Friday, July 31, 2009

Climbing Up Beebe Hill


Last weekend, for some miracle reason, it didn't rain. Well, it didn't rain on Saturday. Actually, wait. It rained on Saturday night...and Friday night...and again on Sunday.

Well, between rain drops, Tim and Allison visited and we went for a hike over at nearby(ish) Beebe Hill in Austerlitz. I found the trail on, a cool web site that lists out great hikes all over the country, complete with hiker reviews, that you can source through a zip code or other search criteria.

What drew me to this particular hike was that it was close to the house, a short trail (no need to mix up a five pound bag of gorp) and there is a fire tower on top of the hill that promised great views.

Finding the trialhead was probably the toughest part of the hike. As a warm up, we checked out a few headstones from a former family burial ground (we'd later learn that the land was owned by the Barrett family (Barrett's and Harmon's occupied the plots for the most part).

Using the buddy system, we sign our group into (and out of) the forest.

Then we tramped on up the hill. More like hitting Harlem hill in Central Park, only stretched out and not paved, it really wasn't all that "challenging," though I admit I was in the back of the pack. A nice lean-to, a pond (buggy!), an outhouse, a sea of ferns and a mess of shelf mushrooms living on the trees rounded out the scenery on the way to the top.

Accommodations are simple, surroundings are sublime.

At the top, John was sitting on a rock, casually pointing to the fire volunteer Bill Starr (he's really like a ranger) and his car. Hmmm. Bill (who's not an actual ranger, I think due to economic cutbacks) invited us into the ranger house, which once served as a cabin for the former fire watchers who would post themselves atop the fire tower...I guess, looking for fires. (except for that one time when they didn't and the area burned down).

We surmised there may have been a few great parties atop that hill at some point in the past. But I digress...and some great info on the fire tower, including pictures of the cabin, etc. are here.

Your happy bloggers.

After sending Bill down the mountain in his car, we climbed the fire tower and were rewarded even further with these stunning 360 views.

View from the Fire Tower: Berkshires?

We can't wait to get back there, bring a few friends and check out a few more trails in the hood soon!

Like Freakin' Wild Kingdom Here...

Chickadee, right after its first flight!

So you all know that I've become a bit of a birder. Two chickadees, I may have mentioned, decided to make their home in a nesting perch built into our porch and laid a few eggs. Just about three weeks ago, I noticed that the eggs hatched and there were real, live, baby birds in the nest.

Not one to get my hopes up about their survival, the next week, I was thrilled to see not two or three, but FOUR baby chicadees in the nest! Since then, I've watched over these little guys, buying my first round of bird seed and checking in on them like a doting mom. But about a week or so ago, when I waved good-bye to them for the week just before we headed back to the city, they had taken flight (a little wobbly, but they were flying!). But when we returned, they moved to a new hood. We didn't see them at all last weekend, but today, in the midst of the rainstorms, one of the chickadees came back...probably to say hello.

Speaking of saying hello... a few weeks back, I sent John back to the city while I stayed Upstate for another day (digging into the heart of the next spec screenplay). Late in the afternoon, I heard some rustling in the bushes. Then a good deal of grunting. I though it was the groundhog, but when I started to hear the FARTING (yes, farting!), I had wait to see what kind of beast of nature would make such noises.

After a few moments, this beautiful thing appeared from the woods:

When a deer farts in the woods?

I'm not sure if it was embarrassed, or just checking on me, but we had a good old stare down for a few minutes before it moved on, farting and grunting its way back into the woods. Just thought I'd share.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In Honor Of Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys Everywhere

Too late for Flag Day...

...and Fourth of July...

...and too early for Labor Day (dieu merci!)

But here's some red, white and blue from our garden
to wish everyone a Happy Bastille Day!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bird Talk

So, I'm becoming quite the birder. Above is a photo of a hummingbird I took that feeds off of our bee balm plants just outside of our screened porch. According to our newly acquired Smithsonian Field Guide to Birds of North America (thanks Jean!) this is a ruby-throated hummingbird.

Below is a black-capped chicadee. We have two adults and a nest of babies -- about 2-3 that I can see without getting in their space.

We also have goldfinch(es?), woodpeckers, cardinals, robins and wild turkeys. Will try to get a photo of a goldfinch at some point to post. But in the meantime, I'm looking to purchase a hummingbird feeder to keep these babies around into September.