Pierrepont SP, Ridgefield; Heibeck’s Stand and Weir Farm NHS, Wilton

30 08 2018

24 August 2018

Cherry and I head to our penultimate DEEP Sky’s the Challenge hike: Seth Low Pierrepoint State Park!

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(text from DEEP website):  Seth Low Pierrepont State Park Reserve was a gift  to the Connecticut State Park and Forest Commission from Seth Low Pierrepont upon his death in 1956.  Mr. Pierrepont was a millionaire and ex-diplomat who served as a United States official in Lisbon, Rome, Paris, Santiago and Chile.  He also worked as chief of the American Division of the State Department.  Mr. Pierrepont purchased the estate from the Scott family in the early 1930’s.

Then lunch of hotdogs and homemade ice cream at Cherry’s good find: Heibeck’s Stand (along with their adjacent owned garage bathrooms!) (text from their website): The History of Heibeck’s began when George and Katherine Dlhy (pronounced Delhee) Heibeck moved to Georgetown in 1931. Katherine (known as Dodo by many) cooked in her own kitchen and served home cooked lunches in the two front rooms of the main building. She made her own pastries, pies, and cakes. The office employees at the Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill were regular customers. As soon as they moved to Georgetown, they started improvements to the property, adding redwood log siding and a porch to the main building, and started building Heibeck’s Stand, which was originally located about forty feet from the main building and then later moved and attached to the main building where it is today.

And finally a quick visit to the Weir Farm National Historic Site gardens where I received my note card gift. (text from their website): A National Park for the Arts: Visit the home and studio of America’s most beloved Impressionist, J. Alden Weir, and walk in the footsteps of generations of world-class artists. Set amidst more than 60 acres of painterly woods, fields, and waterways, you’ll soon see why Weir described his home as the “Great Good Place.” Weir’s farm is a national legacy to American Impressionism, the creative spirit, and historic preservation.

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Posters of CT Historic Gardens by various artists made into note cards

Hard to believe but we have only one more hike! It’s a tough one, too. We will wait until it cools down in September to finish up.

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DEEP #12: Sunny Brook State Park/Vientiane Thai Restaurant, Torrington CT

9 08 2018

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We just finished DEEP site #12, and it’s our twelfth hike of the 14–only two more to go!!!

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Interesting cairns along the creek

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Fungus among us

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Crossing the creek

Lunch at Vientiane Thai Restaurant — yummy

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River Highlands State Park, Cromwell CT

25 07 2018

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(Text from DEEP website) Where once there were farm fields and pastures, today there is a totally wooded, wonderfully situated, twenty-first century state park. Dedicated in 2001, this recent addition to the park system preserves 177 acres of ecologically important Connecticut River frontage. Tucked into a growing suburban landscape, River Highlands has escaped development to provide a quiet refuge with a wonderful view.

IMG_5659Lush with mixed woodlands dominated by oak, beech, and white pine, the hilly topography ranges in elevation from about 15 feet above sea level by the river to over 150 feet at the northern and southern high spots on the bluffs.

The most level area, or at least the most gently sloping, is at the park entrance on Field Road. It was here, and to the north, that pasture and field once flourished. Today the woodlands have taken over and the wetland systems have rebuilt themselves offering the visitor a true glimpse of the tranquility of the Eastern Forests.

IMG_5664But the real asset of the park is the view from the bluffs it protects. The Connecticut River, beautiful from so many locations, is at its best here. The bluffs are highest at the northern end of the park rising 130 feet above the water, and the view is ample reward for the hike to get there.

The are many trails in the park to lead the hiker across wooden bridges, over streams, along the 150 foot high bluff, or down to the water’s edge past a unique geologic feature known as the blowhole. Here one can hear the wind as it whistles past the bluffs. The Native Americans came to listen to the “wind being caught by the spirit of the earth.” When the colonists arrived they called it Devil’s Blowhole, believing it was an act of Satan. Sailors knew it as an area of quick winds as the park is just upstream of one of the tightest bends on the lower river.

 

Lunch at Ambrosia, Cromwell

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Moosup Valley State Park, Plainville and Roseland Cottage, Woodstock, CT

12 07 2018

IMG_5547(Text from DEEP website): The Moosup Valley State Park Trail (MVSPT) is a 5.8 mile rail trail in eastern Connecticut. It passes through the towns of Sterling and Plainfield on the rail bed of the former New Haven Railroad. It is a link in the ongoing assemblage of the East Coast Greenway. The former New Haven Railroad operated along this rail bed from 1898 to 1968.

In Plainfield, the trail is about 2.2 miles long with its western terminus at the River Street parking area.  Heading east, the trail skirts the edge of the Moosup River Valley and offers occasional scenic vistas.

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We had a fun lunch at Deary Brothers Mike’s Stand

(Text from Deary Brothers website): As we celebrate our 81st anniversary, we are honored to highlight the fine heritage of the Deary family and that of the outstanding employees who are the foundation of our success.

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(Old) Tom and (Old) Jim Deary (of Dudley, MA.) founded Deary Bros. Inc. in 1913.  They processed milk and other dairy products and distributed their goods from house to house.  They expanded their business into other areas and eventually opened this ice cream stand in 1937.  They found a  perfect location, however the house that stood at the desired location had to be moved around the corner to make room for the new business.  The original house would eventually become the home of (Young) Tom and Teddy Deary and their thirteen children.  Each of the thirteen children worked countless hours at The Stand.

