Autumnal Rites

We got the predicted rain last night.  Sometime after midnight, in the darkest hours of the night, the rain began to pour.  It was hard not to notice.  Even the cat was intrigued, opening the curtains to look out despite the fact that it was before dawn.

Batten Down the Hatches

Early Friday, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for parts of New England. Tropical Storm Henri will likely develop into a hurricane before making landfall on the northeastern U.S. coast this weekend, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Brattleboro Heat Wave Advisory

 The weather forecast for the remainder of this week includes dangerously high heat and humidity. Town of Brattleboro urges everyone to drink plenty of water, wear light clothing, and stay out of the heat as much as possible. 

People who need some cool air can visit the Senior Center at the Gibson Aiken Center (207 Main Street), Brooks Memorial Library (224 Main Street), the Central Fire Station (103 Elliot Street), or the West Brattleboro Fire Station (16 South Street). 

Dealing Rationally With Environmental Apocalypse

Unless you’ve really been living in deep media seclusion, you probably already know the planet is in big trouble. The planet’s troubles, expressed as record heat waves, epic wildfires, prolonged droughts, biblical rainstorms, and erratic weather patterns, have led to all kinds of disruption here below.  Mother Nature isn’t just angry — she’s in crisis.  Which isn’t surprising since humans have been systematically trying to kill her off pretty much since the dawn of mankind.  Clearly she can’t take it anymore.

But elaborate metaphors aside, I’ve been worrying more than usual about the state of the environment and the decline of the natural realm, from the changing climate to the alarming loss of wildlife around the world.  Although it’s easy to forget these things living in Vermont, we do not live in a bubble.

The World Is Too Much With Us

When the world is too much with us I turn to the birds. Most of us have been in need of some sort of refuge these past few years and I have found the observation of the bird population to be an activity that has helped to clear my head and get a better perspective on the world.

I am not what might be called a birder. I do not count species and I do not make birding treks to look for rare species. Quite simply, I have put up a suet feeder and a hummingbird feeder in my yard so that I can watch the activity from my deck.

At first I wondered if feeding birds year round was a bad thing for birds. My research has shown me that there are pro’s and con’s but that, overall, birds are not usually harmed by having a handout on a regular basis.

IPCC Interactive Climate Map + New Report

Here’s a new interactive climate map from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

They describe it as” A novel tool for flexible spatial and temporal analyses of much of the observed and projected climate change information underpinning the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, including regional synthesis for Climatic Impact-Drivers (CIDs).”

Wildlife Rescues at WCHS

Some news from the Windham County Humane Society:

” Many of us in Windham County know the awesome work done by local wildlife rehabilitator, Patti Smith. Patti has worked for decades with Dr. Ron Svec (WCHS’s newest board member!) of the VT-NH Veterinary Clinic when wildlife needed medical care. When Dr. Svec recently retired, Patti called up the shelter with what she thought was a big ask – would we be willing to allow vets to use our surgery space for wildlife?

The answer was a resounding YES! Former board member and veterinarian Dr. Susan Kelly was also up for the challenge. So when an opossum was injured by a dog, Dr. Kelly gave us a call. Momma possum had four joeys in her pouch. The babies were healthy but mom had a nasty injury 2/3 of the way down her tail. Baby possums need the entire tail because they sometimes hang by their tail. Adults use their tail to gather brush but don’t hang by their tails.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

It’s an ill wind that blows no good…  Just kidding. As most of us are probably aware, there’s been a lot of smoke in the air recently, although what zephyr it blew in on I have no idea.  We noticed it last night around sunset, and by the time we went to bed, we could see this strange fog enveloping the area, detectable even in the dark.  The trees seemed really distant, we could only see one star, and when a car drove by, there was complete white-out and all the trees disappeared.  Although the National Weather Service forecast was calling it “haze,” it seemed pretty smoky to me.

This morning, it cleared off, but after noon, it rolled back in like gangbusters.  I was surprised to discover that not only can you see the smoke, you can smell and taste it too. I even noticed my eyes burning which is normal if you’re in a smoky environment, but frankly, you just don’t expect to be in a smoky environment as a result of a fire 2500 miles away.  

