Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Category: Short Essays (Page 1 of 11)

Vortex –

I discovered something interesting on my walk around Argyle Lake. There on the water surface, a black hole surrounded by counterclockwise swirls. I stopped, hypnotized and curious.

At this point, water drains from the Lake into an auxiliary pond which is two feet lower than the lake. I checked the pond and saw a ribbed plastic pipe with water emptying. The conditions for these phenomena must have been perfect. The water level of the lake was just right. There was a faint hollow sound coming from the hole. My curiosity led me to the dictionary:

“A mass of spinning air, liquid, etc. that pulls things into its center”

I remember the Titanic as it slipped beneath the sea creating huge vortexes. To be caught in a vortex, you might be sucked in and drown.

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Deck Vacation – Clouds

The only way I can see far is to look up. Buildings on all sides block everything. From my deck, I lounge in a chair and just look up. Those beautiful clouds, a passing parade of white, light grays, and dark grays. Right now the sun is directly above. It appears as a perfect orange-red circle blocked by a cloud. Today is partly cloudy so I have to be careful not to look directly at the sun. It’s a game I play with the clouds.

The patio is my sky theater and my clouds are the thespians. From this orchestra seat I am front row for a spectacular performance. Four clouds are closing in on blue sky for all four directions. It looks like the iris of my eye adjusting to bright light. The clouds are great white barges closing a hole in the sky.

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Manifesto: A Recipe for Climate Change, Global Warming, and Sea Level Rise


More and more “Big Ass” heavy cars, and pickup trucks  are being used for transportation. For women, they feel safer. For men, it’s size that matters. The following guidelines are suggestions for solutions to halt the increase in Earth’s temperature:

Cars can only weigh 1,500 pounds or less

No forms of entertainment will be sold in new cars including, radio, air conditioner, TV’s, and cigarette lighter

When idling in neutral, a computer that comes with the purchase of the car will measure the idle tome. Owners will pay a “idle tax” for exceeding a standard based on previous driving time and distance.

Auto races are prohibited

Crank windows only. The car is not an entertainment center. It is only meant as a mode of transportation.

Gas stations will be closed on weekends.

All car owners have a yearly maximum of 5,000 miles. Above that, a fee will be assigned.

Cost of cars and related fees – tripled in price

Price of gas – tripled

Tolls – quadrupled

Auto mechanics fees – boosted to $400/ hr

Tax break for people who don’t own cars and use public transportation.

Parking fees – quadrupled

$40 toll for crossing any state line

No more TV auto ads

Car rental business is closed

Only one make of car will be available for sale

Auto supply stores, junk yards, tire companies, repair shops will raise their prices by four.




Homecoming Farm – Startup Day

With a break in the weather a dozen share-holders and volunteers convened on the farm to catch up after several rain delays. Elizabeth provided bagels and juice before we broke up and worked to get the farm ready for harvesting a few weeks from now.

Don, the farmer, suggested various tasks. A mother and her son planted leeks. Several women descended on the two weed-filled herb and flower beds. I pried fennel with a long-handled spade. Fennel is n invasive and aggressive. It’s tap root goes straight down like dandelions.

After an hour, several large piles of weeks needed a trip to the compost pile. I wheel borrowed three loads. Don prepared a bed for planting. This season, Don decided to eliminate grass pathways along the beds. “Insects live there as well as weeds and travel into the beds.”  Behind his roto-tiller, flat,  smooth, velvety, brown, soft soil was to become the home of the roots of one of the dozens of kinds of produce the form will provide.

Soil is the key to growing healthy, organic produce. Lots of compost is applied and worked into it. Just by  thrusting my hand into this fresh soil, full of air, minerals, organic and organic elements, I could tell that any plant put in this soil and watered, is going to grow big and strong.

On my trips to the compost pile, I looked Austrailian Winter Pea cover crop. Don plants cover crops to increase carbon and nitrogen.

