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I’m told it’s spring. Around here that means two things – mud and sugar.

Let’s start with mud.

For the next four weeks, the back roads of New England will be off limits to anyone who doesn’t own high-top boots and/or a four-wheel-drive vehicle. See that dirt road? You don’t even want to think about driving on it.  

Although daytime temps are moderate (30s and 40s) there’s still snow sitting around, and they’re even talking about “unsettled” weather at the end of this week. I think that means the weather forecasters haven’t settled on the number of inches, yet.

The sugar part is what makes life bearable in this non-season. The smell of maple vapor, the buckets and  lines running through the woods, and the chance to get together with friends for breakfast at a sugarhouse for pancakes and all things sweetable --- this is the stuff of winter dreams! 

Ahhhh!

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, 
And bathed every veyne in swich licour 

It’s enough to make me want to break out in song, nay poetry (!), in Middle English, no less. 

Thank you, Geoffrey Chaucer. And thank you to whatever English teacher it was who made me memorize this thing. I hated it then, but love it today. 

 
 
I’m not sure this snake is the most lethal one loose in the land at the moment, but people are trying to locate and contain him.  

If you go to the Bronx Zoo today, keep your eyeballs peeled for this little feller.  
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/nyregion/28snakes.html?hp
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RIP, Geraldine Ferraro, a class act with a Queens accent, streaked hair and a husband with financial problems. 

Thank you for sweeping the mine field that separated a sexist society from the growing pool of qualified women leaders 27 years ago, making it probable that one will be elected president someday, and for all the right reasons.



For an extended obituary, see She Ended the Men's Club of National Politics, in today's New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/us/politics/27geraldine-ferraro.html?
hp


There's a video of a recent interview with her, herehttp://nyti.ms/gQpQM7

 
 
It's snowing up here in the hinterlands, but that should cover up all the dirty stuff lying around the edges.

The Japan nuke disaster has strengthened local resistance to the license extension for Vermont Yankee, just a few miles down the road. The Vernon plant is similar in design to the one now deconstructing itself on the coast of Japan. Until recently, VY's little leaks and brief shutdowns didn't bother too many people, especially since it provides about one third of local power and lots of jobs. Now, it's different story.

An op-ed in today's local paper refers back to the Hungarian revolution of 1956, when, through Radio Free Europe, we encouraged rebellion then didn't back our words with action when the rebels really needed us. The US did, however, take in many refugees. Will that be the case with Libya? I, for one, hope so but we didn't take in many Iraqis (even the ones who helped us in the war), much to our shame.



 
 
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Smith College Annual Spring Bulb Show
Northampton, Massachusetts
March 7, 2011


 
 
It may take decades, but long after all the debris is removed, homes are rebuilt and life returns to some degree of normalcy in Japan, the legacy of the Sendai earthquake will remain deep within the earth, geologically, and even within the very structure of the universe.

And, so it is for much of the physical environment we live in, which has been shaped by a myriad of such events, whether horrific or unnoticed.  Little consolation to the bereaved, but perhaps humbling to those outside the Japan earthquake zone.  

The New York Times
March 13, 2011
Quake Moves Japan Closer to U.S. and Alters Earth’s Spin
By Kenneth Chang

The magnitude-8.9 earthquake that struck northern Japan on Friday not only violently shook the ground and generated a devastating tsunami, it also moved the coastline and changed the balance of the planet.
Global positioning stations closest to the epicenter jumped eastward by up to 13 feet.
Japan is “wider than it was before,” said Ross Stein, a geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey.
Meanwhile, NASA scientists calculated that the redistribution of mass by the earthquake might have shortened the day by a couple of millionths of a second and tilted the Earth’s axis slightly.


For the complete story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/world/asia/14seismic.html?hp


 
 
Two useful links for those interested in finding someone in Japan, or in following the crisis as it unfolds.

To find a person or leave information about someone who is safe:
http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/?lang=ja

For maps, links to blogs, Twitter, news, emergency telephone numbers and more:
http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html

Note that each page can be translated into English or Japanese by clicking on the appropriate language box at the top of the page.

If you want to donate to relief efforts, here’s a list of recognized organizations:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/11/how-to-help-japan-earthquake-relief_n_834484.html

We have a nephew living in Japan and are happy to report he has checked in via Facebook and, so far, is fine.