Thursday, September 25, 2014


I'm astounded that I haven't written on this site for about a year.   A combination of things held sway - our dear cat Oliver passing away last autumn from a long dormant malady probably undermined the name of the blog; our decision to spend more time in New York City; and our finding an apartment there to rent and setting about making it our home, populating it with necessities AND our cats.  All of that distanced me from these pages.  But I think often about the deep pleasure and connection it gives me to share the magic and the everyday of our place in Vermont where, in a sense, I've never felt more at home.   Though now we are officially "New Yorkers" I feel as if we have a dual citizenship.  And we're now taking practical steps toward making our place a part-time artist residence for writers, actors, composers, directors in all mediums working on various projects and perhaps in need of a captivating recharge from the city.

We were able to spend a couple weeks up there at the end of August/beginning of September and there were so many things I wanted to share with this site, but I never got my butt in the chair to write.  Here are a few of them:

 The incredible rush of joy I felt when a pair of monarch butterflies showed up one day, cavorting in the air.  "There've been scads of them lately," Richard said.  They used to be so common, especially in our meadow which is teeming with one of their favorite treats, milkweed, but I hadn't seen any anywhere for a long time.  Dire reports of their migratory numbers in Mexico dipping precipitously and reading books like "The Sixth Extinction" did not buoy hope.  So seeing these 2 strangers doing their own aerial show filled me with such delight, made me airy with possibility.  No, that's not it.  Made me completely present in appreciating of that moment.  Things are always passing by, passing through, passing.  Just see it.

Our gardens have been miraculous.  I haven't been around them most of the summer, off at work, but Richard would send reports.  The beans and lettuces and chard and kale have been especially prodigious.  Not hot enough for tomatoes, but that's fine.  Everything else showed off with bounty.  I screwed up a piece of our potato crop; cured them on our porch, neglecting to cover them with burlap, and they turned green (and poisonous) so I had to dump them.  Rats.  Live and learn.

Richard produced his 5th annual 48 hour Film Slam here and the combination of the enthusiastic community support for the project and the entrants becoming more and more sophisticated in their filmmaking technique and storytelling ability was ecstatically satisfying.   People are so grateful to Richard for bringing something so creative to the area.  You see everyone so filled with new LIFE.  It's a wonderful early September tradition.

So the big news.  We're about to travel up to Vermont to spend a couple days and then take our geese - Shmuel, Mary Ann, and Baby Dumplin' (their gander baby) - to a new home in CT, somewhere where they will be treated as pets and cared for.  I include a piece of the letter I was going to send their new owner, but decided not to when Richard asked "to what end?"  So I share it with you:

"Dear ----------------,

Your correspondence has been entirely through Richard, and I wanted an opportunity to express my gratitude that you will be providing a home for our dear geese, Mary Ann and Shmuel.  As Richard may have mentioned, I’m letting them go with a heavy heart, though I see the wisdom in doing so.  We had been keeping them mainly as pets, and being away in New York for a goodly chunk of the year, the daily upkeep, especially during the winter months, gets to be costly.  So it’s time to let them go.  And thank you for the invitation to come see them whenever I’d like.  I will probably take you up on that kind gesture.  So I pass on to you and your daughter a little background and praise of these beautiful creature’s time in our lives as a goodbye as well as an introduction.  Writing that last sentence I conjured them swimming in our pond, this poetry in motion.  There’s a poem by Rilke called “The Swan” where he juxtaposes the clumsy awkwardness of them on land with the glide and ease and grace of them in the water.  It’s beautiful and suits my memory of our geese exactly.

