Wednesday, March 17, 2010


On Friday, March 12 the Hunter Brook Arm of the New Croton Reservoir was still frozen over. This was at the start of the massive nor'easter that did not begin to wind down until Monday. By then it was 250 miles east-southeast of Montauk and weakening with a retrogradng southeasterly motion. When I looked at the Reservoir on Monday, all the ice was gone. So I'm declaring our ice-out to be Sunday, March 14. The storm was moderate around here, bringing down a few more trees in addition to those that fell in the wet snow of February 25 and 26. In central and southern parts of this county, the damage was severe; winds gusted to near hurricane force down there and many are still without power.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Destructive Storm

February 25 and 26 brought us 18 inches of heavy, wet snow that pulled down many branches and even whole trees in this part of the world. Thousands lost power for up to 5 days. Top is the hill of home on the quiet morning of February 27. Bottom is the messy street scene below the hill on the afternoon of the 26th.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

More on Maps

I highly recommend the wonderful exhibit at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street: Mapping New York's Shoreline.

A Trickle from a Dry Well

The well has run pretty dry. I promise an update on the destructive snowstorm that ended our February. Right now I finally have some good news to bring you. I have discovered a fabulous place to have coffee and look at some fine maps. This is the Atlas Cafe on the lower east side (37 Clinton Street between Stanton and Rivington Streets). Don't skip a visit to the bathroom or you'll miss some of the maps.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the High Line

These photos were taken on my first visit to New York's High Line Park. I've known about the High Line since the 1960s when it was an active railroad and I could see it looming over the street down the block from my school. Watch the video for a great tour:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rainy Autumn

It's been a long time since I've checked in. A wet autumn has kept things green on my hill of home. This was taken on October 29, 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Canadians Drop the Ball

I'm not sure about accuracy of the map of protected lands in North America, which appears in the Spring 2009 issue off the Nature Conservancy magazine. But the paucity of protected areas north of the US border really jumps out. The northern forests need more protection as an article in Audubon magazine from September 2005 makes clear.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

If we learn nothing else from this global mess of our own making, it should be apparent that what hurts one living being in earth’s family hurts all beings, and what damages one place on this planet damages all places. Thankfully, the corollary is also true: What helps one individual helps all, and what helps one location helps all corners of the globe.
Susan Clay of Houston, in a letter to Audubon magazine (March-April 2009 issue)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Late Winter Storm

Here are some of the 11 deer that were herding together in my neighbor's pasture (what's the technical term for this?) on the day after the snowstorm we had here on March 2. View is from my dining room window. By my account, this was the second biggest snow of the season. Today we got up to the mid 60s so most of the snow is gone.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Memories of President Lincoln

Don’t miss the rebroadcast of the film by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Looking for Lincoln. Today is the 200th anniversary of the births of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. This coincidence is covered in the Gates program as well as in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Finally, please revisit Walt Whitman’s sad elegy to the fallen President, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d. The photo above, taken in Springfield in 1860, is thought to be the last of Lincoln without his beard.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Lesson in Courage

The murder of Russian journalist Anastasia Baburova is a tremendous loss as this piece from The Economist makes clear.

Just Say No To Hugo

Don't be fooled by Chávez. The Economist's editorial on Venezuela's authoritarian regime gets it mostly right.

Buy American

Buying American is great. I do it whenever I can, all things being equal. BUT forcing people to buy American is another thing. An editorial in this weeks Economist explains why it's a really bad idea.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Together We Flow Like A River

And together we melt like the snow… Some day, on way or another, I’ll leave these scrabbly hills. I’ve lived around here for 30 years, yet it’s not really home, not a like a place experienced in childhood. I did come up here once as a child. Probably in 1957 or 1958 when my parents drove my grandparents up to Valeria for their getaway from the Bronx. I remember that ancient Furnace Dock Road on a cool autumn day. This seemed the deep country back then. Would that the Bronx had been rebuilt and that the exodus north had not happened, that this deep country had stayed that way.

