Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

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“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

In Response to Wharton Esherick’s Woodcut For Walt Whitman’s “Watched the Plowman Plowing.”

I saw the sower sowing

Horse team and plow

Kicking up tan dust

That furls and curls

Behind them

 

A daylong task

Of sweat and furrow

While dark clouds

Gather in the west

The pace quickens

Rigging jingles and rubs

On dark horse hair

The farmers’ wrists ache

As plow handles twist and turn

 

When the work is done

Farmer detaches plow

Drags himself with the team

Back to the barn

And the rains come

And the seeds rest in their damp soil

To begin their germination

I saw all this close and afar

Rhythms and textures of the land.

 

 

Tom Stock

“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

Says Walt, 1859 – the poem

I greet you stranger

Do you loaf along as I do?

Do you know your whereabouts?

Scrub trees surround us

It is easy to lose your way.

Do you thirst as much as I?

Why not follow me. I invite you

I know these parts well

We are blessed with this Isle of sweet brooks

Creeks that run clean, cold

And flow swiftly free down to the bay

Come, let’s walk together

In conversation and good will

To wet our tongues

At Sampawams Creek

Not far from here

Where we can rest and slake our thirst

 

May I tell you a story

To bide our time as we walk?

 

My mother told me that when she was a young girl

An Indian squaw knocked on her cottage door

Asking if we needed any chairs caned.

Mother invited her in, greatly admiring

The this young girls beauty

Her shiny black hair, her skin, her composure, and grace

The girl carried a basket of rushes

Mother said that no chairs needed repair

Mother wanted her to stay a while

She offered her milk and bread with jam

Mother was transfixed with her, enjoying her company

Though she spoke not a word

After a long time, the girl quietly rose to leave

With a nod of her head and brief eye contact

She left, never to be seen again

Mother waited and hoped for her return

She spoke of this occasion for many years.

first published on line at eratio24.com

tom stock, 2017

Montauket Walker – the poem

Descendent of Chief Wyandanch

Stephen Pharaoh Talkhouse, last of the Montauk Sachems

Often took fifty mile round-trip walks

To carry and deliver letters for .25 cents

From Montauk Village to East Hampton and back

 

A tall man who used a long walking stick

A whaler, Civil War Soldier, chair caner

Buried on Montauk Mountain

The only native with a memorial marker

 

In the most familiar photograph

He sat in a chair, long black hair, long face

Holding his long walking stick

 

A remnant of his small cottage in the woods.

Is a stone foundation on the Paumanok Path

A historic marker near the pit

Marks where he stored his food supply

Tom Stock  – May,  2017

 

 

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

The Leaves Against the Leaf Blower – a children’s story

`                         This is a fable about the conflict between a leaf blower who works for a landscaping company, and a tree.

The setting is fall in Syracuse, New York. A perfectly-shaped red maple tree that grew in the middle of a lawn was shedding its leaves. There was no wind so leaf fall was straight down. A beautiful pattern of red encircled the tree. Set against a bright green lawn, Bright autumn sunshine gave the neighborhood a picture post card scene. The tree still had some attached leaves.

Along came Hector’s Landscape Service truck. Moments after Hector parked at the curb next to the house, Jose strapped a motorized leaf blower onto his back and started walking toward the perfect circle of red fallen red maple leaves beneath the attractive framework set against a dark blue sky.

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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

Looking For Small

I was struck by the motto of the E.L. Schumacher Society, SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL.  A three word sentence that in itself is simple. I subconsciously adopted this concept decades ago.  Since then, I have found ways to practice it. I try to disregard complicated things. I struggle with computer programs, even the simplest ones. Microsoft Word has hundreds of “windows” I click on a few and quickly become discouraged when I call up websites whose first page offers way too many avenues to travel.

 

I own only one time piece, my wrist watch. I only have to turn the hour hand one hour ahead or back. My cell phone does it automatically. Not having several clocks I don’t have to spend the time adjusting. This is an example of how simplifying gives me more leeway to economize and create more efficiency.

I do have a clock in my Honda Civic which my wife Nancy helps me change. My car is small and simple. It does have automatic windows. I have a stick shift transmission, air conditioning, a radio, and interior lights. Owning a car is not simple. The fees, the maintenance, the fuel, parking, dangerous drivers all complicate my life. You might ask, “How can you say you simplify when you own and drive a car?” I contradict myself as Walt Whitman said. I respond by using the car as efficiently as possible. Short trips are walking or bicycle trips.

 

Tiny is very “small.” My dictionary devotes 25 lines to the word “small” and only two for “tiny.” Tiny must be smaller because the dictionary says so. I saw a cartoon in The New Yorker Magazine in which a cat who has broken a precious Tang Dynasty vase talked of a dog and convinces it to leave the country. The artist has drawn small quotation-size marks on both sides of the dog’s tail. These four small lines confirm that indeed, “small is beautiful.” To be beautiful, a thing need not be big. Small is a lifestyle. It flies in the face of the grandiose. A clever politician knows how to make a small comment loom large. Small is reasonable. It is not a credit card dept. Small is not about humility. It is about moderation.  Box stores encourage big. Big is not beautiful. Six Flags Recreation Resort in New Jersey is for those who want large entertainment thrills. Small are about board games at home, raising vegetables in a garden, taking nature walks, or having a picnic.  It is not about physical beauty. It is about balance, sustainability, and right relationship. McMansons with oceans of square footage are not beautiful. A house that fits with its environment and doesn’t use up a lot of space fits this idea.

 

Small is Earth friendly. People who practice small produce less garbage, eat healthier, don’t waste resources, use water carefully, use public transportation,

Use less electricity at home. They strive to be in right relationship with the planet.

People who try to live “small” are not consuming so as to have leftovers they don’t want, bring to the curb, and are carted away to a landfill ( garbage dump). Small is a point of view, tiny is about physical size. If I see a famous person like Obama far off in the distance, he looks small. But I know, this man is not small by any means.

 

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