Category Archives: New Hampshire

Photos and Info about where I live

Sugar Plum Farm Tulips

Hi all, I’m almost back.  My injured person has family here and is also feeling better.  I’m attempting to complete several projects related to farming in spring.  I’ll begin posting on Monday.   I plan to start reading what I’ve missed of those I follow, check out those who are new, or showing interested in the So-Journeys blog, over the next few days. Until then, Happy Tulips from the farm. [Click to see full screen and last one is just for fun.]

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Ursus americanus

“A bear went over the mountain.  A bear went over the mountain.  A bear went over the mountain . . . to see what he could see.”  The song goes something like that.  Well I just read a blog from over many mountain ranges west and “saw” a few great bear encounter stories.  The blogger triggered a gaggle of bear stories on my side of the mountain.  (You may find plenty of typoes as too tired to edit.)

Bears Like Toothpaste.

I met a young fellow who was working on the Appalachain Trail during the first of my two trips.  He told me about a time when he and a few friends slept at the shelter in which I would be resting. A bear grabbed his pack in the night.  It was leaning against the end of the shelter just inside the entrance.  The young man found it nearly fifty feet away.  The bear totally trashed his pack but only ate the toothpaste, leaving the food untouched.

Outa My Diner.

I was eating berries along a ridge in the Smokey Mountains.  A loud Hurrrrumph sounded on the otherside.  “Okay, I’ll move on down the line.”

A Bear to Sleep By.

I slept with a bear in camp in Virginial once during my second hike of the Appalachian Trail.  A young bear joined my camping space 15 yards away.  I chased him/her off a couple of times but he really liked what he was eating.  I ate well away from where I was going to sleep, which was on the ground under a tarp help up like a pup tent via trekking poles on each end.

I split my food back into two separate ones after finsihing my dinner and another try to chase the bear away.  The bags were hung up a branch of two trees, far from each other.  I changed my clothing, put them in a stuff sack and hung it up as well.

How does a person sleep on the ground when a bear is dining so close.  Well, I was exhausted after hiking 22 miles.  I couldn’t help but fall asleep.  However, I did create a mental safety margin.  Instead of “counting sheep,” I said over and over “If you feel warm breath on your face, don’t move.”  “If you feel warm breath on your face, don’t move.”  I figured the bear may become became curious about this body lying on the ground.  If such would be the case, then remaining statue still would be a great idea.  Imagine a bear gazing at your sleeping form.  One move would send curiosity into greater action.   Perhaps, a swipe of one of the bear’s massive clawed paw.  Uh, Oh, no more face!

In the Night.

The previous story reminds me of a time when I was sleeping in a hammock at one of my “hide-n-sleep” places.  I was on a ten day bicycle vacation riding from Shelburne, NH up to Fort Kent, Maine and back.  I always find a place to hang the hammock in some trees along the roadside and do so in a place of concealment.  Once I find the place, I wait for zero traffic before running myself, bike and trailor into the hidden place.

I was hard pressed to find a place before dark as I was riding along a very large lake with home after home crammed next to each other along the shore.  The opposing side of the road was high ledges.  I waited until almost dark before running into a tiny space of wild vines, thick shrubbery and a few trees, finally.  It was around eleven pm that the sounds of something crashing through the shrubby area permeated my brain.  I was still asleep so nothing registered until a subconsious thought woke me into conscious clarity.  It was a bear!  I hopped up out of the hammock in time to see the bear in shadow.  I clapped my hands loudly while stomping on a dead branch.  The large dark figure took note and left me alone.  What if I hadn’t awakened?  Whew!

Running Bear.  

There was also the time early in the morning on a New Jersey ridgeline trail.  I was out and about backpacking during the second week of April.   Most nights were cool but this night was a bit warm to keep the closed.  I was lazy and left the door open instead of unzipping the screen.  The nightl critters hadn’t been around much, so no worries.  Pre-dawn my subconscious mind homed in on the fact that “something” was in the tent with me.  The “something” was rattling my pack.  At least, that’s what it seemed to me in my semi-sleeping state.  I sat up and yelled.  I’m not sure what kind of noise I made, be words or a shriek.  Who knows for I never woke enough to see the “critter.”  I did sense it in the air.  Must have done a 180 before hitting the ground running.  I never did find out what the “critter” was.

