Category Archives: Environment

EARTH DAY WEEKEND—THE POTLUCK

A busy but oh-so-good Earth Day weekend. So busy that I’m going to devote two separate posts to the weekend—one post for the Winthrop Green Committee’s potluck and the other for the festive birthday weekend we hosted for our daughter Shannon.

In short, the potluck, held at Winthrop High School, was a smashing success. Lots of very good food and much of it from local sources, which is a challenge in April, when fresh, local veggies are far and few between. Among other things, we had salads made from greens grown in a cold frame; deviled eggs and a quiche made with local eggs; local strawberries—frozen and thawed, of course—for dessert; ice cream made from local milk; mashed potatoes with goat cheese; chili made with local beef, sausage, and kidney beans; and pasta and cheese made with local butter, milk, and cheese.

Truly, it was inspiring to see what could be made from food that was available from Maine.

Equally good was the conversation, much of which revolved around food. (No surprise!) One topic was how food likes and dislikes were often a matter of taste, and I told of two foods—cilantro and goat cheese—that I initially didn’t like at all but have come to love. How does that happen? How do you go from not liking a food to loving it so much that you crave it? A curious process that shows just how mutable taste can be. Initially, I had the common complaint about cilantro—too soapy, too strong—but I kept eating it because I am of the firm opinion that food fussiness belongs to children, not to adults. Suddenly, something clicked, and I became absolutely besotted with cilantro, using it in foods whenever I could. The same thing is true with goat cheese, which tasted too “goaty” to me. (A silly description, I know.) But as I did with cilantro, I kept eating goat cheese, and now when I am served goat cheese and crackers, I am as greedy an eater as the next person.

Another topic we discussed: Could Winthrop feed itself? The answer was yes and no. Right now, Winthrop does not produce enough food to feed its 6,000 people, and as Farmer Kev has discovered, finding open land for farming in Winthrop is not easy. However, Anne Trenholm, from Wholesome Holmstead, observed that once upon a time, Winthrop had little mills and factories where food was processed. So it is possible, but it would require a lot of planning and very mindful use of land.

As the price of oil goes up, will we return to local plants that grind, freeze, and can food? It’s my guess that we will.

We also talked about having another local food event, perhaps in the fall, to coincide with the harvest. I hope we do. I just love these local food potlucks.

Finally, special thanks must go to Steve Knight, fellow “green bean,” scrounge extraordinaire, and Winthrop High School teacher. Not only did Steve unlock the high school for us, but he also brought table clothes and reusable utensils and plates for people to use. After the dinner was done, he took the plates and utensils back home to be washed.

Many thanks, Steve!

SCROUNGED

Whenever I go to our town’s transfer station (formerly called “the dump”), I am always on the lookout for useful items that have been discarded. While our transfer station doesn’t have an actual swap building—how I wish it did—it does have a table where people can put things that are still somewhat useful. There is also a huge box for discarded books, and I have found a gem or two in there.

Unfortunately, not everyone uses the table. A while back, when I was at the transfer station, I saw a man throw three perfectly good braided chair pads—they looked as though they were brand new—into the central pit. As it happens, those chair pads were exactly what I had in mind for the chairs around our dining room table, and three would have brought me half-way to my goal. Why would he just throw the chair pads away? It was beyond my comprehension. I stared at the chair pads for quite a while, considering how I might retrieve them, and I felt very bitter feelings toward this man for just flinging the pads into the pit.

However, I knew they were lost. Steve Knight, who teaches science at the high school, recently told me that he is no longer allowed to retrieve items from the pit. He was told that it’s too dangerous, which, of course, it is.  A funny story about Steve Knight, who is such a dedicated scrounger that he makes me look like a piker: Not long ago, someone asked Margy, his wife, if Steve had retired from his job at the high school to work at the transfer station. Steve was at the transfer station so often and seemed so much a part of things that it looked as though he worked there. No, Margy replied, laughing, Steve has not retired from teaching science at the high school. He just likes scrounging at the transfer station.

