Thursday, April 04, 2019

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A short trip South

After a great Christmas with Laura, Jason, Sam, Luke and Rudy, Dad and I pointed the car southwards to get away from chilly gray Chenango County for a few days.  We ended up at Assateague Island on the DelMarVa peninsula, where we spent two cold sunshiny days walking on the spectacularly beautiful beach, watching the wild ponies and the birds, and exploring the picturesque fishing village/tourist town of Chincoteague. 

We saw an astonishing variety of birds wintering over in the sheltered bays on Assateague -- flocks of ducks in more varieties than I could begin to identify, whistling swans who make the most extraordinary hooting sound, herons, egrets, eagles, snow geese by the hundreds who rose in a huge flock and swirled low over our heads, filling the sky above us with white wings as we walked on the beach, little brown waterbirds that a nearby birder said were marbled godwits, warblers and wrens in the beach scrub and more than I can now remember.  Ponies and birds -- Grandma Frey would have been beside herself!

We were going to head farther south, but a week of rain was in the forecast, so we headed happily home.  On the way through the Poconos, we stopped early and spent a night at a hotel near White Haven, Pennsylvania, where there was a great hot tub, and had a fantastic dinner at the Powerhouse Eatery.  There was a break in the rain the next morning, so we took the opportunity to visit the Hickory Run Boulder Field in the State Park of the same name.  It was a long drive down rough, narrow roads through deep, wild, gorgeous forest to get there, but worth the trip to see 16 acres of boulders smack in the middle of the woods.  I'd been there as a child on a field trip from nearby Pine Tree Camp, and always wanted to go back.  The field was formed 20,000 years ago by freeze-thaw cycles related to the glaciers.  Amazing.

As we left the boulder field, we passed two hunters with several beagles, heading back toward their trucks in the boulder field parking lot.  One of the hunters was carrying one of the beagles, and we wondered if it was injured.  We drove on a little way and had to stop for a big, indignant-looking porcupine as he scrambled across the road.  Dad speculated that there might be a connection between the injured beagle and the ticked-off porcupine.  On we went a little farther, and now came another beagle, galloping down the road with ears flapping and what looked like a stick caught in its collar.  We figured it was lost and hurrying to catch up with the others, but when it got to us it stopped and nosed at our car as if asking for help, so I got out.  The "stick" was a tracker antenna and the beagle clearly wanted human help, so I picked him (her?) up, mud and all, and we turned around and took him (her?) back to the hunters.  The beagle was clearly a kennel dog and a little scared -- he cringed as I gently scooped him up, but he let me do it and rode calmly enough in my lap.  They thanked us and got on their cell phone with a third hunter who was somewhere out in the woods searching for the lost beagle -- and sure enough, the injured beagle had a nose full of porcupine quills!  So that was our early morning adventure in the Poconos.

These pictures are from our last stop in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, where we visited the Starrucca Viaduct, an amazing stone railroad bridge with 18 keystone arches, built in 1847-1848 by the Erie Railroad.  My great-great-grandfathers John McCarthy and Lawrence Geary, both recent immigrants from Ireland, were part of the crew of stone masons who came to Susquehanna to build it, and I hope that somewhere out there, they are proud of their astonishing work.  Their families stayed in Susquehanna after the viaduct was completed, John's son Richard married Lawrence's daughter Rose, and one of their ten children was my grandmother Catherine "Rena" McCarthy Frey -- so the viaduct is not just part of my family's history, but one of the reasons for it!

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Sam is two!

Happy birthday -- and please don't grow up too fast.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

November snow

This is the most wintry November I can ever remember.  We've had something like two feet of snow in four or five storms -- one that dropped 9 inches and the rest, 2 or 3 inches each -- though most of it melted in heavy rain the other day.  We've been out skiing a couple of times. As for cold, the lake has been frozen for a couple of weeks, and the low temperature reached 10 below a few nights ago.  The birds are already swarming the feeders -- we've been through one 50-pound bag of seed already and have made a big dent in the next one.  Will it keep up all winter?  And are the glaciers next?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The road to work in April

Reservoir Hill Road in theoretical April, with knee-deep snow still lurking in the dark hollows of the woods and ice covering most of the Reservoir. This is spring?

The mergansers and buffleheads and wood ducks who showed up a week or so ago have mostly disappeared. The geese are still here but don't know what to think, stalking sulkily around on their cold feet on the ice, although Mrs. Goose is nursing a clutch of eggs in her nest in the usual spot on the stumps marooned in the ice in the cove just past our yard. The ice is piled up on our shore in ragged chunks and still taking up most of the lake in a great big sheet, with patches of slowly widening cold, open water around the edges. The howling wind and snow were so wild a week or so ago that our power was out for a couple of days, and it went out again for a few hours the other day. I'm still wearing my down coat and pashmina scarf to work, and turning on the heated seats in the car. Again I ask you - this is spring?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

Three days before the first day of spring at Plymouth Reservoir

 This icicle was at least 8 feet long. 

Yes, there's some green for St. Patrick's Day. But you can barely find it. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Now We Are Six

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now
for ever and ever.
 by A.A. Milne

Happy birthday, Jamie!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


This blog has been overlooking some of them lately. Today is the 32nd anniversary of the arrival in this world of Laura Mae Murphy Bencze, who could not have been and still could not be more welcome. Other recent birthdays have been Caleb's (36!), mine (64!!) and Luke's (30!!!), not to mention that this blog turned 13 years old two days ago. Another teenager in the family, just when we thought that was all in the past, or at least for another seven years.

Happy birthday to Laura! And happy next year on this planet to all of us. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018