Don is particular about the way seedling plugs are planted. He wants the rows straight and the distance between each plant the same. He knows what space the roots of each plant needs. He used a 100 fool long string, measuring tape, and yardstick to plan where each plant will go. Once an entire bed is planted, I imagine a battalion of soldiers marching in place.

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What’s Not There

Cutter is a form of interruption. Space is interrupted by objects. It can be as large as a building that blocks the sun and view. It can be small, like a living room loaded with collections on shelves, floor, and furniture

Reactions to clutter can run from like, tolerate, and abhor. I fall somewhere between tolerate and abhor. If it’s my clutter, like. Others clutter – abhor. Clutter is stuff you think you need, you want, you can’t part with. As soon as I step across the threshold and encounter a cluttered room, I form an opinion and I don’t feel comfortable.

Beaches, forests, lakes, mountains, hills, and meadows are clutter escape hatches. To to one of these places is to reorder mental clutter. After an uncluttered experience and return to a cluttered environment, the person might ask themselves…”Why do I keep all this stuff?” Garage sales are held so they people selling old stuff can buy new stuff. Or they may be moving and say. “How did I accumulate all this stuff?” if it was a gift, it is nice to show respect by keeping it.

I’ve seen photos of minimalist living quarters. The walls are bare. There is hardly furniture…maybe a chair and table. The people who live in this kind of environment chose to stay clear of the task of taking care of their stuff, protecting it, and eventually, finding room for more. They maximize calm and they see what’s not there. Empty is the new full.

Here’s an example. I volunteered to help set up hundreds of books for a used book sale. Eventually the room was packed with table after table of books. After just a few minutes, I stopped searching for a title I’d like. I had to leave. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. I needed balance. Outdoors, less clutter, mind clears. I drove to a pier on the bay and parked. I saw the horizon. This alone relieved my stress. Open space is necessary for everyone. What is there is not there…space, minimal information. This is the kind of place we all need from time to time. Nature is relevant, intelligent, and related. We experience networks of ecological connection.

Seeing nature is a holistic experience, a bigger picture experience. You are not closed in by walls. There are no boundaries. Nature is not cluttered. We all need “not there” experiences, away from job, house, neighborhood, traffic,and away from our monkey minds that jump and sway from tree to tree.

Where can you go to get away from busy, from speed, and noise, what’s not there is the there we need to find.


There is nothing that doesn’t move. As close as scientists have tried to achieve absolute zero where nothing moves, they have not. Or is there?

Earth is consumed with motion as is the whole Universe. Most plentiful is the ocean of ocean surface and currents beneath, clouds, rivers, streams, etc. There is motion too inside the hardest rock, ice, steel, and everything else in nature. Its motion slow, medium, and fast.

Where did all this motion come from? It came from our Sun, of course. Early Earth was a ball of molten magma that cooled down to what we have now. The sun caused it all. The sun moves constantly, and so do we. Earthquakes, avalanches, tornadoes, hurricanes, you name it…its all motion.

We are motion – circulation, muscles, breathing, thinking, molecules vibrate all the time. It’s called Brownian Motion. Some guy named Brownian looked at water under a microscope and he saw molecules of water bouncing around and moving at random. How can there be any motion in a 150 pound anvil? Atoms, electrons, nuclei, those little suckers move. Light…is it a particle of a wave. Makes no difference, there is motion in light.

All this potential energy wants to move faster. Motion is spent energy. It is potential, then kinetic, back and forth, slow and fast. Standing still is motion

Earth is motion, we revolve, rotate, process and have done so for eons and even before this. Yet, who is to say that first motion came from no motion. Certainly the big bank started motion off and running. My arm, my hand, the keyboard I used to type this essay, all came from an amazing painting on the cover of a journal. The painting is just the surface of water whipped up by wind. After I looked at this cover, I had to write this essay. Thanks for popping by. The next post will #200!


Potato Planting

Two weeks of off and on rainy weather left the soil at Homecoming Farm in North Amityville too damp to plant potatoes. We got a call to plant potatoes. this was urgent because of too wet soil

It is not advisable to plant seed potatoes in wet soil. Today, the soil was perfect.

