Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Month: March 2016



We say yes to a healthy, undisturbed soil ecosystem; yes to moss colonies, green, healthy, taking hold on dead blow downs, and tree boles; yes to mouse ear-sized oak leaflets in mid-May, and their flowers and insects that attract migrating warblers; a yes vote in favor of all trees who live in this bulls-eye of a potential clear cut; yes to the climbers like poison ivy, wild grape and European bittersweet who work toward light and rely on strong trunks; and yes to the struggle, completion and balance of all species who live in this forest; yes to the dark shade of red cedar trees; a big affirmative for those who pass by these trees quietly on foot; and yes as well to the community of human outliers who come here for peace, open air, hearty exercise, and restoration of their spirit; yes even to the ticks, who have their place in the web of life; to turkeys who range here looking for fallen acorns and deer who find foliage along the edges of openings in the tree canopy; and …YES to multiflora rose, with canes of wicked thorns, so cat claw sharp that they can take a hat off and rip skin.

Tom Stock March 30, 2016



stiff, green needles

vibrate in pitch

with the wind

song of the pine barrens


debrief and context:

This short poem/song is the result of a hike in Brookhaven State Park with Mark Harrington, my hiking companion. We stopped to rest and listen to the hum of wind in pitch pine needles in the forest canopy. I sent Mark a report of our walk. He responded by extracting the above. I revised it slightly.  Every species of pine tree have a different “song.” Pitch pine needles are stiff and vibrate in wind at a different frequency than white pines’ needles. White pine needles are softer and the listener can tell. Extrapolating this idea,  every place has it’s unique “song” . Attunement to sounds in nature comes with listening. “How I Go ToThe Woods, a poem by Mary Oliver “Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone.” Those who wear Earbuds and head phone sets in the woods will not hear the subtle “Song of the Pine Barrens”

Tom Stock March 28, ’16


There are precious few opportunities for Babylon, West Islip, North Babylon, and West Brentwood residents to actually see the fresh, flowing water of Sampwams Creek.

I parked at the dead end of Village Line Road off Deer Park Avenue. From the car, I caught my first glimpse..  A drain at the curb  funnels rain water runoff through an 18 “ concrete pipe into the stream. The edge was muddy. The recent drought has lowered the water table, so the creek is carrying less water. The volume of water flowing determines its speed. Leaves floating on the far side were barely moving.

The water was making its way to the brackish esturary portion just south of Montauk Highway. I estimate that the width at this point to be about 35 feet. Overhanging tree branches  on both sides had me feeling optimistic for  what I may expect further upstream. I decided to explore the stream as far as I could  by wading this creek as far as possible.

This is a beautiful place except for the fact that I could hear cars wising by no Route 231 just east of the creek. Not many people know much about the fresh water portion of Sampwams Creek. I asked a resident who was walking nearby. He was not even aware that the stream was there.

Sad too, for me, is the fact that the creek is considered as a dumping ground accepting water that accumulated litter, pollutants, fertilizers, and pesticides. In some places, creeks and streams of this size are protected by being buffered with forest. Here on Long Island, developers have been able to build houses with backyards right up to the banks which eliminates access. If you can’t see the stream, you can’t care about it. I only discovered this access point by looking on a local map.

The No Manifesto

We trees have spoken. No,no,no. No.
We will stand together as a vibrant
community against our destruction.
No, we will not be replaced with 67,000
solar panels for electricity so more
people in more houses can use more. No to
the destruction of our soil, litter layer,
herb layer, shrub layer, and forest
canopy. We use sunshine our way. No to
chainsaws and woodchippers. No to the
slogun “clean energy”. We are clean
energy. We are sustainable. We are shade,
we are home to chipmunk, fox, owl. We are
oxygen. No to row upon row of panels. Yes
to energy conservation. Yes to lower
population densities. No. No no no no.we are
the cycles and food webs and food chains
that we are. No to wanton destruction of
habitat to provide useless outdoor safety
lights, no to Christmas lights, no to
electric silliness, stupid over consumption,
stupid waste, leave the forest as is. Solar
energy destroys forests. Put your panels
someplace else.

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