Cutting to the chase, it’s worth noting that for this afternoon at least, out air quality puts us in an Orange zone as indicated on the EPA air quality web page; this means “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.  If you cross the river to NH or drive over to NY, the adjacent areas there are Red zones — which is simply “unheathy air.” You can see the regions highlighted on the map at the link below.

Plant Trees with 350Vermont this Spring!

Rewild Brattleboro
Planting trees, sowing justice, growing community

350VT’s statewide Rewild Vermont project builds on synergies between food justice, climate action, and ecological restoration, and we’re excited to dig in locally! Fill out this google form to reserve trees to be planted this spring, either as an individual or as an organization.

The Much-Needed Snow

snow person head

I think we all needed this snowfall. There’s something calming about a big blanket of snow that keeps people inside, vehicles off the road, and so on.  

It purifies. Think how happy Dorothy and friends were to have Glinda cover them in snowy flakes. It took away the witch’s spell.

Isaias Heading Toward Vermont

Tropical Storm Isaias is pounding the Mid-Atlantic as I type this, and is heading our way. And although it is centered over Maryland right now, we’re getting hit with the outer bands of rain already. This storm stretches from Virginia to Canada at the moment.

Originally it was tracking to the east of us, then directly over us. Unfortunately for this area, the storm track has shifted west and the center is aiming at Albany. That puts us in the “worst” quadrant of the storm – the 12-3 o’clock positions. The heaviest rain and winds are usually in this section of a storm like this.

Oh, Yeah. The Climate… New IEA Report Offers Sustainable Recovery Plan

Coronavirus. Protests. Police. Elections. Masks. There is a lot to be thinking about right now.

Add that pesky climate emergency back on the list:

“The world has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, one of the world’s foremost energy experts has warned.

Baby Robins – From Egg to Fledgling

In addition to the baby foxes this spring, we were treated to a robin’s nest outside of our dining room window. An enterprising pair of robins built a really great nest in the rhododendron bush, and three blue eggs were sat upon by mom.

I got a bit of video every day, from egg to feathered baby robins leaving the nest.

Friday Fun – Fifteen Minutes of Family of Four Furry Fox Kittens (video)

We had a real treat last week. I was looking out the back door as I often do and noticed a few little heads peeking out from under one of our outbuildings. One, two, three… oh my… four baby foxes!

From last Friday through Wednesday we got to watch them come out for the first time to explore the world. Mom came back at regular intervals to check on them, but she’d leave them for extended periods while she went off hunting.

A Ballet of Rain

I found myself standing in the upstairs window, watching the rain fall in the meadow outside and humming “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”  Clearly, I thought, I want to ride away on a sunshiny day in search of adventure.  Realizing that wasn’t likely, I continued to watch the rain as it fell, gradually noticing the budding silver maple just outside the window.

Emerald Ash Borer Preparedness & Management Workshop

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a destructive and invasive forest pest that feeds on all species of ash trees in North America. Over 99% of ash trees will likely succumb to EAB and die. With EAB confirmed recently in Windham and Bennington Counties (Londonderry and Stamford, VT), communities in the region are encouraged to prepare for the impacts of the pest. Windham Regional Commission, in coordination with the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program will hold a Emerald Ash Borer Prepardness & Management Workshop on January 29, 2020 from 4:30 to 6:30pm at the Newbrook Fire & Rescue Community Room at 698 VT Route 30, Newfane, VT.

Moose Sighting in Brattleboro

On Friday October 11, 2019 I encountered a bull moose off the beaten trail of some woods in Brattleboro.  Earlier in the week on Monday, I had seen the same moose, or perhaps a different one, in the exact same location.  Before I saw the moose, I had encountered a pile of his fresh poop, and marveled over how each piece was the size of an acorn! 

Autumn Crickets — Singing Their Way Back Home

Mr Cricket In Cup

At first, I thought our cat was bringing them in.  There seemed to be a cricket in every corner — crickets behind the bookcase, crickets in the sink, crickets behind the refrigerator, all chirping away.  As fast as we could catch them and put them back outside, more would arrive.  One cricket even had the temerity to hop back in the moment his feet hit the welcome mat on the other side of the door.  What was up with the crickets?