A couple of weeks ago, I found something at the transfer station that almost made up for the chair pads. It was a blender, an Osterizer, quite dirty but with an intact glass carafe. For a few minutes I debated with myself. Should I take it home? Technically, we don’t need a blender. We have a food processor and an immersion blender. But there are times when only an actual blender will do the trick, say, when you want crushed ice for some kind of drink or a really smooth smoothie. There was also the distinct possibility that it didn’t work, that it really was trash. Finally I grabbed it, thinking, “Oh, what the heck! What’s the worst that can happen? It won’t work, and then I’ll bring it back next week.”

Now, I have often and openly admitted how unhandy I am, and it really is a trial. Luckily, I am married to a man who is quite handy, and after fiddling with the blender, my husband, Clif, said, “Well, it doesn’t work, but it’s not because the motor is shot.” Rather, it was because someone had foolishly put the little rubber gasket under the blade, thus ruining both. A quick Internet search revealed that we could order the gasket and blade for $6.50 with free shipping. Clif ordered them that day.

We put the glass carafe and the cover in our dish washer to give them a good cleaning, and we scrubbed the base with window cleaner and rubbing alcohol until the base was so shiny that I could see my own reflection in it.

A week later, the blade and gasket came in. Clif assembled the blender, and violà! It worked. Smooth smoothies and crushed ice, here we come. Just in time for summer.

There are, of course, a couple of morals to this story. First, we got a perfectly good blender for $6.50. We also saved the blender from going into the trash before its time and adding to the mountain—and I mean this literally—of trash in a landfill just outside of Bangor.

But there is also a larger story. In this country, there is such a surplus that people throw away perfectly good items before they are truly trash. I’ve reflected on this as I buy hardly-worn clothes at the consignment shop in town. Who would get rid of such nice clothes? Lucky for me, some women do, and thanks to them, I can spend my money on things that really matter—a handmade pottery platter for a bridal shower present, a meal at a local restaurant, a CSA share from Farmer Kev, organic food. A play at the Theater at Monmouth.

So while a part of me cluck, clucks over such wastefulness, a part of me is glad to be the recipient of such items.

 

FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD TOWARD VEGETARIANISM: DON’T EAT WHAT YOU AREN’T WILLING TO KILL

I love animals and I have for as long as I can remember. Dogs are at the top of my list and so are horses, but not far behind come cats. I also like chickens, goats, pigs, sheep, and cows. Wild animals are a source of beauty and wonder for me, and I even have sympathy for the little creeping creatures that sometimes make their way into my house. Then there are birds, those fluttering beauties who grace the woods, the fields, and, best of all for me, my backyard.

Here’s a funny thing: I am quite claustrophobic, and I hate being squeezed in by people, which means when I go to the movies, I am not comfortable unless I sit in an aisle seat. However, I have no problem being squeezed by the dog and the cats, and often times, when I am reading on the couch, I’ll have a cat in my lap and a dog pressed up against me. Somehow, this feels cozy and comforting.

So, how does someone who loves animals so much eat them? Especially the ones who live miserable lives on factory farms, which are not only bad for the animals but are also bad for the environment? I’ve asked myself this over the years, and I have come to the conclusion that I am a very queasy carnivore who has more than once considered becoming a vegetarian. As a result of this questioning, last year my husband, Clif, and I resolved to eat mostly vegetarian, with meat added once or twice a week for a treat. We would, however, continue to eat some dairy and eggs.

I am happy to report that we stuck to our resolution, and our meat consumption went down tremendously over the year. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has been a tremendous help as have my Moosewood cookbooks. In the process, Clif and I discovered what we really already knew: There are so many wonderful vegetarian things to eat, and this variety means we don’t miss meat—at least not too much. But we both like meat—there’s no point in denying this—and we enjoyed our twice-a-week meat indulgences.

However, even this reduced meat consumption still made me queasy, and not long ago, I asked myself the question: What would you be willing to kill to eat?

