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…

A pleasant valley Wednesday, Oct 8 2014 



Fall in southern New England, and for once no trout fishermen in view! No complaint on the trout fishermen, but they often aren’t photogenic. This location is one of the better pools on the river.  And a nice bridge, not one of our modern decaying concrete box beams.

Simple Gifts Thursday, Aug 7 2014 

Cod, fresh corn, and green beans (from the garden) for supper. Simple gifts!

In a change from supper. There are many things in the world, both local and not, that I deplore; but there is great beauty nonetheless.  The beauty of the most simple sunflower; the thistles, monarda, yarrows, a multitude of flowers loaded with bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds; the peace of the pond where the wren (pair) was busily foraging in and amongst the deadfall; and where a solitary wood-duck was taking its ease. There, uncounted frogs fled from my steps. There the young buttonbushes, spicebushes, and maples flourish. I can do little indeed, but here I can take care.

New England roads Saturday, Jul 19 2014 

I was taking an exploratory drive today, adding a few more roads in a few more towns to my ‘I know exactly where that goes and what is on it’ list.  I took myself in a wonderful backwards arc (it being cloudy and having misjudged the overall alignment of hills/reservoirs/towns) to come out in an unexpected location from an unexpected direction.  Quite enjoyable. I fully intend to do it again.

But the roads must be a little maddening to people.  Poorly signed, frequently narrow and twisting*, and in the area I was in today (dominated by state/water company land) entirely wooded. Now one tree does not look like another tree, but you know what? One green Connecticut hilltop looks remarkably like the next green Connecticut hilltop, especially when one can only see one at a time and briefly. For that matter, one river looks a lot like the next river.  And straight lines? They are an anathema.

There is only one rule in these explorations: if the power lines stop, the pavement ends, and the incline starts to exceed 10% with washing, pay attention to what an elderly Civic can and cannot do!


*A paved, two-lane road, perhaps twenty feet wide, with no shoulders is a New England staple.  And, of course, because it is a two lane, paved road the appropriate speed is precisely the same as that for a road with modern curves and double the width; furthermore the traffic load is probably the same.

Boom! Wednesday, Jul 9 2014 

Amazing how fast some thunderstorms move. The trick is to have the windows open as long as possible; but not so long that the wind picks up too fast and things don’t get wet.  Then, open the windows back up again.

The difficulty is if one has multiple thunderstorms a night. One either gets a great deal of exercise or stays up late.  The sane person simply leaves the doors closed and goes to bed.  Still, if one can do the circuit of opening and closing, it makes for a rather nice (and entirely free) way to deal with hot weather without air conditioning.  Of course, it helps if one lives on the top of a hill and not in a valley.  There are locations where living in a valley is a good idea; but New England really isn’t one of them.  There is a reason all the old town centers are on hilltops.  Winter isn’t that much colder on the top of the hill and the summer is much, much nicer.  The soil is rocky in either location, so that really doesn’t matter!

Hurrying Spring Friday, May 23 2014 

It is an odd year, so cold for so long.  Now Spring is clearly hurrying towards Summer, in some respects. The peas and lettuce are sulking, but the currants have already set berries; the Sugar Maples are fully out, but the locusts still stand gaunt against the sky. The ground is still cool, but already great thunderstorms have swept across the hills.

Spring though is always hurrying, rushing forward.  Not only there is a great deal to get accomplished, and a very short optimum window to do it all in; but the plants are growing and growing fast.  In some cases, inches to the day.  The perennials just refill their space (which one has sometimes forgotten the dimensions of), but the trees….  The young American Beech has put on nearly a foot of growth, to all sides and up, this year.  Even mature trees are suddenly bigger.  And of course, they are bigger, all those leaves and all those cells swollen with water.

The color changes as well.  The kitchen had a brief pink cast for awhile as the redbud bloomed, now it is green to the west with the apple tree, and a red/purple/green tint from the east where the Japanese Maple is suddenly flush with new growth.  The back roads are green tunnels and the meadows are tall with grass.

Growing trees Friday, May 2 2014 

Over the years, the hedgerows have steadily gotten taller.  It is good in some ways, for it blocks the various lights, houses, and noise.  On the other hand, the hills are rather elegant.  You can’t see either the far ridge (about 15 miles away)  or the closer hills at all these days.  This photo was taken in 1962:



Connecticut Hills Sunday, Feb 16 2014 


Pushing the camera rather too far. The light in the trees is actually ice on the highest branches. Taken from the attic landing porch.

Connecticut Winter Woods Wednesday, Feb 12 2014 


Winter trees Wednesday, Feb 5 2014 


It isn’t a perfect job, or even close, but since I simply cut and pasted in wordpress rather than any stitching tools, not too bad 🙂

Just playing around, and how does one take a complete photo of a tree that is over 100 feet tall when one is close to it?

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