When the New Croton Dam was completed in 1906, the reservoir backed up the lower Hunter Brook from its mouth at the Croton River to a point about a mile and a half north along the Yorktown-Cortlandt border. Here we are looking at this arm of the reservoir on a mild February 1. This may be the calm before the storm as a major nor’easter is being born in the upper Gulf of Mexico. It is gathering itself for a run up the east coast. That's the Community Church of Yorktown on Baptist Church Road, also today. And last is the beautiful graveyard next to the church. Remember, click on images to enlarge. Today's post is dedicated to Dale Saltzman, who in his timeless wisdom explained to me that Goundhog Day (tomorrow) represents our turn toward Spring - the day when we really first notice that the sun has in fact climbed higher in the sky, that it can warm the chilly air.

A Weight Has Been Lifted

I’m trying to avoid political topics, so just a word about the Presidential election. It feels as if a weight has been lifted from our shoulders with the departure of George Bush. Here in the Huntersville section of Yorktown we celebrated with a great neighborhood party at Ron and Olivia Buehl's. Their beautiful home was decked out in American flags. Obama managed to eek out a majority in Yorktown; he did better in Huntersville. We all held our breath until election night. Everyone was in a celebratory mood at the Buehls. For one evening, at least, the world seemed a little softer… and better.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Before the Cold Sets In

The coldest weather in many years is headed this way. It should be here in a few days. Today is seasonably cold - temperatures in the mid-20s with sun and high clouds. Yesterday's four inch snowfall is coating the trees. Although the photo is taken from inside my living room, it's a fine winter day to be outside.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ice Storm

Hours of freezing rain have left a fine ice glaze on all the trees of my hill of home. We can expect a slow melting as the temperature has reached freezing as these pictures are taken.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

First Good Snow

I love a good snowstorm. It may, in fact, be my favorite thing in all the world. Our best snowfall so far this season occurred on December 19, 2008. The image is from my living room.

On Baptist Church Road

These were taken October to December 2008 and show Faraway Farm and the entrance to Arcadia Farm, among others in this pocket of Yorktown. Click on photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Long Mountain

Finally - out on the trail again, if only briefly. These are from the summit of Long Mountain in Harriman State Park. Top: looking south over Turkey Hill Lake. Middle: the mountaintop memorial to Raymond H. Torrey, cofounder of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. Bottom: east view to Popolopen Torne with the left flanks of Bear Mountain and, across the Hudson, Anthony's Nose. A crisp October day worth savoring.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Drill Time

Quotation of the Day:

American wilderness is bequeathed to us only once; destroyed it is unrestorable.

Rutherford Platt in The Great American Forest, 1965.

Today John McCain named Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Intent on destroying the Artic National Wildlife Refuge for a few months’ worth of oil, she may get her wish if the Republicans win the election.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Turkey Mountain

The summer haze has lifted for a couple of days. It's warm but dry. The photo was taken yesterday afternoon from the summit of Yorktown's Turkey Mountain, looking toward the New Croton Reservoir and the dam with the Hudson River behind.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back to Cold Spring

Our river of record here in its estuarine portion at Cold Spring on Hudson. This is where the pre-ice age river cut through the ancient mountains we call the Highlands. Now the glaciers have melted and the sea has backed up through the gorge cut by the old river (May 15, 2008). Click on photo to enlarge.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Town That Time Forgot

I took these the other day on a trip up the Hudson to Saugerties. The Greek revival mansion overlooks the river. Fortunately it has been saved. That's the Clearwater docked on Esopus Creek.