I started at the bottom with clams, which I have happily dug without one twinge of conscience, and scallops, mussels, and other bivalves fall into the same category. Shrimp are a little higher up, but it would not bother me to catch and eat them. The next level includes crabs, lobsters, and fish, and here things become a little more equivocal. I’ve cooked lobster and have eaten fish that I’ve caught. I don’t enjoy the process, but I can and have done it. What about chicken? No. I’ve seen my father kill them, and I didn’t want any part of the process. Sheep, goats, cows, rabbits? Not unless I was literally starving to death.

After reviewing what I would be willing to kill to eat, I came to the next question: Is it ethical to eat food you wouldn’t be willing to kill yourself? For me, the answer has come to be no. If I’m not willing to kill it, then I shouldn’t eat it, even though I have for many years. My love and sympathy for animals stop me from going too far up the food chain when it comes to killing.

The time had come, I decided, to go to the next level, to only eat and cook what I would be willing to harvest or kill—mostly vegetarian with the occasional fish, bivalve, or crustacean added for variety. I discussed this with Clif, and he was willing to go along with this scheme, albeit not quite as completely as I am. For example, when eating out, Clif might still order a meat dish, but he said he would be perfectly happy to eat this way at home. Fair enough. We all have to make our own decisions.

I want to conclude by noting that even with this new eating regime, I don’t plan on applying for sainthood anytime soon. I still have plenty of gray areas in my life. The cats and dog eat food with meat, and that’s just the way it goes. They are carnivores. I still plan to eat eggs and dairy. The eggs come from Farmer Kev, whose chickens live nice lives, and the dairy is either organic and/or local. And, yes, I realize that to keep the eggs and dairy coming, some killing is often involved, however indirectly. But I just can’t give eggs and dairy up yet.

So onward I go, thinking about food as well as cooking and eating it. Will I ever become a vegan? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

RESOURCEFULNESS AND CREATIVITY: VISITING WITH JOHN AND BETH CLARK

Last Saturday, we visited with our friends Beth and John Clark in Hartland, about an hour from where we live. They had invited us over to their home for dinner and afterwards we went to a community play in a nearby town. Before dinner, we sat in their cozy living room, made even cozier by a pellet stove, and John told us about his new book-selling venture as we ate cheese and crackers.

A bit of backstory first: John is the town’s librarian, and while there are volunteers, I believe he is the only paid employee. Hartland is small and poor, and not surprisingly it doesn’t have much of a budget for the library. Has this deterred John? It has not. He has a knack for acquiring inexpensive books and DVDs, which he either adds to the library’s collection or sells online so that he can then buy something for the library. He acquires the books and DVDs in a variety of ways—through donations and through scrounging at the town’s transfer station (aka the dump). John has become so well known at the transfer station that the workers now set aside books they think he will want. At a very low price, John also acquired the collection of an entire library, which was closing, but that is a whole story in itself, and I won’t be going into it here.

Because of John’s resourcefulness, Hartland library has a decent collection of books and DVDs, and the library has become a real hub in a community that has seen more than its share of hard times. (John has also made the library a welcome place for people just scraping by, who need his help in a variety of other ways.)

After years of scrounging and selling second-hand books for the library, John has decided he likes it so much that he has started a little part-time book-selling business for himself, which he will expand when he retires. (I want to hasten to add that John is still devoted to the library and does all that he can to enhance its collection. He has plenty of energy for both himself and the library.) For his own business, he and Beth go to thrift shops and book sales, looking for items to sell online through Amazon. They make a great team. John has acquired the knowledge of what sells and what doesn’t, and Beth is organized and methodical and conscientious. John has such faith in Beth’s abilities that he gives her money, and on Saturdays off she goes by herself to sales to scout for books while John is working at the library.

Now, the point of this piece is not to brag about John and Beth, although I am very happy to do so. The point is to illustrate how creative resourcefulness, hard work, and team work can enhance the life of a community and a family, and, by extension, the world. (In their thrift store/book sale forays, John and Beth even find children’s books for their daughter Lisa, who teaches in the Bronx.) It shows how one might thrive in a world of finite resources and an ever-growing population, in a world of peak oil and “peak everything.”