Mary Ann and he sister Ginger were hatched in a makeshift incubator that Richard fashioned out of an old cooler.  Very ingenious.  They imprinted on us and followed us everywhere, to the top of the hill behind our house, swimming, everywhere.  They were wary of us picking them up by instinct, but after the squawk and complaint of getting them, they eased into being in our arms and on our laps to a certain degree, usually chewing on something shiney, like our rings.   Shmuel came into the picture about a year or so later.  Richard combed the internet for a gander and found one in Massachusetts just across the Rhode Island border and I stopped to pick him up on my way up from New York one trip.  A Jewish family had a compound just off a busy country road teeming with geese, chickens, and goats, and Shmuel was impressively large and the sire of most of the other geese at the place.  I had to choose him.  He took to the girls immediately, especially Mary Ann.  They have been an inseparable couple almost from day one.  Richard had wanted to change his name to “Professor” to keep a Gilligan’s Island theme, but I loved the name Shmuel, so it stayed.  He’s been a great protector and father, though the siring offspring capacity has dwindled over the years.  He’s territorial, but if you smack his beak a good one when he flutters his tail feathers and lowers his neck at you, he usually backs off.  A good strong “NO!” with a pointed finger works too, but watch your finger; his bites can mean business.  Both are usually very easy to shepherd into their holding pens when they acclimate to their surroundings.  They love lettuce, parsley, dandelion leaves.  I feel especially close to Shmuel because I nursed him back to health after he was attacked by a coydog while defending our flock of 5 (that year).  He had 2 nasty fang marks on his neck and it was touch and go for awhile.  I hydrogen peroxided the wounds, got some tetracycline for his water, quarantined him from the other geese for awhile, and fed him baby food through a turkey baster.  He was so weak at first.  I longed for the day when he’d give me a good bite, then I’d know he had his mojo back.  It took about 4 months to get completely back to fine fettle, but he/we did it.

They’ve been wonderful birds.  I marvel at how beautiful they are.  Of course these days I’m taking in everything I can about them since I know my days around them are numbered.  Probably my favorite time of day is at dusk when either I shepherd them slowly into their pen or watch them from a little distance shepherd themselves.  It’s so meditative, the pace slow and sure, completely in sync with the day, nature.  It’s lovely, predictable, a ritual, like monks walking to vespers.  I’ll miss their conversation, Mary Ann’s tough, no nonsense deep whiskey voice, Shmuel’s trumpet call and wheezy comment and jabber when he’s figuring something out, commenting.  I wish you enjoyment of both of them and I wish them an easy transition to living with your loving care."

Not looking forward to that trip, but I'll let you know how it goes.   Chapters.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A goodbye

I am in Cambridge, Massachusetts as I write this, on my day off from a play I'm previewing.  Richard just phoned me from Vermont to say that it's time to put Oliver down, our dear orange and white Maine Coon.  He'd been losing weight dramatically and Amy, our vet, had been stumped as to the cause.  Blood tests and x-rays showed nothing.  We tossed around the possibility of pancreatitis and then an ultra sound (was that the procedure?) showed a great deal of fluid in his stomach.  Amy asked whether Oliver had been exposed to FIP when he was a kitten, and indeed he had.  Our first cat, Chocolate, died of FIP after only a month with us and we had gotten Oliver to give him company and cheer him up before we knew the true source of Chocolate's lethargy.  And indeed Oliver had enlivened him, they played and rolled about.  Oliver was like a puff ball of orange and white fur back then, a Leo Gorcey tough guy tangler with a high squeak toy whine if he couldn't find where we'd gone to.  I can still see him at the bottom of our stairs crying for us at our house in LA and when I said "we're right up here" he gave a little start of recognition, swallowed his cry, and came bounding up the stairs, which was quite a feat when you took into account how pint-sized he was.  Richard had taken Chocolate to the vets in LA and called crying saying his stomach was filled with bile and there was nothing to do, FIP was fatal.  We had the choice of bringing him home one more time to say goodbye or to put him down there and we decided together to just do it then.  Poor Richard.  And that night we sat sobbing around the table, the cries interrupted by little bouts of laughter when we'd say "We only had him a month!"

