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Nature's Notebook

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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Five faces

I came downstairs at about 5:30 a.m. as usual, provided sustenance to cat and retrieved the daily newspaper from the delivery box in front of the house. I let cat out on the enclosed back porch, chocked open the screen door and went back inside, shutting the kitchen door.
I had barely looked at the front of the business page when I heard a thump and a door slam.
When I went to check, cat was on a shelf by the door, in humpy Halloween pose.

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Nibblers

Leslie Ditmars recently saw unusual animal activity in Sharon.
“I have been witnessing the oddest behavior from a squirrel in the last two weeks,” she said. “I was curious as to why there was an abundance of leaf clusters underneath an old maple tree.”
Looking into the canopy of the 250-plus-year-old maple, she spotted a gray squirrel “methodically chewing off twigs with a bunch of four to five leaves and attached seed pods, aka helicopters. 

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Grasshoppers

Late summer, way back when, was when grasshoppers appeared in the field behind our house. Among my other amusements, I sometimes found a half-day’s preoccupation in collecting a few in a Mason jar.
I of course put some grass, and maybe clover, in the jar for them to cling to. Then I set out to gather.

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The last and loveliest flowers

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Lost cow bell

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The August of my life

I am in the August of life, that broad stretch of middle age where the vigor of spring is still a recent memory and the scudding clouds of winter lie just beyond the horizon. 

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