Well, I prefer to hit the trail early and did so right away.  The trail on the ridge was enjoyable.  I kept quiet to soak in and feel the world.  A dark upturned stump  lay ahead of me.  A few more steps sent the stump running down the west side of the ridge.  From now on, note that the dark root system of downed trees are not always what they seem.  “The bear went over the mountain.”  ha ha.

Bears in Northern, NH.  

At home, the bear population is plentiful.  In fact, there are some well set rules to help prevent messes.  Bird feeders are down by tax day, except those who take them in at night.  The are not put up until the birds need the help.  Some times that’s a bit soon so we refrain from filling an of the fixed feeders and use the hanging type.  We bring them in at night.  Garbage must be inside a well secured area.  Bags are not put out on trash day until within a half hour of actual pick-up.  Seems to work most of the time.  My garbage is in cans inside a rather large barn.  My place (caretaker’s quarters) is an addition on the back of this huge barn.  The front rail doors are closed at night and the pedestrian door is checked as the latch doesn’t always work.  Well…..  one night, I heard the crash of one of the metal cans.  Guess the bear was real hungry as he had pried open the large doors.  He didn’t factor a door opening, light turned on, and a loud, “Get outa here!”  Scared the night-lights out of him.  I walked out to the partially opened doors and saw the bag lying a few feet away.  I could see the bear in shadow.  He was in the inner circle of the driveway among the trees.  He just stood there.  If I could see his face, I imagine his expression would be that of shock and dismay.  He was big or seemed to be in the dark.  I bent down to clean up the mess and found the bag intact.  I said, “Thanks for not breaking the bag,” put it back in the can and closed the doors.

Okay, the bear has gone over the mountain quite a bit here.  One more story.  It’s one of my favorites and took place up here on the farm.

Territorial Dispute.  

It was a bit of a drought year due to little snow and rain for a couple of years.  Everyone and their cousins were coming to our large fields of wild blueberries restaurant.  I saw deer, coyotes, foxes, a coywolf, rabbits and more.  Of course, the bears came too.  There was one bear in particular that loved, loved, loved blueberries or had been starving for several years.  I’d see him early morning until around nine am.  He’d be back by lunch and stay until around three pm.  Guess what?  He would come again in the evening, around six to seven pm.

Our relationship was going well.  If he was in the fields, I would remain in the yard or on the trails.  He stayed out of the yard area.  I enjoyed his company for much of the summer and then he broke the rules  in late August.  Yep, I was looking out the window and noticed big mama bear with her two cubs feeding in the backfield right against the woods.  No wonder she’s huge.  She knows how to protect herself.  Believe me.  She was huge.  The largest I’ve ever seen.  Back to my other bear.  He was sneaking up along the eastern side of the field on a heading toward the north rock wall.  There is an openning to the yard near the garden shed.  I walked out of the barn and saw him ambling toward the spot via a cluster of trees behind it.  I clapped and yelled when he came into sight.  “My space not yours.”  Get!”  The bear backed off and I knew he wouldn’t give up the territorial dispute that quickly.  He’ll try to come in from around the otherside of the garden shed.  I went back to the barn and grabbed a wooden stake of about six feet in length.  Yes, six feet.  I still had one in the big barn after winter.  (We use them as guides for plow trucks in winter.)  I held the stake horizontally in front of me, about chest high.  I shook it and waved it out, up and down while saying, once again, my space not yours.  The bear ran behind the vegetable garden and up the large spruce tree.  I stood in place for about ten seconds before backing off.  I hid behind the large cherry tree and watched him climb down.  Yep.  He’s not done.  There is one more avenue at ready, the Birch garden.  I stayed in the shadows until his attention was focused on his next move.  Sure enough.  The Birch garden.  I ran out of my hiding place waving the stake wildly over my head, like an inverted pendulum.  The bear tore off for the road, crossed it and ran into the woods.

