National Weed Appreciation Day on March 28th each year reminds us that some weeds are beneficial to us and our ecosystem. Humans have used weeds for food and herbs for much of recorded history. Some are edible and nutritious, while other weeds have medicinal value.
A few weeks ago, I began to sow herbs and vegetables for this Spring/Summer garden season. So far, we have dill, snap peas, snow peas, and tomatoes. The peppers seem to take a little bit longer. Yesterday, I have sown more vegetables: beef steak tomatoes, borage, fennel, spinach, etc. When it becomes warmer, and the plants are stable enough, I can plant them in the greenhouse.
“March is a month of considerable frustration it is so near spring and yet across a great deal of the country, the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light-years away.”
This morning when I let Our pups outside, Zoey focused on something in our oak tree near our property border. When I looked up, I saw a Pileated Woodpecker in the tree. I ran inside, picked up my camera, and captured photos of the bird. Then a second Pileated Woodpecker joined the first one. They both pecked on the same branch. That branch is hanging on its last splinters, there must be a lot of goodies for the woodpeckers in there. They might stay around and peck a hole to build a nest and raise their offspring. That would be so much fun.
Downy Woodpeckers give a checkered black-and-white impression. The black upper parts are checked with white on the wings, the head is boldly striped, and the back has a broad white stripe down the center. Males have a small red patch on the back of the head. The outer tail feathers are typically white with a few black spots. Downy Woodpeckers hitch around tree limbs and trunks or drop into tall weeds to feed on galls, moving more acrobatically than larger woodpeckers. Their rising-and-falling flight style is distinctive of many woodpeckers. They make lots of noise in spring and summer, with their shrill whinnying call and drumming on trees. The woodpecker in open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees, and brushy or weedy edges. They’re also at home in orchards, city parks, backyards, and vacant lots.
It was so nice today: warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. The Harbinger-of-Winter, Crocus, and Periwinkle are blooming. The snowdrops should be done blooming, soon. Birds chase each other and sing the songs of reproduction. That sounds better and more kid-appropriate than calling it the “Screams of Sex”. Soon, we will have birds building nests and tenting for their offspring. The bears come out of their Winter dens after a long Winter of hibernation. Nature begins to wake up. I’m still waiting for my little chipmunks to appear in our yard. I haven’t seen them, yet. They might snooze for another couple of weeks.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers live in both hardwood and conifer forests up to about 6,500 feet in elevation. They often nest in groves of small trees such as aspens and spend winters in open woodlands. Occasionally, sapsuckers visit bird feeders for suet. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers perch upright on trees, leaning on their tails like other woodpeckers. They feed at sap wells —neat rows of shallow holes they drill in tree bark. They lap up the sugary sap along with any insects that may get caught there. Sapsuckers drum on trees and metal objects in a distinctive stuttering pattern. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.
Since I’m used to Spring starting in late February/early March in Texas, it seems to be forever until the warmer weather arrives in New England. And we still expect more snow to come in the next few days. I began to get some Spring flowers for indoors. I did the same last year. This seems to help tremendously to overcome the Winter depression. Kevin and I discussed the insolation of the sunroom. That way, we could have a green room year around. And Sara has a party room. But this won’t be happening very soon. It needs some planning and time to get it done. In the meantime, I keep my flowers near the living room window during Winter.
This morning’s weather was very interesting. First, we had some sleet, then the fog rolled in and out. And another patch of fog rolled in and out. It repeated three times before Kevin even left for work. Around noon time, the Sun finally poked its head through the clouds. And the snow began to melt along the hills. Now, we have a muddy mess in the yard.
March Racing clouds and whistling winds, Coats flapping in the breeze, Bright kites circling in the skies, The dance of swaying trees, The cheerful sight of crocuses, The first sweet breath of spring – Just part of all the many moods The month of March can bring.
It began to snow at around 8 o’clock last night. When I looked out of the window at midnight, I could see the accumulation of snow for the last four hours. And it kept coming down heavily. This morning, Kevin used the snow blower for the first time this Winter season. He was so excited.
When I came out of the house, the snow fell off the trees and shrubs this afternoon. It was mild enough for the snow to melt from our house roof and off the greenhouse roof as well. The dogs and Joshua were the only pets going outside. Chewbacca and Ozzy wanted nothing to do with it. When Joshua’s paws were wet enough, he came the dogs back into the house. It’s no fun having snowy paws being a cat.
Since this Winter was very mild, we didn’t get much snow this season. Kevin was giving up on snow for this Winter. But, I warned him: “It might all come down in March and April until Easter. And we have snow. Well, it’s still February and Winter after all. However, soon this will get old. We need warm weather for gardening.
