Thursday, September 19, 2013

Goodbye Woods

Two photos today of a new clearing just down the road. In the past year, along the 1 1/2 mile stretch of road we live on, at least 3 older homes have sold off parcels of land from their large lots to accommodate an additional home. These new homes dwarf the ones next door. The 2 recently built were 5000 and 7000 square feet.

The road we live on began as a Native American path between Boston and Connecticut. Henry Knox dragged his cannons to Dorchester Heights down this road during the American Revolution. Compared to a home down the street which was a tavern during that time, my home built in the 1890s is relatively new. The woods cut down in the photos above were not virgin forest. All this land was farmland for centuries.

But we moved to this town 4 years ago for its rural character, its swaths of woods, paths and conservation land. So much of that is changing so fast. Since we have moved here, a large new CVS has come, and there are plans for another about 1/2 a mile from an existing Walgreens. A "Town Center" has been built with a Stop&Shop Supermarket, chain restaurants, yet another bank, a pet store, and huge 24-hour lighted parking lots. Small homes have been bulldozed to make room for McMansions, and condo building have gone up in many locations. Traffic is increasing and water resources are stretched.

Supposedly, these plans are meant to spread and lower our tax burden. Who are we (current citizens, even those who've only lived here 4 years) to deny the right of others to enjoy the good schools and beautiful nature of our town? But how do we preserve what we came here for? Why do I feel so sad everytime another lot is cleared?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Good Maintenance

Just thought this was a rather nice photo of my hubby. It captures a lot about him. He's determined and patient. (I doubt he even realized I was taking this photo.) He's diligent about maintaining our home and fixing things that break. He's pretty cute too!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Breakfast Bites

This morning my kids called me out to the end of the driveway as they were waiting for the bus (at 6:50am) to see an intense orange sun rising in the soupy sky. Unfortunately, I didn't bring the camera there. I did, however, get to share an unusual sunrise and last goodbye with them.

So here's today's not very well lighted or well designed photo.

First, I'll say that the breakfast looked much more appetizing before I ate most of it. But as I arranged the last bites, I thought the following was a good question to put out there. Why do I always arrange my last bites to contain all the variety of what I'm eating? Each bite should have some crispy oatmeal pancake edge along with a selection of the day's fruit (today banana and our own canned peaches). My daughter never mixes any of her foods. She eats each item alone generally progressing from most to least favorite. Do these patterns say anything significant about us?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rachel Carson: A Middle School Mentor

"No child should grow up unaware of the dawn chorus of the birds in spring."  -- Rachel Carson

This photo displays about a third of a prominent mural on our town's middle school. My interest in reading about Rachel Carson lately results from the fact that my daughter is starting 7th grade at the school. Rachel Carson is the guiding spirit of the 7th grade year. The students will learn environmental science and cap the year with a trip to Cape Cod for hands-on study of the seashore environment.

Each year at the school, students have a heroic mentor. In 6th grade it's Henry David Thoreau (at the right edge of the photo above). The 6th graders bike to Walden Pond (9 miles each way) and study Thoreau's simplicity and individualism throughout the year. Martin Luther King Jr. is the 8th grade mentor. Eighth graders read his letter from the Birmingham jail in English class and study slavery and the civil rights movement in history. The year culminates in a Justice-based Washington, DC trip where the students visit King related sights, the Holocaust museum, the Japanese Internment Memorial and more.

For there to be real justice and peace, every child throughout the country and throughout the world should attend schools with such engaging, holistic programs and motivated teachers and administrators.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Picture A Day, Rachel Carson

I'm trying something new, a picture a day. Could I sustain it? For how long? It would encourage me to carry my camera and document what's going on in a quick way. Over time though it would accumulate.

I just finished reading first a biography of Rachel Carson,  and then a book of her letters with an intimate friend, Dorothy Freeman. It is amazing how 10 years of consistent letters add up something so valuable for posterity. True, the letters had a bit too much information about salon appointments and pet care, but amidst the daily updates were true revelations of character and literary gems.

Here' a quote from a Nov. 8, 1954 letter:

"Years ago on a night when rain and wind beat against the windows of my college dormitory room, a line from 'Locksley Hall' [Tennyson] burned itself into my mind -- 'For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.'   I can still remember  my intense emotional response as that line spoke to something within me that my own path led to the sea--which then I had never seen--and that my own destiny was somehow linked with the sea. And so, as you know, it has been. When finally I became its biographer, the sea brought me recognition and what the world calls success."

And one from January 23, 1962 after her manuscript of Silent Spring was complete. She had been battling cancer for over a year.

"I think I let you see last summer what my deeper feelings are about this when I said I could never again listen happily to a thrush song if I had not done all I could. And last night the thoughts of all the birds and other creatures and all the loveliness that is in nature came to me with such a surge of deep happiness, that now I had done what I could--I had been able to complete it--now it had its own life!"

Now I've begun The Outermost House, a book that influenced Rachel Carson's writing. I hope the photo above conveys how beautiful a day it was to spend some of the afternoon reading outdoors with the strong sun, a cool breeze, an inspiring book, and a delicious mixture of the our canned peaches in syrup with seltzer.