Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Car Talk

The time came to say good by to what Nancy called “a Crushed Tin Can.” She is referring to my Honda Civic. I bought it used for 9K with 35K miles and sold it for 300$ with 153K. The engine lasted. The rest, not so much. Right rear window didn’t close. Hood cable snapped; two expensive repairs ignition key and transmission pad; there were dents; and my large body and small foot room left a large warn hole on the floor rug on the driver side; CD player stuck; and the major reason I stopped driving it – air bag computer replacement $1,000. It was time for an automatic gear shift. I am sick of getting beeped when street intersection lights turn green.

I was thinking I can’t drive a car whose air bags don’t work. With Nancy in the passenger seat a head on crash is possible death. Joe Jones, our excellent mechanic, gave it to me straight. It was time to move on.

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Gardiner County Park In Winter

I knew that there would be very few visitors at Gardiner County Park. It was drizzling, with gray skies, and cold. I set out to take photos and take a walk. This park is only one of two maritime forests along the edge of the south shore of any size.

A few steps south told me how this ecological habitat got its name. The trails off the beaten straightaway to the bay have roots spread out over the surface. The trees that live here had adapted to a water table that is only one to two feet below the surface. Red Maple and Tupelo are two of the major species. Because the roots spread out from the trees, they don’t have deep roots to help them withstand strong winds. Those that succumb to winds of 50 mph are toppled. They are called blow downs. I saw many. However, one blow down went only half way. As it fell, it got caught in the fork of a tree.

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Big Eyes – Our Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

Nancy named our resident rabbit BIG EYES. “Crepuscular” she said. It is most active at dawn and dusk. She’s a poet and likes four syllable words. We like to think that Big Eyes is our rabbit. One day about four months ago, it just showed up and has remained on the property to this day. We are thrilled to play host to any wild animal (except cats).

We spent a bit of time trying to figure out why Big Eyes showed up here. There is very little rabbit habitat in the Village of Babylon. Rabbit’s produce young in large numbers. Once weaned, the parents disown them. Big Eyes hopped around looking for a place to live. Housing is dense and we picture rabbits in open undeveloped areas.

Our neighbor Roger told me that he had a rabbit in his back yard. I actually saw a rabbit crossing the street from the neighbor. Now we have a nature sanctuary thanks to one, beautiful rabbit. We have a large lawn and wild spots.perfect for rabbits.

Clues began to surface. I found incisor teeth marks on some of the tomatoes. There were bites taken from leaf lettuce. Big Eyes had settled in.

Nancy and I started an informal rabbit sighting contest. “She’d tease me with “Ha Ha, I saw Big Eyes.” There were almost daily sightings on the lawn and in the driveway. Nancy saw it in a patch of clover. Big Eyes survived the landscape crew when they came Thursday morning to mow the lawn. To us, this was evidence that Big Eyes was here to stay.

I decided to build a shelter so it could huddle under a lean to shelter with branches for rustic charm. I set it up so we could look from inside the house with binoculars. So far, Big Eyes has had other ideas. Rabbits have two coats of hair. The inner coat is thick short hair for insulation. It toughs it out, no shelter necessary.

With snow on the ground, I thought I’d buy some lettuce to spread near the shelter. Nothing happened. Nancy said “Rabbits eat tender bark with grass is unavailable.” I found evidence in the wildflower garden in the center of the lawn. Big Eyes munched on a young crab apple tree trunk.

The first light snowfall confirmed that Big Eyes was still with us. Tracks on the sidewalk and back near the compost pile. We are proud naturalists. We have Big Eyes… all the better to see you (said the fox to Little Red Riding Hood).

List of Feature Poets at Jack Jacks Cafe – 2018

2018 FEATURED POETS
JACK JACK’S COFFEE HOUSE,
223 DEER PARK AVE. BABYLON VILLAGE, N.Y.
First Thursday of every month – 7:30 PM

January 4: Phil Reinstein – mixes politics with music; his handle – The Insurance Mon

February 1: Barbara Southard – grew up on a canal in Freeport and teaches poetry at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.

March 1: Marc Nuccio – multitalented artist/poet/musician. Owns a product development and Graphic Design Studio. Has three published chapbooks.

April 5: Russ Green – poet of Occupy Wall Street. Jack Kerouac wannabe; in the beat poet genre

May 3: Kate Fox – Mother, breast cancer survivor; author of “My Pink Ribbons Hope and Liars,”& “Mistruths and Perception.” The Kate Fox Show

June 7: Cynthia Shor – Executive Director of Walt Whitman Birthplace Historical Site

July 5: Kathaleen Donnelly – Hosts poetry readings in Stony Brook, published two groundbreaking anthologies of poems with photographs

August 2: Phil Asaph: – recently moved upstate, writes poetry, prose, and fiction

September 6: Gene McParland: – poetry and acting go together. “I have a passion for poetry and the message it can carry.” active in theatre productions.

October 4: Kate Boning Dickson – worked on her grandmothers’ blueberry farm childhood summers.

November 1: Darrel Blaine Ford – banded birds and ran the Babylon Youth Project for 25 yrs. Personates Walt Whitman; 87 years old

December 6: Greg Moglia – His poems have been accepted in over 300 journals in the US, Canada, England, India, Australia, Belgium and New Zealand as well as 5 anthologies. He lives in Huntington, N.Y.