He was back to his routine the next day and did not try for the yard again.  I stayed in the yard and on the trails and he in the field.

Please note that if Mama bear tried that, I’d open the door to my house and say help yourself and I’m outa here!  Please also note that black bears are not pets and are dangerous.  With that said, “don’t try this at home or anywhere” fits this story.  The only reason I held my ground is becaue of our long standing relationship that had gone so well.  Had he charged.  Well, Okay.  You can have the yard but your too small for me to welcome you inside my home.

You would love to read the stories by the blogger who started this whole thing.  Call it her learning experiences.   Click here to go to post.

Below are pictures of the bear from last story.  You can see how much he grew withing a couple months.  Must be the super-charged blueberries.  Click on photos for full screen view.

 

Spring is Here!

It’s official.  As of two days ago, no more snow at Sugar Plum Farm.

Spring is Here!!

Spring is Here!!

Daffodils, Green Grass, Pussywillows, and the number Seven.

A trip to Rollo Fall

Even Dylan is  Happy

Dylan at Rollo Fall copy

The Effect of the Sun

 

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The sun gifts us with joy, delight, and pleasure.  It brings out the best, the beautiful.
Subtle Colors thrive amidst the bold.
Spring brings forth its bounty.  Summer explodes into full bloom.

I’m looking forward to both but summer is winning the race.
The heat of the sun upon my skin.  Its warmth delves deep, right down to the bone.

Good bye frigied cold Randolph, NH winter of 2014-2015!

Alpine Glow

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Alpine glow at sunrise ablaze from my backyard Mt. Crescent.

I’m wishing for spring and the warmth summer.
But a glorious display changed my mind this morning.

What’s the hurry?
Why be impatient?

Give in to the day
And savor its treasures.

A Windy Winter Sunset

Wow!  It’s hard to believe that there have been so many days of high winds this year.  That is, unless you live here.  Today is no different from the rest.  It’s a repeat of the previous ones.  I guess the wind is living fancy free and I am at its mercy.

There have been some beautiful sunsets on these days.  I’d love to share one but you’ll have to settle for a slide show from last year as I feel no compunction to risk my hands and fingers to the sub-zero temperatures today.

Frigid Windy Loader Day

Oh, baby!  The weather usurps a post for 21 days at sea.  The wind has been a whippin’ by today.  It actually started last night when a high pressure system built up out of western New York.  Steep pressure gradients formed around the system went into flight mode heading to the Newfoundland Low.  Cold arctic air is being funneled through these systems via the jet stream and other factors.

Mount Washington, New Hampshire reported sustained winds upward of 122 mph today.  The Valley, Gorham and Berlin reported winds of 15 to 20 mph sustained for a few hours, winding down to 9 mph hour this evening. Click here to see an animated wind map  (current view only).

“The Hill” of Randolph New Hampshire is the Mt. Washington of Mt. Washington Valley.  Sugar Plum Farm, my home, is at the pinnacle of “The Hill.”  The open fields create a great plain’s state feel with the added impact of weather created by mountains.  Our sustained winds today reached upward of 38 mph with gusts to 55 mph to my knowledge.  The windchill value as low as -40 degrees.  That did it for here.  It hasn’t snowed and the fields have been wind whipped clean of snow but Sugar Plum Farm is snowed in.  Where does this snow come from?  It’s being blown off the mountains where it blasts through open areas piling up against trees and downwind of drifts.  We called in a giant loader to open up the driveway.  We will also require a plow truck to open up the driveway again in the morning.

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Dylan came out with me to photograph the snow banks.  Can you see him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loader

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Windswept Snow

 

Loader at Work

 

 

 

 

Finally

I’m finally at rest after two and a half days of listening to wind.  The average mph over time was 33 mph.  However, hours of 40 mph with gusts around 50 to 55 and few blasts beyond 60 mph raged across the fields at my home while the neighbors enjoy the protection of trees or live down the hill.

I checked the internet for a Randolph weather report and laughed as usual, as the conditions are from Gorham or Berlin.  Wind 0 mph and the highest during the roar up here was 12 mph.  I’m sure those snug inside the Mt. Washington Observatory laugh at me.  I checked up on them and saw 93 mph sustained winds.  There’s always the somewhere else that resets my perspective.

