Triple tree trouble

If a tree falls in a river…

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.

Trees fallen into the river along our bank.

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.

Trees fallen into the river along our bank.

The fourth and final stem leans inland… right onto the shed. Hmm.

Spring equinox

Spring is here in the valley.

Today is the vernal equinox – the spring equinox – when the length of day and night are equal (equi = equal, nox = night). Actually, “They are not exactly equal, … due to the angular size of the Sun, atmospheric refraction, and the rapidly changing duration of the length of day that occurs at most latitudes around the equinoxes” [Wikipedia]. Here in New Hampshire, Sunrise was at 6:51am, Sunset at 7:01pm.

For those who welcome the arrival of spring, today is when we are adding more minutes of sun per day than at any other time. We’re on the steep part of the curve! This is great news for our solar tracker, which put in a banner effort today under nearly clear skies, with a total production of 45.57kWh:

Technically, the equinox is “the instant of time when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun’s disk” [Wikipedia]. This year, that occurred at 0937 UTC, or 5:37am here in Lyme, which happens to be about when I got up this morning.

Interestingly, it has long been noted this is the “day when the Sun rises due east and sets due west, and indeed this happens on the day closest to the astronomically defined event.” [Wikipedia again].

On cue, the Connecticut River decided it is also ice-out day – the day the winter’s ice breaks up and the river begins to visibly flow. I’m pleased to see open water, because it means that bald eagle might be seen more often in our neighborhood once again, now that it has an opportunity to fish.

ice-out on the Connecticut River, in front of our house

The forecast shows nothing but clear skies, warm days (50-60º) and cool nights (20-30º). Great weather for sugaring! More on that to come…

Bobcat visit

A special treat.

We’ve lived in Lyme for over twenty years and I have spent time in the woods of New Hampshire for over thirty years. I’ve seen nearly every large mammal – deer, moose, bear, coyote, fox, and more – except a bobcat. So I was especially excited to spot a bobcat, at a distance and from behind, at the edge of a cornfield in September. Even then, because of the distance and the circumstance, I was unsure whether it was a bobcat until I’d returned home for close examination of the two photos I managed to snap before it disappeared.

Today, however, I had the good luck to look out the window, across the snowy lawn and the icy river to a dark figure moving along the Vermont shore. A bobcat was exploring the river’s edge, as if to test the ice and consider a move to New Hampshire. I grabbed my Nikon and the 200-500mm lens and collected a couple hundred shots in the two minutes it took him to walk out of sight. Even at 500mm it still takes a tight crop to get a good look, below. See the gallery for a few more, including a nice look at his face while he pauses to drink from the river’s surface.

A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

An uncropped example is below.

[uncropped] A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

Such a beautiful animal. I hope s/he visits again soon!

Mount Cube

The weather this week has been startlingly warm, almost as if summer has lasted into November. Yesterday’s high temperature here at home was 71ºF! It may have been the last ‘summer’ weather of the year – and also the last day before deer-hunting season fully opens – so I was eager to get out for a hike. I try to hike on weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds.

Despite a dense fog clinging to the Connecticut River in the early morning, I hopped into the Tesla for an all-electric drive to one of my favorite trailheads – the Rivendell Trail up Mount Cube, only 30 minutes away. I’ve been up this two-mile route many times, because it gives one all the features of a “real mountain climb” without the temporal overhead of a long drive or a long hike… a stroll through leafy hardwood forests, a scramble up rugged rock-strewn trails, the pungent scent of balsam firs, and distant views from its granite outcrops and 2900′ summit. In the view below, from the summit you can see the foggy Connecticut River valley in the upper right and Smarts Mountain at upper left.

Seen from Mount Cube.

Sadly, the summit has poor views to the northeast, but if you stand on tippy-toes and peer between the firs you can pick out Mount Moosilauke. No photos worth taking, so here’s the summit trail sign, where the Appalachian Trail passes by.

Seen from Mount Cube.

Rowing disappointment

The beauty of sculling on the river.

Last summer when I moved to Switzerland I was, despite the excitement of the new adventures I’d encounter there, sad to be leaving New Hampshire during the prime season for rowing (sculling) on the river. So I was, this summer, looking forward to returning to the river to resume rowing in late July. The first few weeks were wonderful, as I slowly built up my strength and re-tuned my skills for rowing on the Connecticut River where it flows beside our home. It was not to last.

Continue reading “Rowing disappointment”

River trip – to Massachusetts!

We have completed the entire journey of the river through New Hampshire and Vermont!

Pam and Mara on our annual canoe trip.For the past six years we have been canoeing sections of the Connecticut River from its source at the New Hampshire-Canada border toward its mouth on Long Island Sound.  Each year we pick up where we left off the previously – so this year we launched our canoes just below Bellows Falls, and paddled three days to the first take-out inside Massachusetts. As a result, we have completed the entire journey of the river through New Hampshire and Vermont!  We’ve been fortunate to follow the string of campsites organized by the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail and their excellent map.  This year we paddled through a beautiful section of river, with good weather, albeit with some strong headwinds. We passed the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (now being decommissioned), and the city of Brattleboro, and portaged around Vernon Dam.  Continue reading “River trip – to Massachusetts!”

Connecticut River canoe trip

Our annual canoe trip on the Connecticut River – this year, we reach Bellows Falls.

Pam and Andy on our CT River paddle trip.Every year we paddle a little further down the Connecticut River.  Five years ago we started at its source, on the border with Canada, and two years ago we reached our home in Lyme NH.  Not satisfied, we decided to keep going!  This year we paddled from Wilgus State Park (near Ascutney, VT) to Bellows Falls VT.  Although a short trip – two short days with a beautiful sunny Saturday in the middle – it was a lovely trip.  We camped riverside the first night, arriving after sunset and “making do” with a less-than-ideal location.  The second night we stayed at Lower Meadows campsite, a pretty location on a spit next to Meary’s Cove and the lake formed by the dam at Bellows Falls.   Continue reading “Connecticut River canoe trip”

Clyming Lyme from bottom to top

I’ve lived in Lyme, NH for almost 20 years, very close to its lowest point along the Connecticut River.  I first climbed to the summit of Smarts Mountain, Lyme’s highest point, 35 years ago this fall. Now, when I row my shell up the river and past the mouth of Grant Brook, I can see Smarts in the distance, looking regal in its oversight of this wonderful town we call home.  I knew that Grant Brook’s source lay high on the slopes of Smarts Mountain, so it occurred to me: could I travel from Lyme’s lowest point to its highest point, completely off-road?  Yes! Read on, and check out the photos.

The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain in view at rear.
The mouth of Grant Brook, with its source, Smarts Mountain, in view at rear.

Continue reading “Clyming Lyme from bottom to top”

Connecticut River canoe trip

Four years ago the kids and I visited the Canadian Border at the northern tip of New Hampshire, where the Connecticut River is born.  We hopped through the four Connecticut Lakes and paddled for two days downriver.  Each year, since then, we’ve returned to our stopping point and continued to paddle homeward, eventually reaching home last August.  After that climactic moment, what can be done next?  We decided to keep going.

Continue reading “Connecticut River canoe trip”