So fast forward and Amy our vet in Vermont says you can come into contact with the disease when you're a kitten and it can lie dormant for years until something kicks it back into the open.  So again a phone call from Richard, urging me to say yes to take Oliver in today rather than wait for me to get home this weekend.  We had given him a shot of steroids and an appetite enhancer to see what affect it would have and there for a day or 2 Oliver bounced back a bit, meowing for food, eating a bit more.  But now he had reverted to his old behavior, he'd lost more weight, wasn't eating at all, and this morning had a twitch in his eyes.  Richard had spoken to Amy to see what her assessment of the situation was and she replied that cats were stoic, but he was probably uncomfortable and it seemed we were just keeping him alive for us.  I cried then, and so did Richard.  I said I hated that once again he was the one going alone to the vets, and he assured me that this was a different situation before, Oliver was an adult cat and had a good life.  I had wanted to be there, to give a proper goodbye, to love him away ...

Richard just called to say it's over.  Amy and her assistant Dusty lay him on a soft fleece that he loved, and he rolled calmly to his side, trusting, ready.  Amy felt his stomach and said that his stomach was very full of fluid and when Richard asked her if we were doing the right thing, she said "absolutely it's the right thing to do."  She gave him an overdose of anesthesia that first relaxed and put him to sleep and then the organs stopped working.  Richard was there for the whole thing, petting and kissing him, and saying goodbye for both of us, my dear, dear husband.

So Ollie, you handsome fellow, thank you, you brightened our lives.  And you really came into your own in Vermont.  You could be a big grump in LA, but Vermont brought out the best in you; it transformed you, as it has us.  You turned into a sweetheart.  I'll miss you, buddy.  I'll miss seeing you striding along our stone wall, master of your domain, even though the sound of a rumbling truck approaching would send you dashing to the pet door on the screened porch.  I'll miss seeing you over across the road on the dam by the pond (where we'll bury you), striking a meditative pose, your orange and white coat so striking against the green green of the grass and cattails.  It was amazing how you'd avoid the fisher cats and coyotes and foxes on those nights you decided to spend outside, our calls to come in left unheeded.  You were a survivor.  I'll miss you talking to me.  You taught me "cat."  And you didn't mince meows; you got right to the point.  It was either "dry food, now" or "turn on the faucet, now" or "let me out, now."  I'll miss you coming in and perching by my head in bed in the early morning.  And I'll miss your beautiful eyes, so large and expressive and calmly soulful.  It's so unreal writing these lines.  Thanks, buddy.  Thanks for sharing your life with us.  You were a fine, fine fellow.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hector and the Returning Canadian

Hector and the returning Canadian
I'm in Cambridge now, rehearsing a play, so I, like you, can only imagine what I'm about to relay.  It's threatening first frost up at our place in Vermont, a bit early, but everything's a bit off these days.  Sheets are at the ready to protect our garden vegetables, especially the squash and tomatoes and potato plants.  All the Canada goose families have flown away leaving Hector behind, Hector who had forged a kind of tutoring friendship with the flock's young, an honorary uncle status with the adults.  Richard and I would feel his pain, we thought it must be like that of a parent watching one's offspring go off to college.   Did he even understand?  Running below them, trumpeting out, as they flew away for good, he so earthbound, unable to fly, to follow, only their shadows on the grass below, their silhouettes against the sun above, both disappearing over the far tall pines, he left behind.  Did he feel any pain, any sadness?  Did the heartache pass away the moment they disappeared over the treetops, an immediate amnesia, and then he went to picking at his feathers, pruning and fluffing as if the moment before hadn't even happened?  How we'd impose our own stories on the scenario, looking out the window at him, then turning to one another, our lower lips shoved out in the international sign of sadness as we heaved a collective sigh.  Ah, life!   A couple nights ago, Hector had been welcomed back into the goose pen by Shmuel, something that had not been allowed for months.  Even so, every night Hector would huddle against the fencing, getting as close to the safety of the flock as possible.   