February 2023 is a fantastic time to easily view two unique planets in our solar system. The gas giant Jupiter and our scorching sister planet, Venus, are brilliant in the night sky this month. These planetary diamonds shine bright even in regions with terrible light pollution, like New York City.
Venus is a rocky planet that’s about the same size as Earth. It’s also the closest planet to us. But on the ground, its environs are hotter than a pizza oven, at some 900 degrees Fahrenheit(Opens in a new tab). The planet’s thick layers of greenhouse gases, like the potent carbon dioxide, trap copious amounts of heat. Its upper atmosphere, however, hosts more moderate, reasonable climes.
Jupiter is a giant gas planet, containing over twice the mass of all other planets in our solar system combined. Thick clouds and storms (mainly of hydrogen and helium) swirl around the surface, including the Great Red Spot, which NASA notes has “raged for over a century.” (Opens in a new tab) Jupiter contains 92 known moons(Opens in a new tab), including the fascinating world Europa, which harbors an icy ocean beneath its cracked shell.
Kevin and I did an almost 2-mile hike on the Herron Pond Loop at White Memorial Conservation Center. It was a good up & down hike this afternoon. Close to the Fawn Pond we missed our trail and walked the outer path. Since we made a “mistake”, we had the chance to see the engraved boulder, a rock in memory of the White siblings, Alain & May. Back on the track, we were at the overlook of Fawn Pond. The pond looks so pretty with the tree stomps and a water lily forest beneath the surface of the water.
Once, Kevin and I made it to Herron Pond, we took the outer track again. This time, we did it on purpose. The east side of the pond was too muddy, so we decided, we take the trail on the west side. There I found an interesting plant, I’d never seen before, the flat-branched tree clubmoss. At first, I thought, it was rooted due to the pine trees above. But it is a ground cover plant. We learn something new every day.
Before the advent of the refrigerator, people kept food from spoiling by placing it in an icebox – a wooden cabinet with shelves for perishables and a large compartment for a block of ice to keep everything cold. Where did this ice come from? It was cut from lakes and ponds in the winter in regions where the temperatures were below freezing for extended periods of time. Ice blocks were cut by farmers for family use and by crews employed by significant commercial concerns. Both occurred at Bantam Lake. The commercial operation was centered on the north shore and involved one of southern New England’s largest ice block storage facilities. The company even had a railroad service making the distribution of ice to distant cities possible.
Peter Vermilyea (HiddeninPlainSightBlog.com) describes the former ice-making operation that once thrived on Bantam Lake before electricity and refrigeration were available. The site is located on the White Memorial Foundation property near Litchfield Town Beach.
This 16.5-acre outdoor space in the central square of the nine squares was originally designed in 1638 by the settlers of the New Haven Colonyas common space for cultural, civic, religious, and educational purposes and gatherings. It is one of the oldest continuously used public spaces in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark District.
Since I had to go to a doctor’s office, Kevin gave me a ride down to New Haven. After seeing the doctor, we went for a short walk to New Haven Green. I captured some photos. There is a bus station and so many questionable people on and around New Haven Green. We didn’t feel comfortable at New Haven Green. We made our way to the car to get back home.
Traditionally the groundhog awakens from his nap for a nice welcomed break during the winter to see if he can see his shadow. Many believe if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If this is so, he retreats into his den and goes back to sleep. However, if he does not see his shadow, the groundhog remains outside to play, and people celebrate, believing spring is just around the corner.
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has hosted the annual Groundhog day event. Thousands of people come to the town of Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day for this day of celebration.
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow: Pedicts six more weeks of Winter
Connecticut’s Chuckles didn’t see his shadow: Predicts an early Spring
Texas Bee Cave Bob is an armadillo and predicts an early Texas Spring
Imbolc, also called Oimealg, by the Druits, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “Oimelc”, which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of the Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Groundhog Day), and in many places, the first crocus flowers began to Spring forth from the frozen earth.
The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterward the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is placed by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.
February Winter walks and starlit nights, Good books and cozy hours, Time for friends, heartfelt sharing, Dreams of springtime flowers… Although it may be short on days, Each February brings The simple little gifts we count Among life’s precious things.
