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Nature's Notebook

Lime belt

‘This lime stands high in the market and makes a very hard mortar,” D.L. Freeman of Peirce & Freeman told The Berkshire Courier more than a century ago. “In brick and stone work it makes a bond of the greatest strength. It is also used for plastering, whitewashing and hard finish.”

Earlier generations here exploited natural resources with abandon.

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Fallen tree

I gained extra woods hiking days in December, thanks to Mom Nature being penurious with snow. 
Typically I follow old forest roads to look for stone walls, foundations, wells, dams and any other signs of human activity years ago.

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Fifteen species and counting

Now that the weather is more aligned with the season, I’ve seen more activity at my bird feeders. The old lilac bush by the kitchen window does winter duty as a feeding station, with two suet cages, one thistle feeder and two with black oil sunflower seeds. 

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Throwaways

Solid waste disposal becomes ever more of a problem as our population  increases.

Our earliest inhabitants generated little waste as they had virtually no disposable goods. Archaeologists are pleased if they can scrape up even a few broken clay pipe stems and occasional pottery shards at Colonial sites.

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Priceless

There is a very special valley in our region, tucked away high on the side of a mountain with 30-mile views, that has been owned by the same family for more than a century. There is nowhere else like it in the area — it is truly incomparable — which makes it hard for an appraiser to fix its value as real estate. It is even harder to quantify its value for the owner, my friend, for whom it is simply the most meaningful place on Earth.

Tunney in the woods

We take our New England woods for granted. Others find it a respite from urban congestion, foul air, hectic pace — and fists to the head. 

That last reference is to world champion heavyweight boxer Gene Tunney (1897-1978), who took the crown from Jack Dempsey in 1926 in Philadelphia and defeated Dempsey again in a rematch in Chicago in September 1927. Dempsey was the only opponent to ever knock Tunney down, in that famed Long Count Fight. 

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Caesura

Now that the leaves are down, while the frost rests lightly on the barren earth, Nature draws a breath and waits for winter. There is no mantle of snow, nor sheet of ice to cover what lies open to the pale sun. Not everything has flown or gone to ground before the bitter nights begin in earnest. Birds still forage in the stubble. Geese still rise in the morning from open water. Bears shift uneasily at the entrance to their dens.

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Colonists

Two recent museum art exhibits overlapped in displaying the works of colonists. Not Pilgrim-type colonists but art colony colonists who craved the outdoors and sopped up inspiration from rural settings. This was roughly from the 1890s through the World War I era.

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Colonists

Two recent museum art exhibits overlapped in displaying the works of colonists. Not Pilgrim-type colonists but art colony colonists who craved the outdoors and sopped up inspiration from rural settings. This was roughly from the 1890s through the World War I era.

The tune, the taste, the beauty of autumn

Sugar maple gets all the glory, but the last act of autumn’s great pageant belongs to the oaks. The slanting sun still sets the hills alight, but now with the warm tones of old leather, like a favorite club chair by the fireside. Now is the time for oaks the color of oxblood, and rich yellow edged with russet.