Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Notes on 77th Birthday October 19, 1939

Still healthy

The boy within still acts up


Thrills over a nature discovery

Loves toes in morning dew

Hikes with Mark

Dinners with Nancy watching 6PM PBS news

Scouting the organic farm for ravens

Puttering in the garage

Growing spinach, chard, and zinnias

Writing poems and essays for

Coffee and New York Times in the morning

The afternoon nap

Making a stir fry

Time in the man cave

Shopping the produce isle at Best Market

Keying out a mushroom

Visiting Bob’s Lot in Edgewood Preserve

The dunes at Babylon Overlook

Presenting power point Secrets of Sampawans Creek program

Creating collages and constructions

Sifting compost

Grand kids Owen and Maggie, Daughters Julie and Jenny

Attending programs at the Walt Whitman Birthplace

Being on the Hempstead Plains

Visiting with friend Darrel Ford

Doing little science experiments

Going to yard and garage sales with Nancy


I am happy that after 21 years of retirement, I am fully engaged and am contributing to my      family, immediate community, and region


I am thrilled that I have a site on the internet where I can post samples of my writing. Writing is one of the most important things I do. I write about my nature experiences in essay and poetry. I believe that my writing is a “force for the environment”( Max Wheat comment)


Tom Stock

“What good is a nice house if you don’t have a healthy planet to put it in?”

“What good is a nice house if you don’t have a healthy planet to put it in?”                                                                                             H.D. Thoreau

A nice house is useless if our bigger house is fowled. The pathology works from both ends, top-down and down-up. Let’s start with population growth. Boom, WAIT! This essay has to stop right here. Native American built structures that decomposed and left no toxic remains. Now, archeologists clamor to find remnants to learn about their lifestyles.

Our houses need water, electricity, food, clothing, petrochemicals for our gas grills and cars. YES – Remnants end up in our bigger house and has come back to bite. 9 billion residents in the big house is a bit much, don’t you think? But, now that we have them, what to do? While governments try to do the big stuff, we try with the little stuff. Still, sustainibility isn’t happening.

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Home In The Dunes – A Magical Place

“Going to the woods is going home” said John Muir. I go to the sand dunes.

Living about 6 miles from sand dunes on the barrier beach off the Town of Babylon, I visit The Babylon Overlook Beach to find my magic.

There is always simplicity in the dunes. A Blue sky, sounds of ocean breakers, beach grass, sand. That’s all it is. Smooth sculpted brilliant midday in the dunes. What could be better than this? For me, nothing. Sand blown up from the mid and upper beach, caught by beach grass, and deposited in gentle waves of beauty.

Footprints are clearly visible as if the creatures that made them tip toed across pure smooth sand. The swagger of crows, careful footsteps of fox, tiny fan shaped tows of mourning doves. There are sharp shadows, rabbit pellets, and the swirls from beach grass leaves that etch circles.

I like to find the perfect spot in the lee of a breeze to soak up the clarity here. I sit down, feeling an embrace of beauty all around. Beach grass bends and sways with the wind reminding me of bowing ballet dancers bowing after a performance.

I can handle dune information. This information doesn’t arrive on technology. I am there witnessing it. My senses are not bombarded with the jagged stresses of the noise and man-made objects on the mainland. I am in a state of wonder and curiosity. There is no overload. Everything is just right.


To sit on a dune and become lost in it, to become it, surrendering to the wind…this is home for me. I find comfort, safety, and beauty, the perfect trinity of being home.

Flickr user dogtooth77

Hempstead Plains – Three Poems


A prairie is a reservoir of sky
A big dome over grassy orb
Star like composites below,
Constellations above.
The plain at Hempstead
A nineteen acre safe deposit box
Is wedged among concrete and noise
A swath of cottony Bonset
Gently sways in a shallow swale
That heads off toward the Meadowbrook
Volunteers work the aliens
A never-ending job
To try to bring her back
To look like a century ago
They strip seeds off Indian grass
Put them in envelopes
To cast next spring
To compound what little is left

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Overlook Beach -A Magical Place

After Labor Day, Nancy and I like to drive over the Captree Causway, head west on Ocean Parkway, and park at Overlook Beach. Babylon Town maintains and manages this popular place. I call it one of my magical places.