Today it has been 19 years ago, I immigrated to the United States of America. I remember sitting with Katelynn (she was a little less than 4 months old) in my arms in O’Hare (Chicago International Airport), and I had only 22 US pennies in my pants pockets. I was very excited, but also a little bit scared. Because I did not know what the future would bring to us. While Kevin was calling his parents in NC, I looked out the window at the skyline of Chicago. I was thinking to myself: “Omg, what have I done, now? I’m over 4,000 miles away from home, with no money in my pockets, and no job lined up. I just hope, everything will work out alright!” Kevin was working long days and went to school at night. In the meantime, I took care of the baby. Better work came with Kevin’s education. About 18 months after my immigration, we could afford a small house in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas.
Now 19 years later, having a house full of kids, dogs, cats, a backyard, and a car, in Connecticut, I still have “no money” in my pockets. After the bills are paid, there is usually not much left. I learned there are a lot of great people in both places, my home and my home of choice. I traveled all over the US to enjoy the different mentality and hospitality of these states. I also enjoyed the landscapes this country provides to all of us. Here, I look back to close to two decades of a great journey. Now I’m excited to see, what the next 19 years will have in store for me and my family.
People frequently like to ask me this question: “But you do get the chance to get home and visit family and friends quite often, don’t you?” I have to disappoint y’all. I came here and never went back. And I never regretted my decision, either.
Atop the most southerly hill in a chain known as the Seven Sisters, William Hooker Gillette, noted actor, director, and playwright, built this one hundred and eighty-four-acre estate, the Seventh Sister. The focal point of his effort was a twenty-four-room mansion reminiscent of a medieval castle. The woodwork within the castle is hand-hewn southern white oak. Of the forty-seven doors within the structure, there are no two exactly the same. And each door has a handsome external latch intricately carved of wood. Even the Castle’s furnishings are indications of Gillette’s inspirations. The built-in couches, a movable table on tracks, and light switches of carved wood all point to his creative genius.
Since Kevin and I went to the Devil’s Hopyard State Park, we went to Gillette’s Castle State Park as well. Since they are about 15 minutes apart, and we were in this area already, mind as well we visit it. We arrived at the castle and noticed, that it is under construction. Which is okay with me. At least I know, where part of our taxes goes. And the castle needs to be maintained for future visits. During our visit, we found out that the castle was built with local fieldstones, which are supported by a steel framework. This gives the Gillette castle a Medieval look. Mr. Gillette also built a three-mile narrow gauge railroad. While the Castle sits in New London County, the biggest portion of the State Park is in Middlesex County.
William Hooker Gillette was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1853. His father, Francis Gillette was a U.S. Senator. William Gillette visited numerous colleges including Trinity, Yale, Harvard, etc. But he never received a degree. In 1916 Gillette had his most famous role for his portrayal of “Sherlock Holmes”. He passed away, due to a pulmonary hemorrhage, in 1937 at the age of 83 in Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1919, the former State Park and Forest Commission obtained an 860-acre parcel located in the Millington section of Haddam. The principal feature of the park, Chapman Falls drops more than sixty feet over a series of steps in a Scotland Schist stone formation. The falls also once powered “Beebe’s Mills” named after the original owner. The mills operated until the mid-1890s.
A search for the origin of the name “Devil’s Hopyard” reveals a wide variety of different stories; none of them are verifiable and all are likely to be more fiction than fact. One of the most popular of these stories is about a man named Dibble, who had a garden for growing hops used in the brewing of beer. It seems that through usage, Dibble’s Hopyard became Devil’s Hopyard. There are records of several farmers having hopyards in the area, but there is no mention of a landowner named Dibble. However, Dibble might have been a tenant.
Another tale focuses on the potholes near the falls, which are some of the finest examples of pothole stone formations in this section of the country. Perfectly cylindrical, they range from inches to several feet in diameter and depth. These potholes were formed by stones moved downstream by the current and trapped in an eddy where the stone was spun around and around, wearing a depression in the rock. When the rock wore itself down, another would catch it in the same hole and enlarge it. We know this now, but to the early settlers, the potholes were a great mystery that they tried to explain with references to the supernatural. They thought the Devil had passed by the falls, accidentally getting his tail wet. This made him so mad he burned holes in the stones with his hooves as he bounded away.
Kevin and I drove to the Devil’s Hopyard State Park by East Haddam. I wanted to see Chapman Falls. The weather was great. We had 50℉/10℃. And there were a lot of people hiking with their kids and dogs. I believe there was also a small photo group in the park. Kevin and I hiked the short Chapman Falls Loop Trail. Some areas were a little muddy. Due to the fact, we had rain and snow last week, I can see the Eight Mile River flooding its shores. This time of year is still the best time to go hiking in these state parks. Once Spring arrives a lot more locals will come out, and tourists will be all over the place. We can’t blame them. It is a beautiful State Park.
