Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Category: Short Essays (Page 1 of 13)

Published Collages – Tom Stock

The Café Review – Portland Maine – 2017

1. “The Scream“

2. “Progress”

3. “Screaming Lady 1”

4.    “Alert! Carrying Capacity Overload”

South Florida Poetry Journal – May 2018

5. “Swipe”

6.“He Said, She Said”

7.  “Slinkys”

8.  “Escaping Old Baggage”






“Between Any Two Pine Trees, There Is A Door Leading To A New Way Of Life” John Muir

             There is a new way of life out there. Pick two trees, stop and look.  Put away the smart phone, the lap top, the streamed music. Open the door.

There is a natural world out there. It is at your door to a fresh new way of being. The trees invite you.  Take a step.

Smell the pine trees. See birds butterflies, a meadow, clouds. Feel the wind and hear it as well. All this awaits you every day of the year.

Between any two pine trees is a portal of opportunity for transformation. Reaffirm the connection we’ve all had from birth. We ( all matter dead and alive)  are not a collection  of objects. We are a community of subjects interdependent, intelligent, relevant, and related. All is sacred, rock, water, soil.

John Muir wrote this over a century ago. It is more true and more necessary today than ever before. There is a whole world of wonder when you open the door and take a step beyond your doorstep.

Tom Stock                       November, 19, 2017

“Who Really Controls the World?”

This challenging question was posed by a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet handed to me at a county fair. I took it seriously. I suspected I knew what they thought. Me? Us? No one? God?

The single-handed approach has fault lines. A lot of individuals are going to be necessary to control the world. With Earth’s population increasing, it seems as if WE control the World. The presence of billions of human bodies on the planet has made a huge impact.

I wrote this message in 2017 as part of a 100 year time capsule project. Will world population decrease in 2117? Maybe the answer will be us if Earth’s health improves.

I am only a tiny droplet in an enormous bucket of humanity. I have cared for the “world” almost my entire 78 year life. I have done my share of consuming fossil fuels, over packaged merchandise, garbage for the landfills, etc. I think my lifestyle of work, entertainment, and activities have been conservative (but not sustainable). My talent was writing a blog. I’ve posted hundreds of essays, poems, and photographs on TOMSTOCK.ORG for public readers about nature with essays, photos, poems, and reports. I submit that these writings will give a realistic glimpse of what life was like 100 years ago.

There are thousands of organizations who have worked on helping to “control the world” for the better. There are thousands of ways to approach the problem. Yet still, the world is at risk day in and day out.

Sea level rise, global warming, air and water pollution, increase in human population, species extinction, global health problems, decreasing healthy food production and on and on. I hope these problems are solved by 2117!

To conclude: the world will save the world. Earth is intelligent. Earth is self restoring. Physical and biological processes will continue as always in our world. Earth Herself will regain balance. Her carrying capacity will save itself.


This essay will be submitted to be included in a time capsule in 2017

A Tuesday Midday Walk

Raw weather, wind, gray skies, and cold. I read the New York Times at Glens with a cup of coffee. At the table next to mine, I saw several bread crusts on a plate. No one watched as I scooped up the crusts in a napkin. This determined where I walked. I would take the crusts to the municipal pier and feed gulls.

Fallen leaves of sycamore are drab brown, crusty, large, and rustle loudly. I made my way down Deer Park Avenue on a fast walk. I saw a few women leashed to their designer dogs. They are little fluff balls who look fragile. They seem most at home on a fluffy couch with lots of pillows. These dogs are picked up, catered to, and pampered. I’m thinking “What about me?”

I reached the dock and saw no gulls, nor cars, nor dogs. I prepared to feed. I pinched off a small piece of bread and flipped onto a parking place. It took no more than ten seconds to attract a gull that swooped in and picked up the morsel on the fly. This was a signal to other gulls that have been in hiding. They appeared en mass. This is the ultimate word-of-mouth experience!

I observed several techniques for how the gulls operated. The Rush is a move make by a gull near the bread. they use their wings to ambush. It’s every gull for himself. If the others who fail don’t respond instantly, they are out of luck.

I tried to feed the three fish crows that knew they were outnumbered and out sized. I came close, the gulls always rushed to the reward. The crows tried to fight back, but they had little impact. A few birds took the bread on the fly. I saw some Olympic level acrobatic moves. I was observing the desperation of hunger. I wondered how often the average gull had a meal.

Having run out of bread, I started back. I turned into the Pier 44 parking lot and snooped. I found a wall that had milkweed stalks growing all along. A crack in the asphalt/wall interface caught mildewed seeds and they flourished. I had my clippers with me and cut 25 stalks. Most were black from decay. I saw the stalks as material for making mats.

