Sunday, June 28, 2009


For the past several days I have been caring for friends' chickens. I wasn't part of arranging for this but due to scheduling conflicts and the fact that I am the early riser in the family, I was the one who got the task by default.

I have had very little to do with chickens other than cooking and eating, so I had no idea what to expect. I have had experiences with ducks and geese and they are on the ornery side, so my apprehension was up. The job was to check them in the morning, open up their house and let them out into their pen and change the food and water, and of course pick up the eggs. If it had been longer I am sure that it would have involved more cleaning and shoveling but this was only a few days.

I have to admit I started this with a little of an attitude. A little miffed that the job was falling on me when I had nothing to do with volunteering and also the good grief attitude of these stupid creatures that are going to peck me and constantly try to get out of the pen.

We started the task with the nighttime job and the chickens needed to be herded into their house before it could be closed. They were all over the place and would go inside. The next morning I went over shortly after dawn and heard the clucking from inside. I opened the hatch and one by one they marched out and clustered around me. Give me Space!, I was thinking. I opened up the pen and there were no eggs. Oh well, It seemed odd but then what do I know about chickens. So I filled the food and changed the water and went on my way.

The topic of chicken sitting (try saying that several times fast) came up at work. Not an normal topic but I shared it as the reason I couldn't run in the morning and I mentioned that there were no eggs. Someone who knew something about chickens said, "they don't know you, perhaps don't like you and are scared". Huh! Like me? Know me?

So I pondered on this through out the day. When at dusk I arrive to get the chickens ready for the night I started to talk to them and moved in quieter moves and the easily went into the house and I could close it up. The next morning we did the same routine only I'd gotten smarter than the day before and scattered some food in the pen to occupy them while I tidied things up. They clucked and cooed and there was one egg. As I slowed down I found that my attitude changed.

That night I arrived and they were already in their house ready for the night and I just said my hellos and goodbyes and closed up the house. I could see one of them was on the roost and the others were softly clucking on their nests.

I repeated this each day and they seemed to greet me each morning. Getting the eggs out of the nests no longer required me poking under the sitting chicken as she seemed to know what I was up to and flew out into the pen. Not only did I come to enjoy my short visits with the chickens but the number of eggs increased each day.

These are very basic creatures that need to be fed and given water and be protected from predators and not much more. Of course I know that there is the shoveling and cleaning that I wasn't part of, but that seems pretty typical when you have any animals.

In return for this they gave eggs and had this very relaxing clucking sound that made the beginning and end of the day pleasant. As usual connecting with most anything in nature slows me down and that is usually good and what I need more than I think.

With the friends coming back I have to say I am going to miss not taking care of the chickens. Strangely (or not) I learned something from them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One the truly spectacular views in the Berkshires. A camera can't do it justice.

Click on one of these and open it up and you'll get a better sense.

I could just sit and stare for hours.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I was driving the back road to Pittsfield last night and passing the gates and wrought iron fence of Eastover Resort I notice that the black plastic is around the tennis court. For the locals we all fondly refer to this as the coming of summer and the arrival of nudist weekend.

Most of the resort extended far back from the road so there it lots of privacy and the black plastic is really the only indication of what is going on. Finally after 13 years of living here I did some quick research and it is actually the eastern gathering of the naturalist society.

Unfortunately Eastover is in the process of closing and up for sale. A victim of the economy perhaps and of the cost of maintaining older building and extensive grounds and vying for business from many other more upscale competitors. The buffalo that for decades grazed the vast meadows and coraled area by the road have been sold off as is the huge civil war memorabilia collection that Eastover was famous for in the process of auction.

So we will miss this beacon of summer next year, the black tarps around the tennis court and wonder where they will now go.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I yearn to again feel at peace. I remember that feeling so clearly but it has been such a while. I yearn to not feel that so much is going on that requires my attention that I am skimming on the surface of life and weeks and weeks are passing. I yearn to feel truly well again for it has been such a long stretch without something going on. I yearn to be able to the out in the sun and run for miles, though my conditioning is so far off it would take months to achieve but it would mean that I feel well enough to start.

In my minds eye I can feel the peace....I try to hold on to grasp it.....I embrace it ......and then I usually asleep.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I look up at the sky and to the clouds and think, wow those things are really tall and high up there. The camera makes these look like they are just above the trees. I was driving along yesterday a few hours before a heavy storm and though it was a sunny day there were clouds that were in columns that must have gone up for miles. Miles.... just think of it. Miles to just to get up to them and then miles to the top. How different these are from the wispy clouds we see so frequently, especially in the morning in the valleys. Spacial relationships really are a challenge when you let yourself get lost in the depths of things like clouds. They look so small a solid until you are up in the middle of them. Then they are clearly vapor but go on and on and on.

