Category Archives: Environment

Bobcat!

Alert — and cautious — “06880” reader Jeff Mitchell lives on Easton Road, bordering wetlands that abut North Avenue and stretch all the way to the Merritt Parkway.

Coyotes are now routine. He sees an occasional wolf, and at one point beavers lived in his brook.

In 25 years here though, he’d never seen a bobcat — until now. “That’s what happens when you don’t mow your lawn for 2 weeks,” he says.

A neighbor on Meadowview Drive South  — the other side of Easton Road —  said she saw the bobcat too. There’s a large field behind her house.

She saw it “within the last month,” so the bobcat seems to have made Westport home. Jeff hopes no one harms it.

He also saw raccoons in the area, another daytime rarity. He assumes the bobcat was hunting them.

(Photos/Jeff Mitchell)

While bobcats can be seen in Connecticut, they’re only in the far western areas (concentrated in the northwest).

Jeff notes that bobcats can leap 10 feet, and run 25 miles an hour. Wisely, he and his son Eli took this video from the safety of their deck:

Click here for everything you need to know about bobcats in Connecticut.

Pic Of The Day #423

The Westport Farmers’ Market strongly supports sustainable agriculture.

But its commitment to the environment extends beyond “grow and eat local.”

At the Market today, silverware replaced plastic utensils. One fork, knife or spoon can be used over and over, thousands of times.

Prominent signs pointed the way — and educated market-goers on the importance of recycling.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Back To Bohemia On Hidden Garden Tour

Day by day, bit by bit, wrecking ball by wrecker ball, Westport’s artistic and “bohemian” past is disappearing.

Fortunately, pockets remain. You just have to know where to look.

This Sunday (June 10, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), a secret gem takes the spotlight. The Blau Home and Gardens is one of 4 properties featured in the Westport Historical Society’s 27th annual Hidden Garden Tour.

One view of the Blau garden …

Designed by Broadway theater designer Ralph Alswang, the home is rustic and glamorous. From salvaged exposed heavy barn timber beams — uncommon in modern homes of the mid-20th century — to a Romeo and Juliet bedroom balcony window opening to the living room, and a dramatic main staircase, the house off Bayberry Lane was owned by advertising mogul Barry Blau.

Both he and Alswang journeyed from poor, urban roots to the then-freewheeling arts colony of Westport.

The garden — like its owner and designer — is informal and unconventional. It features massive rhododendron groves, towering oaks, antique sculptures, paths, benches, ornamental gates and stunning stone walls.

Blau’s widow is almost 90. The WHS says she and her family want to preserve the home and property. Welcoming Hidden Garden Tour visitors is one way to see it.

… and another.

The tour also includes an English rose garden with Italian fountain; a meticulously restored 1820s onion barn with post-and-beam construction, original stone foundations and antique farm equipment, surrounded by woodland gardens, and a 225-year-old colonial farmhouse in Weston, with 30 varieties of peonies and exotic specimen trees.

In addition to Sunday’s tour, unique items for gardeners and garden lovers from local artisans and businesses are available for sale on the Historical Society’s front lawn (25 Avery Place, 9 a.m.  to 4 p.m.).

That front lawn is well-known, and very visible. To see those 4 hidden gardens though, you need a ticket.

(Click here for tickets: $50 for Westport Historical Society members, $60 for non-members, $75 the day of the tour. Click here for more information.) 

Pic Of The Day #415

Winslow Park afternoon (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Wired!

Nearly every day, alert “06880” reader Morgan Mermagen runs by Longshore.

For a month she’s seen wires hanging so low, she can actually touch them.

It’s the same on Hales Road:

(Photos/Morgan Mermagen)

They’re strung through loops, and are not affixed at each pole. The slack allows them to hang low in one place, high in another.

At first Morgan thought the wires were part of a storm clean-up, and on someone’s to-do list. Now she wonders what’s going on, and why no one has done anything.

She does not know who they belong to: Eversource? Optimum? Someone else?

She hopes someone will pay attention.

Hopefully now, someone will.

Hooked!

