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Nature's Notebook

One-eyed cardinal

A one-eyed cardinal regularly visits our bird feeder. He often comes in late afternoon, when no other birds are around, and when I can I put out a little fresh seed. He makes himself right at home, filling up.

He’s slender and has lots of brown feathering on his back, so is a young bird. Often lately he has had a female friend. 

Wononscopomuc — what a name

Robert Graves — all I know about him is his name — visited here for a few days in 1891. He wrote an essay about his experiences.  I don’t know which publication it originally appeared in, but I found a reprint in, of all places, the Bismarck, N.D., Daily Tribune for June 12 that year.
Graves was headed for southwest Massachusetts (Bash-Bish Falls), but stopped over in Salisbury, where he found the scenery very restful. 

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Balsam fir

I stood in front of the grocery store, a few days ago, my hand on the shopping cart, but not moving. I just absorbed the rich aroma of the wreaths suspended from triangular frames.
Smells trigger memories. Memories of visiting my grandmother’s kitchen, in a small town in Quebec, as she cooked lunch on her wood-burning kitchen stove. Memories of throwing hay bales on the back of the International stake-body truck on a hot summer day. Memories of sliding head-first through slick mud into a frog pond.

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Rolling stone

An unidentified traveler writing about his or her “Latest Exploring Expedition” for the New York Spectator of July 24, 1840, was taken with this area’s busy industry.

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Fast Day came first

Two weeks after the disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, Congress requested, and President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, a national Fast Day. It was to be “a day of public humiliation, prayer and fasting, to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities, and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace.”

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Almanac wisdom

Put on your winter tires if you don’t drive with year-round radials.
Drain outside hoses or air conditioner pipes.
Put on storm windows if you don’t have double-glazed ones.
Have your chimney cleaned if you heat with wood — or biomass, as they seem to call it today.
All good advice.

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Hope for the future

Litchfield County is more than 600,000 acres in size, about 22.5 percent of which is subject to a conservation easement protected through conservation ownership by a land trust or government agency. The state of Connecticut holds more than 80,000 acres of protected land in northwest Connecticut. Land trusts account for more than 60,000 acres. 

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Butternut

A large butternut tree stood at the corner of our quarter-acre, in-town lot when we purchased our house, near 40 years ago. Its branches provided welcome shade in summer. 
The current generation of squirrels, busy hauling nuts and seeds for winter storage, doesn’t remember the tree. It keeled over a half-dozen years ago. When a tree falls in the village, does it make a sound? This one sure did.

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Never-ending Cornwall fire

There was smoke in the air and it wasn’t coming from anyone’s fireplace. A month after igniting from a lightning strike in Wyantenock State Forest, the stubborn Flat Rocks fire was still burning last week in Cornwall and had grown to 160 acres in size. (See the article by Gabe Lefferts on this page.)

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Gray jay

Donna and I recently spent a week in Olympia, Wash. Daughter Jessie Drew and Joshua Collins-Beldin, who live there, arranged a day of walking trails in state and federal forests, each with interesting features.
I came to appreciate that not only does the American Northwest have more dramatic landscape than we have here, they apparently employ wildlife to entertain visitors. 

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