Mr. Jones and Bill Moyer initially ran the family owned business.  The Stand featured the best ice cream in the area.  Five and ten cent cones were served for hours at a time from each of the ten windows at The Stand.

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Next was the Roseland Cottage!

(Text from the Roseland Cottage website): Built in 1846 in the newly fashionable Gothic Revival style, Roseland Cottage was the summer home of Henry and Lucy Bowen and their young family. While the house is instantly recognizable for its pink exterior, Roseland Cottage has an equally colorful interior, featuring elaborate wall coverings, heavily patterned carpets, and stained glass, much of which survives unchanged from the Victorian era. The house is a National Historic Landmark.

Woodstock native Henry Bowen returned to his hometown after establishing a successful business in New York City. He used Roseland Cottage as a place to entertain friends and political connections, including four U.S. presidents. The picturesque landscape includes original boxwood-edged parterre gardens planted in the 1850s. The estate includes an icehouse, aviary, carriage barn, and the nation’s oldest surviving indoor bowling alley. It reflects the principles of Andrew Jackson Downing, a leading nineteenth-century tastemaker.

 





George D Seymour State Park

28 03 2018

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From the DEEP site: George Dudley Seymour was a man of vision. In 1883, at the age of 24, he began his law career in New Haven. His great success as a patent attorney provided him with the wealth necessary to fulfill his desire of land preservation in many areas of the state. In addition to the acquisition of this 334 acre park which bears his name, Seymour and his foundation acquired all or part of seven other state parks: Beaver Brook, Becket Hill, Bigelow Hollow, Hurd, Millers Pond, Platt Hill, and Stoddard Hill state parks and the Nathan Hale State Forest.

This park location in Seymour’s name was once the estate of George, Henry and Thomas Clark. Their Clark Cutaway Harrow Company in Higganum successfully produced cider presses, disk harrows, hay spreaders, plows, carriage jacks and other necessities of the day in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Their wealth enabled them to purchase the land and build their family estate at this location along the Connecticut River. The estate was called Clarkhurst for their own surname, and -hurst, meaning a wooded piece of rising ground.  Here along the floodplain their comfortable lives played out and their agricultural tools were tested.

Over the years Henry purchased the property from his brothers, but with his passing in 1914 the mansion and many buildings began their decline.  Deeded to his daughter in 1921, she attempted the maintenance of the property through the development of a golf course and other recreational facilities. But by the depression years of the 1930s, overgrowth and structural collapse had sealed its fate.  In 1942 the land was acquired by Mrs. Marion Guthrie who, though she attempted its quick sale ultimately held it until 1960.  Gladly the George Dudley Seymour Foundation provided the $60,000 necessary and the Connecticut Forest and Park Association was able to purchase the land for the state.

It is interesting to note that native grasses across the state have been altered or replaced over time as a result of various land uses. But here on these floodplain soils, grass species that date from the 1600s or earlier can be found. These grasses predate European colonization and represent a time only the Native peoples were witness to. These and other grasslands within the park provide an excellent location for bird watching. In the spring of some years the DEEP manages this habitat with mowing and through controlled burns.

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We lunched at Two Wrasslin’ Cats, East Haddam. Good food, great ethics, home to Saturday vigils and various marches.





Middletown Hero: Major General Maurice Rose

19 02 2018

Maurice Rose signA year or so ago, a sign went up on Route 9 as it passed north through my town, Middletown, CT. A section of the road was dedicated to the memory of Major General Maurice Rose. I decided to find out more.

Maurice Rose birthplace plaqueMaurice Rose was born in Middletown in 1899; a plaque marks the location on Main Street. When he was four, his family moved to Denver. Rose was determined to join the military and served in both World War I and II.

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It was in 1944 in Germany, after multiple medals and heroic accomplishments, that Rose was shot by the Germans. His initial grave was later moved to the Netherlands.

In his memory, the following are named after him: a school in the Netherlands, a hospital in Denver, a Jewish War Veterans Post 51 in Middletown, and the Middletown Armed Forces Reserve Center.

Maurice Rose colleague Bob SwirskyThe most remarkable occurrence at a recent presentation about Rose by Post 51’s Karen Uberti was the arrival of a WWII colleague. Almost ninety-eight year old Bob Swarsky arrived by wheelchair, maneuvered by his friend Glenn, to tell of his personal recollections of the day that Rose was killed. With hearing and mental agility that surpassed most of us in the room, Swarsky spoke about many efforts of the 3rd Armored Division, First Army.

Maurice Rose display at JWV51As those who served during that time get fewer and fewer, it becomes even more important and poignant to hear their stories and honor their memories.





A Place Called Hope

18 12 2017

17 December 2017

APCH aviary

When I heard about this place for the third time, I decided I should listen. My first encounter with A Place Called Hope involved their release of a rehabilitated Turkey Vulture at a memorial service for a local naturalist. Shortly after that, I found them while searching for a mentor wildlife rehabilitator, when I began exploring how I might become one. Finally, I saw that the local Audubon society was hosting a trip to visit this rehab facility and I signed up.

APCH field trip

It was the day after our very first snowstorm. Thirty of us, fortified by hot cocoa and pastries, huddled in the welcoming sunlight. Co-Founder and Director Christine Cummings and Vice President Grace Krick introduced us to the organization, while Co-Founder Todd Secki assisted with logistics. Christine described their focus: Hawks, Falcons, Harriers, Osprey, Kites, Eagles, Owls, Ravens, Crows, Bluejays, and Vultures.

Christine and Grace knowledgeably introduced us to the residents (unreleasable birds) of the aviaries. Inspirational and dedicated folks!