Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stop, Look, and Listen

The night before last, I was sitting on our back step and I heard a loud noise coming from inside one of the tall maples at the edge of the lawn. It was a short sound, as if something had fallen and become hung up in the branches on its way down. I stared up at the tree for a short time, and then after seeing nothing, or hearing anything more, I went inside. The following morning I returned to the step with a cup of coffee and looked up into the trees, and saw a strange, large black shape.

It was a bird of some type. A large bird.

I went inside and grabbed the binoculars, and took a peek at what was sitting about 25 feet above the ground in that tree. Sure enough, it was a Turkey Vulture. A very large Turkey Vulture. The noise I had heard the night before must have been this large bird coming in to the branches to roost for the night.

Shortly after I began to study him through my binoculars, he spread his massive wings and glided off the branch, down over the stream and out over my neighbors driveway and then he was gone. He was incredibly huge.

Amazing. I had never seen a Turkey Vulture so close. I knew they were large, but that wingspread surprised me. It had to be at least 6 feet long. I imagine that this bird is one of the largest birds in New England. I can't imagine one larger,with the possible exception of a Great Blue Heron.

From my perch in our backyard, I see all sorts of things I would otherwise miss if I didn't take the time to look. It's then old "stop and smell the roses" thing that one does in order to not let the world whirl past them. I've seemed to have always done it, and I am sure it annoys the bejeepers out of Mary at times since I report almost everything I see in the yard to her. She nods, and smiles as she listens to me ramble on about a herd of Chipmunks roaming the gardens, or more recently, the return of the Humming Birds to our back yard.

The Humming Birds used to come to the Fuscia that we had hanging outside the kitchen window, but this year that spot was relegated to yellow petunia. I did hang a humming bird feeder in the yard a couple of months ago, but never saw one stop 'n sip. I got a bit lazy, and didn't change the sugary liquid in the feeder, so I am sure, after weeks in the sun, it wasn't too pleasant to sip. About two weeks ago, I got off my butt, and washed out the feeder, added new solution, and hung it up in the garden from the metal Shepard's crook. Within a very short time these little acrobats came out of the woodwork and and began feeding from the newly cleaned feeder.

They are amazing. I would report to Mary each day how many I had seen, where they fed. Sometimes they would stop by the red Impatiens hanging from the sun porch, other times they would hit the Bee Balm. It's true, they are attracted to the color red, and everything else, as good as it may be, is ignored. At times, they would come towards me, and hover in mid air about five feet from my face and just stare at me.

In the course of a day we had one of the largest birds in our yard to the very smallest, and a host of other feathered fliers of different sizes throughout the day.

Man. I got to get a hobby.

As I mentioned above, I take time to smell the roses, always have, even as a kid. Learn a lot that way, and that habit of observing things from afar has come in handy in other aspects of my life. It's more than useful in my work, and for just plain stalking folks, it's great.

So, here is a bit of unasked for advise for a Friday morning, take a couple of minutes each day and just look. Look at anything, listen for anything from your back steps. Just stare off to the point where your spouse is snapping their fingers in front of your eyes to break your trance. Do this a little each day. Set aside a few minutes each day to completely let the day go from your shoulders, and decompress, and stop, look, and listen to the world around you.

You will never know how much you have been missing until you stop and see for yourself.


  1. Wow Wally,

    Don't be standing under that tree without a hardhat!

  2. Hey Wally,

    Maybe that bird realizes that Route 148 is a death trap and is waiting for a fast-food snack?

  3. If you are referring to the speeding on Route 148, I have to agree. However, the Chief of Police has assured me that permanent signs indicating that the mile before Route 20 on Route 148 will be erected indicating the area is a "zero tolerance" area regarding speed. The old yellow speed limits signs have been changed to enforceable white signs, the speed indicator radar machine has been plopped down on the road several times since last fall, and I've noticed a cruiser sitting in wait a couple of times, too. The signs were promised, and I fully trust the Chief to deliver soon. The sign change, the radar , and the cruisers presence has done little to slow the speeding. What's worse, is school opens soon. I hope there will be no "snacks" anytime soon. It's all in the hands of the Chief now.


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