Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

We Have Liftoff

Can't say enough about this awesome sight at the Essex Shad Bake this year. That is not a rocket ship, that is a coffee pot. Almost as tall as I am. Served hundreds. Fan-tastic.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Overnight Hike on West Rock

Amy and I hiked from our house all the way south on the Regicides Trail to New Haven.

Some of the way we went on Baldwin Drive because we weren't making good enough time on the trail. But since I'm no longer a purist, I was okay with that.

Saw the Judge's Cave again...

A baseball game at the base of West Rock cliff...

And collapsing on the porch of the Austin Street Inn, where we spent the night.

After a good night's sleep we headed out through the blooming mountain laurel (below).

We saw ravens (!), toads, numerous birds of all sorts, what may have been a coyote, and this little box turtle.

Made it to Lake Wintergreen in epic time...which of course gave me blisters later.

All in all, I would say we hiked 17 miles. These sorts of overnight hikes are possible all over Connecticut, but so few take advantage of our 'small size' to do it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Essex Shad Bake

Enjoyed a trip to the Essex Shad Festival at the Connecticut River Museum, sponsored by the local Rotary Club.

Watched a demonstration of boning these very bony fish - something I would not want to attempt, despite being comfortable boning or filleting a variety of others.

The fish itself was delicious - a wonderful white freshwater fish, with a little salt pork that was used to nail it to the boards (see below) and a Shad Derby Pale Ale to wash it down.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Removing Snakes

We get a number of nonpoisonous snakes in our yard (black racers, garters, milk snakes), and while we enjoy them keeping the mouse and frog populations down, they unfortunately breed. And the babies are small enough to slip through some weird underneath our porch cracks and occasionally get into the house. Our cat Django takes care of them at that point, or at least alerts me so that I can grab them and carry them out of the house, sometimes in the middle of the night. Those snakes are so small I doubt they could even bite through my skin. However, the ones outside can.

So, because of this issue, I now remove snakes from the yard whenever I see them sunning themselves on a rock. So far I have removed three large snakes, and the smaller one pictured here. One of the large snakes was a fat garter snake that emitted a foul odor when I grabbed him and put him in the bucket. Another was a milk snake that was in the process of killing a baby bird (I let him have it, but removed him and the dead bird). Another was full of three phoebe eggs he had just eaten a couple days earlier (we had been watching the nest). Those snakes were big enough to really hurt me. This guy's bite would probably just hurt a little bit, like a bee sting. But my wife got photos of me removing him properly, so I have posted him here.

The device I am using is a poker/rake that I recently forged in a blacksmithing class out of a piece of rebar. Turns out it is close to the shape of a genuine 'snake stick' and works great, at least for a snake this small. I used a rake for one of the big ones.

I take the snakes about a 1/2 mile up into the woods, where hopefully they will stay. Of course it is possible that they crawl all the way back, across a stream, etc. So, it may be a fool's errand. But since I removed two garters now this spring, I am hoping that this is one year they will miss breeding underneath my porch in the old chipmunk holes. If you try this yourself - be safe!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Miya's Sushi

Back at Miya's Sushi, this time at chef Bun Lai's invitation. He put out a spread for us and a few other friends, who quickly became our friends, too.

Started with invasive Japanese knotweed three ways - sake, quick-pickled on rice, and tempura.

Then traditional 'ball' sushi with mugwort, and quick pickled dandelion leaf wrapped on another. And of course the rice is super-healthy brown rice mixed with other grains, tastier than regular sushi rice by far.

In the foreground is venison, yes venison sushi, with wild ramp sauce, and the wild ramps themselves in the background.

Jonah crab claws and invasive snails that we cracked with real Native American tools and dipped in a honey vinegar ginger sauce.

Tilapia dipped in beets, salted, and served nearly frozen, "Inuit style."

Bun is serving us fermented kelp, which is not ready yet...but still tasted surprisingly good. Salty and seaweedy, like a powerful super-dashi.

This is Bun's "Persian roll" with spices and ingredients from the Middle East.

And this is a sweet potato roll (you can eat all vegetarian at Miya's if you like) with a homemade wasabi.

This is the famous invasive Asian shore crab on a potato roll with a creamy dill dressing that is absolutely one of the best things I've ever tasted.

And this is pressure-cooked and then baked salmon bones (use the whole animal!) and broccoli. None of these really needed to be dipped in soy sauce, by the way. All were perfect as is.

And this is a twist on fried chicken...amaranth peas and soy, with curry dip. We also had his chocolate and ice cream sushi at the end, but I missed getting a photo because we all ate them too quickly. All this was spaced over about four hours, with plenty of firecracker sake, beer, and conversation. A fantastic meal, a fantastic gift. We are proud to call Bun Lai a friend - he is one of the geniuses making food better for the rest of us, and one of Connecticut's true revolutionaries.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lamentation Mountain

Amy and I hiked Lamentation Mountain in Meriden today - a great little ridge hike.

The views stretched from Massachusetts to Sleeping Giant. We could actually see the hill we live on, too.

Ran into this little guy - American Carrion Beetle - along the way.

And this fallen beech tree on the way back. All in all a great little hike. I recommend it for beginners and if you are more advanced, you can do a double loop with Chauncey Peak.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Preserve Connecticut's History

Awesome architect, sometime radio star, and all-around nice guy Duo Dickinson has an important reminder in today's Hartford Courant.

"When budgets are stretched thin, as Connecticut's surely is, lawmakers will point their pencils at expenses they view as marginal. This year that includes historic preservation. Most funds from the Community Investment Act, which are supposed to be dedicated to historic preservation as well as open space and farmland preservation and affordable housing, are being swept into the general fund under proposals to help balance the current and coming budgets.

