Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Author: Tom Stock (Page 1 of 28)

Fire – the poem

A frozen stream from

A magnesium rim

Meandered on the ground

From the scorched hulk of a car

In Santa Rosa, California.

Abandoned when a wall of flame

Rushed in and past

They ran to safety

Just in time

There were many other

“Just in time” stories

Relentless winds turned up the heat

Burning, melting, destroying

This was no volcano, tornado

Hurricane, tsunami

Fire. fire, fire

With heat so high

It vaporized almost everything

In its path

Where a house was

A second later…

Rubble with only a

A fireplace left standing

Fiery embers lifted into the smoke

Orange-yellow specks

Wiggling in darkness

To land and ignite new hungry flames

A conflagration that turned

Almost everything to ash

That will drift afar

To fertilize its’ simple molecules

Left from that complicated,

Interconnected world                                                        tom stock

Lunch – Babylon Overlook Beach

It only took about ten seconds for a herring gull to snap up a crust from my sandwich. Ten seconds later, two more gulls winged in. Things are tough for sea gulls. The alpha gull chased the other always and waited. I tossed another peace. Bingo! In less than a second, the gull grabbed and swallowed. There’s no time to wait. This is survival. The bird was ultra patient. It hung around for a half hour before it left. No more bread I’m outta here. Looking head on, gulls have huge mouths. They are swallowing machines.

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Notice o All 8 Digits – a poem

Both hands and their fingers

And thumbs

Can drum on a hollow surface

When boredom wants something to do

Those vice grip thumbs

Ready to help their partners

Eight fidgety fingers

Each with their own little brain

So many things they can do

How about make a basket?

Train your fingers to make something useful

Keep up the good work

Keep those nails clean and trimmed

Don’t forget your fingers

Where would you be with even one missing digit?

You are incredible

You do a thousand things

Without us even thinking

They are so automatic

Good job fingers

Good job


Tom Stock – basket and mat maker

Visit To Robert Moses State Park: October 2, 2017

Four birdwatchers perch on an elevated platform observing and counting migrating hawks. The air is clean and cool. A gentle sea breeze lazes north. Balmy full afternoon sunshine – a fine early fall day.

The bay is flat; the ocean casts 12 inch breakers on the sand. The sand is glistening light tan and fine. Robert Moses is one of the finest beaches in the world.

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Report #4: A Sail On Sampawams Creek: Sept 28, 2017

I guided Nancat down Sampawams Creek toward the Great South Bay. This creek is one of seven that form the Necks in the Town of Babylon. Suffolk County’s south shore has about 75.These creeks were formed about 5,000 years ago when a breach in the Ronkonkoma Moraine, The Terminal Moraine is a deposit from the glacier. This linear ridge along the island held back glacial melt water until it forced a breach in the Dix and Half Hollow Hills area. A huge volume of water rushed through a low spot and flowed south creating seven shallow valleys. Sampawams Creek is the easternmost creek of those seven.  In recent years it was designated as a boundary separating the Towns of Babylon and Islip.

“There are holes in the bottom of the creek. One is 35 feet deep just south of the three boathouses on the Islip side. Fishermen know about these holes because fish congregate there.” Roger Holzmacker commented. He sailed the creek as a youth and has witnessed many changes.    He is a neighbor who helped me restore and launch Nancat four years ago. I hauled her out for two years and with his encouragement, and have launched again for two months of sailing. “September and October are the best sailing months of the year.” I refer to him as Saint Roger because without his help and encouragement, I would not be sailing. He helped me restore the boat and his encouragement and generous spirit gave me the confidence to try. I have no outboard motor and this limits my distance. He is my nautical angel. My goal is to sail to Oak Island and sail around it and go clamming. The distance is about 2 miles across open water. Without an outboard motor, I’m tempting fate.

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Nancats Third Sail : September 24th, 2017

I had been waiting for such a day like this. The wind was right. I prepared the boat to sail. This time I learned about kinks.

