  But, they do not seem to leave. Or they leave very leisurely. I suppose they eventually get down to the shore along about November. But currently, they occupy any large grassy areas near large bodies of water.  In between the turkeys.  Actually, the turkeys are very svelte compared the geese: lean, woodland creatures that cross the paths of the geese only on the way to the water’s edge to take advantage of any exposed bugs.  The geese simply graze and their behaviour makes a great deal of sense.  A short day’s flight will take them down to the shore when they must leave, but for the moment, why go?  Still, on a cloudy, wind whipped day, it is peculiar to note a large flock happily bedded down with no intention of getting up.

One Big Tree Monday, Sep 26 2016 

We are still wandering about in the wilds of Connecticut in an empty flood control reservoir. When they built it, they cleared out a village and, along with the village, some very, very big trees.  This was an elm, growing as elms like to do, right above the river in the flood plain.  The man is a bit over six feet tall. The tree is an easy four plus feet in diameter when measured across the top of the cut. It must have been a magnificent tree, and a lovely river bank, for both sides of the stream were lined with these elms, all the way down through the old village.

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On Agricultural land Saturday, Sep 24 2016 

An interesting article. I don’t agree entirely with all minor points and I find the difference in export value between France and the US interesting….considering how much bigger the US is, its value isn’t that much bigger. But since our local land trust is fighting this exact battle right now (there is funding for forests but not so much for land to be kept as ag. land) it struck a chord.

http://oldurbanist.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-curated-landscape.html

The old cotton factory Thursday, Sep 22 2016 

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It is right there, honest! It was located right behind the tree stump, this photograph would have been of its side and nothing else. It is interesting to note that one of the two channels the river is taking is the old raceway for the cotton factory. The other, of course, is the old main channel.  Despite being out of use for over a century and inundated by flood waters for sixty plus, the old river bed channels remain very real and very active in a reservoir, even in this location which has accumulated feet of silt and mud already. They are by no means flat pools.

Ghost Towns Tuesday, Sep 20 2016 

Ours are a little hard to find around here….

I am looking right at a church though, honest!

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Only this was built downstream for flood control:

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There will never be any words Sunday, Sep 18 2016 

But may there be fair water and following wind on other seas for Lee: a good friend, a good man, dedicated townsman, former US Navy submariner, and a loving husband and father. A lover of boats, of the land, and of the many waters of the world. Killed September 16, 2016.

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One of our two canoes he was instrumental in helping rebuild for us.

 

 

Sixty years Thursday, Sep 15 2016 

Sixty year of inundation and still sort of solid.

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(the area is public, the bridge itself is off limits, for good reason) It is usually under ten, twenty, thirty plus feet of water; but right now the big flood control dam is wide open to let as much water downstream as is possible. It has been about twenty years since the bridge was out like this, though it is not uncommon to be able to see at or just below water the top of the trusses. It is an extremely good place to fish, when there is water.

Let’s play catch! Wednesday, Sep 14 2016 

Who knows if it will actually be a success, but still a neat program! Old, old technology and older instincts!

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37342695

 

Frass Tuesday, Sep 13 2016 

Frass is the technical term for insect poo. It has a nice hiss to it, probably very appropriate to what the oak stand I was in today would have sounded like at the height of the gypsy moth infestation this year.

It is truly weird to walk through a good quality oak forest, with plenty of mature red and white oaks, in the summer….in full sun.  It should, of course, be deep shade. It felt like one of those odd days that happen in March when the temperature spikes but there are no leaves yet, except the sun angle was wrong and the other foliage said late summer.  Almost complete defoliation of every single oak tree in sight.  It is difficult to really grasp the scope of the damage, because for half the year that is a completely appropriate ‘look’ for an oak tree. So it isn’t that it is a ‘wrong’ sight so much as it is an ‘out of season’ one, and that creates a certain dislocation of time and a certain difficulty in comparison: we’ve seen that oak tree looking that way before and it was normal, but now it isn’t normal.

The mind is an odd thing, we rely on so many different cues to stand there and say ‘summer’.  The logical, rational calendar is perhaps the weakest of the lot.

boiling ants Sunday, Sep 11 2016 

or disruptions of the kingdom. The big snag of the silver maple was cut down yesterday. I mostly watched, removed the crown as it was cut up (new addition to the highway fence*), and otherwise cheered. I know better than to be in the way of someone dropping a twenty four inch diameter, leaning, rotten to the core, thirty five foot tall snag….in such a way that it lands exactly right and does not hit anything worth saving.

It turned out to be entirely hollow from the break almost to the ground: an inch wide ring of living wood surround a void.  But not a dead void.  It had ants, thousands of ants.  Every cut of the saw to make another chunk (really ring) came with a wave of ants from both sections of cut wood, rather along the lines of a horror movie if one doesn’t care for bugs.  Today the ants have mostly vanished, probably into the highway fence.

The ants, however, weren’t nearly as impressive as the other denizens of the rotted center. As one gets down towards the base, the void of any hollow tree is filled with rotted dirt/wood/organic material.  In this case it is also filled with the biggest white grubs I have ever seen.  Half inch in diameter and three or so inches in length.  I do wonder what sort of beetle they end up as…..and how many we will find when the remaining fifteen feet are finally cut up….I wish I could tell our various insectivores (the foxes, weasels, skunks, etc) about them; they would have a ball.

*the highway ‘fence’ is a long brush pile built out of whatever chunks of wood, branches, etc come to hand and placed on the very edge of the highway easement. Over time, it will hopefully end being solid along the entire frontage; whenever I have a good bit of tree that is easily place on it, I try to do so. Interwoven and stacked so that the pointy ends face out, it would be possible to take a bulldozer to it, but climbing over it is less than attractive in many spots now.  Made even less attractive by the carpet of poison ivy that blankets the strip between it and the highway, said poison ivy is quite deliberate.

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