There’s an epidemic out there.

Westporters are getting hooked on … hooks.

The other morning, alert “06880” reader Jonathan Greenfield swam at Compo Beach. He got snared by a tangled fishing hook and line.

(Photo/Jonathan Greenfield)

Scary, right?

Amazingly, that’s not the hook that hooked him. The photo above is another one Jonathan found nearby.

A few days later, equally alert “06880” reader Wendy May sent this:

(Photo/Wendy May)

It’s from a different beach: the small one off Saugatuck Shores.

Whether you’re a swimmer, a beach walker, a dog — or a fisherman: Be careful out there!

Life’s A Bitch. Dog Festival Postponed — Again

Once again, potential thunderstorms have forced the postponement of the 3rd annual Westport Dog Festival.

After discussions with partners, sponsors, town officials and a National Weather Service meteorologist, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce made the difficult decision to delay the event.

First scheduled for last Sunday, then pushed back to this weekend, the new date is Sunday, June 24 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Winslow Park).

There may be only one teeny-tiny silver lining in Sunday’s clouds. The rain is supposed to end in the afternoon. That means Monday’s Memorial Day parade may not be postponed due to weather.

Which happened to it too, the past 2 years in a row.

Pics Of The Day #401

One view of Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve … 

… and one from there. (Photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

Farmers’ Market Serves Up Top Chef Battle

The Westport Farmers’ Market is 12 years old — and wildly popular.

Every Thursday from May through November throngs fill the Imperial Avenue parking lot, on a hunt for fresh produce, meat and fish, baked goods, even pizza, tacos and dog food.

But the Market always looks to add spice to its spices, herbs and more.

So — even though the Westport Farmers’ Market is a community celebration, not a competition — they’re introducing a Chef of the Market contest.

Starting this Thursday — and running once a month through the fall — 12 well-known names battle it out through an opening round, semifinals and finals. The winner will be, I guess, the chief chef.

The brainchild of board member — and no-slouch-himself chef Bill Taibe — works like this.

On the 3rd Thursday of each month, 3 chefs go head-to-head-to-head.

At 10 a.m., they get $20. They have 45 minutes to shop for ingredients, cook, and present their appetizer-size dish to the judges. PS: Electricity is not allowed.

In keeping with the fun theme, judges are randomly selected from any shopper who wants to participate.

In 2015, chefs prepared a recipe at the Westport Farmers’ Market. This year, they’ll compete against others. (Photo/Oliver Parini)

The first round runs through August. The winner of each group moves on to the semifinals, the 3rd Thursday in September.

Finals are set for “Fork it Over,” the Westport Farmers’ Market annual October fundraiser.

All chefs donate one $50 gift certificate from their restaurant. The winner gets every gift card — so he can enjoy his competitors’ meals yet not pay for them — along with other prizes.

The early chefs — particularly those tomorrow — have it tough. They can’t choose from flavorful snap peas, strawberries or squash. However, Taibe is sure they’ll do imaginative, tasty things with this month’s bounty, like radishes and kale.

Fresh produce is one of the Westport Farmer’s Market’s most popular attractions. Chefs competing in this year’s competition know exactly how to prepare it. But can they shop for it — and finish their dish — in just 45 minutes?

All 12 chefs gathered at the Market last week, to pick their dates out of a hat.

There was already smack talk — including between the chefs at Taibe’s own Whelk, Kawa Ni and Jesup Hall, all of whom are competing. Other Westport chefs represent The Cottage, OKO, Match Lobster Burger and Amis.

There’s chatter on social media too.

Starting Thursday, the rest of us can see where it all leads.

Let the Chef of the Market games begin!

Chef competitors include: May 24, Geoff Lazlo, Ben Freemole, Christian Wilki; (June 21) Matt Storch, Jeff Taibe, Adam Roytman; (July 19), Jonas/Brad, Anthony Kostelis, Anthony Rinaldi; (August 16) Nick Martschenko, Dan Sabia, Carlos Baez.

Pic Of The Day #399

Sharing water at Winslow Park. (Photo/Dan Woog)