Books and libraries are just one example, but John and Beth’s approach can be applied to other aspects of life. Let’s take food, one of my favorite subjects. In a household, a frugal, creative cook can do a lot with basic ingredients and scraps saved from previous meals. I have used the bones of barbecued chicken to make a mostly-bean soup with a zesty broth. Last night, I saved water from cooking broccoli to use as the base of a soup that will include leftover pasta, tomatoes, white beans, and rosemary.

On a broader scope, there is gleaning of fruit and vegetables that would go to waste. On a walk this fall, I went through a little apartment complex with an apple tree, and there, on the ground, were bunches of rotting apples. Perhaps they weren’t good eating apples, but they would have made good jelly. Another way to conserve resources is to make use of slightly outdated food that is still good. There is plenty of room for improvement here, which I have discussed in previous posts. Despite our country’s hard times, we are still a wasteful nation. However, my town’s food pantry and the Hot Meals Kitchen does use food that would otherwise have been thrown out. And, yes, I admire the dumpster divers, who retrieve perfectly good food.

To my way of thinking, the heroes of the 21st century are not people like Steve Jobs, however admirable he might have been. Rather, they are people like John and Beth whose careful and creative use of resources show us an alternative to heedless waste and consumerism. They show all of us that there is a better way to live, and we would do well to follow their examples.

 

A BUSY WEEKEND, ENDING WITH A LECTURE BY HABIB DAGHER AT UMA

A very busy weekend, that started with a bang. On Friday evening, our friends Debbie and Dennis Maddi joined Clif and me for soup and homemade bread. I decided to be bold and try to reproduce the soup I had made out of odds and ends in mid-December. (Here is the post where I describe what I did.) I am such a seat-of-the-pants cook that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it. But, the soup was so good that it was worth a try. Readers, I succeeded, and the soup—made with beans, sausage, ground beef, and various spices—came out just as well as it did when I first concocted it. Another reminder of how I really need to transcribe and then gather my recipes in a book.

With the soup and bread, I served a simple winter salad of romaine lettuce, toasted walnuts, crumbled feta, and mandarin oranges, dressed with a homemade vinaigrette. Debbie thought the salad was so pretty that she urged me to take a picture of it, which I did.

Debbie and Dennis are interested in many of the same things that we are—politics, books, movies, and the environment—so the conversation hummed right along during the evening. One topic of discussion was the Senior College at the University of Maine at Augusta. The Senior College offers noncredited courses for, well, people over 50. There are Senior Colleges at the various universities throughout the state, and they add so much to the intellectual life of our communities. Maine has an aging population, the highest in the country, I believe. I am certainly in that category, and as there are so many of us in Maine, we had better darned well be useful and keep our wits sharp. Senior Colleges do much to facilitate this.

Debbie and Dennis are actively involved with the Senior College at the University of Maine at Augusta. They take courses, and they also volunteer to help with a nifty lecture series called Forum on the Future. As it turned out, on Sunday there was to be a lecture given by Habib Dagher, a professor of Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Maine at Orono. Even before we had invited Debbie and Dennis over for supper, Clif and I had made plans to go this lecture.

The nuts-and-bolts title of Professor Dagher’s talk was Energy, Economic Growth, and Jobs, but the lecture was anything but pedestrian. Slim, dark, and animated, Professor Dagher’s enthusiasm for his subject—offshore wind energy in Maine—made the lecture engaging as well as informative.

In brief: Right now, between electricity, fuel for the car, and heat for the house, Mainers spend about $10,000 a year on energy costs. (In Maine, the average family income in Maine is $45,00 to $50,000.) Twenty percent of our income goes to gasoline and oil, and as Professor Dagher warned, this will only go up as time goes by. So, he suggested , why not reduce uncertainty, and perhaps costs, with multiple sources of energy produced in Maine? Professor Dagher listed opportunities for Maine that included wood, tidal, and hydro, but his passion is offshore wind power, and off the Maine coast, the wind blows hard enough and consistently enough to produce a lot of power.