Many houses have been lifted to protect them from flood surges. Such is the price that is paid to live here. Elevated homes look strange, out of place and have lost their charm. Owners value location more than architecture.

Every drainage grate had a white fish painted next to it to try to protect bay water. This is odd to because I keep getting mixed messages. There are many huge pickup trucks that look big enough to carry entire pallets of sheet rock. With another climate conference taking place, I fail to see the concern for our water but for air…not so much.

Back home, I clipped the milkweed stalks to make mats and saved lots of pods to salvage seeds and plant milkweed plants to encourage monarch butterflies.

Toms Stock                                                     November 14, 2017

A Sunday Morning Walk

Light wind isn’t the phrase I’d use to describe weather this morning. There was no wind at all. This was an unusual weather lull. The weather was stationary, between fronts, clear sky with full sunshine. Balmy.

It was strangely quiet. The village had yet to wake. Those who had worked 6 days were sleeping in. after the past few days of wind chill and rain and gray, I had to get out. I had a sad feeling to deal with. I was carrying something heavy. Perhaps a walk could lighten the load.

I didn’t plan a destination until I started my walk. I’d go to the Great South Bay and just stand there and look. I’d never seen it so quiet. A few passing cars, a jogger, and a barking dog, Sampawams Creek was sheet smooth with not a ripple. Flags were limp and none of the boats moved.

I quickened my pace, rolling ankles and pushing with toes to get  extra inches in each step. I was rolling along with powerful legs and acute awareness. I passed a man cleaning his gutters. The sound of aluminum ladder against aluminum gutter was sharp and clear. With the lack of background noise, even the sweeping sounds by a man cleaning sand from the curb caught my attention.

I kept thinking about Ted, a close friend and his situation. I love him like no other man. When we laugh together, it is pure joy. I especially admire his one pointed attention.

I finally reached the bay and stopped to rest and look. There was some  wind, but not much. The wind was just enough to create a soft tumble of water on the pebbly beach. I could see across to Oak Island, the two bridges, the lighthouse, and the water tower. Off in the distance, a single power boat with an outboard that broke the silence. I stood still a while absorbing all this beauty, all this stillness, all this quiet. Ted kept popping up.

I started back, quickly finding the rhythm I created outbound. The village was waking up: the laughter of two children at the playground; two neighbors in conversation in a driveway. I began to feel the heavy load I carried lifting. I felt my grief softening.

I’ve only experienced a few other days like this. It’s like the weather has taken the day off. I knew this from the beginning of the walk. I knew I had to savor this to the max.

I knew that Ted would survive even with such drastic surgery. Doctors feared that the cancer in his arm would spread. Amputate. This word is like an earthquake to my mind and heart. My friend has lost his arm. I am carrying his pain and somehow I know, that he will be fine.


Tom Stock                                                                November 14, 2017

Last Sailing Experience of the Season: October 31, 2017

My two month sailing window of September and October came to an end with one final outing. It was not world cup class. In fact It was the worst sailing experience I’ve ever had.

I boarded the boat and bailed the bilges. I untied bow and stern lines and readied the sail. I pushed off into the middle of the creek and raised the sail. There was a strong south wind. I coasted backwards. I lowered the sail and paddled. The main sheet got tangled in my life jacket. I removed it and recovered control. The boom was too low and I had to duck. Usually I can raise the sail to have the boom high enough above my head so I don’t have to duck. Meanwhile I was blown to the shore. Lowered the sail for the second time to try to get into a position where I could make forward progress. The centerboard caught the bottom and stopped progress. I raised the board and still made no progress. When I raised the sail, it wouldn’t rise…I had my foot on the Halyard.

My friend Darrel Ford took up a position at the dock at Robins Ave. He intended to take photos. Meanwhile I drifted into bayberry bushes hanging over an old bulkhead. I had to push off with the paddle. I could not make any headway. I drifted into a canal on the West Islip side. I lowered the sail for the third time. I never had control of the boat. The deck on the bow was covered with dead bayberry branches. Finally, out in the middle of the creek, with sail up, the boat turned in a complete circle. I had traveled ¼ mile. At this point, I declared retreat. The wind pushed my back into the slip in about a minute.

.Darrel told me that he saw a sail rise and fall several times. I never made it to the dock. I limped back to the dock totally disappointed. I called Roger and arranged to have the boat hauled out as soon as possible. Next season, I will have a small outboard motor and I hope this will never happen again! I don’t have to check the weather report for wind any more.

Tom Stock                                                  November 9, 2017

Irish Whiskey – An Unhurried Journey


A couple from Dublin, Ireland stayed with us for three days.

As a thank your gift, they gave us a bottle of Irish Whiskey in a beautiful red box.

