Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blog Moving

I am consolidating all my blogs and web sites to  See you there! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Intention and Wood Splitting

I had an enjoyable few hours  cutting and splitting wood today, especially the splitting.  We took down a triple trunk black birch tree that was dead and threatening the house. 

 The wood split nicely in the cold.  I got all this done in about 30 minutes.  In my experience, intention is a big part of wood splitting.  You need to pay attention to the wood, where cracks are, where the branches are, split big ones near the edge first, and also to your technique (letting the axe to work and getting the most leverage) but the intention behind your swing and looking at where you want it to split seems to be a big part to me.  Of course, this is true in life too.

I am very thankful to the standing ones for providing this beautiful wood to keep us warm this winter. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ancient Dance

Ancient song danced round fire and tree
Dance steps become bear's stomp walk
Stepping hard and heavy to scent the path 
Building, building, building, building
Back arched back to bite bark
Marking the tree
Proud and strong
The power released with outstretched paws and explosive grunts 
Piercing the dome to the full, white moon

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wake Up!

Many drivers seem to be asleep when it comes to wildlife.  I recently saw two incidents that got me thinking about this.  First, I saw two robin having a territorial, aerial battle.  I could see that they were very involved in their battle and heading right towards the road.  I immediately slowed down. The driver in front of me did not slow down at all (his brake lights did not go on.)  Feathers went flying as one bird was destroyed.  A few days later, I was driving up Route 5 in Deerfield when I noticed a young bear heading across the road.  Again, I immediately slowed down.  Again, the driver in front of me did not slow down or brake.  Luckily, the bear escaped by inches.  With all the wildlife in our area, we all need to stay alert! 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Horrendous Town Logging Project

Conway, Massachusetts used to have a Town Forest.  Jack Lockhead, former Conway Selectboard Member, who spearheaded logging on town lands, recently called it the Town Woodlot.  If there aren't any trees, I guess you can't call it the Town Forest anymore.   I recently toured the area and found large tracts with few, if any, trees.  This used to be a beautiful forested area.  Not it is a ugly, virtual clear cut full of ticks, prickers, and slash.   

When I first inquired about the project, I was told they were going to thin out some non-native species such as Norway Spruce and Red Pine.  These species were planted by the CCC in the 1930s.  A bad idea but these areas support large populations of red squirrels.  In turn, you see lots of predator and predator tracks in these areas:  weasels, coyotes, fishers, and bobcats.  These tree species don't spread but the wood is valuable and the logging industry, in their quest to make logging sound good, latched onto this as a way to make logging more palatable.  Of course, they don't tell you that they also take out large amounts of adjacent hardwoods.  Unless you know enough check the logging plan, you would have no way of knowing this.  There was a very large area of hardwood forest, again a formerly beautiful forest, that was heavily logged.  It is a shadow of its former self.  The Conway State Forest has a similar project planned, again with the Red Pine and Norway Spruce being used as a cover to take out lots of other species.  They use to tell us that is was important to leave slash for animals and for the soil.  Now that the slash is a possible source of biomass fuel, it is no longer important for the soil or animals, I guess.  I wish the logging industry would at least be honest with us.

The biggest problem with the project was the oil spills.   The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), decided to put the landing, where the logs are loaded onto trucks, within 50 feet of a large wetland area, which is a violation of the recommended Logging Best Practices document endorsed by the state.  This landing area is on my daily 3 mile log run, which I do with my 2 dogs, and used to enjoy tremendously until the logging project started.  I started to notice frequent oil spill from both the skidders, forwarders, and the large logging trucks that take the wood out.  Even though the supervisor tried to provide absorbent pads to the loggers, the loggers subcontracted by Lashway Lumber refused to use them. 

The DCR and the Town were horrendous and refused to acknowledge the issue despite photographic evidence and lab reports, done at my expense, documenting the oil and hydraulic fluid leaks.  I documented 18 spills covering over 100 square feet of land and water, most of which were adjacent to the wetland system.  The wetland system feeds the Town of Deerfield's water supply.  We were confronted with strong petrochemical daily on our beautiful trails.   Despite frequent attempts to address the issue with the town, the DCR, the DEP, and the Conservation Commission, the loggers continued to spill oil.  The forester would come up and put down pads herself after I complained and after oil was spilled.  Worst of all, these officials all denied the issue and responsibility, despite massive evidence to the contrary.  At one point, six of us that live in the area were disturbed by the strong petrochemical smells.  DCR Service Forester Alison Wright said she could not smell or see any problems.  Only after the area was heavily bulldozed to cover up the oil spills and pretty things up, was I able to get the CC, DCR, DEP, and Town to tour the area.  Even though I showed my lab reports, and oil spills the bulldozers had missed, the DCR sent a curt report saying they broke no laws.  I was told by a source in the logging industry that the DEP deliberately delayed the meeting until the area was bulldozed and the evidence covered up. DCR forester Alison Wright called the project an exemplary foresting project.  If this project was exemplary, I would hate to see the bad projects. 

I am still trying to get the DCR to move the landing for an upcoming state forest logging project but the DCR logger in charge is still denying the issue and using the term "so-called oil spills." Why the officials can't acknowledge the issue and make reasonable efforts to address citizen concerns really perplexes me.  Hopefully, the state project, which is on hold, will be canceled because the land will be added to a reserve under the new visioning project.  I found that the oil spills were disturbed and came back to the surface when a salvage project was completed on the Town Forest.  That's why the landing should be moved for future projects.  The DCR refused to let the forester move the landing away from the wetland for the salvage project.  It's hard to understand why the would not allow the project to reduce the chance of polluting the water supply if it was easy to do so. 

The thinning of the Red Pine and Norway Spruce, was supposed to protect the forest from wind and ice damage.  Oops, that didn't work.  A salvage project, which removed the great majority of remaining trees in the Red Pine and Norway Spruce area, was completed after the ice storm of 2008. See photo above.

See for more details on this project.  

Photo of an absorbent pad.  Before I complained about these leaks, the fluids were spilling directly on the forest floor. 

This spill was adjacent to a vernal pool.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

First Experience With Death and Dying

Aiden greatgrandmother died last week.  She was the last of Dawn and my grandparents.  We took Aidan to the service.  There was no open casket, which was a relief.  I did not want to take him if there was.  So, of course, he started to ask a lot of questions. 

"What is dying?"

"People get really old and they stop breathing."


This is when I repeat the previous answer!

So he was OK with this.  He was concerned that his grandfather was sad so we explained that his mother had died. 

But the next morning, he made the connection to me and to himself.  He asked, "Daddy, are you going to die?"

"Yes, everyone dies but not for a really long time."

"I don't want you to die."

So this not an easy moment but I had to keep a "normal" tone of voice.  I snuggled him and we talked more, mostly along the same lines. 

A hard conversation but a good one that will hopefully be a good base for other deaths in the future.  Hard as it is, death is a part of life.  

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Agony of Defeat

Aidan has gotten to the point where he can play a whole game of Chutes and Ladders and understands winning.  He beat me first and apparently beats his babysitter.  However, I did win the other day and he was quite upset.  I explained about winning and losing and that we can't always win but the point is to have fun together.  He seemed OK but woke up the next morning and said, "Daddy, I am still a little bit sad because you beat me at Chutes and Ladders."