Sunday, July 4, 2010

At the Farm

Last weekend the Franklin Land Trust’s annual farm and garden tour provided the excuse to venture up to the top of the hill and visit old Mr. L.’s farm, now renamed Birchmere Farm under the stewardship of young farmer C.
C. welcomed us up at the top and chatted while we admired the view, her cows (Jerseys and Jersey-Holstein crosses), the horses and chickens. We bitched companionably about other neighbors and talked about her plans for cheese making, meat selling and other hopes for the farm.

We also talked about her seven-year lease, which seems long for a lease on a house but precious short for a farm. And would the spot really escape development long-term? What would the family do? What could we do? Looking over her view, thinking about the wet marshy meadow by the beaver pond in back of the cemetery, started feeling a little desperate.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Flowers

Spied these bloodroot this morning on my way into the woods, came back in early afternoon sun to see them fully unfurled.

Up at the pond, Petey instituted warm-season weenie-cooling procedures this morning, the earliest date for such mud-lounging ever… climate change, duh!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


The hill is alive with the sounds of water moving. Running, rushing, dropping, dripping, oozing. Splashing (Suzy). There’s usually a bunch of water moving downhill right about this moment in the season and after the last two days of torrential rains it is distinctive.

Roaring Brook is roaring.

I feel that our humble home-on-the-hill is blessed by the fact that our basement doesn’t flood. It’s enough to challenge my normally robust gloomy belief that if there’s cwap to be stepped on that I will.

F the Plumber tells me that even in the summer we have 12 something-or-others of pressure at the point the water enters our house from the well. Our 365-foot well is truly artesian, the pressure pushing water out of the ground, overflowing through an overflow valve 12 months a year to keep the well cap from exploding.

What a gift. To live where you want to live and not have to struggle for water. Half the world is trying to catch the drops that fall on their roofs every once in a while or drink vile stuff and we’re letting it run down the hill to keep the well from exploding.

And we are spoiled. Our water tastes better than any other.

In the last month we’ve gotten 6.47 inches of rain, 2.96 inches of it just this last week. Last year the same whole month saw 1.64 inches.

Note Suzy peering over the waterfall at Old Cricket Hill Road... ("her" waterfall.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

You say potahto I say potayto… groundhogs or wood chucks, they all get their day in the sun.

L. tells me that Petey and Suzy did see their shadows this morning. Since we haven’t actually located or met any of the Groundhogs of Cricket Hill, the dogs are the nearest things we’ve got to go by. Anyway, six more weeks of …

Unfortunately, the National Climatic Data Center, located in Asheville, North Carolina has bad news about this prediction. Those good folks have evidently made good use of federal tax dollars by studying the accuracy of groundhogs’ predictions for the past 40 years and report only a 39% accuracy rate.
So reading about the history of GHD, it seems like it used to mean just a simple Winter Done Yet? Y/N kind of thing but then Christian Europe changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar and now even if you make it through the six weeks, winter still isn’t over. (In the old days 6 weeks was the actual calendrical end of winter). I don’t really handle the change-the-calendar thing well, cognitively. I find I have to just take it on faith, sort of like the international date line…

Anyhoo, Groundhogs of Cricket Hill makes me think of one of those fundraising calendars like Hotties of the Hartford Fire Department. Can’t you just see those Marmota monax showing off their little buff furry chests, standing on their hind legs, craning their necks looking for the damn shadows?

My friend W. Pedia tells me the darn things are also known as whistle pigs, an evocative name I’d say. Wiki P. has been kind enough to provide a table of famous groundhogs, 23 of them in all. Memorable names among them: Queen Charlotte, Sir Walter Wally, French Creek Freddie, Wiarton Willie, and Spanish Joe.
Which brings us to the unfortunate Mrs G. Some lame PR hack (like me) trying to get some publicity for a Mass. non-profit has spent the last several years promoting their own ground hog (“Mrs. G.”) for adoption by the state legislature as the official state GH. Evidently they haven’t managed to enlist any biotechnology trade groups to lobby for them and the thing hasn’t gotten any traction. What do you expect, going up against the likes of Sir Walter Wally with “Mrs. G.”

This blog’s brief hibernation seems to be over even though things are still pretty quiet out there on the hill. We’ll see; we do that.

(I’ve just reread this post and it sounds like I’m channeling Andy Rooney… scary.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The hill is blanketed with its protective layer of snow and ice. The sounds are very different, muffled, subtle. Two days ago, Suzy and I went on our morning jaunt without Petey, who briefly tried out the 2-below temperature before disappearing back into the house. Tomorrow the hill will have nine hours, two minutes and fifty-seven seconds of day time, as short as it gets here.

Much has moved into hibernation here and so too goes this blog for now. Back around ground hog’s day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Season of the Orange Vests

So it may be the season to give thanks but certainly not if you’re a deer on this hill, unless you’re a suicidal deer. Starting Monday, the hills will be alive with the sounds of guys with loaded guns and cans of Bud.

This means that it’s time to pull out the orange mesh vests and see exactly how fat the dogs have gotten since last year. If it’s a year in which the same size vest fits easily over the dog bellies, it’s a year in which our Weight Nazi Veterinarian won’t shake his head ominously when we’re in his examining room.

Breaking out the orange vests is a time of great excitement and celebration for the dog population. (I can tell you after a lifetime of being owned by dogs that Pavlov wasn’t really that smart a guy.) For that matter, Petey and Suzy get pretty excited when L or I put on shoes too, but then it’s an excitement mitigated by the deep dog knowledge that shoes don’t always mean a walk for them. But orange vests always mean just that.

I have nothing against hunting except my own immoderate fear of death for myself and companions. What I do have something against are all the dumped beer cans in the woods. And for gods sake, why are they always Bud? Blowing the heads off innocent cute animals who are just minding their own business, OK, I get that impulse. But if you’re heading out to the woods with weapons, ammo and a lot of alcohol, couldn’t it be something better than Bud?

Sometimes my clinging need to preserve my life while walking in the woods during this season gets me started whistling, even singing (god help us), while on the trails. (This is related to my favorite anti-bear measure, much to the amusement of certain California in-laws, of loudly yelling Go Away Bears! while in the woods.) The whistling/singing during hunting season is based on the fervent hope that the hunters can put two and two together and understand that no self-respecting deer will tolerate that noise and they (the hunters) should all just pick up the six-packs and move off. So far so good.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Gratitude for having this hill to walk on this morning, the last Thursday in November.

Gratitude that the rain of the last three days held off so Suzy and Petey and I could enjoy ourselves out here, early morning ground fog lifting and the leaves wet underfoot. And gratitude that there are a few more days until the advent of deer hunting season when the whole experience of walking on the hill will be spiced up by a little fear of having one’s head blown off.

Roaring Brook filled with rain, rushing down the hill.

Artifacts in a grown over barnyard.