We did have a slight reprieve for a few hours on Sunday night.  The clouds fled the sky releasing the moon from their dark firm grasp.  I stepped out the door to have a look and saw its bright light, a perfect white to my imperfect eyes.  I walked back inside to look out a window.  The Elm Tree was back lit by the light of the moon, leaving finger like shadows upon the snow.  It was a remarkable sight because nothing moved.  The tree upon the snow was so still.  This is the picture that fills my head and will do so again and again, every time I find solace after the violence of nature comes to end.

Here are some photos of spindrift that I nearly froze my hands off taking.  For those who know where I live, I saw spindrift flying off Mt. Crescent for the first time ever.  Click on Photo for full screen and description.

I showed this video clip on facebook from a windy day earlier this year.  Try listening to the noise level several days in a row.  (Including the relentless pounding my house took, shudders, creaks and snaps was it cry against the onslaught.)

Finally, some quiet. The photo below is a symbol of the relief and solace I felt when I saw the Elm Tree branches perfectly still.

A Solace Moment during my 12 day winter trek.

A Solace Moment during my 12 day winter trek.

Being Present

Small Pond
Mountain backdrop

Cloudless blue
Orange, green, and brilliant yellow,

Pockets hold shadows
Smooth reflective glass
I touch the wetness

It ripples

More Than A Name

I haven’t been able to put together the next post for 21 days at sea, but feel like putting something in the blog tonight.   I searched through photos and other Snippet in time type writings.   Nothing peaked my interest until I stumbled upon my introduction for a naturalist hike that I led three years ago for the Randolph Mountain Club.   It’s a bit soap-box like but was also appreciated at the time.   I really enjoyed the stories people in the group had to share about some pretty unusual nature experiences as well.  [ please excuse the choppy flow as this was an interactive introduction to our hike.]

More Than A Name

My degree is in sociology and I like to examine the “world” around me through relationships.  I believe that every living creatures, plant and animal (or other), came long before we could stand and/or be spiritually created.  We may have opposing thumbs and the ability to distinguish right from wrong.  But, are we really better than what we see before us?  What kind of example or pattern for life and living has humanity brought forth to all living things?  I think that the natural world is intrinsically much more than we give credit for.  We observe plants and animals showing kindness and then without warning these same plants and animals produce terrible violence.

Some of the most beloved and valuable experiences in my life are rooted in what I refer to little big lives.  Bumble Bees swim when it’s hot and sleep under a blossom or leaf when it rains.  A single wasp digs a nest from hard-packed dirt a few seconds at a time.  Spiders stroll down sidewalks.  Birds play and I’ve heard that Moose do too.  A chickadee laughs.  Squirrels fly.  Ants build rafts out of themselves.  Flies light up.  Bears and Raccoons work together and so on.

Are we really more intelligent and important than all living creatures?  Or, are we a part of the whole that is in existence at this moment in time?  We were not, we were, we are, we will be and we will not be.

Perhaps, we should take note of how we fit into the grand scheme of things with an open mind. Perhaps, we should humble ourselves and give nature a chance to be our guide and teacher.  Slow down, watch, learn, and be attentive.  See the portrait of life painted for those who choose to visit.

“It is impossible to look at one kind of plant or animal in its environment without considering the environment generally – a vital consideration in a world increasingly disfigured by industrialization”  Ian Tribe from Mushrooms in the Wild.

I’d like to add that in this consideration our consumer disfigurement may completely wipe us out while all other life continues onward.

We went out to see what we could find after our little talk.  People assigned themselves to groups that would examine a specific area along the trail via words, sketches, and photographs (whatever tickled their fancy).   I wasn’t going to tell them the names or unique facts.   The object was for each person to make the discoveries, ask the questions and find the answers.

The choices of assignments were:  The ground, shrub and small tree height, larger trees and the sky above.  *It was an amazing experience for me to watch these people who already know so much learn how little we all know in an intimate manner.

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