Well, I haven’t written about poop in a while, but this one caught my eye. From the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, MA:
At least eight times since early December, the owner of the Natick Outdoor Store made an unpleasant discovery when he arrived at work – a pile of human feces. On Wednesday, Natick Police arrested Andrea F. Grocer, 51, of Ashland, in the parking lot of the store at 38 North Ave. where they found her getting ready to use it as a toilet once again, authorities said.
A related story says that Ms. Grocer claimed to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, but she could not explain why she would not simply poop in one of the many public toilets that were nearby. It’s sad — shitty, really — especially when you see her mugshot, which I won’t re-publish, but you can look at here.
However, the real reason I wrote this was to point out a remark from Natick Police spokeswoman Lt. Cara Rossi:
â€œAt first, they thought it was an animal but then they noticed toilet paper and other wipes â€“ items animals would not have access to.â€
I can’t tell if Lt. Rossi is being a wiseass or inintentionally funny, but either way, she wins the award for quote of the week.
There are a special pair of pants I pull on when working around the yard. They’re made of a quick-drying fabric and have lots of pockets for all my crap, but that’s not what makes them special. The great attribute these pants have is something I added: a heavy coating ofÂ permethrin spray that literally stops ticks in their tracks.
Yes, ticks freak me out.
This time of year, I try to avoid areas likely to be infested and obsessively check myself after working outdoors. Even after all that, it may not matter: I’m convinced that the tick who gets me will leap off one of the dogs and onto me as I sleep.
Now there’s another risk, one that in some ways is worse than Lyme disease: a tick-born sugar molecule called alpha-gal that may cause you to become allergic to red meat.
Right. Not a virus, not a bacteria, but a sugar molecule. And it makes your body revolt against itself.
The carrier is the lone star tick, a variety that’s been working its way north and in recent years started showing up in New York. I’d heard of the tick and this alarming condition before, but it wasÂ Â this episode of Radiolab on public radio really got me worried.
Someday they’ll figure out a way to get this tick thing under control.
Until then just spray and pray and hope the ticks don’t get you. How ironic that in a world of big risks, something so tiny may be our undoing.
Wednesday was the perfect day for a visit to Thacher Park, but not if you wanted to walk along the Indiian Ladder trail. The trail is closed and itâ€™s not clear when â€” or if â€” it will reopen.
The iconic Indian Ladder trail is one of the most popular spots in the Capital Region. It was shut down last summer when a boulder came loose from the cliff above and struck a local woman, leaving her gravely injured. The sad story of how the accident left her permanently disabled was told in a recent Times Union story. Near the end of the story was this sentence:
The family has retained an attorney, who has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of state parks officials and seeking undisclosed damages.
OK. Iâ€™m not a lawyer and I donâ€™t know all that much about cliffs and such, but Iâ€™m struggling to understand the negligence part. Iâ€™ve been on that trail more than I can remember, and there wasnâ€™t a single time when I didnâ€™t think of what would happen if boulders started tumbling down. Iâ€™ve stood under huge outcroppings of rock on the trail and pondered being squished. All this rock will fall some day. Hope Iâ€™m not the one standing here when it happens.
Did the park officials know rocks might fall? I donâ€™t know, but anyone whoâ€™s ever been there can see there are huge boulders scattered around near the trail. They didnâ€™t get there by rolling up the hill.
Now, in other parts of the park, Iâ€™ve seen where huge trees came down across trails. Fortunately, they havenâ€™t hit anyone. I canâ€™t say whether they made a sound, but I can say this:Â outdoor activities involve risk, even in a tame place like Thacher Park, bad things can happen.
I donâ€™t know what we expect the park to do, send teams of climbers up and down the cliff looking for boulders that might break free? Is that even possible to detect? Then we can have teams that roam the woods looking for dangerous trees. And of course, there will be dozens of signs warning people that the trails may be dangerous.
Or maybe something else will happen: theyâ€™ll shut down the Indian Ladder trail forever, and that would be a damn shame.
Itâ€™s been a long time since a parking attendant has been seen at Thacher Park â€” and I reckon youâ€™ll never see one again. Itâ€™s not because they wonâ€™t charge you for parking, but because of these kiosks springing up in the lots. The parking stations provide a convenient way for the state to collect your $6 â€œvehicle entrance feeâ€ without actually providing the service rendered by a human attendant.
The park told WNYT that the fees help pay for maintenance and for park employees. Thatâ€™s interesting, because without the pool and parking attendants, they probably employee fewer people than ever before. As for maintenance, Iâ€™m all for that. In recent years, itâ€™s not been uncommon at Thacher Park to find broken picnic tables, busted grills, and trails in need of attention.
I love Thacher Park and Iâ€™ll gladly pay to use it, but the cranky old man in me requires that I ask the following: â€œWhat about all that tax money we pay?â€ And my cranky old man does have a point.
But pay we must.