Snow fences are being set up and there are only a few cars and visitors. We bring plastic garbage bags to put litter. Looking for litter is a good way to look at the beach close up. With the piping plover fencing gone, I like to wander up the dune just to see the patterns of sand and beach grass. Anything that happens here is written in the sand.

From the broad, sandy beach we have many sights to see. Fire Island Inlet, Democrat Point ( the western tip of 32 mile long Fire Island). An off shore sand bar creates breakers far from the shore. A fishing boat owner told me that sharks stay beyond these breakers which means safe swimming at Overlook Beach.

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Fall Walk on the Hempstead Plains: A Magical Place

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the first day of October than to tour the Hempstead Plains. We met at 10AM at the education center on the campus of Nassau Community College. Karen and I were there to lead a workshop on poetry and nonfiction. Since nobody else showed up, we joined the group from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Betsy Gulotta, the manager of the Friends of the Hempstead Plains opened the gate. We gathered in the center for an introductory talk. Betsy retired as a biology professor at the college in 2001 to take over management of a 19 acre remnant of what is left of the original 40,000 acre prairie. She stressed the importance of this natural resource commenting “Nassau County is 97% developed.” She said in a gravelly voice. If there ever was a case for its preservation, this is it.

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Fire Island Lighthouse Area – Magical Place Series

Up and up and up and up, step by step, by step, by step, I’m going up to heaven. I’m ascending inside a huge lightning rod. I saw the ground wire so I know that if lightning hits and I’m up top, I’m safe.

Wind comes through the short door that leads to the circular balcony. I hesitated before stepping out. I was scared. I reached for the railing. I held my breath. I looked down, then quickly back up. I wasn’t ready for this. I had to acclimate. I stood flush against the wall and resumed breathing. Deep breaths and an outstretching landscape on all sides. I’ve had dreams of being terrified of falling. I’d be standing on a precipice looking down and very afraid. Waking up from dreams like these were a relief.

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Magical Place Series – Penny Pond

Not a wisp of wind as I stood along the edge of Penny Pond. The reflections were perfect of the three line of Pine Barrens forest on the opposite side. I playfully ask myself “Which are real? Am I standing on my head? Yes Tom, the reflection is real.

No litter except a single McDonald’s French fry cup which I pick up to hold three specimens for “further study back home”. I found Round-leafed Sun Dew, Pipe Wort, and an all white mushroom to key out.

The recent drought has lowered the water level at least two feet. The exposed shoreline is at least 30 feet wide. The mud has track impressions of deer and humans.  This band of mud allows plants that sprout only during drought that exposes the edges. The Sun Dew and Pipe Wort that I found will not be there when the level of the pond rises.

The pond is isolated with no nearby paved roads. One has to walk a half hour from Route 24 near Bellows Road to access it. I immediately noticed the calm, the quiet, so much so it astounded me! It’s hard to find places as quiet as this. I designated Penny Pond as a candidate for my list of magical places ( a list of magical places and introduction are cataloged under Magical Places)

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What It’s Like To Have Chiggers

Scratching makes it worse. Scratching doesn’t help. The chiggers are still there, just under my skin, having descended over a course of 4-5 hours. They touch nerves, little nerves that send impulses to the brain. These impulses are “Itch Impulses” that keep on coming as long as the chiggers are there. The skin is their home after hanging on low vegetation. They came with wild turkeys decades ago. This is my take on the situation.

OI picked up chiggers ( no capitol C) some place during a hike with Mark. We had decided to take a circular hike. Some place along the six miles, I must have brushed against low bushes. They landed on my wool socks. From there, they worked their way into my ankles and lower legs. The itching began that evening at bed time.

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A Walk in a Remnant Forest in Baldwin, Nassau County

I joined Colin O’ Sullivan for a walk in a woodland located on the south shore on Nassau County. It is called Grant Park, a large recreation site. Colon has been interested in this open space and the possibility of introducing and enhancing native plant species.

From the edge, it looks like non-native species have had a field day. Most obvious is ragweed (also called mugwort). With this greeting, my instinct told me that I was about to encounter another place that looks like nothing compared to a century ago.

The major use of this park is sports. There are fields for tennis, soccer, baseball, track, swimming, and skateboarding. A trail runs through “Colon’s Preserve” ( my designation) which runners and bikers use. I don’t understand why this section of the park was left undeveloped. Colon has visited several times and has adopted it. He alone, wants to transform it, a daunting task. To remove the invasives and keep them out is herculean.

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