And then yesterday, one of the Canadians returned.  Alone, distressed, it squawked and paced as if  trying to convey some important message to Hector in a foreign tongue.  Hector attended to it, going wherever it went in a calm, measured fashion, trying to calm it down.  Richard's unclear what sex the Canadian is, though he feels strongly that it's one of the offspring.   Our imagined scenario is that the Canadian missed Hector and came back for him.  But now here and realizing that Hector is unable to go with him/her, it has the dilemma of deciding whether or not to stay, instinctually pining for the safety and comfort of its flock.  A pair of star-crossed lovers?  Inseparable friends?  A guide/teacher and loyal student?  There's a rich story in the making.  Well, it's been a rich story from the beginning.  Of course, last night Hector tried to enter the pen again, this time with his friend, but the young domesticated gander, head low, neck stretched, strode out of the pen's door to make it clear that Hector and "the other" were not welcome in "the inn" that night. 

To be continued. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Autumn ... no, wait. It's August

August 11th.  Late morning.  Still, still, still.  The buzzing of a single insect nearby-- I hope it's a honey bee!  A flurry of clucking gone as quickly as it came.  Cats napping.  It's supposed to get up to 74 today, high 50s, low 60s right now.  Dropped into the 40s last night and all of the cats hunkered up close to any nook and cranny of warmth on my body.  Except for Oliver, that is, who tom catted around until 3 or so.  The green looks like that last stretch of summer before turning.  Too early to turn yet.  And yet ... here we are.  To everything turn, turn, turn; there is a season turn, turn, turn; and a time to every purpose under heaven.

The garden is bountiful and curious.  Things that weren't growing at all or bolting right away last year, like spinach, lettuces, are in abundance this year.  Because of the moisture and the coolness, the snap peas are hanging on, still giving beautiful, sweet peas.  The tomato plants keep battling blight.  I peel off the yellow, brown spotted leaves, but more come.  The fruit tastes good, though.  Pepper plants are prodigious, but because of no heat haven't formed peppers yet.  Acorn and summer squash are thriving, but the butternut, usually well along by now, have just blossomed.  Garlic I yanked out a couple weeks ago and the bulbs and yellowing stalks are drying on a table to my side.  Looking good.  Lots of borage, herbs are doing fantastic.  Too moist for the rosemary to thrive.  Beans have been good.  I go out twice a day to send a slew of Japanese beetles, those green cadillac bugs munching the pole beans to bits, to a soapy drinky death.  They are usually humping and eating at the same time.  Curious how they continue holding on despite buffeting winds, but I just tap the leaf they're on and they fall in a daze, legs up, to the ground.  Astounding how the pole bean rebounds from this locust-like devastation and just puts out more leaves, more leaves, more leaves.  Very impressive.  Just one single bean so far, again I think from the lack of heat, but they'll come, they'll come.  Carrots are teaming along.  Beets and chard and kale - last year nothing - this year BAM!  All things green are thriving.  And there have been more bees this year.  Not honey bees, but a smaller version of bumble bee, their legs covered with pollen.  Our dear friend Emily got a bee hive this year and it was so good to see so many healthy looking honey bees teaming around her hives.  Encouragement and inspiration!

I've only seen one monarch this summer which makes me sad.  And our meadow is just teaming with milkweed, their favorite.  I  had heard a report from Mexico, their usual migrating grounds, that their numbers were alarmingly small this winter.  Oh those common beauties we take for granted.  What if they're to be no more soon.

