Guest Contribution

Of squabbling squirrels and wily woodpeckers

Quarrelsome squirrels and irritating woodpeckers are just two of the creatures wandering my backyard these summer days. Add to them black bears, attack chipmunks, a lame bobcat and assorted birds, rabbits, mice etc. And that’s not even counting the teeniest tiny things out there. I’ve read there are as many as one billion living bacteria making their home in a teaspoon’s worth of my garden dirt, enabling all those weeds. 

Being thankful

One morning, like any other, in December, I was lulled awake by my clock radio and my favorite public station. I took my time, as I had taken the day off, and enjoyed the warmth and comfort of my beautiful bed with a great mattress, clean sheets, and fluffy comforter. I got up, used my indoor plumbing, and made hot tea, with sugar and fresh milk, and I climbed back in bed and watched my favorite morning show on TV. When my dog finally woke up, we took a walk outside through the beautiful lawns and gardens of the six acres where I live.

Fighting the winter blues

We are all inherently heliotropic, drawn to the light, both physically and metaphorically. This time of year, many of us fall victim to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), more commonly known as “the winter blues,” a form of depression closely related to the scarcity of daylight during the colder months. This affliction is more common in northern latitudes and to some degree probably affects more than 10 percent of all New Englanders. Typical symptoms are sadness, listlessness, irritability, and sleeping problems. 

A farmer’s view of the USDA recall process

In the recently reported recall of beef in which we were named (Whippoorwill Farm) we learned very quickly that in many ways the system works.

We received word from Adams Farm (the custom meat processor) in Athol, Mass., of the recall and the link to the food safety and inspection service (FSIS), which is part of the USDA, where all of the lot numbers were listed.

Three writers in a barbershop

Part 3 of 3


In a 1977 interview with his friend Federico Fellini, Simenon remarked, “You know, Fellini, I’ve been a better Casanova than you. A year or two ago I figured out that since the age of 13 and a half I’ve had 10,000 women. It wasn’t a vice. I have no sexual vices, just a need to communicate. And even the 8,000 prostitutes among these 10,000 were human beings.”

Three writers in a barbershop

Part 1 of 3

It is long gone now, but for nearly 50 years there was a barbershop in Lakeville. One barber chair, two waiting chairs. It was the last in a string of three or four stores that are now occupied by a pizza parlor, hair salon and an art gallery. The barber was named Bob Fiengo, a short, animated Italian fellow in his early 70s. His shop was within walking distance of my house. 

Letter from Haiti

Louise and I flew into Port-au-Prince near the end of June with four duffle bags filled with 200 pounds of free medicines, courtesy of AmeriCares. The meds were destined for the burgeoning, but needy, Centre de Santé Communautaire de Marre-Joffrey, a health clinic located deep in the Southeast.

For my Father and Salisbury on Memorial Day

My family always enjoyed attending Salisbury’s Memorial Day celebrations, especially when the children were young. I am no expert on Memorial Day commemorations, but it always seemed that Salisbury got it right, with the correct measure of reverence and respect balanced with fun and celebration. It is truly a wonderful event.  

Impressions of working at Lesbos as refugees disembark there

In the past five days I have experienced more than in the past 25 years. The day I arrived in Lesbos, a terrible accident took place in which a boat with about 250 refugees capsized. I saw how it affected the doctors and nurses confronted with the need to resuscitate so many children. They are trained to do this, but nobody is prepared for this. 

The 40th anniversary of FOI in Connecticut

The Connecticut Freedom of Information (FOI) Act is 40 years old. In reflecting on this milestone, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at its passage from a historical perspective, comparing the beginning of Connecticut’s FOI Act in 1975 to the beginning of the federal FOI Act in 1966. Their births were very different but equally fascinating — I’d call it “a tale of two laws.” 

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