Falling into Place

Summer is fading fast, or at least what was left of the summer that was not much of one. I see that the farmers’ almanac (or the other one – do you know there are two, they have a similar but different names and they are fierce competitors for the “farmers almanac” niche?  http://www.almanac.com/ http://www.farmersalmanac.com/ ) had predicted it will be a cold winter this year in my neck of the country. I think if this proves to be true it will seem even colder. So I will be craving spring even more than usual in 2010.

On a more positive fall is arriving note, I am looking forward to the leaves changing. Every year is different but I think most plants had a great year. Lots of water, not to brutely hot. My unscientific observation is that the better the growing season the better the leaves changing show ends up being.

We will see.

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The Clam Box

A trip to Ipswich, MA meant the wife and I had to go to the Clam Box. It is a typical New England seafood shack. Fried seafood – scallops, clams, fish, etc. Also lobster rolls and some other favorites.

We got there just before noon on a Saturday. Not only that but it was a lovely summer day. Luckily we did not find to much of a crowd. We got in, ordered our food within about ten minutes, and were eating about five minutes later.

The food was great. We had a three way combo. Scallops, shrimp and clams. All batter dipped and fried. This stuff was served on a bed of onion rings. My drink of choice was  lemonade while the wife had an iced tea.

One of the many cool thing about the place was its age. The Clam Box has existed since 1935. That is a long time for any food establishment to be in business.

Late in the day we drove back past the place and the line was a lot longer!

clam-box

Upton State Forest, MA

a trail through the woods

a trail through the woods

Yesterday the wife and I went for a hike in a nice Masschusetts State Forest. The place is a few thousand acres in size. It is primarily forest but there was also lots of water everywhere. A few swampy places, plenty of small waterways, vernal pools and things in between. There was also a large pond at the southern end of the place.

There is a small parking area just off the entrance and you need to walk to get to any other parts of the forest. There are both relatively wide roads that you can walk on and smaller trails.

We headed down to the pond and my wife lost her hat at some point. This lead to a change of plans for our route. We had to backtrack to locate the missing hat. We did find it and we did also succeed in having a pleasant walk.

Overall the Upton State Forest was nice, lots of typical New England forest scenery and good trails.

Out and About

pondA beautiful day! I was able to get out with my wife to a local property that has some nice trails. It was wonderful to see the trees are full of leaves. The last time I was walking out in the woods, a few weeks ago, this was not the case.

We visited a small pond and a vernal pool. There were small painted turtles and ducks hanging out in the pond. The vernal pool had something unexpected, a few children walking around. They had boots on and were literally walking around in the water. Not a real good thing to be doing to a vernal pool around here.  They are fragile habitats and there are just not that many of them around anyway. Their mom was there too. Apparently the kids were trying to catch frogs.

Besides that little bit of disturbance the woods were glorious. It is so nice to be able to get out and about again in some warmer weather.

NH Spring

Some water, ice and trees at Bear Brook State Park

Some water, ice and trees at Bear Brook State Park

Today I took the day off and headed to New Hampshire. The wife and I decided it was time to get out and since it was supposed to reach sixty, figured we could have a good time.

Our destination was Bear Brook State Park. Not far off of I93, so just a little over an hour from home. The park is closed for the winter, meaning the facilities are not open, but you can still “recreate” in the park. At least that was what their website said. This seemed to mean hiking and other such things were fine but you were not going to be able to camp or visit things like their camping museum.

The ride out there was fine except for the gray clouds as soon as we crossed into New Hampshire. I was thinking, when I saw a road sign that said Salisbury, that maybe we should have headed out that way. Perhaps the woods were not looking so good if it was going to rain. Better to maybe go to take a peak at the ocean and perhaps spend some time in the arcade, playing some pinball. All of this seemed even more enticing once we got to the park. There was still a lot of snow on the ground there, as there was a lot of denser white pine forest stands there. It was also quite chilly when I got out of the car.

Turned out I was wrong about my first impression. It was a bit cooler than I would have liked most of our visit and there was a lot of snow throughout much of the 4 + miles we walked. Yet it did get warmer and the sun even came out later in the afternoon. It was also great to be out in the woods. The park has a lot of trails and much of the snowier one’s we were on appeared to be cross country skiing trails. So the snow on the trails was packed well. Another nice thing about this park is there is a lot of water. A few lakes, some ponds and plenty of marshes. With snow melt, water was pretty much running everywhere.

We found an open area exposed to some sun that was alive with ground bees. They were hovering all around, apparently looking to make nests. There were also some ground beetles running around. Black heads with red elytra. Once we saw one of these suddenly we noticed dozens.

Getting some time out in the woods, having a chance to relax for a day with my wife, seeing signs that spring is soon to be coming on strong….all good things and it made for an awesome day.

Spring Itch

Spring has arrived. At least on the calendar. Spring has not so much arrived outside. I spent most of today walking around in the city. The wind was blowing off the water, it was not to warm to begin with and I was cold! So I get a little cranky about the weather at this time of the year. Last year I escaped to Australia for almost two months in Nov/Dec so early spring was not so bad. This year I’m ready for warmth. And I only get more inclined to want it to be warmer when I talk to my southern relatives.

Lot’s of flowers are out, in fact they have been out for about a month already.

I have already started planning and doing some planting in the garden.

If I don’t get those plants taken care of soon, it is going to be to late to get them going this spring.

(can you tell my Mom is a gardener?). Here in New England we have one little tiny flower that is out in the front yard. Obviously the plants are a lot slower here than they are down south.

The other thing that happens in spring for me, a lot of years, is the need to get away from home. For many reasons I just can’t get away as much this time of the year. I want to, I try to and just can’t or don’t. So by the time spring rolls around I start reading about things like the best tropical islands and it makes me a little bonkers. How much would I enjoy lounging on the beach at this time of year, especially in the tropics somewhere! Heck, at this time of the year, I would even be willing to go back to Dallas (despite how much I disliked my time there a few years ago). I could get my buddy to launch his boat in Joe Pool Lake and I could just lay around soaking in the warmth! I looked and it was in the mid seventies there today.

O well. Another month will go by and I will have no need to be bitchin any more. I might even get a chance to go on a road trip next week, which of course would help tremendously with the early spring blues I’m feeling.

Australia’s Kwongan Heathland

I was trying to find some information today about a place I worked in southwestern Australia. I stayed in Western Flora Caravan Park, just north of Eneabba, and did my work in the native Kwongan heathland found there. The park is on the other side of the earth and far from habitats and parks that I am used to – places like the forests of New England or Island Beach New Jersey.

Some random facts:

The area is a biodiversity hotspot with a large diversity of flowering plants.

The Geraldton Sandplains are an ancient and very deep geological formation.

The soils are nutrient poor and the climate is tough. It is not quite a desert but it can seem like one at certain times of the year.

Bird diversity – relatively low
Reptile diversity – very high. Australia is generally know as the most diverse regions in the world for reptiles
Temperatures – often the hottest temps for the local region are recorded here. High 40’s in the middle of the summer (Jan and Feb) are not unusual.

Some links and other info:

The point of my searching around today was to find this factoid….. the rush like plants that are common in the Kwongan heathland are in the family Restionaceae (this may seem strange to most folks but I needed to know this for some writing I am doing).

Some interesting pictures around Eneabba.

One of the better introductions to the natural areas in the Southwestern Australia Biodiversity Hotspot.

And that is it for my little research notes.

Be well.