Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Turtle sighting

Yesterday was a hot one here in western Massachusetts, and my friend Rick and I decided to take our bike ride on one of the shadiest routes we know of -- the rail trail bike path from Northampton up to Look Park in Florence. We often do this, in large part because Look Park is just such a beautiful place to ride through.

Like many times before, we took a break for lunch on a bench overlooking the small pond at the park. While sitting there and talking, I noticed out of the corner of my eye an object which seemed to be making its way across the pond, but just under the surface. We were about a hundred feet away, so it was a little difficult to discern details, but I soon realized it was a big turtle! I would guess that it was about a foot and a half long.

I couldn't remember ever seeing a large turtle swimming like this. I've seen similar beasts sunning themselves on rocks or logs near water, but never cruising along just under the surface. I tried to get a good shot of it, but my little pocket camera could only manage these:

       Here's a cropped version of the second one:

Though I couldn't see a lot of detail, I think it looked like a snapping turtle. -- PL

Friday, July 24, 2015


I saw the following headline on this morning:

I had to laugh. -- PL

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A sign of Spring

One of the sure signs of Spring in our area, at least in my opinion, is the dirty snowbank. 

       As the winter plods on, plows push snow into large, dense mounds lining the edges of streets, driveways and parking lots. In moving this snow, the plows also scrape up a lot of the sand which the Department of Public Works trucks spread on the pavement to give drivers a bit more traction on the slippery stuff.

What happens as the weather starts to get gradually warmer is this: The snow begins to melt, and the piles of snow to shrink, and as they do, those particles of sand within the piles begin to move closer together, becoming darker and more obvious against the snow, rendering what were previously almost pristine white mounds of snow into blotchy messes. 

       It's deliciously ugly, because even as these unsightly shrinking mounds become ever more unsightly, they tell us that the warmth is coming… just wait! -- PL

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Hidden Geometry of Snow

A thick accumulation of snow -- something we have seen far too much of in recent months -- can seem almost featureless in certain lighting conditions. The homogeneous nature of the bright white blanket makes it difficult to see the underlying shapes upon which that frosty mantle rests.

That's why I have always enjoyed the way that trees can help to reveal the hidden geometry of snow, especially during those times of days when the angle of the sun drapes the trees' cold shadows over the landscape. Graphic against the pale snow, these broad, stark lines show us much as they ripple over hillock and plunge into decline. -- PL

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy March 26, 1931 - February 27, 2015

It was inevitable -- one might even say logical -- but it's still sad to read about.

At least some comfort can be taken in this: He lived long, and prospered. -- PL

Artwork by Bruce Laird 2008.

Friday, February 20, 2015

You learn something new every day...

As part of my plan today to forestall the inevitable moment of removing myself from the warm comfort of the bedcovers and getting out of bed to face another day of bleak snowy whiteness and cold, I played a game of computer Scrabble on the iPad I keep beside the bed. At one point, I made a desperation move -- one which I think all Scrabble players have made at one time or another -- and put some letters down to make a word which was not known to me, but which fit nicely onto the board. 

This technique, employed in one of many (notice how I did NOT say "countless") epic Scabble games with my late brother Don, actually acquainted me years ago with a cool word -- "xeric", meaning "dry or desert-like" -- which became the name of the charitable foundation we established a couple of decades ago.

This time, however, it was "ulu". Imagine my surprise when the computer didn't reject it and force me to return the offending tiles to my rack. Of course, I had to find out what this formerly unknown and now very useful word meant, so I hustled over to, and found the following:



1. a knife with a broad, nearly semicircular blade joined to a short haft at a right angle to the unsharpened side: a traditional tool of Eskimo women.

I would never have guessed. -- PL

(image from

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A stupid little thing which means absolutely nothing...

... but it got my attention today when I went online to check my email. Here's a cropped screen grab of the thing:

Perhaps it was because this past week a friend mentioned in an email that she was trying to get to the "Zero Inbox" stage, wherein you keep your email inbox free of clutter, to the point where when you leave it each day, it is empty.

For this particular email address, I have not done that in quite a long time, if ever... and today, I noticed with a small blip of amusement, that the number of emails currently in the inbox for that address was 1234.

Get it?





Yeah, okay, it's stupid... but these are the things one amuses oneself with when trapped in one's house by a raging blizzard and the attendant ban on driving. (I use the words "raging blizzard" somewhat sarcastically, as the storm we are getting here today in Western Massachusetts, while certainly significant, is hardly the worst we've ever had... and from where I sit, looking out at the occasional random swirl of snowflakes, clearly not signifying desperately difficult or unsafe driving conditions.) -- PL