Dan used a rototiller to make 8 inch deep furrows in five 200 foot beds. We laid out a 100 foot long measuring tape so as to space the seeds a foot apart.  “We don’t cut the potato seed into pieces in order to prevent wire worms from burrowing. We had six boxes of fifty pound potatoes to plant. Because the bags sat for three weeks, they sprouted stems and white roots. Potatoes are subject to fungus is planted in wet soil. Today the soil was perfect, the weather was perfect, and we had four volunteers to help…Nancy, my wife, me, Tom, Mitch, and Andrea, a new intern from Porto Rico who will be with us for a month.

When We arrived, Sister Jean Clark, A Dominican Nun, was visiting. She conceived of the farm 20 years ago. She believes that community supported agriculture that is organic is wholesome and Earth Healing.

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The Discovery Process

The Center for Environmental Education and Discovery has launched a groundbreaking effort to establish an education center in Bellport.  After three years of hard work, the board of directors has earned the key to a large building where future programs will be conducted.

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Calm Through My Lens

A sense of peace and serenity comes twice when I photograph a landscape that evokes these feelings. First are the simple landscapes I’ve seen and captured with my camera, and second, viewing the photos thereafter.

I look for scenes that have practically no information. There is no clutter. The following ten photographs pull me in as a way of leaving the busy world and entering the calm world:

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North Shore Beach

Petite wavelets sweep a north shore beach. I have come to Long Beach on Stony Brook Harbor, to experience early morning calmness in summer;  to listen to the cadence of tiny breakers that curl and fall onto wet sand at the edge of a placid Long Island Sound.

The surface of the Sound is glass. High tide has me walking right along this edge because the upper beach consists of pebbles. Walking on pebbles is hard. It might be compared to walking on millions upon millions of solid, metal pin balls. I want solid footing. Only the strip of wet sand at the very edges allows me to do this.

The slush part of the beach goes right up to the bluff. Tidal surge eats at the base of north shore bluffs and erodes it. The pebbles stay, the silt and clay are carried off into the sound.

I wasn’t expecting such astounding beauty. The scene is sky, water, and a thin strip of Connecticut on the north horizon. I wanted nothing to change. I stood quietly knowing that everything changes. The sun’s ascent changes the light and washes out what find textured details I am now seeing. I am thoughtless because this place has emptied me. I have lost the manic pace of Long Island life. The tacit lap of wavelets are like the second clicks on the stopwatch on the TV show 60 Minutes. This is Earth meditating. I feel my pulse. My heartbeat and wavelets are in tune. I am reminded that all of us  are part of a much bigger picture.

The sky is clear. There are no boats, no gulls, and no other people. Thousands of slipper shells lay at my feet. There is a boulder about 50 feet off shore whose tip is just above water with just enough space for a gull to perch. I slowly see the tide ebb as the wet edge of the boulder grows. It has its own world. Periwinkles, rock weed, mussels, and small crabs live in community on its surface. It boulder looks like a surfacing gray whale. The bluff is bare. Up top, a tree trunk is perched having fallen curing a strong hide tidal eroding event that took away just enough topsoil to undermine the tree so it fell. Beach grass grows at the base of the bluff. Every scene I see flows. And all during the time I’ve spent so far, wavelets rise, curl, fall, and sweep.

There is no need to walk. Instead, I sit on a log and run my hands through sand. It is getting brighter. I have lost track of time. I am not waiting. I am completely absorbed. A ring-billed gull has landed on the boulder. The wind has picked up. At once, the Sound takes on a different tone. A patch of wind comes in contact with the water. The surface becomes a chameleon. The water surface whirls and moves with textural changes every minute.  All the while I hear louder lap, lap, wish, wish. The sound of the sound speaks to me. The sun has overexposed everything. It’s getting hot. I walk back to the car, out of a church, having had a spiritual connection with…

A sacred place.




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