In 1851, Eli Terry built a dam on the Pequabuck River to supply water power for a new factory, the Terryville Manufacturing Company. Located on Canal Street, the shop made clocks and clock parts. Water from the pond was diverted down a canal to turn a water wheel that generated 35 horsepower at full speed. In 1864, the factory became the Eagle Bit and Buckle Company, manufacturers of harness bits and buckles for the Union Army during the Civil War. Eventually, locks for mailbag pouches were made here. Later a sawmill occupied the site, and by 1908, it was a woodturning plant.
Originally Kevin and I planned to hike the Orenaug Park Trail in Woodbury. But we couldn’t find the entrance to the park. So, we went down to the Trolley Bed Trail. There we followed Stone Brook to the Woodbury Reservoir. Even with temperatures in the mid-30s and snow in the forecast, it was a comfortable hike.
Originally a creation by Christy Hargrove, National Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21 is a day to learn about and celebrate the world’s cutest rodents. Here’s the thing about squirrels: some people hate them and say that they’re an “invasive species.” But can those people leap across a space ten times the length of their body? Didn’t think so.
At the turn of the century, this was the site of the Diamond Match Company. Scenic waterfalls are at the northwest end of the Park on the Eight Mile River. The Larkin Bridle Trail is nearby. Southford Falls was established as a state park in 1932 and has 169 acres.
Temperatures near the freezing point, a chilly wind, and some snowflakes won’t stop Kevin and me from a hike in January. We are good to go as long as we are bundled up and the trails are not icy. Last weekend, we decided we hike in Southford Falls State Park. Mainly, I wanted to see the falls close to the parking lot. But we went further down the trail before the fallen trees stopped us in our tracks. There we’ve noticed, bigger snowflakes coming down. Before it got too messy, Kevin and I went back up the trail. I captured a few more photos And then we warmed up in the car. Winter weather is cold in Connecticut. However, we don’t have to deal with the bugs in the Winter season.
Change has been constant throughout the 100-year history of this piece of countryside. Where once a shared landscape of farmland and woodland dominated, a campus of higher education overtook them and ruled the property for nine decades. But it too, like the farms and fields before it, lapsed into disuse allowing the woodland to reassert itself and provide us with the landscape we enjoy today.
Since it was a beautiful day, Kevin, Sara, and I went hiking in Camp Columbia State Park for New Year’s Day. It was chilly a little bit. But we bundled up. We took the Camp Columbia Tower Trail, which is a short (0.6 miles/1 km roundtrip) trail. When Kevin, Sara, and I climbed the stairs of the tower, we had a nice view of the Camp Colombia State Forest. I can only imagine, how beautiful the view will be in Autumn again. While Kevin went down the steps and looked up some history about the Instrument House, which is now a ruin, and the tower, I had to get Sara down again. The outer staircase gave her some anxiety. Once she was on the ground and away from the tower, she did fine again.
This morning was extremely foggy. And the fog stuck around when it began to rain around noon. It was wet. But it wasn’t cold. Our neighbor made sure all the critters were fed in his yard. As soon as he poured some bird seeds, the Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches arrived in his yards. We had a lot of fun watching them. I guess, it is time to get more seeds for the small critters and apples for the ‘possum and deer.
The year 2022 comes to an end. And the weather became a lot milder over the week. We went from 3℉/-16℃ to 59℉/15℃ within less than a week. But the rain is supposed to be coming in, tomorrow. So, Chewbacca and I enjoy every minute of sunshine this afternoon.
The few days before Christmas, I was very homesick. No day went by without me wanting to return to Texas. When Katelynn arrived in Denver, Colorado she called Sara on Christmas Eve. Her box arrived on time. And in that box was a Texas Waffle Maker. Awww, that made my day.
The following day, on Christmas morning, Sara wanted waffles before opening the presents. Our pets had to wait a little bit longer for their new toys. Joshua, Chewbacca, Luis, and Benny were patient. On the other hand, Zoey and Ozzy were going crazy. They wanted to play with the wrapping paper so bad.
Eastern chipmunks are found in forests, but also in suburban gardens and city parks, as long as there are rocks, stumps, or fallen logs to provide perching sites and cover for burrow entrances They dig complex burrows with many entrances and chambers as well as short escape tunnels, and each chipmunk defends a small area around its burrow, threatening, chasing, and even fighting with a neighbor who invades the space The chipmunks spend the winter underground, but venture to the surface occasionally on mild, sunny days They enter torpor for a few days at a time, and then arouse to feed on stored nuts and seeds Life expectancy in the wild is slightly more than a year.