How much power? Professor Dagher’s estimate is that when you take into account that even off the coast the wind doesn’t blow all the time, there is still enough wind to produce 60 gigawatts of energy. Now, if you’re like me, you have no idea how much energy this really is. But Professor Dagher made it easy to visualize: One nuclear power plant produces 1 gigawatt of energy, which means we have the equivalent of 60 nuclear power plants blowing in the wind over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine.

In Maine, we have the wind in our backyard. With it, we could heat our homes and power our cars. According to Professor Dagher, as many as 15,000 jobs could be created to support the industry.

Now, let’s hope the powers that be support offshore wind power.

 

GROWING IN CIRCLES

It’s funny how one thing leads to another. Last week at our town’s Green Committee meeting, Jenn Currier spoke about an upcoming Transition Town meeting that she wants to attend. For some strange reason, I was unfamiliar with the Transition Town movement, but as Jenn explained some of the movement’s goals—food security, the emphasis on community, and resilience in the face of the many challenges we’ll be facing because of climate change and peak oil—I thought it was definitely something I should check into.

Then, today on FaceBook, I received a link—not from Jenn—about Transition Towns, and that link, in turn, lead me to the website Transition Culture, which has the tag-line “an evolving exploration into the head, heart, and hands of energy descent.” Now, you might think that a website that focuses on “energy descent” would be a rather gloomy site, but just the reverse seems to be true. Granted, I’ve only just found Transition Culture, but as far as I can tell, the website’s  mood and tone are buoyant and hopeful. The emphasis is on what can be done and all the good things that can be gained by living, working, creating, and growing food close to home.

Via Transition Culture, I even watched an hour-long show on the computer, and this is something I never do. My time for watching shows is pretty much regulated to an hour or so at night. While there is a place for watching shows in my life, I want it to be a small part, not a big part, of my day. The show I watched today was Town with Nicholas Crane, and the featured town was Totnes, in southern England. Totnes is, of course, a transition town and they are doing some nifty things, including widespread use of solar panels, community festivals, and lots of local food. To justify watching this show, I viewed half of it while I was eating breakfast and half as I ate lunch.

For dessert I watched a very short video called A Story of Transition in 10 objects: Number 4. An Egg. Now, with my love of chickens and eggs, how could I resist this video? Here the focus is on Forres, a town in Scotland, and while I was drawn to the egg, what really caught my attention were the vegetable gardens, planted in a circles. I was fascinated by this layout, which looks like a terrific way to use a relatively small plot, and the circular beds appeared as though they would be very easy to tend while producing quite a bit of food.

I’m not sure if I could use the circular design on my shady plot of land. But I will certainly be thinking about how I might be able to do so because after years of talking about moving to Brunswick—a kicky college community with great restaurants—my husband, Clif, and I have decided to stay right here in Winthrop and to devote ourselves to our house, our yard, and our community.

Another circle, as we are, so to speak, back where we started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE STORMY THOUGHTS

Is there any sound sadder and sweeter than the chorus of crickets in late summer? Yesterday, when my husband, Clif, came home from work, we had drinks on the patio and listened to the crickets sing. We know what their song means—summer is coming to an end and with it warm weather, barbecues, and drinks on the patio after work. Fall has its blaze of glory and winter its cozy consolations, but in northern New England, summer is short and therefore greatly cherished. Clif and I are always sorry to see it end.

Along with lamenting the end of summer, we naturally talked about Hurricane Irene and the horrible destruction in Vermont and New York. Roads, crops, and livelihoods have been flooded and smashed, and I expect recovery will not only be costly but also slow. Money is tight during this recession, I know, but I hope that farmers, towns, and states will get enough help from the government to rebuild and to regroup. I might be a naive idealist, but like Mark Bittman, I expect government to “work for the interests of the American people.” And this means pitching in, both collectively and individually. Why this is often a matter of contention is beyond my comprehension.