Okay, it's hard for me, but I am going to employ someone's suggestion of appreciation and gratitude rather than oh woe is me it's all dark and doom ahead when it comes to the state of the world, the environment and climate to be specific.  I suppose it would be a form of prayer, and God knows prayer in any form works, if only to put some good will into the air.  The suggestion is to thank the earth for its bounty, for its forests and jungles, its oceans and rivers and lakes, ponds and streams, ice caps, mountains, valleys, vistas, animals, birds, butterflies.  To thank it, for all its grace and gifts.  To appreciate it in the here and now and maybe that will spread to tomorrow.  A shift of focus.  I have to do it, because the grumbling isn't working for me.  Sure I'm taking steps to live in a right way, a respective way toward the earth, but the Cassandra-like predictions don't help.  There must be a more effective way of waking up.

We had 2 Canada Goose families on our pond this summer and while we were away this past week to Providence RI it looks as if one of them, the one with 4 older goslings, have flown away.  Turn, turn, turn.  Their birth, growth, and flight is an annual measurement of time passing.  A ritual to watch.  This family gave birth down the way east of here, about a mile away, across the road from our friends Robert and Lenice.  They were growing up on a pond there, but Anu, Robert and Lenice's passionately playful yellow lab would go into the pond after them and they must have just had enough one day and flown west to our place where they were welcomed - I mean, whatya going to do?   When I mentioned that they were gone while visiting with Robert and Lenice yesterday they informed me that the family had stopped by for a couple days before vamoosing for good.  Showing the kids where they were born before flying off to faraway pastures.  Maybe they'll see a few monarchs.  The remaining Canada family, with 2 younger goslings, will have a few more weeks before their flying lessons commence.

Which brings me to Hector.   I'm liking him more and more.  He has a special place in my heart.  He's the best guard goose I think we've ever had, letting us know when there's anything untoward on the property, anyone slowing down, coming up the driveway, keeping things shipshape.  He's going back and forth between our bunch and the Canada family, more welcomed by the Canadians.  He sleeps everynight just outside the pen of the goose house; Shmuel and the girls still won't let him in there, so we've all accepted that fact and are fine with it.  He's a survivor, a scavenger.  At least once a day he wanders into the chicken coop and munches on the layer feed.  I felt like holding him the other day and I thought I had him gently cornered in the coop, but man is he quick.  He assessed what was happening and darted out in a wide end run.  I congratulated him out loud for his dexterity and his speed and he flapped his wings in victory.  He likes us, I think.  He hangs close to see what's going on.

The pond is calling me for a swim and I think I'll comply.  Dive into those reflections of the trees on its surface.  That can be my splashy prayer of appreciation and thanksgiving for all of nature around me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Betwixt and between

Home for a few days, a break from work in the city.   Astrid's on my lap, a welcoming presence, grounding me, purring, keeping me sitting down to write.  She's been my constant companion, making me feel as if no time has passed since our last coming together.  She's a wonder.

And what is home to me in these betwixt and between days?  (And when are they not that?)  I don't feel a lack of home these days.  I don't feel homesick when I'm away from this place.  Home is more wherever I am.  Home's here, home's at our sublet in NYC, home's on stage performing in the play I'm loving doing in the city, Home's backstage before and after the show, filled with warm bon homie and best wishes for one's best work.  Home's riding on my bike through Central Park in all kinds of weather or up along the Hudson River, up past the George Washington Bridge.  Home's sitting under the canopies of elms on Poet's Walk (again in Central Park), home's spending time with Richard, home's out to dinner, home's on strolls through the city, home's laughter, on and on and on.  Home's Astrid's warmth on my lap right now, beckoning me to be here now, be present, just sit, notice, pay attention.  Okay, okay.  Home.  The word itself has such a hummy, comforting sound to it.

So green outside here today.  Bursting and burgeoning.  And spectacularly sunny.  It fools you into thinking it's warm outside, especially since it's Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer.  BUT 2 days ago we had 3 inches of heavy snow here, "a poor man's fertilizer," Royce dubbed it, and though there are few physical traces of it left, the wind holds invisible reminders, a brace, a shiver, a chill.  Betwixt and between.