While hoisting the sail, a kink in the halyard stopped the process. I found a knot, which I am calling a “kink” that stopped the line from sliding through the block.  I removed the kink, with the line free, I can continue hauling the sail. I tie down the halyard line. Loosen bow and stern line’s and am free of the dock. The wind is light yet enough to carry us south on Sampawams Creek.

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Lewisburg – Princeton Getaway: September 8-10, 2017


We visited a huge mill operation in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. It was turned into an antique business with 350 consignment booths. As my wife went happily on her way, I stumbled from booth to booth, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material. I began out trying to be mindful of item after item.  I began gulping whole booths with occasional stops to actually look at a few items like a old pair of wood skis. I remember how I used a pair to ski down the slide in Como County Park.

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Making Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Big, round red tomatoes

Sit beside a cutting board

With the sharpest, serrated knife I own

I cut hem in half, then half these

Gut the pulp

Lay the juicy, red strips on a screen

Set it in full sunshine

Cover with netting

No insects permitted


Hot days are best for evaporation

It may take three or four days

The day star will do its work

No electric dehydrator for me.


These leathery almost sightless strips

Shrunken and dry

Are ready for February

When you bring the sunlight back.

Lakeland County Park: Part 2

Honeysuckle Pond  is the main attraction of Lakeland County Park. Visitors have to follow a complex of board walks to reach it. I first caught sight of it through an opening in the forest. When I first sighted the Pond, I was surprised. It is much smaller than what I remember thirty years ago. I expected to see water like I did back in the 1980’s when it looked more like a small lake than now. I saw a large. pure grassy area where the pond used to be. I soon found out why. The pond level is three vertical feet lower. As a result, the wildlife living there has greatly reduced. I saw turtles and slender silver fish, possibly minnows. What left is kidney-shaped. The boardwalks were built decades ago to prevent visitors from slogging in mud and protecting fragile plants. Drought is the main cause over the past two years. Not enough rain water has fallen to soak into earth to keep the water table higher

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Second NANCAT Sail: September, 2017

I raised my wind meter while standing on Cindy and Paul’s dock. The white Styrofoam ball hovered between 8 to 9 MPH. Not sure if I should cast off. There was a nice ripple on the water, but the situation is difference down stream where the creek  widens. Wind out of the north means an easy trip to the bay, but not so easy returning. Tacking in the narrow section of the creek is difficult. I decided not to sail on the weather report that said wind shifting to the east in the afternoon.

I left the dock in the early afternoon for another trip up and down the creek. I raised the sail and was underway immediately. I soon learned that I I forgot to lower the centerboard. The boat glided off course.

I encountered stronger wind when I entered a wider section. The boom is too low and as I changed sides, I had to duck every time I came about. To change direction, I have to do three things simultaneously. Shift from port to starboard or the opposite side, duck, tighten the sheet, and turn the tiller. This is the point where my boat is out of my control. I have to hurry to maintain control. The tiller is long. As I shift , my life jacket catches the sheet and tiller and I struggle to untangle.

Wind is always variable. Gusts luff the sail. I drifted and banged into pilings and bulkheads when the wind died. I fumbled, pushed off with the paddle I struggled, shifting back and forth, ducking, adjusting sheet and tiller. I thought sailing was supposed to be fun

I came about at the Babylon Public Dock and proceeded fast, slow, backwards, and becalmed. I still have not mastered my sailing skills. I managed to reach the narrows after many tacks. I finally decided to lower the sail and row to the slip.

I felt like had just finished an intensive gym workout. Dry land and safety at last. I experienced “nosing up” several times. This happens when I don’t have enough momentum and try to come about. I turn hard and the boat doesn’t respond. The bow keeps going in the unintended direction. I am turning away from the way I want to go.. Then, holding my breath, slowly, the bow turns to way I want. I find a place where I can get more speed. As I sail, I think about a coming hurricane, and three huge boats coming my way.


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