Let me be clear about personal responsibility—I believe that individuals should do everything they can to prepare for emergencies. (I wrote about this in yesterday’s post.) Every household—not just the ones with wells—should have an emergency supply of water ready and waiting. In addition, they should have extra batteries for lanterns and flashlights, oil for lamps, and even a little camp stove for cooking should the power go out for an extended period. Then, of course, there is food, and all households should maintain an “emergency pantry” of food that is easy to heat—soups, baked beans, spaghetti sauce, pasta. Peanut butter and crackers—things that keep—are also useful to have in good supply.

If individuals are thusly prepared, then they can still eat and drink when storms come and the power goes out.

However, there are certain things individuals cannot prepare for—washed out bridges and roads, destruction of crops, flooded houses. To recover from these things we need collective help, the help of the state and federal government. This has been my philosophy for all of my adult life, and Hurricane Irene just reinforces this belief.

Hurricane season is not over yet. Not by a long shot. Clif and I will continue to monitor our supplies so that we are well stocked and ready should another hurricane hit. That way, we can have our eggs, toast, and tea, real comforts when the power goes out, and we have no idea when it will come back.

Eggs, toast, and tea

 

 

 

 

AFTER THE STORM

Grilled toast
Grilled toast

Well, the sun is shining, and our power is back on. We lost it on Sunday at about 3 P.M., and it came back on Tuesday at around 2:00 A.M. All in all, except for the inconvenience of having no power, we came through pretty well. There was no damage to our house, to our car, to ourselves. Clean up was minimal, accomplished on Monday morning. It was so minimal, in fact, that we were even able to go on a bike ride on Monday afternoon.

Best of all, our New York City daughter, Dee, came through safe and sound, and my husband, Clif and I were happy to learn that New York City escaped the worst of Irene. So many people in such a small space.

On the other hand, our thoughts and good wishes go to the people of Vermont and upstate New York, who are dealing with the devastation of the flash floods. Irene proved to be unpredictable, sparing New York City and turning west instead to soak an already soaked region. I’m sure the people of both Vermont and upstate New York will make it through this difficult time, but how discouraging it must be for them.

Even though we were only inconvenienced for two days, Irene reinforced what I had already learned from the great ice storm of 1998: One must be prepared for power outages and emergencies. With climate change and increasingly fierce storms, this has only become more evident in the past decade. As I wrote in a previous post, we were prepared for this storm. We had water in big buckets for the toilet as well of plenty of water in pans for drinking. I had canned baked beans and pasta and jarred spaghetti sauce for meals that would be easy to heat. (As it turned out, I didn’t have to use them.) There was plenty of lamp oil, cannisters of propane for the camp stove, and batteries for the radio and flash light. I will be vigilant about replacing these things when they get low, and readers, I hope you will be doing similar things in your own home.

Fried eggs on the grill
Fried eggs on the grill

On a lighter note…on Monday, the day after the storm, the weather was warm and sunny with a brilliant blue sky. Clif and I ate breakfast, dinner, and supper on the patio. Clif grilled toast for breakfast, and he fried some eggs. For dinner, we had leftover macaroni and cheese, made on Sunday before the power went out. We also had hot dogs, nitrite and nitrate free, of course. Supper was made from food tucked away in our cooler. We ate well, and if the power had stayed out longer, we had plans to cook a whole chicken on the grill.

Mac and cheese in a fry pan on a burner on the grill
Mac and cheese in a frying pan on a burner on the grill

Now, to get the house back in order after the rigmarole of having no power for a couple of days, and then out to lunch I go with my friend Barbara Penrod.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON TEA WITH SYBIL

Tea with Sybil
Tea with Sybil

Yesterday, my friend Sybil came over for tea and homemade anise biscotti. The rain just barely held off long enough for us to have our tea—iced not hot—on the patio, where we talked about all kinds of things. Sybil’s upcoming move to Brunswick was, of course, a major topic. For a while now, Sybil has wanted to move to a place where she can walk to many things and leave her car in the driveway. With its restaurants, bookstore, grocery store, farmers’ market, and cinema, Brunswick is the perfect town for this. Somehow, it has survived strip-mall fever, even though malls hover on the edge of town. While some stores have closed, Brunswick still manages to have a thriving downtown.