My daisy patch is expanding and that is good. If I can get them to eventually cover part of the year then that will be even less mowing to do. In our yard we are experiencing a sort of infestation of ticks. Walking out to the far end of the yard to take this picture and I returned to find a deer tick crawling up my leg. My son is up to 16 ticks this season. We have so much wildlife trooping through the wood and into the yard so there are many potential carriers and that isn't even considering deer.

So what to do? The idea of blasting the yard with poison and killing every living thing, seems a little extreme. Plus I like to walk barefoot. There are some organic options but they are very tedious and have to be reapplied. Seems more like fighting the tide. And then there is the chicken option which some friends have used. They seem to have their yard under control, but that seem like too much work and then there are the animals that would love to get a hold of the chickens.

So I guess I'll start by cutting the grass a little shorter and use the organic stuff around the edges and see how that goes. One of the good things about a harsh winter is that many of these bugs get weeded out. But things have been relatively mild for the past few years.

Ah, this challenges of living near the woods. I'll still take it over the city.

Friday, June 12, 2009

At work this morning I ran into a colleague in the bathroom and in one of those 30 second conversations he mentioned, “your big season is starting soon”! I had to pause for a moment before I responded with a nod and sort of a blank ah huh. It was only when in the next sentence that he said "we will be out in your neck of the woods next weekend", that it registered. Tourist season and he is a big Tanglewood fan.

It has been so busy with graduation and end of the year school and work and other activities of life that quite honestly I might totally miss tourist season. There are clearly more people around mostly from the city and some are on the arrogant and demanding side but fortunately they are in the minority I just blow them off. But I guess the busy season has less to do with the tourists as it does with it being summer in this beautiful place.

On the night of a Tanglewood concert I have to remember to hop on the back roads to get home from work or I'll get stuck in the line of cars going basically the same way as me, but we hold the secret of familiarity with where to go and not go and travel the near vacant roads. Then there is remembering that getting to the library in the center of town is difficult on Saturday afternoon because the boutique shoppers are out and especially if there is a crafts fair in the park then parking is sparse. And of course I have two kids who have jobs connected with tourism, so thank you. And there are more cultural offerings if you have the time and money to partake.

But for me the busy season is what this person would call "life" at home. Having a big yard is beautiful except when you have a push mower and it needs mowing every week, avoiding these beautiful daisies that are spreading in the yard.[not complaining, just speaking fact], the house needs painting more often because of the winter winds and weather that rush up the beautiful mountain valley. The deer ticks are out in strong force this year, catching rides on the turkeys and other wild life that are frequently traveling through the yard day and night. The ridge line takes on different look in the morning mists and against the hayfield and wet lands.

Summer in the Berkshires is like summer in so many other places. I guess the difference is that we have some very special "outdoors" and a slightly colder temperature. Sure there is the BSO across town and Shakespeare and Company and other theater productions a couple miles away, but this is also home and as with all folks who live in tourist areas we have every day chores and things to do, just like the folks who come here to enjoy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How many false starts does it take to make a post? Depends on the moment, depends on the mood, depends on lots of things. I have several posts that started out fine but couldn't fine an end. I kept adding and adding until it became like a blender out of control. Ideas flying everywhere, I mess that was a challenge to figure out where to start to clean it up. So one of the wonderful things about blog-land is the ability to just let a post linger in "draft-status" until the mood comes back or maybe not.

There is a saying that still waters run deep and I frequently return to that phrase to understand it and to understand me. Like most people I can be a plate full of contradictions. I can be someone who frets over the simplest of things or apparent slight, who can be luck the character in the Peanut's strip who wears the worry blanket and can lay out every possibility of what can go wrong and remember what did.

Then there is the almost opposite, complete calm and reason. Articulate and measured tones and a total stillness and calm that radiates from within. At times be a most disorganized sort with piles and lists and multiple projects going; but there are the times when my focus is like a laser and it even freaks out my kids when they see this organized driven side.

At this time I am in one of the contradictory states. Exhausted for many reasons and not all that are obvious; pensive about the transitions of time; confused by the lack clarity and inconsistency by others. The calm that I have always relied on is still very much there, anchoring, perhaps holding back, protecting. While on the surface there is this churning - the blender of sorts. Not that messy but weighing just the same.

So that is where this post ends. Very much like life goes on. Some things stay consistent, others drop away. New things and challenges come up, while others seem to resolve themselves over time.