Category Archives: Environment

Who Wants A Pond?

Margo Amgott lives in Greens Farms. It’s a great spot. She even has a pond.

Unfortunately, it’s in her driveway. The water is a result of a nearby construction project.

It’s made life miserable for her family. Still, she manages to see the glass — er, pond — as half full. On Thursday morning, she wrote:

Westport,  welcome to our newest water feature!

Our neighbor always had a pond. We were jealous. Now, thanks to other neighbors’ construction, we have one too!

Margo Amgott’s neighbor (the one with a real pond) helps out with the pond created by her other neighbor (the one with the construction).

Sure, sometimes I selfishly wish I could use my driveway, go home without putting on waders, or get the mud out of our grass and our shoes. But lakefront living has its little inconveniences, I guess.

This is so exciting. I wonder who I talk to about getting our lake on the town map?

Thursday afternoon, it rained. Briefly, but hard.

Margo no longer had a pond. By then it was a lake:

(Photos/Margo Amgott)

No report yet on what it looks like after yesterday’s downpour. Fingers crossed!

 

Roundup: Larry Bradley, Boathouse, Longshore …

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Westport’s land use community was stunned this week by the death of Larry Bradley. The town’s Planning and Zoning Department director from 2005 to 2016 succumbed to a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 54 years old.

Bradley resigned to become planning director of planning and community development for the Seminole tribe in Florida. Since 2019, he serve das director of Palm Bay Growth Management, also in Florida.

Before Westport, Bradley worked at municipal planning posts in Greenwich, White Plains and Rye.

According to Florida Todayhe was a New York Giants fan; he enjoyed travel and opera, and was a ember of the Loyal Order of Moose. He is survived by his wife Maria.

Former Westport Planning & Zoning Commission chair Chip Stephens told “06880”:

“Larry Bradley was beloved and respected in Westport, especially by all members of the P&Z and Zoning Board of Appeals.

“Larry was a master of land use regulation, and a gentle person with residents and elected officials. In a time when many sought to show their power or position Larry was always a steady voice, listening and seeking advice from those who had an opinion but not always the regulatory knowledge to back it up. He played well and patiently in the sandbox.

“There were always voices that said Larry was not forceful or aggressive enough on Westport land use, but those voices did not appreciate his working hard to engage all parties, while inserting his wealth of local, state and overall land use regulation and theory.

“Larry was a big influence on Westport as we know it today, establishing regulations protecting open space and natural resources, reining in sprawl, and maintaining a level playing field between development and preservation.

“Westport residents today: Whether or not you were lucky to have known Larry Bradley in his time here or have arrived since his departure. we all owe a smile and prayer in his passing with a big thanks for being here, and hope Larry’s new home allows him to smile back down on Westport.”

Larry Bradley

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Tomorrow (Sunday, July 11, 2 to 6 p.m.), the Boathouse at Saugatuck Rowing Club hosts its first-ever tea dance.

Modeled on one at its semi-namesake — the Boatslip in Provincetown — it’s open to the public. Music is by DJ Mo. The LGBTQ community is especially invited. Proceeds from the $10 admission will be donated to the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth organization.

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Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night keep the Westport Garden Club from delivering its #FridayFlowers. This week — despite torrential rain — an arrangement including a variety of hydrangeas welcomes Westporters at the main entrance to Longshore Club Park.

(Photo/Pat Nave)

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“Westport … Naturally” offers this lesson on dragonflies: They were among the first winged insects to evolve, 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wing spans of only 2 to 5 inches — but fossil dragonflies have been found with spans of up to 2 feet.

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally …  On this day in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee, the “Monkey Trial” began. John T. Scopes, a high school science teacher, was accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.

Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1,500 in 2020), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. Nearly a century later, Americans continue to argue about the importance of science in our daily lives.

 

Roundup: Elsa, Jerky, Solar …

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Today’s storm did not do the damage that was feared.

Approximately 756 customers were without power at the peak of the storm. Most were restored quickly. Isolated individual outages remain.

Meanwhile, Valerie Ann Leff sent this photo of her furnace room, in her home on a hill off Hillspoint Road.

She says: “The water hasn’t reached the finished wood floor, but when we walk across it it sounds like we’re walking on a dock. Every cleanup company around has long waiting lists, so we’re just bailing with a bucket and a big pitcher.”

(Photo/Valerie Ann Leff)

Meanwhile, this was the scene at Compo Beach:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

One more photo from today’s storm. This was on Bradley Lane:

(Photo/Diane Lowman)

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In 2018, Field Trip moved its headquarters from Brooklyn to Westport.

Their office — across the Post Road from Design Within Reach — was where they created and marketed an array of healthy, protein-rich jerky snacks. From beef, chicken, turkey and pork to jalapeño, cracked pepper and everything bagel, it all happened in Westport.

Next store to the office, they operated a low-key retail outlet. It wasn’t an afterthought exactly, but it wasn’t front-and-center either.

Now though, there are some good reasons to take a field trip to Field Trip.

The jerky outlet has been transformed into a “general store/pantry.” It’s filled with specialty items, curated from the owners’ relationships and knowledge of exciting new products.