And by the way have you been to the new visitor center? Itâ€™s pretty cool â€” and I hope that in coming years we see as much attention to the little things in Thacher Park as weâ€™ve seen to the big things. A picnic table may not have the governorâ€™s name on it, but that doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s not important.
On Facebook, a group called Bethlehem Resident News claims that thieves are using the trail as an express lane into Delmar from Albany. There have been a rash of car break-ins, so according to them, the perpetrators must be from Albany. They call the path the “Ho Chi Min Trail,” but I don’t think they’re suggesting it’s the Vietcong breaking into cars, do you? No, they’re saying it’s blacks from the South End.
Over on Twitter, there was a lively argument over whether these rail trails should remain unpaved green space, instead of developed into slick super highways for speeding bicyclists.
There may be something to that.
If you’ve been on the paved section between Albany and Slingerlands, you know how fast people ride. I made the mistake of running on the trail a few times, very early in the morning, and had to dodge careless cyclists who were ignorant of the common courtesies of sharing a trail with pedestrians.
The extreme end of the trail is in Voorheesville where I live. I’ve been running on the rough, unpaved surface recently, early in the morning when my only company have been deer. There are puddles and ruts, but I hope it’s never paved over.
Let’s not forget that bicycles are vehicles and they’re going to be on these trails they should travel at a reasonable speed — and if that means we don’t pave the paths, so be it.
Just off Johnston Road in Guilderland, you can see where beaver have been working on a couple of substantial trees along the Normanskill. Many people are saying itâ€™s part of a plot to cut off Voorheesville from the rest of the Capital Region. One never knows.
I donâ€™t have to remind you that Americaâ€™s largest rodent casts a long shadow here in ye olde Beverwijck. Â Christ, they named the place after the beaver. Albany’s seal shows a beaver felling a tree as a white man and Indian look on, presumably saying, “WTF is up with these beavers?” Stranger yet, is the coat of arms of the Albany Diocese, which shows a beaver holding a bishop’s staff. Bishop Beaver, I presume?
But look closely and youâ€™ll see lots of beaver activity around streams and swamps, and to learn more DECâ€™s excellent website has much information about beaver â€“ including an extensive page on â€œnuisance beaver.â€
Meanwhile, I’m interested in seeing how long it takes for those trees to come down. The beaver may have their revenge, yet.
I’ve been on a few hikes lately exploring the trails in the north section of Thacher Park. Over the weekend we took the dogs and set off for the much discussed scenic overlook of Hang Glider Cliff.
And scenic it is.
From the edge you see Altamont and the fairgrounds, apple orchards, dozens of water towers and the distant Green Mountains and Adirondacks. The absence of any railings make it more interesting, as well.
As we were heading away, several vehicles came down the narrow path. Yes, the hang gliders were arriving at Hang Glider Cliff.
The long list of chores at home would have to wait.
Hang gliders are a friendly bunch who love to chat about their flying. As they set up their gear, they explained the ins and outs of the sport. Nobody goes off the edge on a whim. Among the group were two men taking their first flights from aÂ cliff, only after many hours of training to prepare them for the real thing.
One guy asked, “So, when are you going to start your lessons?” I looked back to where my wife sat with the dogs. “I’m probably not getting approval on that one.”
After some waiting for the wind to pick up, it was time to fly.
Pretty cool — not just for the spectacle of seeing these guys fly from the cliff, but also because of the great spirit and enthusiasm the flyers have for gliding.
Take a walk up the trail and maybe you’ll get to see them soaring. Like a lot of things, it depends on which way the wind is blowing.
After running through a winter of pitch black mornings, there’s now a bit of color in the sky by the time I finish. The winter is not just dark, but silent — so the sound of a bird singing at 5:25 AMÂ was surprising.
It was just a single voice in the trees, and hopefully a sign of the seasons– not just a robin caught up in a moment of irrational exuberance.
The dawn chorus is still weeks away, but we have heard a soloist.
Lost might be overstating it, but it makes a much better headline than misdirected or mildly confused, wouldn’t you say?
Anyhow, I woke up on New Year’s Day in a strange house on the edge of Mother Myrick Mountain near Manchester. OurÂ family ski vacation was a bust thanks to the lack of snow, but we turned it into a perfectly fine playing board games and drinking vacation.
So, the dogs and I greeted 2016Â with a walk up the path behind the house. It led to a well travelled trail up the mountain, and the gradual climb was the perfect antidote for my throbbing head. We three went along until the human in the group had enough.
It’s not clear when things started looking unfamiliar, but somewhere on the way down it was obvious that we’d missed our turn.
We walked and walked, and eventually emerged from the woods, at a point on the road some three miles from the house.
At worse this was an inconvenience.
There are few places in the northeast where you can really get lost these days. Keep going and you’ll come to a road, and if you’re luck you’ll turn right instead of left when you get to that road. Then , perhaps, you’ll have a half mile walk home, instead of a three mile walk. Oh, well.