Category Archives: Environment

A New Test For Westport’s Crack Drivers

To the long list of snow, ice and enormous, unseeable-around piles of congealed schmutz, add this hazard for winter drivers:

Cross Highway

That was the scene earlier today on Cross Highway. There are more cracks, potholes and buckled roads all around town.

That’s what happens when plows, salt and ice all come together, day after day after day.

The good news is: More snow is coming. So this will all be covered up again soon!

Remembering Dusty

“06880” reader Adam Stolpen writes:

My best friend died Sunday morning, and I was responsible. Though a vibrant personality to his last breath, he was quite ill and in pain. I wanted him to die naturally at home, but could not cause him to keep suffering simply because I loved him too much to say goodbye when he depended on me not to prolong the inevitable through heroic means.

Dusty

Dusty

We first met Dusty at the Westport Humane Society nearly 2 decades ago. He won all of us over. As any friend of a cat knows, he quickly proved that our home was now his place. He seemed to tolerate me as well as my son Eduard, but it was clear he was my daughter Betty’s cat.

Dusty was a constant presence, and a singularly pleasant companion. As he approached a people-age of 100 he began to slow down. He spent his days watching life from the window, sleeping in the sun on his favorite chair and developing a psychic way of knowing every time I approached the refrigerator (which held his fresh shredded Stew Leonard’s turkey).

Recently his body began to fail him. Couch backs were replaced with cushioned seats, high beds ignored. By last week his favorite hidden shelf became too much of an effort to reach. He lay in the sun on a rug. Wonderful vets tried what they could. He’d knowingly look into our eyes. We sensed he was saying, “It’s not that you live, but how you live. For me it’s over.”

Dusty and Betty.

Dusty as a kitten, and Betty as a pre-teen.

Betty came up on Saturday. They lay near each other, his head resting on her hand. He slept by her all night. The next morning he came to me. We sat for an hour talking — ok, I talked. He listened and snuzzled my leg. We followed our morning routine, watching the sun come up one final time.

We took Dusty to the vet early Sunday morning. He was not alone at the end. He knew he was deeply loved. It was quiet, peaceful and gentle. I have little doubt he was aware of what was happening, and was content. How different the life of this abandoned kitten could have been 20 years ago if we’d not met.

But this story is not just about Dusty, or how much is missing from our home since his death. It’s about how much he brought into our lives, and how glad we all are that we visited the Westport Humane Society and adopted that little ball of dust.

They’re open today, with animals waiting for a new home. I know, because we took all Dusty’s things, to pass along to the next stray kitten who wanders in.

Dusty, once more.

Dusty, once more.

Humane Society logo

It’s A Tough Winter For Everyone

Alert “06880” reader Richard Jaffe was in his kitchen a few minutes ago. He looked outside, and saw:

Richard Jaffe - 1

Richard Jaffe - 2

Hey — at least they weren’t in his kitchen.

Scott Smith’s New Pet Interest

Alert “06880” reader Scott Smith has spent this snowy winter feeding birds in his back yard. In between setting out seed, he shared these insights:

I’m currently in recovery from the news that my beloved mutt Miller will not be crowned Westport’s Top Dog 2015. He did not even have the chops to make it into the finals of this year’s competition, which concluded last Friday.

I’m not giving up on man’s best friend. But I’ve recently become infatuated with a new pet interest: All the birds that flock to my backyard feeder.

A typical winter scene.

A typical winter scene.

Especially since the snow has been on the ground this new year, my feeder attracts dozens of birds at a time throughout the day.

Most are little brown birds — sparrows and such — but there are many other kinds, including gentle doves, flicky finches, belligerent blue jays, the occasional red-headed woodpecker and more. Some feed only at the hanging tubular feeding station, while others peck through the snow-covered ground below for their meals.

After I purchased a new bag of bird feed advertised especially for cardinals at Pet Supplies Plus, I’ve been rewarded by frequent visits from 3 bright red males and 2 dusky females. Being from St. Louis — and a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training — this particularly excites me.

I asked the clerk how much bird feed the store sold a week. He calculated the bags by weight and said, “600 pounds, at least.” Figuring all the other local pet stores, and Super Stop & Shop, that must add up to a ton or more of seed each week for our community of wintering song birds and other feathered friends.

Dogs rule the roost and the news in Westport. Most attention to birds in these parts focuses on problems with geese, the singular beauty of swans or the wonder of ospreys nesting along our shoreline. It takes a long white winter to notice just how many other winged creatures also call Westport home, and enliven it throughout the year.

I don’t have the camera to nicely capture the birds in my backyard, but I imagine other alert readers and local birders have their own tales and photos to share.

Scott Smith's Miller is a “bird dog.” – He loves chasing away squirrels poaching seeds scattered across the snow.

Scott Smith’s Miller is a “bird dog.” He loves chasing away squirrels poaching seeds scattered across the snow.

 

But Is It Art?

As she snowshoed through the Newman-Poses Preserve yesterday, alert “06880” reader Sandy Rothenberg spotted this sight:

Newman Preserve - Sandy Rothenberg

Uprooted tree? Natural art?

Or just another unexpected discovery in the woods of Westport?

A Last Look Back At A Pretty Nice Day

Considering what could have been, today was not bad at all.

Like many families, the Shuldmans spent the morning quietly, at home. 15-year-old Avery saw this view outside, and captured it beautifully:

Deer - Avery Shuldman

When the roads were cleared — and how about a great hand for Westport’s Public Works Department! — Bart and Sue headed out to see how Compo fared.

