Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Month: November 2016 (Page 1 of 2)


Websters Dictionary lists 27 words or phrases for the word smoke. Go to page 1109tenth edition to fact check:

“Small particles of carbon”

“Results from burning or moisture”

“Something of little substance”

“Something of little value”

Native Americans will not agree with the last.  Smoke is an important substance to them. They burn bear berry, red willow, and tobacco and let the smoke rise as praise and gratitude for the Great Spirit.

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What I Know About Deer

Once, while cross country skiing, a deer jumped over my head

I came across an albino deer running from a kettle hole on the grounds of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville.

I came upon a deer stuck in deep snow while walking with snowshoes in the forest near my Manorville house. It could not move, was shivering, and twitched as I approached, I stroked its back. It may have weighed 175 pounds. I could see it’s rips. I touched its nose – cold wet. As I walked away, I looked back to see it looking back at me.

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Pumpkin Story

His pumpkin sat in a dark corner for three weeks. I noticed it on several visits. “I paid $10 for it. I will carve a Halloween face.” Three weeks later, the pumpkin was still there. “I haven’t gotten around to carving it.” I suggested toasting the seeds. I suggested pumpkin pie. “You can have it but I expect half the seeds and a pumpkin pie.” I held out for a day, and then agreed. It was a magnificent pumpkin, hefty, and a significant addition to the festival of Halloween.

I estimated its weight as 14 pounds and checked the weight and mine. I was right on the button. I have made a hobby of making predictions that I check to see how close I come. After doing this for a decade, I can boast that I’m pretty good on weights, distances, ages etc.

I rushed home to carve this behemoth.  I already had the recipes for toasted pumpkin seeds and pie. I jabbed my special knife into the top and circled it to open. The stalk was thick, and sinuous, and tough. I reached into the cavern to feel the soft, squishy, interior with white egg-shaped seeds. I had an ice cream scoop to scrape the strings that held the seeds. Each seed has its own string. These are pollen tubes from when the bees pollinated the orange pumpkin flower and the pollen developed a tube to travel to the stigma and fertilize the egg.

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Notes On Maxwell C. Wheat Jr – Part 2

On Halloween night, Max not only handed out candy to trick or treaters, he gave and read them  a poem.

Max wrote Nature articles for Newsday for 15 years.

Max conducted Taproot Workshops for two decades.

Was an English teacher in the Farmingdale School district Middle School.

He was a tough disciplinarian. “Don’t think, just write.” is what he said to kids who couldn’t get started.

He was a member of the Tourism Long Island Advisory Committee. He worked hard to include nature areas on Long Island as tourist destinations.

A memorial brick will be placed in his honor at the Walt Whitman Birthplace which reads: MAX WHEAT; FAMILY MAN; YOU CAN WRITE A POEM; FIRST NASSAU LAUREATE

He ran a poetry workshop at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center at Jones Beach State Park and the Hempstead Plains for 7 years.

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Homecoming Farm has been expanded from one acre to 5. All the new lots have been turned, disked, and planted. One whole lot has been planted in garlic. This 200 x 200 foot lot was coated with organic compost at a cost of $700. A cover crop was planted, disked, and furrowed. Thirteen four foot wide beds were furrowed so that four rows of garlic seed per bed (cloves), were planted 6 “ apart. Doing the math, this comes out to 20,000 potential garlic plants.

Each clove has to be separated from the bulb. Once the seed is separated, planters carry their small pails of cloves to the bed to start planting. Don has about 35 varieties of garlic to be planted. To keep track of each, he’s laid out a 100 foot measuring tape. When a variety has been planted, a yellow flag is stuck in the ground. Don records the distance from the start so he can keep track of each kind.

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Fall Walk In Connequoit River State Park Preserve

We planned to visit the fish hatchery and then return via a trail on the east side of Great Pond. Clouds erased the glare of direct sunshine. Colors are more vivid.

Mark had his camera and started shooting when we reached Westbrook Pond. With no wind, the pond surface was a mirror. Two pair of swans became of metaphor of peace. Mark said, “I know it’s a cliché shot, but me shooting anyway” Mark takes RE-MARKABLE photos. I heard the click of his telephoto several times.

