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Aton Forest Holds Annual Census of Early Winter Birds

    By Wiley Wood Although she has been taking part in Christmas Bird Counts for over 50 years, when Ayreslea Denny describes her bird encounters on the morning of December 31 in Aton Forest, her voice is full of excitement. “The number of birds we got was just unbelievable,” she said. A small group, […]

Autumn Bewitchment

By Hans M. Carlson I took a walk south of Yale Camp yesterday, enjoying both the warm weather and the beautiful fall leaves. Despite dire predictions that the drought would hurt the colors—made as much by me as anyone—the season has been spectacular thus far. And as I walked the old Chattleton Road, I caught […]

It’s Only Natural—October 2016

Geography Over the Guardrail   By Hans M. Carlson I am a connoisseur of secondary roads, because they give the up-close view of the human and natural landscape that I have highlighted so often when writing about things in and around Norfolk. Interstates by contrast are not really of the places they cross, and for […]

Stories in a Maple Board

  By Hans M. Carlson I’m thinking about the beauty of wood this morning—about the revelation that comes when a seasoned board comes out of the planer and shows itself truly for the first time. This is the moment when wood gives advice. When it hints at what shape it would like to take, as […]

It’s Only Natural—July 2016

Old Field Pines on the Norfolk Downs   By Hans M. Carlson Many people have a perception of the precolonial New England forest as dominated by white pine. This is in part due to many early chroniclers using the name “pine” as a catchall for conifers—hemlock, fir, spruce. It also has to do with the […]

Thoughts Along the Chattleton Road at Great Mountain Forest

  By Hans M. Carlson The road at Great Mountain Forest’s (GMF) west gate is a new spur off an older thoroughfare. Jean’s Trail is the intersection, and from there the old Chattleton Road once ran down behind where Rustling Winds Stables is now. It still goes south to Meekertown in the other direction, but […]

Tobey Bog: The Centrality of Marginal Places

  By Hans M. Carlson Many of the articles I’ve written for Norfolk Now have concerned the interconnectedness of the natural world and human communities. By highlighting stone walls, collier’s hearths and the remnants of early conservation work, I’ve tried to show that even the deepest woods here in the northwest corner of Conn. are […]

A Playful Presence in the Woods

The North American River Otter   By Wiley Wood The tracks look dog-like, big pugmarks in the snow coming up from the lake, crossing the ski trail and climbing the bank on the far side. But the coyote, if it is one, is dragging something heavy in its mouth, making a long, shallow dent in […]

It’s Only Natural—February 2016

A Legacy of Conservation   By Hans M. Carlson The end of 2015 was dry, and before all the recent rain and snow the swamps and ponds were very low. It was nice to walk dry-shod into new places, but ecologically the low water in the wetlands was worrisome. So many amphibians rely on being […]

It’s Only Natural—December 2015

Hunting and History on Canaan Mountain   By Hans M. Carlson It’s the opening of deer season and a beautiful late fall day. The leaves are off the trees and the sun is casting long shadows out into the woods. Early this morning about a dozen hunters made their way into Great Mountain Forest, and […]