This shortsighted cut would have permanent costs. In Connecticut and New England, our history is anything but marginal..."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review in the New London Day

John Ruddy of the New London Day has given me a very positive review. He could have mentioned that "Homegrown Terror" is similar or nearly identical to the term the people of the time used, "parricide," in order to show that I wasn't just pulling that concept from a hat. But otherwise this is a perfect reading of my book, with a complete understanding of what I was trying to do. The article was later picked up by Stars and Stripes and a couple other sites.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Elegy for Jodie Lane

Check out What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos by Amy Nawrocki. I never knew Jodie, but my wife did, and whenever I visit friends in the East Village, I see the sign dedicated to her. Stray electricity kills millions of animals every year, and also a few people like Jodie. As the son of an electrical engineer, I am aware of its usefulness and beauty, but it is a dangerous human tool, and some pay the price.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Groundswell Release Party

Every year I get the pleasure of advising the student literary magazine at the University of Bridgeport, and every year we hold a release party/poetry slam/reading in April. It is always exciting to read and hear the poets of the next generation feeling their way toward voices. Check out more about it here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Justifying the Ways of Animals to God

Check out my wife's latest poem from her collection Reconnaissance here. It's called "Justifying the Ways of Animals to God" and involves an unfortunate encounter between my cat Django and a snake.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Website

My personal website has been down for a couple months while it was redesigned (by my friend and marketing/editing expert Ryan Rasmussen). But now it is up and running and looks great. Soon this blog may be integrated into the site, but don't hide in panic (like Maple is above). You'll still be able to come here to get your news and chews about Connecticut.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Literary Lion in Connecticut

From Nutmeg Chatter:

It is fair to say there’s a true love affair between Professor Eric D. Lehman and the nutmeg state. When he arrived from Pennsylvania two decades ago, Lehman began to hike and discovered Connecticut’s little hills, rivers and forests. He soon fell in love with the museums and the wine trail and most importantly, fell in love with and married his wife, poet and professor Amy Nawrocki. His literary work celebrates our state like no other author, taking on the topics from Tom Thumb to The History of Bridgeport to A History of Connecticut Wine and so much more.  In his recent work, Lehman takes on the legacy of our nation’s most notorious traitor, Benedict Arnold, in Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London.

Professor Lehman chose Benedict Arnold as his subject because his first experience learning about the figure failed to answer the questions he felt…

Sunday, April 12, 2015

At the Riverview

Really enjoyed my talk at the Simsbury Land Trust - a huge organization with many committed members (about 140 that night). I talked about how I fell in love with Connecticut, and how we could work together to make it a better place for walkers, and in doing so make more people fall in love with it. Listening to what they had to say, I think the future of our state is bright!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Reconnaissance Available!

My wife's beautiful collection of poetry, Reconnaissance, is available now! Pick up your copy from the Homebound Publications shop, or from your local independent book store today.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Check out my wife's poem "Siesta" in Coastal Connecticut Magazine.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Afoot in Simsbury

I'll be appearing at the annual Simsbury Land Trust meeting on April 9 at The Riverview in Simsbury.

 There will be great company, delicious food and drinks, and a presentation by yours truly on my book Afoot in Connecticut, and what we can do to make our state even better for walkers.

 $50.00 per person includes open bar, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dessert and coffee. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nutmeg Chatter

Cartoonist and all-around awesome Connecticut guy J. Timothy Quirk will be featuring me in a future Nutmeg Chatter profile coming in April. Look to this page for a link, and meanwhile check out his page for all the arts and culture news in Northwest Connecticut.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Afoot in Roxbury

Had a great time talking about Afoot in Connecticut at Roxbury's Minor Memorial Library today. We also discussed a growing topic of interest - the connection of the state's hiking trails, greenways, land trusts, state parks, etc. We are closer than anywhere in America to having what Europe has today, and what we had once upon a time - a network of trails that allows us to walk from town to town, staying overnight at bed and breakfasts, and exploring our home one day at a time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


It's good to see someone else taking on the problems of the "myth of home" in practical ways. There has been a lot of talk about this lately, and I hope it leads to good things for Connecticut, and for America.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fraunces Tavern

Finally got a chance to eat at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan the other day. In my book Homegrown Terror I describe George Washington and Benjamin Tallmadge's farewell there in 1783. It was touching scene, of a sort that Benedict Arnold never knew. What I didn't know until a few weeks ago was that it was also the site of a terrorist attack in 1975, a bombing that killed four people and injured fifty others.

Monday, March 9, 2015

John Surowiecki

Recently saw poet John Surowiecki give a lecture and read at the University of Bridgeport. Afterwards I read his book, "The Hat City After Men Stopped Wearing Hats" and was suitably impressed. What a poet needs, I think, is a control of language, a different way of looking at things, and endless persistent variation. Surowiecki definitely has that. Yet another of Connecticut's cultural greats. Keep up the good work, John.

The Hat City after Men Stopped Wearing Hats
At the inauguration no one wore hats, not even
the poet whose hair the wind shaped into a fin.
We sat at the kitchen table trying to figure out
how we would make a living now that the river
no longer flowed carrot-orange to the Sound.
We used to tell the children that its fish wore
fedoras and suffered from mercury shakes,
twitching, lurching, losing scales as we would hair.
Every street used to be a river of hats and when
a war was won a sea of hats would suddenly appear.
Every day we’d walk to work leaning into the wind,
hands on our hats, and never once did we think
the factory doors would close and never once
did we notice the frost late on the lawns
like an interlude in a slaughtering of moths.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Connecticut Explored

I have an article in the 50th issue of Connecticut Explored, on our own Charles Stratton, better known as General Tom Thumb. For those who have read my book on the subject there is nothing very new, except that I do get into the new evidence on the 'baby controversy.'