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, December 28, 2012

First Day Hike At Heins Farm

Enjoy a First Day Hike

January 1st, 2013, 2 PM

Heins Farm Conservation lands Parking at 197 Leadmine Rd. 

Join Sturbridge Tree Warden Tom Chamberland on this guided hike, exploring our winter landscape, Hike is about 1.5 miles long, will last about 2 hours, Children welcome, no pets please, dress for the weather & snow on trails, bad weather will cancel, Bring your favorite winter tracking or tree ID book

Early Winter Wanderings At Old Sturbridge Village

I like to take advantage of Old Sturbridge Village being just down the street whenever I can, especially if I'm home alone, and Mary is off at work.  It's a place we have always enjoyed together.  Today, it is 29 F, and I had some time, so turned into the village for a hike.  No matter how often I go, I am always finding something different.  Today, a group of school children came across the river from the day camp side.  They were dressed in period outfits from the 1830's. Some had metal lunch buckets, and others had wooden baskets.

As I passed a small group of girls, one looked up at me from under her quilted, cotton hat, and greeted me with a happy, "Good day!".  I wished her a good day in return, and smiled as I walked ahead of the crowd.  Her clothes of a long ago time, had given her permission to greet me as she had.  It would never have had happened in the parking lot of Walmart.  We have become to cautious with our interactions today, and we teach our children the same.

The day was bright, and the landscape glistened in the snowy frosting, but that wonderful greeting from such a happy little lady truly made my day.  It was obvious she was not only comfortable, she had been learning as well.  Salutations in the 1830's were very important, and showed good manners.  I wish the same could be said today.

Dirt road leading out of Old Sturbridge Village towards
the Quinebaug River.

School children spending their vacation in the 1830's
at Old Sturbridge Village.

Wool clothes and a metal lunch buckets, essentials of the

A pair of girls scurrying across the common to catch up
with their friends.

It's always warmer in a flock of friends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Maple Lane Farm

We had our realtor take us through this home about a year ago.  I had been watching it for a few years, and hoped one day to see it for sale.  Well, it did sell, when our realtor was away on vacation.  Up till that time it had been on, and off the market a few times, then suddenly it was back on, and sold.  Of course, we were disappointed, but the sellers realtor did give a us a tour of the old home, and we found it amazing.  The interior has changed little since the late 18th century when it was built, and in one room the old "Indian Shutters", heavy wooden window shutters, were still in place on the interior of the house ready to be slid into place in case of an attack.

The photo below is how the farm looked around 1905.  Do you know where it is?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Army Corps Of Engineers Improve An Already Wonderful View

The Westville Recreation Area that straddles the Quinebaug River from Sturbridge to Southbridge is a local treasure.  The river, and the trails alongside, and around the river, offer  wonderful excuses to wander, and enjoy.  There is a large open grassy area beside the water that is perfect for pick up games of touch football, softball, dog walking, and kite flying. Until recently, that grassy area had stopped far from the rivers bank, and the view of the river was blocked by large, overgrown brush.  Now, that has all changed.  The brush has been totally, and completely removed, and the rivers edge has returned to much how it was 100 years ago; it's beautiful.

This is one of our favorite walking places that we try to hike a couple of times each month, but the past six months, or so, we have been a bit busy, and had not seen the current  changes along the river.

A view of Shuttleville from around 1900 to 1910.

The view of the Quinebaug River today.  The area in the center of the
of the photo to the green grass was once tall brush blocking the
view of the river.

The LItchfield Shuttle Works on the Southbridge side of the river
looking toward what still is a grassy area in Sturbridge.  The
remnants of the factory can still be seen along the river.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Of Course, This Would Work, Too; Even Better

And, then of course, there is this way to stop the solar "farm" from destroying a forest.

I read the article below, and a smile sprung to my face immediately.  They got it.  Not only did the selectmen get it, they got it en masse, and acted in public for an immediate moratorium on "non-municipal solar voltaic installations".

They then took it further, and are seeking the help of our state senator, our state representative, and the Governor, to enact "special moratorium legislation" for solar voltaic installations.

The words that made me smile the most were these:

“The Sturbridge board of selectmen believes that ‘as of right’ locating of solar photovoltaic installations in heavily forested residential districts presents a clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of our residents, our environment and the future of our residential neighborhoods.”

The selectman made it clear that the idea of removing a forest in order to put in a "green energy" project was not only wrong in this instance, but would be wrong at any time.

The selectman worked together for one purpose.  The cause was one that all felt passionate about, and that sealed the deal.    

Keep the passion flowing.

Moratorium on solar farms moves forward


STURBRIDGE —  Selectmen last night made major strides in keeping solar farms out of forested residential districts by moving a moratorium article forward and soliciting support from key politicians for special legislation.

In a 5-0 vote, the board moved forward a special town meeting article to put an “immediate” moratorium on all non-municipal solar photovoltaic installations.

The article, which will be voted on Jan. 7, is asking for an 18-month moratorium until a solar farm bylaw is approved at town meeting by June 2014.

The solar farm bylaw would prohibit farms in forested residential districts and forested commercial/industrial districts.

Saying solar farms in residential districts are “in direct conflict with the principles of smart growth and smart energy,” and present “a potential threat to the health and safety,” selectmen, in a 4-1 vote, agreed to seek help from Gov. Deval Patrick, state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, and state Rep. Todd Smola, R-Warren,, for special moratorium legislation.

In their letter to the three, selectmen say the current, rapid move toward solar development has placed large tracts of heavily forested lands in jeopardy of significant clear-cutting.

The letter also says the ability of proponents and developers to leverage the state’s exemption of solar farms installation from local zoning restrictions is contrary to nearly all smart growth and smart energy principles championed by the state.

“The Sturbridge board of selectmen believes that ‘as of right’ locating of solar photovoltaic installations in heavily forested residential districts presents a clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of our residents, our environment and the future of our residential neighborhoods,” the letter says.

In another 5-0 vote, selectmen authorized town counsel to try to block proposed, non-municipal solar farms in forested residential districts.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Image From Our Past

"Henry Haynes began making and repairing carriages and wagons in Sturbridge center in 1834. The business became H & M Haynes when he and brother Melvin became partners. In the photograph, from left to right, Henry D. Haynes, William Booker, Jack Wright, Melvin Haynes, Henry M. Carpenter, John P. Haynes, Henry Haynes, William Perry, ? Trask, Harrison Craig, Lotson Harnant. The shop closed about 1910 under the name H. Haynes & Son."-- Digital Treasures: A Central & Western Digital Library Project