Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Category: Short Essays (Page 1 of 14)

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”

 

 

 

 

 

“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.

EARTH WILL SAVE EARTH BECAUSE EARTH CONTROLS ITSELF.

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

tomstock.org

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

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