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Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Click on the hotlink below to hear the single notes of an owl I recorded calling on a clear January night (2010) in the back country with new snow all around.  Do you know what species it is???
Winter Forest Owl

Monday, December 17, 2012

MacKay Elementary School

When I was about 12 years old (1968), Robie Tufts got the school janitor to let us inside the huge chimney which was accessed from the school basement.  In late summer each year, chimney swifts heading for South America would congregate here in the hundreds for a few weeks while on their migration journey.   It was on one of these inspections that we found several nests in the chimney's enormous interior indicating that at least a few pairs nested in the first weeks of summer.

I went through my first school years in this building with Mrs. Joan Eaton and Miss Purdy as my teachers.  Everything was bigger back then.  The elms and maples shown in the foreground of this photo were between 35- 50 feet tall in my youth.  The ceilings in the classrooms were about 14 feet high!  Those wishing to expand their language too broadly that were caught swearing were whisked out to the hall water fountain 
and given a bar of hand soap to put into their mouth.  Standing on your tip toes to reach the spout, one was instructed to use a finger to work up a little lather, followed by a rinse.  :)

On my first day of school, Mrs. Joan Eaton asked students to tell a short story about their summer, sing a song, or perhaps draw a picture on the blackboard for the benefit of the class.  The idea was an ice breaker to give everyone a bit of insight as to your interests and talents. I decided to sing a song.  With all my vocal chords, I belted out a Burl Ives version of an old classic called: "Mama Don't Want No Peas, No Rice, No Coconut Oil."

Mama don't want no peas an' rice an' coconut oil, 

Mama don't want no peas an' rice; 

She don't want no coconut oil, 

Keeps a bottle of brandy handy all the time!

Mama don't want no gin because it makes her sin, 

Mama don't want no glass of gin, 

'Cause it's bound to make her sin, 

Keeps her hot and bothered all around the chin.

Mama, she likes the rum, it fills her soul with fun, 

Mama, she likes to have her rum, 

Says it fills her soul with fun; 

And that it makes her feel like whoopee all the time!

A call was made later that day to my poor parents to advise them about the debauched picture of my mother that I had painted, on my first day in school, at the age of five!  The teachers laughed through my entire performance.  I just couldn't understand why...