Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Category: long essays

Henry’s Hollow

Where is Henry? Who is he? Why is a topographic feature in the middle of the Quogue 1959 USGS Quadrangle labeled Henry’s Hollow?  Friend John Burnley and I decided to find out. Both of us visited the area 20years ago.  This was an opportunity to visit a new open space area. That map showed Henry Hollow south of Sunrise Highway, North of Montauk Highway, east of Spinny Road, and west of Bellows Road. March 8th started out cloudy and ended sunny. It was a warm day, perfect for a hike.

We met at the Sunrise Highway overpass on Bellows Road. The trail head was across the street. The Pine Barrens in this area is hilly and part of the much larger Ronkonkoma Moraine; these hills are less steep compared to Manorville Hills. The trail led parallel to Sunrise Highway. ATV’s have built annoying sine waves. Hikers find that they are constantly going up and down. When the tires spin, sand rooster tails behind, piles up and with repetitive passes, little hills and troughs develop. I felt a rhythm of balance and unbalance which slowed me down.

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Strong Hands

Jeff Gottlieb has been a major force in adding to my interest in how Native Americans used nature for their survival. Early on, he taught himself the physical properties of plants, rocks, and animals. For example, one time he said, “Look how this hickory sapling bends without breaking. It’s perfect for wigwam framing. To make a cattail mat, cut them as close to the bottom as possible, separate them, and lay them on the ground to dry in sunshine.”

Our friendship grew as I accompanied him on foraging and construction trips. Through all this, I deepened my respect for the intelligence of our First People or Native American Indians. Jeff taught me how to survive by learning how to use nature.

One of his early experiences was two weeks in New Jersey where he underwent rigorous challenges with expert Tom Brown in the Pine Barrens. He was challenged to spend several days alone with just a knife.

Jeff wrapped a wet rattan strip in order to fasten two saplings. He criss-crossed the wrap, pulled the two ends tight then tied. He was building a wigwam frame. He builds wigwams with his hands, natural materials, and knows how. He gets commissions to construct both domes structures and long houses. Jeff practices primitive technology. He needs a pair of strong hands as well as a good jack knife.

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Jessup Neck Ramble

Mark and I set out to circle Jessup Neck in Sag Harbor. We parked at Morton Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is famous for the “bird in hand” experience. Mark brought a bag of bird seed. We paused on the trail while Mark held out his hand with a palm of bird seed. Moments later, we heard chickadee calls from nearby shrubs. Instantly, one landed, grabbed a sunflower seed and was off. We saw a sign that requested “Dropping seed invites unwanted animals (rats). Please put unused seed in a bird feeder near the entrance.” This illustrates how humans are part of the food chains and webs of nature.

A chain from forest, to chickadee, to sunflower seed, to us, to rats, is but one of hundreds of interconnected links of which we are a small part… On our return, while Mark took photos, I sat on a bench and tried attracting some birds. Chickadee and titmouse responded. I did not look but felt their tiny talons grasp the edge of my palm. I heard their wing flaps up close.  We travel to see wildlife, and they come to us, ambassadors for birds and all animals.

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Double-D Where Farm Animals escape Slaughter & Abuse

Richard and Gay Devoe run a Sanctuary for abandoned and abused farm animals. They call it the Double D Bar Ranch. It is located on Wading River Manor Road in Manorville, just north of exit 57 of Sunrise Highway, Suffolk County, and Long Island. I met Richard in the winter of 2001. At that time, he and his wife were taking care of 700 animals. He accepted animals that needed care, feeding, and a home. He and his animal oasis deserve not only a visit, but a contribution. They are always in debt because the e animals come first. Although Richard seems to know more than most vegetarians, he’ll pay any amount to have surgery or any other procedure on any animal that needs it. I have nothing but the highest respect for Richard and Gay who dedicate their lives to save and love the animals they take in.

The farm started with an abandoned roadside cat. Richard pulled over and Gay scooped up the cat. Richard grew up in Babylon Village and took care of horses at a nearby stable, then learned how to ride. Soon after, they bought 4 acres in Manorville and began a nonprofit organization to accept animals. I volunteered and was with the ranch for three years off and on. At the beginning, Richard needed a friend. Gay went to work each day; Richard alone fed and watered the animals. Our friendship morphed into helping a man I fully admired. I wanted a fraction of the satisfaction he gets for rescuing pain, fear, and hunger from unwanted animals.

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Soil on Long Island

Long Islands’ soil started with glaciations. Two moraines were deposited (the hills that go ‘round the world) by a huge continental glacier some 20,000 years ago. Geologists call these hills terminal end moraines. As a glacier retreats, all the rock material it carries is deposited by melt water that flows south of the ice front. When the glacier is stationary, it acts like an escalator bringing rock material (with particle sizes anywhere from clay to huge boulders) to the ice front. It is dumped there and piles up creating mounds called moraines. The moraines act as dams for melt water creating areas where sediments have time to sort themselves out which create distinct layers of sand and clay . The moraines are deposited rather quickly and because of this, rock matter doesn’t have enough time to be sorted out. Sorting is the process whereby particles of similar size and density “condense” in layers.  Out wash plains are the flat, gently sloping areas south of the moraines.

There are two major out wash plains on Long Island, the Hempstead and Terryville Out wash Plain. These are delta-like formations that form slowly as melt water carries rock material southward. Glacial drift is term used for the unsorted mixture of rock matter in the moraines. It is unsorted with a large spectrum of particle sizes. This is not so in the out wash plains where particles have a chance to layer and be sorted out by sheets of slowly moving water that eventually formed into streams that have coursed along for centuries creating dentritic drainage patterns all across Long Island.

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Soil on Long Island

Long Islands’ soil started with glaciations. Two moraines were deposited (the hills that go ‘round the world) by a huge continental glacier some 20,000 years ago. Geologists call these hills terminal end moraines. As a glacier retreats, all the rock material it carries is deposited by melt water that flows south of the ice front. When the glacier is stationary, it acts like an escalator bringing rock material (with particle sizes anywhere from clay to huge boulders) to the ice front. It is dumped there and piles up creating mounds called moraines. The moraines act as dams for melt water creating areas where sediments have time to sort themselves out which create distinct layers of sand and clay . The moraines are deposited rather quickly and because of this, rock matter doesn’t have enough time to be sorted out. Sorting is the process whereby particles of similar size and density “condense” in layers.    Outwash plains are the flat, gently sloping areas south of the moraines. There are two major outwash plains on Long Island, the Hempstead and Terryville Outwash Plain. These are delta-like formations that form slowly as melt water carries rock material southward. Glacial drift is term used for the unsorted mixture of rock matter in the moraines. It is unsorted with a large spectrum of particle sizes. This is not so in the outwash plains where particles have a chance to layer and be sorted out by sheets of slowly moving water that eventually formed into streams that have coursed along for centuries creating dentritic drainage patterns all across Long Island.

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