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Snowshoe On An Old Duck Farm

I  Strap on the bear paws. They are antique gut and hickory shoes that are comfortable when eight inches or more of snow cover the fields. I set off on the Hubbard Duck Farm off Hubbard Avenue in Riverhead along the northern edge of the Peconic River Estuary. I begin my trek adjusting the leather straps that have lengthened because they are wet and need to be tightened; I plod off down the right-of-way, over the tracks, beside the woodlands, past the complex of buildings, the incubator house, the long holding pens, the workers house and outhouse, into the snowy fields with tree statues that look like Giocometti sculptures sticking up, stark, smooth sumac with their knobby, jerky stalks and shield scars where leaves held on, past disk harrows rusted and peeping up above snow surface, with goldenrod stalks like pencil lines on white, white paper; the tracks I make cross deer tracks, and  mink tracks I enjoy a welcoming, cheerful chickadee.Thea sun is hidden behind a gauzy curtain of a certain snow sky, the drifts in open fetches, the tall reeds that hide the creek, the catch basins for duck waste, the bittersweet berries dropped  by the passage through thickets of vines. I plod and tramp past collapsed tin-roofed buildings were thousands of white ducks once quacked and fed and drank and shit. What a beautiful way to spend an afternoon; my thighs hurt; I stop to readjust a strap, tighten the binding; Ie enter a maple forest following a deer path; reenter that field with wind in face through sumac groves, and more disk harrows, who have retired on their home ground. I can hear the ducks, see huge what masses of ducks adding waste to the Peconic River. The place awaits a new beginning..maybe condos. high end luxury homes, golf course. Maybe even an open space area where other people can do what I  just wrote about.



I’m K-Mart Shopper

A rainy, overcast day and what to do?? Let’s go shopping at K-mart with naturalist Tom Stock. I grab one of the monstrous shopping carts and am determined to fill it up. I join the consumers already in the store. There are many women, over weight, not very attractive, with huge cardboard boxes that look like skyscrapers sticking out of their carts. These women have smiles on their faces like Herring Gulls or ducks (whom always smile). There is a men arguing with their wives in angry tones over what kind of shampoo they should buy. There are over a hundred choices, so I can understand how difficult this decision must be for this couple. I overhear another man saying to his wife “You need a coupon!” in an urgent voice. I spotted a man sitting in the patio section sitting on a lounge chair with strange, distant eyes.

I had come to buy a four pack of color film. That’s all I intended to buy. So how come my receipt says $64.19?? I passed the blue gene section and tossed in two pairs. I needed candles. I picked out two Martha Steward decorator candles. However, I didn’t intend to decorate with them. They are the decorations; they don’t help with the decorations. Another example of package labeling that may suggest to the buyer that if you buy “decorator” candles, you can decorate. I saw a back scrubber so I thought I needed that. I’ve gotten along without a back scrubber for 20 years. All of a sudden I needed a back scrubber. It wasn’t as hard as I thought to fill up my shopping cart but I still had quite a bit of room left.

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Up There

The ascent: sweaty and tiring

Grab trees to pull myself up

Frequent stops to catch my breath

Swig water, feel the mountain breeze

Where is the summit?

I long for the top

Views, the rest, the silence, the peace


Step by step, break by break

Swig by swig, tree by tree

How did all this rock rise

To puncture the sky?

The mountain slowly surrenders

I look up and see light

In the under story of forest

I’m close, I know I’m close

The mountain starts to level off


Breakout into overexposed gray rock

Relief, joy, vastness at my feet

A landslide of vistas and panoramas

I memorize the shadows

The mountains overshadowed

By mountains further off

Rounded summits far away

The sound of wind in the pines

I sit on a fissure with moss, an ant

I suck drafts of open space

Don’t let this end

Tom Stock

The Gold Spades

(In support of the Standing Rock Reservation)

They are lined up for the photo shoot

Reporters ready with note pads

A bevy of politicians, dressed in smiles

Hold gold-painted spades

For a groundbreaking event

They look to the cameras

Hunched with blades of dirt

The ceremonial toss of soil

To signify the start of another sky scraper


Or a new village of wigwams

To grow window dressing as proclaimed

“We are taking care of our Indigenous Brothers”

Thesis the start of a new Native American community

With all its infrastructure

New fire pits, fiber glassed dugouts

A cleared path to their “happy hunting grounds”

To energize their wampum business

For jewelry on display in a strip mall

That covers their sacred burial ground


Perhaps a shot of the Sachem and the developer

Standing in front of a tax-free cigarette outlet

While Natives stand by dumb struck

As they wait to be ushered

Into yet another smaller reservation

The treaty has an “X” signature assuring that

In case a pipeline has to pass through

There will be nothing they do co about it.

Behind the line of politicians, a sign…

“Community Redevelopment.”

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