Clean vs. Dirty

Is it time for Westchester to consider light rail, or, rather, to reconsider it as we had an extensive interurban and trolley system 100 years ago? Photos courtesy St. Louis MetroLink.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Feeling Others' Pain

Quotes of the day:
Look yonder at those poor fellows. I cannot bear it. This suffering, this loss of life is dreadful.
Illinois Congressman Isaac N. Arnold describing President Lincoln's reaction upon seeing a line of wounded men they came upon in Washington in May, 1864, while riding in the Presidential carriage.
White House portraitist Francis Carpenter found him unable to sleep, ‘pacing back and forth…great black rings under his eyes.’
President Lincoln’s reaction to the carnage going on in the Virginia battles as Grant relentlessly pursued Lee (also May, 1864).

Both indented quotes are from Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography by Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt (the descriptions below each quote are my words). Contrast this to the goofy smugness of our 43rd President who sleeps each night like a baby. No doubts cross his simple, unquestioning, self-righteous mind. This despite the fact that he has led us into an unnecessary war which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians, including children.

Back to 1951

2007 had the highest levels of New York City subway ridership since 1951, the year your blogger was born near the A train stop at 168th Street. I took the photo of the Manhattan Bridge on April 29, 2004. This is where the B, D, N and Q lines cross from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

O Sane and Sacred Death

Post title: From Walt Whitman's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd (Leaves of Grass: Memories of President Lincoln)
Top photo: Cemetery, Community Church of Yorktown, Baptist Church Road (taken today)
Bottom photo: Hill of Home from this morning - the day after our first plowable snow in over a month. We got about eight inches, our biggest snowfall so far this mild winter.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Quote of the Day: The Good Republican

On President Lincoln:
Remember also that he was plain, funny, kind, withdrawn. He could talk up a storm or be as quiet as the prairie on a still night. He sounded like a backwoodsman, even in high hat. Up close, it was impossible to fear him. His heart broke over fallen birds and fallen men. He could get fired up or fed up. He was absentminded. He was slow to act. Straining, he grew out of his prejudices. He wrote like a poet. He laughed like a hyena. He cried real tears. Everything about him was real.
Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt from the introduction to Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography. Now we wait once again for a man from Illinois to turn us away from the darkness.
Photo: Abraham and Tad Lincoln, February 9, 1864 by Mathew Brady

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

April in January

We've had a couple of exceptionally mild days. Today cooled off a bit with the passage of a cold front but temperatures still made it to the low 60s. Two photos from today - top: hooded merganser with mallards in Pruyn Sanctuary, Chappaqua; bottom: New Croton Reservoir near Pinesbridge, Town of Yorktown.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Perennial with the Earth

Listen to what may be the only recording of Walt Whitman's voice. He is reading from from America. I hear the old Paumanok accent in these words.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Northern Westchester Vistas

It's turned mild and gray as we head toward the New Year. More like Seattle. We did have some snow and clear days earlier in the month. Here are four shots taken from Hunter Brook Road in Yorktown a week ago. The one with the distant hill is looking down Beekman Court toward the Hemlock Hill Farm and Dickerson Mountain in the Town of Cortlandt. The fourth shot is the final 2007 view of my hill of home.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Challenges Ahead

Please read this sobering assessment of the extremely difficult challenges facing the planet -- from today's Financial Times. This column, by Martin Wolf, underscores the importance of the role of the United States in combating global warming.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Grandly Related

In the streets and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean. No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it,-- dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!! But alone in the distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout-lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even in a bleak and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come home to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful. I have told many that I walk every day about half the daylight, but I think they do not believe it. I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America, out of my head and be sane a part of every day. Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Downstream Views

Dear Faithful Readers:
Forgive me for not posting in such a long time. I have no excuses.
Today's quote:
A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it. Henry David Thoreau
Comment on today's quote: Thoreau was way ahead of his time when he wrote this. We have come to understand the truth of these words but still have great difficulty acting on this truth. From Walking, published in the Atlantic Monthly soon after Thoreau died in 1862.
Top photo: looking down the Croton River from Nordica Drive, Croton-on-Hudson.
Bottom photo: looking down the Hudson River to Croton Point with Hook Mountain and Tallman Mountain in the hazy background. From Finney Farm, Croton-on-Hudson.