Have I kept you up on the travails of Hector, our young gander?  I believe I have.  I spied him in the front lawn fluffing and preening himself, by himself, and shake shivering his head quite a bit in between preens, like a fighter in his corner of the ring between rounds, trying to shake something off, bring himself back to coherence.  In the background on the pond across the road I saw that the female goose had come off her nest for a stretch and swim accompanied and guarded by hubby.  I pieced together what must have happened.  Hector and the Canada gander had been hanging out, being buds - I'd seen Hector standing guard over him in the front yard earlier in the morning as the Canadian snatched 40 winks.  Then the missus had decided to take a rest from egg sitting and instinct must've kicked in and, like a rabid, possessed  creature, the Canada gander had turned on his pal.  Hector might've fled for his life like he had in the past, that time witnessed by Richard.  But Hector will forgive and forget.  He's like the loyal partner of an abusive drunk.  "It's alright, he still loves me, he's still good at heart.  These scars and bruises?  Oh, I just had a bad fall."  Oh my heart goes out to him.  Trying to find a friend, camaraderie ... a home.  He's been kicked out of the domesticated goose bunch - something he brought on himself, but again it was nature and instinct kicking in, him contending with Shmuel, one gander too many.  And now he's fostered an unlikely friendship with a wild one, that will offer temporary friendship.  And, who knows, maybe Hector's drawn to the out of the ordinariness of it, a touch of the unpredictable, the dangerous.  And those guys can fly!  Oh, to be able to do that.  Flight!  To fly!!  And one day, Hector buddy, they're all going to fly away from you.   Not to discourage you from making an unlikely friendship, but -- oh he'll get over it.  I'm going to be the one with heartache witnessing the whole thing.  He'll probably forget the whole thing in a couple days.

And speaking of birds, an industrious bluebird still resides in our yellow birdhouse, mounted to an old pole at the back of our garden.   Richard and I startled it this morning as we surveyed the growth our raised beds and it darted out, zipping for safety.  It perched high in a nearby apple tree until we were well away and then it returned to building a nest.  We don't think she's laid any eggs yet.  Everything's a bit late these days.

Shmuel's in tough guy stance, standing sentinel to Emily and Mary Ann's brooding.  Both are sitting on 8 eggs each, but we suspect none of the eggs are fertile.  We hope to be pleasantly surprised and have a few goslings soon. Time will tell.

Okay, up to the garden, work to do.  Be well, have a great day.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Various Signs of Spring

I spotted a group of our local snowmobile club at the top of our rise yesterday un-Iwo Jima-ing their many flags that dot our back meadow through the winter and coiling in the thick rope that corrals the mobilers within a designated swath and my heart sang Joy! Rapture!  Now here was a sign of Spring! When the blossoming of daffodils and crocus are still a couple weeks away, green grass and the leafing of our trees ain't coming 'til May, and our pond is still frozen you grab for anything you can get.  And that sight was an unexpected gift.  It was sort of silly how happy it made me feel.  April can be the cruelest month up here.  You're grateful for the sunshine, but everything else stubbornly holds on to this grey, yellowy beige, or dulled white pallor, tree bark and trampled meadow grass and receding piles of snow, much of it in our backyard where the sun only shines on it in the late afternoon.  And that snow has ample amounts of grey gravel sprinkles on it due to our snow plougher Shannon's overzealous scraping of our driveway and parking area during the snowfall months.

But the flags are gone, the ropes are gone, our meadow has been set free.  I can imagine invisible maverick horses galloping free, FREE!!  This is good, this is very good.

Another sign of spring, of course, is the sap running.  As I mentioned in my last post, some tree tappers have inadvertently tapped a grove of at least 6 maples on our side of the property line.  2 days ago I trekked through the gullies and forests, following the green tubing to its source to see who I should contact to make them aware of their mistake.  It would be a rare thing that the sugarer would be the property owner himself, usually other people are given permission to come onto other's properties to "sugar" the land.  But the property owner might be a good lead to contact.  This particular property owner I would soon learn was a Mr. Junkins who owns quite a substantial chunk of terra firma back here, land which at one point a good while back had been a camp of some sort.  Mr. Junkins has no phone; his post office box is in New Hampshire and the sign I would soon discover on his property gate proclaims a different, darker version of that state's motto - "No Trespassing! Police Take Notice!"

