Saturday, March 31, 2012

Connecticut Skunks

A family of skunks traveling through suburban Connecticut. The babies were quite fluffy and followed mom eagerly. I thought about opening the door to take a better picture. Then I thought again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

At the Bridgeport Historical Society

We had a great time talking about Connecticut wine with the Bridgeport Historical Society this week. Close to seventy people showed up, possibly more (they kept coming in during the first fifteen minutes and I lost track). Check out the photo of us signing the books...there are so many to choose from now!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The White Throated Sparrow

In honor of Spring, when the white-throated sparrows stop in our yard on the way to the White Mountains and other points northward, I'm rerunning the following essay, first published on Hackwriters, Feb 1st 2006.

On a miserable hiking trip in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, a friend and I were followed and encouraged by a particular birdsong, simple and consistent, loud and joyous. We may have forsaken that grueling June march if not for those bright, invisible voices. But the name of the feathered animal that had cheered us on our way remained dark. 

 The mystery nagged my imagination, appearing whenever I heard the Spring music of the forests. I dabbled with taped bird-songs from my local library and listened for the melody during my many wood-walks. Nothing for four years. On another trip to the valleys of the White Mountains in a cold May, I strained my ears for the song, but snow and rain may have kept the enigmatic creature away. I didn’t know.

And then, an opportunity to solve this little problem presented itself. My friends and I took another hike across the peaks of the Whites, from hut to hut along the high trails. As we passed through the krumholz layer of stubby pines, the song burst from the thickets. Enchanted and determined, I strove with my limited musical ability to memorize the song. At Madison Hut, I confronted the local naturalist, a college girl ten years younger, hoping that she knew something I didn’t. "What is this bird?" And I vainly tried to whistle the song. "Well," she shrugged, "It’s probably the white-throated sparrow. You hear it a lot up here. The song goes…old sa-am peabody peabody peabody."

"That’s it," I smiled with the joy of a four-year mystery solved.

"It’s actually the only birdsong I know," she confessed, and we laughed at our luck.

I learned as much as I could about this tiny little songster, a gray-breasted bird with a white throat, a black bill, and a yellow spot between its eye and bill. Its summer range is from Canada to the northeast United States and its winter range is from the southern U.S. to Mexico. I found that some of these magic birds wintered in my own home in Connecticut, but at that time they do not sing. I vowed to try to listen for them with more than my ears.

Only a week later, on the top of the more easily reached Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, as I relaxed on a rock perched high above the town of Adams, the little mountain birds took up their fabulous hymn, conversing back and forth in the pines. I realized that I would carry in my heart the twelve notes of the white-throated sparrow for the rest of my life. And more importantly, perhaps, I would carry the vital satisfaction of seeking and finding one of those inconsequential scraps of knowledge that nevertheless imbue our daily lives with spirit.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Lost Valley of Glencoe

My story, "The Lost Valley of Glencoe," has been published in ken*again for Spring 2012. Find it here.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Russell Holmberg is Young Farmer of the Year

Russell Holmberg (pictured here with his sister Amy) is Connecticut's Young Farmer of the Year. We first met Russell while writing the History of Connecticut Wine. Of course, Holmberg is featured in the Insiders Guide. And Amy contributed a recipe to our next book on the History of Connecticut Food. So I was quite pleased (though not surprised) that he was given this award by Governor Malloy. Congratulations!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Italy, Greece, Connecticut

Is this Italy? Greece? No, it's at the Slater Museum in Norwich. Check it out next time you head to the casinos...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Junior College of Connecticut 1929

Pictured is the class of 1929 of the Junior College of Connecticut, the first such "college for the masses" in New England. Though there were simialr colleges out in the midwest, when E. Everett Cortright brought this idea to Bridgeport in the 1920s it was a little crazy. But it was supported by the president of Harvard, who bemoaned the level of writing and math (sound familiar) of freshmen students at the time. This was a way to prep unprepared students to go on to larger universities.

Of course, the Junior College became its own university, the University of Bridgeport, and with the institution of the G.I. Bill, did very well. But that is another story!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kobe Beef Hot Dog at Mikro

The Kobe beef craze has gone a little far, I thought, when I saw this hot dog on the menu at Mikro in Hamden. I mean, sure Kobe beef is beautifully marbled and Kobe steaks taste admittedly better than other beef (except Wagyu - oh, the Wagyu I had at Nobu one spring evening...). However, doesn't putting said beef in a hot dog completely wreck the marbling effect, and render the quality of the beef useless?

Apparently not. The hot dog was excellent, though the red relish, sauerkraut, spicy mustard, and brioche bun might have also had something to do with it. The next day I tried a quality all-beef hot dog from the store, and there was no comparison. Sometimes quality is paid for, and the marketing truisms hold actually true.

I was glad to be wrong.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Forgotten Joy of Sauternes

Sauternes is my favorite sweet wine, hands down. From "The Forgotten Joy of Sauternes" by Amy Nawrocki-

"When it comes to dessert wines in America today, we often go for port or sherry, familiar endings for our great meals. And there’s nothing wrong with these choices; I particularly like an aged tawny port. But I’d like to offer another suggestion, one sometimes overlooked, perhaps forgotten: Sauternes. Connecticut’s own Mark Twain was a fan of this sweet digestif. Ever the epicure, Twain was, as usual, on to something..."

Read the rest of my wife's article over at Connecticut Food and Wine.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Goodbye to Woody

Looks like we've sold our condo, and can finally rest in our new home comfortably. I will miss the generations of woodchucks who lived at the complex, though. Here's a photo of Son of Woody, the second generation. We've traded him in for deer at the new house. Sorry little buddy!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Insiders Guide to Connecticut Arrives!

Copies of my fourth book (and my first travel guide) have arrived! They look great. Hopefully yours is on the way!