Right now, Sybil only lives 20 minutes away from me, and I will certainly miss having her around the corner. Over the past year, she has become a real friend. We both love books, movies, and theater, and when I was in cancer treatment, she fetched me once a week so that there wouldn’t be so much driving back and forth to Augusta. (My husband and I only have one car.) Still, Brunswick is not that far away, and along with shops and restaurants, there is also Bowdoin College and its art museum to visit. Then there is Gelato Fiasco, and if there is better gelato in Maine, then I haven’t tasted it. Finally, our friend Diane also lives in Brunswick, so we have many reasons to go there.

The talk turned to food, as it often does with me. Sybil’s daughter soon will be coming to visit her, and Sybil was wondering what to prepare for dinner after a busy day of activities. I mentioned the salade niçoise I had made recently and how many of the ingredients—potatoes, egg, and sugar snap peas could be cooked ahead of time and then assembled on a large plate of greens just before dinner.

“Salmon would be a nice addition, too,” I said.

“Canned salmon?” Sybil asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Canned tuna used to be one of my staples,” Sybil said. “But lately I’ve been reading about how tuna is terribly overfished.”

So have I. There’s an article by Bryan Walsh in Time magazine that explores how we are fishing and eating so much that the oceans are being “picked clean,” not only of tuna but of many other fish as well. It is a very sobering piece, and one that should be read by as many people as possible. Walsh also raises the question of fish farms, which have not always had the best of reputations. Catching wild fish might be the ideal, but as Walsh notes, “With 7 billion people, however, the planet doesn’t have much space for such freedom….if we’re all going to survive and thrive in a crowded world, we’ll need to cultivate the seas just as we do the land.”

Perhaps we will, and in my opinion more of us also need to move toward a mostly vegetarian diet. Yes, fish is a healthy food, but a varied diet rich in nuts, grains, and vegetables can be just as healthy. Hard though it might be, we need to control our appetite for meat and fish.

As Sybil and I finished our tea and biscotti, a dragonfly, vivid in black and white, landed nearby and was obliging enough to stay still so that I could take its picture. Unlike the zooming hummingbirds, which dart into the bee balm and then dart out again before my little camera can catch them.

But I still have two more months to try photograph a hummingbird, and I will be waiting.

Dragonfly on pole

THE TEMPEST

Yesterday, the storm clouds came in, making the afternoon dark as night. Then the rain came down so hard that it fell in torrents off the roof of the house, and I felt as though I were under a waterfall. In the ditches, the water rushed fast and high, flattening the grass along both sides. In all my years of living on Narrows Pond Road—27 years—never have I seen it rain with such ferocity.

Naturally, we lost our power, and for our supper, my husband, Clif, and I had to go into town for roast beef sandwiches at Pete’s, where the power was on. At home, the power was still out when we went to bed, by torch light, as the British would say, and about 1:30 A.M. I woke up as everything switched to life—the beeping computers, the rumbling refrigerator, the lights that were left on. Oh, happy night! This meant that Clif could have his coffee, toast, and shower before going to work and that I wouldn’t have to scrounge around for a shower at a friend’s house.

This morning, I went to Longfellow’s Greenhouse to buy some perennials and annuals and to replace a cucumber that had decided to wilt. While I was there, I talked to a worker about the storm.

“What a downpour,” she said and then motioned to a man and a woman who were loading flats of tomatoes onto a huge cart. “The have a farm stand, and they lost everything to hail.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” I said.

“The world is changing,” she agreed.

“Even though some people don’t want to admit it.”

She nodded. “That’s right.”

Today is cooler and calm. My gardens pulled through without any significant damage. However, I heard from my friend Esther that she had “much plant damage” but that she will wait for a few days before “yanking.”

Summer isn’t even officially here, but the season is sure getting off to a bang. I hope we’ve seen the worst, but I can’t help wondering what’s going to come next.

The patio table and chairs
After the storm—sunny and bright.