I’m delighted to be back in the Upper Valley region of NH & VT in time for strawberry season. We are fortunate to have an excellent organic farm nearby, Cedar Circle Farm, just up the river on the Vermont side. So yesterday morning you could find me out in their U-pick field before the sweltering summer weather arrived – quickly filling a six-quart tray with the best, ripest strawberries. I filled one tray with Jewel berries, suitable for freezing, and another quart with AC Valley Sunset berries, with plans to eat them within one or two days 🙂
The result was delish – strawberry shortcake for dinner dessert.
I haven’t visited Charleston (or anywhere in the southeast) for two and half years, so it was essential, during this visit, to find some good barbecue. Charleston has, of course, many barbecue restaurants; thus we found ourselves checking out one of the newer favorites, Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ. We visited at lunchtime on a Saturday – and were lucky to find a table for two. It’s a simple counter-service joint: wait in a long line, order at the counter, get a number, and some time later your order will be delivered to the table.
During a two-week visit to Kiawah Island, I was able to tag along with my father and visit some of his favorite birding spots. Check out my gallery for some shots of herons, egrets, stilts, storks, oystercatchers, and an impressive osprey tending its nest (below).
It’s time: I am leaving Facebook behind. Although I enjoy hearing news from my family, friends, and colleagues, I have been increasingly fed up with Facebook’s corporate behavior and with the deleterious effects of Facebook (and social media, more generally) on our society.
I’ve been planning to take this step for over a year, imagining a lengthy essay on the detriments of social media in general and Facebook in particular, complete with citations to relevant literature. But I’ve never found the time to do a thorough, thoughtful job, so this brief note will have to do. I encourage you to watch the excellent documentary, The Social Dilemma, and to peruse some of the articles linked below.
I’m not deleting my Facebook account – and may still post professional content there when needed. But I won’t be monitoring my ‘feed’ and thus, sadly, will miss your news and updates; send me an email, give me a call, or stop by for a visit! If you wish to follow my ramblings, ‘follow’ this blog. Take care, be well, and enjoy some time offline.
Today is the summer solstice in North America, so I was especially interested to see how our solar tracker managed on the longest day of the year. A few weeks ago we doubled our battery storage so we could extend our independence from the grid. Given the extended daylight (15 hours and 27 minutes, from 0507–2034), and the extra battery, the batteries can now last through until sunrise. Although today’s weather was not purely sunny, the system produced over 50 kWh.
In the graph below, the green line shows the battery level declining in the early hours, and climbing after sunrise. The dark blue region shows the house consumption, and the gold region shows the excess solar production… used first to replenish the batteries, and then, after 2pm, to feed back to the grid.
Today was a good day… but not the best day yet. Two days ago was more sunny, and we set a personal record for solar production: 58.58 kWh:
Ever since I received my Tesla Model Y at the end of September, I’ve been curious about how it would perform on a long road trip. So when we started planning a visit to family in South Carolina, I decided to drive – the first time we’ve ever made this 1,000-mile road trip.
Last month I wrote a short note about the spring phenomenon of vernal pools, which can often be found in pretty, magical glens in the midst of the forest. Since then I have made repeated visits to that same small, shallow vernal pool located just a ways up the hill behind our house. I’ve photographed it from the same vantage point just to see how it evolves over time. Although these photos were taken at different times of the day, in different lighting, and not on a regular schedule, it’s interesting to see the succession of plant life as the pool dries.
Last fall, two stems of a large basswood tree finally gave up their desperate attempt to cling to our riverbank, and fell into the river. This massive four-stemmed tree was rotting at the base, and the steep riverbank provided little support. The two river-side stems fell toward the river, laying down at a steep angle reflected the depth of the river along our banks. We asked two tree services about removal, but it would have involved heavy equipment and a large fee. We left the trees for the winter ice and spring floods to remove.
Unfortunately, they remained unimpressed by the spring currents, and yet some of their branches impeded boat traffic along our shoreline. So, a few weeks ago, I scrambled out along their trunks and sawed off whatever I could reach, while the others tied ropes and pulled the debris away from the mess, away from our docks, and out to sea. I inspected the two remaining stems, and the now-exposed rot near their base, and forecast that they would follow soon, perhaps within two years.
One only lasted two weeks (above). So this week I was scrambling out along a new trunk, sawing off what I could, while Andy swam around to pull the debris, new and old, out to the stronger current. I don’t have any photos of the action, but the photo below shows what remains.
The fourth and final stem leans inland… right onto the shed. Hmm.
The spruce-grouse hen, startled from her nesting site, squabbled noisily across the trail as I approached. I was equally startled, as I hiked up the Appalachian Trail on a quiet weekend morning in early June. Surprisingly quiet, actually; mine was the only car in the lot at 7:30am, and I had thus far passed only one small group of hikers – southbound thru-hikers, by the looks of them. So I had been strolling easily up the trail, lost in my own thoughts, when this mother hen leapt into action and directly across the trail in front of me. Read on!
“It sure does look different in the winter”, said the hiker I met on this trail back in January. He had lost the trail just a couple hundred meters shy of the summit of Worcester Mountain, despite having climbed this trail “dozens” of times. After thanking him for his advice, I pressed on and experienced the most exhilarating hike of the season [read that story].
So today, a warm and muggy day in early June with the trees and shrubs almost fully leafed out for summer, and nary a snowflake left anywhere in New England, I decided to head back and see if Worcester Mountain really is “different in summer”. I got an early start, reaching the trailhead by 7:30am, but there were already three cars in the lot. Read on, to see what I found!