Sponsor: The Babylon Village Arts Council; Contact Tom Stock tstock39@gmail.com 631-578-9220

Tom Stock – Vitae

New age sensitive man; rascal; wise guy; hosts poetry readings in his community of Babylon; oddly eccentric; writer; essayist and poet; creative; thinks outside the box; Basket maker; mat maker; teacher; long distance walker; husband; father; grandfather; collage artist; former puppeteer; gardener; published two books-nonfiction and poetry; snow shoes and cross country skis; retired science teacher; journal keeper; college graduate; amateur historian; mixed media artist; founding member of the Long Island Greenbelt Conference; faculty of the Gallery North Community Art Center; life member of the New York Outdoor Education Association; Naturalist for Nassau BOCES Environmental Education Program ( ten years); seasonal ranger for the Fire Island National Seashore; adult education faculty – Hofstra University (10 years); restored a wooden water tank and lived in it for 2 years; restored a meadow at home in Manorville over a 10 year period; researched Sampawams Creek on the south shore of Long island and created a power point program and donated information to several public libraries; a naturalist who has led workshops and walks for over 30 years; a volunteer at the Mercy Inn Soup Kitchen, Wyandanch, N.Y.; volunteer for the Double D Bar Ranch for abandoned and abused farm animals; led the city kids to the farm program for 5 years.

Tom Stock
20 Willow street
Babylon, New York, 11702
631-578-9220
Tstock39@gmail.com
tomstock.org (300 posts)

First Snow Shower of Late Fall: December 14th 2017

The first three inches of light, dry powder fell last night.

In high mountain ski country this snow is called a “dusting” It is delightful to ski in fresh new powder that covers warn trails. While even a light snow perks up the Channel 12 weather reporter, it slows down traffic and even cancels a few evening activities.

This snow event followed a two day blast of cold air from what meteorologists called an “Alberta Clipper.” This is a huge mass of ice-cold air that originates in central Canada and arrives from the west with 30 MPH winds. I can hear a large American Flag snapping across the street. Wind velocity equals wind hill temps.

As winds lightened, small branches swayed. The air quieted down. Snow fell slowly, flake by flake covering the sidewalks, grass, and lawn furniture. I grabbed a snow shovel that fell on the front porch and began swoop motions with bent knees to clear the sidewalks. I stopped to rest and decided to get my camera.

This is the first shovel of the season. The snow is so dry that gives way to the shovel like cotton. It is not a wet snow. It piles rather than coats with equal accumulation. I saw many opportunities to capture some of the simple forms of light and dark patterns and rhythms I came upon. These simple images represent my feelings of the beauty that is created by the snow.

While I shoveled, I heard honks in the distance. A Canada Goose formation was approaching. They were below the tree line so I focused my attention there until the lead goose popped up. This was my opportunity to take a break. This flock may be headed toward the Bergen Point Golf Course for grass. I am always delighted by the “V” formation of geese. Their honks overhead stop me every time.

Back indoors in my man cave, the room glowed with reflected light. This first snow fall is a reminder of stronger storms to come. As fall is about to transition into winter, I wait for a new door to open. I feel change knocking my door. A friend of mine uses the phrase “way will open” when we discuss changes we want to make.

This first snowfall awakens me to dust off my cross country skis and be ready for a heavier snowfall. I long to be out in the open air on the fairways of the local golf course to experience fresh cold air and hear the sound of skis sliding along.

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”

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Judith Gale Mont’s Abstract Art Exhibit at Jack Jack’s Coffee House

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Garlic Planting at Homecoming Farm

The last agricultural event of the 2017 Homecoming Organic Farm Season is planting Garlic. Don has mowed the Sorghum cover crop planted in the garlic plot. When the sorgham was disked to break up the stalks with the tractor. Several Volunteers were on hand to help.

The first step is to break apart the seed bulbs. Trays of various garlic varieties are transferred to the Hoop House.  It is a pleasure to work in a warm environment. Outside the tropical atmosphere in the hoop house, it is cold and windy. The weather has delayed planting. The soil has finally dried enough to plant.

Separating garlic cloves takes strong hand muscles. The cloves are snug. We use a thumb nail to slit through several thin parchment-like layers to get an opening between cloves. Using thumb again, we pop the bulb open and peel off the cloves. They collect in a bucket until Don says, “This is enough seed for now, let’s plant.”

Don has made four furrows with a forked chisel plow. The rows are 200 feet long. Don uses little red plastic flags from Home Depot to mark where one variety ends and the next one starts. We are instructed to plunge cloves into loose soil six inches apart. This gives the clove room to spread out roots and not interfere with the next one. We start with German Red. I’ve tasted a small clove. It is hot and zesty. We are on our hands and knees brushing aside broken stalk of sorghum, which acts to add carbon to the soil). We will plant many varieties. Elizabeth wants us to try to have garlic varieties from many parts of the world.  We’ve planted Slovak, Israeli, music, soft neck, and many more. This connects us to a wider range than local. Garlic has evolved into many varieties depending on the soil conditions it grows in. this is unique to garlic.

Once all the garlic is in the ground, mulching begins. The compost is close by. Partly rotted leaves are forked into wheel barrows and spread on the beds with an isle in between. There is no irrigation because there is no well close by. The garlic is on its own.  Unfortunately, the westerly winds have open passage because there is nothing in its way. “The problem is that by next spring, the wind has blown all the compost away.” Says Don.

Shortly after planting, the cloves begin to grow roots and shoots. Once the ground freezes, each clove stops growing until late winter.  Walking the garlic rows in spring and seeing little green shoots is the promise of another farm season in 2018. For now, the garlic bulbs we’ve taken home are beginning to turn on their biological clocks. By January, the power of garlic begins to wane. It’s tie to make hummus, and stews with garlic and stir fries as well. The slow cooker bubbles with garlic cloves as well. Garlic is one of the most nutritious foods with plenty of amino acids. Last year Don and crew planted over 20,000 cloves. It turned out to be too much to handle. This season, about  half  that many. That’s fine with me, I love working with garlic in the garlic seasoning hut.

Tom Stock                                                                November 21, 2017

 

 

“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

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