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I trekked down through the gullies, the landscape looking a lot like "Winter's Bone," following the tangle of green, surgical tubing filled with bubbled, clear liquid, until it sutured into larger, thicker black piping.  A lot of this was along the VAST trail - or, okay this is a guess, the Vermont Automated Snow Travelers trail - which we and other landowners, Mr. Junkins among them, grant passage across our lands during the winter months.  But it not being winter and me not being on a automated snow vehicle, I was officially trespassing on this "his" land.  There were spots along the VAST trail and other makeshift roads a traversed where the thicker black tubing would come to a gathering section where a silver spigot was attached.  Here I surmised was where a truck with a big plastic sap collecting container - one of which gathers our spring water in our basement - backs up to the spigot in order to gather the clear nectar and transport it to a nearby sugar shack to boil and steam down to syrup.   The tubing and trail kept snaking down, down, down the hill.  Finally it all came to an end point and a fork in the road, both forks coming to a steep finish.  The right fork flowed down into a heavily rutted private road and this in turn emptied off to the left into what I surmised was Swamp Road, a back road which abuts a piece of our 55 acres.  There was an open metal gate spray painted with a big orange arrow directing snowmobilers and sap gathers "up this way," the way I had just come.   The left fork emptied down into a compound of sorts, the back of a pick-up with green and white New Hampshire "Live Free or Die" plates opened up to me.  There were a few other vehicles and junk arranged around a burgundy stained structure, part pressed wood, part black plastic.  It all screamed for snarling guard dogs, but despite the signs of habitation there were no sounds at all coming from the building.  I felt it wise not to step onto their property even though I hadn't yet seen the sign warning the police to beware.  Just something in the air, an intuition.  So I skidded down the right fork, slopped through the mud to the broken down mail boxes on Swamp and Hood Trail, the ame of the private road.  More no trespassing signs.

I can't lead you on anymore.

Nothing actually happened.  No one was home.  It was all filled with portent and anti-government showdowns and this land is my land, blam, blam, blam! but nothing happened.  I just let it be.  I trekked back home, did a little more sleuthing work.  Found out from our town clerk that Mr. Junkins had had "issues" with people in the past, contractors, etc.  Batteries stolen, charges made, whoohah.  Also, our friend Dale who also abuts Mr. Junkins property told us that during the summer there's a lot of target practice echoing over their hill from back there, target practice with what sounds like automatic weapons, assault weapons.   But that's Dale and that's hearsay, but I said it here.  Dale advised not contacting him at all.  Also, Mike Emerson, a stout, rather imposing figure who does a lot of sugaring in these parts and whom I had asked Dale to inquire about who might be sugaring up on our land, has been vandalized of late.  His sugar shacks along the road have been vandalized, that is - pumps taken apart, rolled down hills, lines cut.  I asked if this was a general wave of vandalism toward all sugar shacks and Dale suggested it was aimed specifically at Mike, that a few years ago someone had shot holes in his tanks.  "And so, " Dale concluded, "I don't think it might be the BEST time to be in touch with Mike about your tapped trees."

Okay, okay.  Let it go, let it go.