Tonight, Joshua jumped up on the cat tree. It’s much warmer up there than on the cold den floor. He loves to look at the lights on the tree and play with those bells, I hung on the top post. When Joshua has enough, he lies down and takes a cat nap. ~ “MEOW!”
Yesterday around noon, it started to snow. The snow covered the trees and grounds. But it didn’t stick to the asphalt yet. So, the streets stayed pretty clear until dusk.
This morning looked completely different. We have a Winter Wonderland in December. And it looks so beautiful. All night, the snow plow trucks kept cleaning up the streets. Kevin was up and cleaned the driveway at 5 o’clock. Sara couldn’t sleep and she took over for Kevin. He needed to get ready for work. Sara had a 2-hour school delay. so, she kept pushing snow off the driveway until it was clean.
It is perfect timing for the Christmas/Yule season. The snow started at noon. And it hasn’t stopped to snow. The forecast says it is supposed to accumulate 4 to 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) overnight. We will see, how true this is at sunrise tomorrow morning.
This evening, we had a nice sunset of pink, purple, and orange. The surrounding sky had pink and blue as well. It was so pretty. Since I had the camera in my hands, I also captured a few Christmas photos.
Benny loves to relax under our Christmas tree. He enjoys slip and slight with the tree skirt around in the front room. And it is even more fun when Ozzy joins him in his mischievous behavior. Benny is such a funny cat.
Last weekend, Kevin and I purchased a Balsam Fir for Christmas. Two weeks prior, I ordered new Christmas ornaments. On Sunday, I decorated the tree. And today finally, I came around to capture several photos. The cats got a hold of the tree skirt. And the dogs think they can use some ornaments as dog toys. It never gets dull with our furbabies. This is one of the reasons, we changed our Christmas baubles from glass to plastic. So far, the pets have kept their paws away from the wooden ornaments. They are all excited about the season.
November comes to an end, and so does the Autumn season. The days become shorter, and the nights are much longer. We have some nights below freezing. The greenhouse is done for this Autumn. Since mid-November, I fill the feeders with hot pepper bird seeds to keep away Bruno from trashing the trays. The birds don’t mind the hot seeds. It’s still November. But soon, the last month of the year will arrive.
Since Kevin and I were on our way to Danbury, I mentioned the new Sandy Hooks Memorial to him. “Well, it’s not raining. Let’s get off Interstate 84 and check it out!” Arriving at the parking lot, we were not the only people visiting the Sandy Hooks Permanent Memorial. Several visitors came to look at the new place on Black Friday, since it was recently opened on November 13th. Kevin and I walked around the Reflecting Pool to read the engraved names of the victims of the school shooting, which happened almost a decade ago.
The Sandy Hooks Memorial has a Visitor Plaque at the entrance, which includes a quote from former U.S. President Barack Obama when he spoke at an interfaith vigil at Newtown High School on December 16, 2012.
Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world, too, has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you.
Encased within the stone is soil created from items left in impromptu memorials throughout Newtown in the days following the tragedy.
The Reflection Pool is the main feature which sits at the center of a circling network of gravel paths. In the very center of the basin is a young sycamore tree, symboling the young ages of the victims
The memorial is perfectly designed for what it sadly represents. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look in Spring and Summer when all the flowers bloom and the ornamental grasses will complement them.
The Grand Opening of the Watertown Barks & Recreation Dog Park was three weeks ago, I believe. Sara was bugging us to take Zoey to the park, since our Zoey had the zoomies, lately. So much energy has to go somewhere. Today we went to the dog park. And Zoey got so excited, she jumped straight out of the car, after I opened the door. She wasn’t going far. And thank goodness, she had her leash on, which I could grab easily. Once she was in the gated area, we could release her from the leash. Immediately, she made friends with a couple of dogs, who greeted her at the entrance. At the end, she said hello to a dozen of dogs and their owners, before she got tired. And it was time to go home.
It definitely gets colder here in Connecticut. The west wind is stiff. Even with “onion layers” of a t-shirt, two hoodies, and a jacket, I’m still chilled to the bones. It will take a while for me to get used to these temperatures again. In the meantime, I have some scented candles burning to keep me warm. Brrrr! 🥶
The leaves hang on to the last moments of Autumn before they will give in to the wind, the cold gets too strong and they’ll drop. Yesterday, we had our first light snowfall in Connecticut. Winter sure is coming soon. Maybe we will have a white Christmas, again. 🎄☃❄