It doesn’t get more Westport than this:

Compo Beach - Bart Shuldman

(Photos/Bart Shuldman)

(Photos/Bart Shuldman)

CL&P’s Definition Of “Exciting News” Is Different From Yours Or Mine

There are many ways for CL&P to spend its customers’ money.

This is not one of them:

Dear Valued Customer,

We are pleased to share exciting news with you. As of February 2, 2015, Connecticut Light and Power is becoming Eversource Energy….

For the more than 8,000 employees of Eversource, this is more than just a new name. It’s about the value we place on always improving on our commitment to bringing you reliable energy and superior customer service.

Thank you,
Your Eversource Customer Service Team

If any “06880” reader can explain that last paragraph — how the new name translates into an improved commitment to “reliable energy” and superior customer service — please click “Comments.”

I’m in the dark.

CL&P

(Hat tip to Andy Yemma)

Here’s The Poop On That Longshore Trash Can

It looks like another gorgeous view of the entrance to Longshore:

Longshore entrance

But look closely next to the stone pillar. See the green trash can?

Before you go all WTF on Parks and Rec, you should know this: It’s only there for the winter. With the golfers’ red trash receptables stowed for the season, this is a way for dog walkers to dispose of the little blue “gift bags” they carry (we hope) while strolling near the beach.

Now that we all know they’re there, there’s no excuse for cleaning up after Fido — then casually dumping his dumpings wherever.

“Gloria,” As You’ve Never Heard It Before

In 2008, the wife of Chris Bousquet’s friend died suddenly. He realized how quickly someone’s world can fall apart, and wondered how anyone can move on after such a tragedy.

Chris Bousquet

Chris Bousquet

The singer-songwriter — he led High Lonesome Plains, and has performed with Roger McGuinn, John Sebastian, Asleep at the Wheel, the Nields, the Turtles and J. Geils – started to write a song about all that.

It didn’t go anywhere. “I was maybe too close to it,” he says. “Or maybe it was not really my song to write.”

A couple of months later, he read about Westport oysterman Alan Sterling, and his boat Gloria (named for an old girlfriend). Bousquet calls it “a profoundly moving story of grief, continual struggle, and the simple triumph of carrying on.”

Having grown up in Clinton, Connecticut, Bousquet always found the sea to be “ethereal and transcendent.” Staring out at the water, he believes in the interconnectedness of all things. So when Sterling noted in the story that a gull might be Gloria watching over him, Bousquet understood.

Gloria (Photo/John Kantor)

Gloria (Photo/John Kantor)

The sea can be warm and caressing, but also brutal. “Alan was well aware of the cold and raw, but it didn’t blind him to the beauty,” Bousquet says. Inspired, he reworked his old song into a new one: “Gloria.”

Bousquet never met Sterling in person. He thought about sharing the song with him, but felt it was presumptuous. Sterling died last July 4. Now, Bousquet wishes he had told the oysterman what an inspiration he’d been.

“He made me appreciate my life — and my wife! — even more,” Bousquet says. “I don’t mean to sound trite. But he reminded me to head out on my proverbial boat, and sail on each day.”

Alan Sterling culling his oysters.

Alan Sterling culling his oysters.

The song was supposed to be part of a compilation CD a few years back. It didn’t happen. But it’s one of his most popular songs during his live performances. Bousquet cherishes the connections “Gloria” allows him to make with audiences.

Now, Bousquet has re-recorded it. It will be on an EP to be released this spring.

But, he says, if any of Alan’s friends want to do something with it, he’ll be glad to help.

“The best songs are the ones that feel like they came from some place outside myself,” Bousquet says. “Like in some sense that gull came down to guide me too — and lead me home.”

(Click here to listen to Chris Bousquet’s haunting song “Gloria.”)

 

Developing News: White Barn Preserve Under Attack

As Westporters in 2 corners of town — Post Road East near the Southport border, and Saugatuck by I-95 Exit 17 — battle high-density housing, a 3rd neighborhood is also girding for a fight.

Since early 2003, Cranbury Road residents have worked to protect the former Lucille Lortel White Barn Theater property, on the Westport/Norwalk border. Nearby neighborhoods include Newtown Turnpike, and Partrick and Stonybrook Roads.

The White Barn Theatre.

The White Barn Theatre.

According to RTM member Matthew Mandell, then-Governor Jodi Rell secured 5+ acres of open space of the 15-acre property. The rest was to be taken over by the Connecticut Friends School. They would restore the historic theater and build a low-impact green school, instead of 18 houses that had been proposed.

Recently, the school decided not to go forward with its plans. The property now reverts to the Fieber Group — a New Canaan developer — which has applied for a special permit to build at least 21 homes on 7 acres. The theater would be demolished.

A new group called Save Cranbury – Again says that the proposed “conservation development” will include filling in wetlands elsewhere on the property. This may damage “the very drinking water and wildlife resources the easement was meant to protect.”

The original low-impact plan for the "green school."

The original low-impact plan for the “green school” (pink building near center).

Mandell says that the Fieber Group is using “a specific Norwalk zone where the houses are clustered and the number is determined by the amount of acreage. They are including the open space land in their calculations.”

Mandell adds: “This developer was paid by the state, by you and me, for the land to keep as open with public access. Now they are trying to double dip — on top of destroying 3000+ square feet of wetlands and building houses in the wetland setback.” He calls it “a very unsavory plan.”

Mandell says that Norwalk zoning regulations are not as tight as Westport’s — and the city moves quickly. The first planning meeting is Thursday night at Norwalk City Hall (no public comment allowed).

Mandell’s bottom line: “Over-development and its impacts do not observe town lines.”

Save Cranbury - logo