So Richard and I were very Green Mountain State late yesterday afternoon.  After a day of writing tax checks (Ugh!) and traveling around the area, running errands, and reading out loud to each other from an old Perry Mason mystery we somehow had gotten hooked on, we bundled up and took some pink, plastic boundary marking tape we'd procured from Dale (Dale's a realtor in these parts; he, in fact, represented our house when we bought it) back to the back of our property and amid all the green tubing we clearly marked our property line.  Afterwards, we hiked through an uncharted piece of our property together and came upon the most gorgeously preserved piece of stone wall.  It was like delicately laid grey eggs, perfectly put together by prehistoric someones.  There were pieces of toppled logs and branches in various stages of decay tilted across the wall, like wooden cannons against ancient battlements, vestiges of past strife long forgotten, and as we walked along the wall, we'd clean the way, lifting and tossing and shoving the logs this way and that until there was a clearly marked, unsullied wall to marvel at.  Down below to our left you could see the open cleared pastures of our neighbors Dennis and Judy and I was reminded once again that all this land, every stone walled piece of it, all the way back and beyond the disputed piece of tubed maples, was at one time, not too long ago, cleared land, treeless, grassy, rolling hills.  Amazing.  It opens one's mind, that thought.

Richard and I climbed up out of the woods, talking about the future trails we would clear.  I could hear the happiness in Richard's voice.  And we sat on the Adirondack benches at the top of the rise to look out over the rolling hills, down over our now unflagged, unroped meadow, to admire and take in the ending of the day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Something to squawk about

Up in Vermont for Easter and the week following. Our young gander is the self appointed watch dog of our goose bunch. He squawks at least one time during the night and then off and on during the morning -- when someone's humping nearby or when the Canada Geese pair, patiently waiting for our pond to thaw, flies in for a visit. The wild and domesticated geese are getting along very nicely this year. We'll see if that changes once eggs are laid on goose island and the air becomes more territorial and North Korean. 

It's 28 degrees this morning. The last 2 dawns have provided a voila of newly fallen snow. So weird to have it dusting the frozen ruts of mud season on the roads. Hiked to the back of our property on Easter to discover that someone has tapped a whole grove of maples that we thought were on our land. Went down to the town clerk to get to the bottom of the controversy, but some lands have only been spottily surveyed. There's supposed to be the twisted remnants of an old barbed wire fence that went right along the border, but it's still below the frozen snow. More shall be revealed. It might have made it easier to take if they either had tapped them the old fashioned way with galvanized taps and buckets or that they had one new tap per tree. These tappers put multiple taps - popular, but not really good for the trees - connected by strands of colored plastic tubing which makes the backwoods look like a triage unit. Ugh.

Heard my first fox call the other night - the first that I was aware of, that is. Maybe that's what the young gander was squawking at. The howl - no it didn't sound like a howl, not in a wolf or coyote sense. It was so distinct, other worldly, spooky and wonderful, very much a creature of the night laying claim to its private part of the air, calling "I am here" in wildness. Cool.

It's a few hours later.  Been sleuthing up in the woods.  Went back the first time and right when the trail hit the shade of the woods it turned to a sheet of ice and my feet flipped out forward from beneath me and I slammed down on my back and elbow and head.  Resilience, thy name is body.  Thanks.  I skedaddled back down to the house for crampons and as I did I thought of my mom going ass over teakettle and cracking her pelvis.  She's just a twig.  A resilient twig in her own right - and she ignored the pain for about a week - but then had to go in and get patched up.  

I retrieved the crampons, slipped them on over my muck boots just before stepping into the icy shade of the woods, and was off Sherlocking.  Got to the back of the property, and traced the survey pin to several snatches of old barbed wire, over old logs, through thickets of saplings, down the hill to where the barbed wire abuts the original stone wall.  There are definitely 6 trees, possibly twice as many, that have been tapped on our side of the line.  Now to find the culprit.  Actually, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, that it's not an act of defiance or lack of courtesy, they simply thought they'd been given permission on someone else's land and didn't know that these groves were not included.  We'll ask for a couple gallons of syrup as compensation and ask them not to tap the trees again.  Our realtor friend Dale feels it may be Mike Emerson who has a goodly amount of the taps around.  More to be revealed.

Temperature is not 39 and all the new fallen snow has vanished.  Just the old piled up stuff remains.