I’ve only had a few brief occasions when I tasted Ireland in a shot glass.

The bottle stood in a corner of the kitchen counter for almost a week. Finally, I cracked the cap, poured a small amount into a well-chosen glass, and took a sniff. Then, I lifted the glass to my lips, tilted my head, tilted the glass and sipped. I didn’t swallow. I let the stimulation linger. The first impression was not only the taste, it is the atmosphere of those tiny aerosol Irish droplets flowing to every part of my mouth. When I inhaled, I felt the full effect as liquid whisky evaporated to a gas. This enhanced the whole experience. I was back in Ireland.

I don’t swig liquid like this. I take very small sips to make it last. I want just enough to wet the tongue. The first contact with the whole tongue, front, middle sides, and back, the whole experience. The taste lasted ten seconds, my cheeks flush slightly, and I feel warmth. Then my brain kicked in. in a single word…euphoria!

It is temptation to have a second shot, a third, and finish the whole bottle. I had to use all my will power to refrain from a second helping.

Here’s what the label says:

Triple distilled; aged in hand-selected sherry butts; rich ruby read hue; 46% ABV; non chill filtered; seasoned with the finest Oloroso sherry;

TASTE: nutty Oloroso, spicy raisins and creamy oak. FINISH: long and wonderfully complex with a flourish of orange. An unhurried  journey. Produced by Walsh Whisky Distillery Ltd. Carlow, Ireland

I cried with Irish happiness.


Tom Stock                                                       November 7, 2017

My Favorite Shirts

Many unworn shirts hang in my closet. This is because I have two favorite shirts that hog the show. These two shirts are the go to ones. I am wearing them out because I wear them almost all the time.

Shirt #1:

A long sleeved, buttoned, gray, very strong material, some elbow wear, IT was made in Sri Lanka, size large, Craft & Barrow label. The shirt is warm and it fits. Nancy, wife #2, bought it at a garage sale for .50. As soon as I tried it on, I knew I might as well discard the shirts in the closet. It is an excellent travel shirt because it’s all I need.

Shirt #2:

A forest green sweat shirt. It was a gift from Ted as a thank you for helping him. It is warm and comfortable. I wear it inside out. Recently I discovered  a picture and words on the front:


Look both ways before you cross the road.

Be a good listener.

Know when to lay low.

Tread lightly on the earth.

Take time out to browse.

Leap over obstacles.

Don’t pass the buck!

I resonate with “Know when to lay low.” Deer are not the type animal that thrives on the paparazzi. Their fur blends in so that they seem to dissolve before your eyes when they leap into the woods. The fawns have white botches to match dapple’s light in the forest. Deer spend the day resting and chewing the night’s worth of vegetation. They speak to me saying: “Tom, chill out, lay low once in a while. You’re too high profile. Take a back seat once in a while. Don’t hog the spotlight.”

”Leap over obstacles’ also gets my attention. Go at them head on. Don’t let them stop you.  Be proactive. The high arc of leaping deer is a sight to behold. For a brief moment, the animal seems suspended in air. This ability allows them to bypass heavy brush.

All animals are teachers. When I’m in Ms. Deer’s class, I sit in the front. I don’t to miss a single thing. She tells us how deer signal danger. Lift your tail. How simple is that? I don’t have a tail. How shall apply this to my life. Ah ha. I have it. I’ll shout at the top of my lungs. HELP DANGER WATCH OUT, DUCK. Deer as so much smarter than us.



Tom Stock                                               October 30, 2017

Hunters Garden Association – Report

Twice a year, on the third Thursday in May and October, men gather for lunch. They have met for the past 184 years, On my 78th birthday, I decided to attend their biannual clam and eel chowder lunch.It took place deep in the Pine Barrens of Southampton north of route 51. A long dirt road leads to a clearing. There is no running water nor are there bathrooms and therefore, no women. The association has a truck which holds boards for tables and seats. A small group of men set up the cooking area. A railroad rail holds five cast iron cauldrons. The lead chef directs the cooking. Two kettles are used for the clam chowder and three for the eel chowder. A garbage can propped over a fire was used for coffee.

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A Basket of Finds

Mark Harrington gave me a basket full of nature objects that he  collected. I’d never received such a gift before. I rummaged through it and left it until I decided to write this post.

I don’t have my collection of nature things in a basket. They are here and there. A turkey skeleton and sea robin head on my nick knack shelf, bottles or garnet and magnetite sand in the garage and scattered here and there.

Of the 45 items, one of these was Florida shells. I could only remember the scientific name, Fossor donax. A google search produced the AH Ha…Coquina. These tiny shells accumulate by the millions in Florida and become combined by lime which glues them together. They have reached the Long Island shores.

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