Can any place be greener than Vermont in early summer? Maybe Ireland. Maybe not.

Here's a peek at what we see from the deck and windows.
Today, after a hot spell, we got up to a steamy 73 degrees at 3 p.m. A crisp Canadian high moved in and pushed all the muggy air out. The weekend should be stellar, perfect for the Fourth of July.

I stopped off at a farm stand yesterday afternoon. They had lettuce, beets, radishes, strawberries, blueberries and CORN! Everyone is talking about it. No one remembers ever seeing corn in time for the Fourth of July in New England. But this was not a typical year. We had an early thaw followed by persistent rain, with just enough sun to get things started. Now, we’re reaping the benefits. Who says there’s no global warming?

Below are a few seasonal sites in and around southern Vermont/western Massachusetts. Photos were taken yesterday evening and this afternoon. If you look carefully, you'll see a pileated woodpecker making salad-bowl sized holes in a tree.

The bears are out and about, but we haven't seen any yet. Lots of other people have. One friend stepped out on her front porch to shoo away a bear from her bird feeder. He responded with a deep growl, and she high-tailed it back indoors.

Abby Sunderland's blog photo
Just when a child is tall enough to go nose-to-nose with an adult, he or she thinks all those (fun) things generally reserved for the over-21 set are there just for the asking. Not content living on the same clock as grown ups, teens lust after things you and I could never afford or might never think of doing.

If you’ve ever raised a kid, you’ll recognize this scenario:

When my son was 16 and we lived in New York, he asked if he could spend winter vacation at someone’s ski condo in Vermont with five or six of his skateboarding friends, all his age.

Let’s see: A 200-mile journey with no fully licensed driver. Unchaperoned.  He would need a credit card or lots of cash for food, rentals, lifts, gear, whatever.  [It was the whatever that I worried about the most.]

I gave this request a full half-second of consideration, looked him in the eye and replied, “No, a thousand times no.”

I’m sure I don’t have to describe the response, but it wasn’t pretty.

Pressed to explain my decision, I mentioned the fact that 1/neither one of us could afford this little junket, 2/none of the boys in the group had full driver’s privileges or any experience driving in Vermont snow, 3/if one got hurt snowboarding, no emergency room would treat him without a parent’s permission, and most of all 4/if I let him travel to another state without an adult, I could be arrested for failure to supervise my child.

He still didn’t get it.

The other boys went and, sure enough, one broke a bone going downhill on a snowboard. One of that boy’s parents had to drop everything and race 200 miles in the dead of winter to get the kid admitted to an ER a full 20 miles from the slopes. Oh well.

Thinking back, I wonder if I would have responded differently had my son said, “No worry, Mom, I’ve raised $3,000 for this trip through tee-shirt sales, corporate sponsorships and donations to my website, AND, two different military rescue units have promised to swoop in, if anything goes wrong.”

You probably see where this is headed.

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Abby Sunderland, the teenaged sailor rescued off the coast of India a few weeks ago. She lost her boat when 30-foot waves pummeled it, leaving the mast standing at a height of 2 inches and the hull full of water. 

To finish this story, click on Read More, below right. 

Sorry to report that Nancy Belle, blogger extraordinaire and a regular at Birds, died last week in Baltimore, at age 66.

Nancy, who called herself NancyB, blogged at The Tempered Optimist, where she advocated for universal, quality  health care, one of many benefits she believed everyone should enjoy.  She also regularly contributed to the discussion at Time Goes By. TGB's Ronni Bennett wrote a lovely post about her here.

Nancy was part of the group invited to participate in conference calls with the office of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev) during the health care reform debate.  On the morning after the vote, this is what she wrote on her blog:

I watched CSPAN well into the wee hours and tweeted on the progress of the HCR bill along with thousands of others. The experience of connecting with others and watching history being made was incredible and exciting.

I, for one, will miss her passionate commitment to social justice.  


We just got back from our annual trip to sunny (but cold and windy) California, where we visit relatives and friends in the East Bay-Sacramento area.

As you’ll see, this year's vacation included a wedding, a few birthday parties, scenic drives along the Pacific, walks through Monterey and Sacramento, plus a morning at the Monterey Aquarium. It was fabulous!

I’m always struck by the beauty of California plant life, as well as the intensity of light along the coast and in high desert. When you live in the rainy northeast woods the rest of the year, West Coast light is very big thing.  

Here are some photos, for your enjoyment. If you have two minutes, slather on some sunblock then click on the video for a virtual vacation. You’ll hear waves, birds and children. What could be better?



Most people forget that 1/more than half the people in the US who develop cancer survive five years or more, and  that 2/nonmelanoma skin cancer and lung cancer (not breast or prostate) are still the prevalent cancers in this country. Here are two important cancer stories from this week’s New York Times, in case you missed them.

Important leap forward in treating a certain type of lung cancer and melanoma:
Scientists Cite Advances on Two Kinds of Cancer, by Andrew Pollack, June 5,2010

A (very) little bit of cancer (or none) can be a good thing:
A scare, a scar, a silver lining, by Nicholas D. Kristof, June 4, 2010