In addition to Field Trip items, they’re selling:

  • Bourbon aged barrel maple syrup
  • Jalapeño bacon salsa
  • Habanero sea salt
  • Texas olive oil
  • Bacon brittle
  • Ugly dried fruit
  • Caramels, licorice and ChiChi chocolates
  • Doux south pickles and mustards
  • 1934 Bloody Mary mix
  • Coro salami
  • Bjorn corn
  • Bobby Sue’s nuts
  • Aina Kopi steak seasonings  and mango habanero hot sauce(this is the only US location)
  • FOGO charcoal (only place in Westport.

And that’s just for starters.

If you still have a jones for jerky: Starting next week, Field Trip is selling their newest flavor: Gochujang Korean-style BBQ beef jerky. It’s being introduced here first, before a national rollout.

But wait! There’s more! Field Trip offers a 20% discount code to anyone mentioning a Dan Woog/”06880″ callout during the month of July.

Best. Field trip. Ever.

Look what’s in store at the Field Trip store.

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Pippa Bell Ader uses solar power to heat and cool her home, heat her hot water pumps, and power her electric car.

Now the environmental advocate and Sustainable Westport member wants you to learn how.

This Tuesday (July 13, 3 to 6 p.m.), she invites everyone to her 62 Woodside Avenue home. She’ll show how you can make easy improvements yourself.

“In Connecticut, we have older homes — mine was built in 1929 — that use a lot of energy, especially for cooling and heating,” she says.

“The state has great incentives and financing for people who want to switch from fossil fuels to heat pumps. Pair heat pumps with solar to power and heat your entire home with clean energy. Driving an electric car powered by solar reduces our carbon footprint as well. I’m right on the cusp of being completely net zero.“

Learn all that — and more — on Tuesday. Plus there’s pizza. Made in a solar-powered oven, I’m sure.

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Like many organizations, Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services had to suspend some operations during COVID. Among the casualties: the EMR/ EMT classes that were an important pipeline for new members.

And for careers. At least 14 volunteers went on to medical school; others became nurses, paramedics and physician assistants.

Classes will begin again in the fall. The cost — $1250 per EMT student, $750 per EMR student — includes classes, books, stethoscope and BP cuff. Most classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings, with some Saturday days. The course begins September 21, and runs through January.

WVEM will reimburse for the cost of the class after members become part of the organization. Click here for more information.

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Arlene Benson — mother of longtime Westport civic volunteer Rick Benson — died peacefully in East Norwalk on July 1. She was 98.

A member of Wheaton College’s Class of 1944, the Buffalo native moved to Fort Riley, Kansas, then Southern California shortly after her 1943 wedding, then back to Buffalo when her husband deployed to World War II in North Africa and Europe.

She shared Ontario cottages for many summers with her sister, their boys, and her mother, enjoying the beach, swimming, sailing and golf. She and her husband purchased condominium homes in Florida. She moved to Connecticut in late 2017 at age 94 to be closer to her son and grandson.

A member of the Garrett Club, Cherry Hill Country Club, Buffalo Canoe Club, and the Country Club of Buffalo, Arlene loved to host parties, travel to Europe, take cruises, play golf and bridge, and be with her family.

She will be remembered as a loving, generous, caring person, always with a smile, always with something nice to say, and always concerned about others more than herself.

Her passing is the end of an era.  Her maternal grandfathers emigrated from Germany in 1905, started Mollenberg-Betz Machine Co, Inc. in 1910. Her husband joined the firm in 1946, rose to EVP and retired in 1986.  The commercial air conditioning, refrigeration and service company is still family owned and managed in Buffalo, but she is the last of her generation.

Arlene is survived by her son Richard and his wife, Totney of Westport, CT, and her grandson Richard Betz Benson II (RB) of New York City. She was predeceased by her first husband James M. Benson, her older son James M. Benson, Jr., her sister Janice Betz Dedecker, and her second husband Robert Eckis.

A celebration of life reception will be held on Thursday July 15 (4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Greens Farms Congregational Church).

A memorial service will be held on September 8 un Buffalo, with private interment preceding in the church memorial garden. Donations may be made in her memory to: Westminster Presbyterian Church 724 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14209 or the Westport Rotary Club Foundation, PO Box 741, Westport, CT 06881.

Arlene Benson

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“Westport … Naturally” features a fantastic female monarch butterfly.

It paused on several of the flowers in Wendy Crowther’s garden. She was glad to see it, as monarchs are in drastic decline. “The more we can do to avoid herbicide use and provide a welcome habitat, the more we can help,” Wendy says.

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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And finally … in honor of this monarch butterfly, and its declining population:

Pic Of The Day #1542

Greetings from Wakeman Town Farm (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Roundup: Kids, Trees, Birds …

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The Levitt Pavilion’s Children’s Series continues tomorrow — and every Wednesday, through August 25.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m.), Grammy winner Dan Zanes (The Del Fuegos) and Haitian-American jazz vocalist/music therapist Claudia Zanes perform a mix of old and new songs from near and far. Audience members are invited to dance along.

In the wings:

  • The Hall Family (July 14)
  • Divinity Roxx (July 21)
  • Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats (July 28)
  • Hopalong Andrew (August 4)
  • Elena Moon Park & Friends (August 11)
  • The Pop Ups (August 18)
  • Sonia De Los Santos (August 25).

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Click here to register, and for more information.

Dan and Claudia Zanes

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The Earthplace amphitheater is a beautiful spot, nestled in the woods. It’s the perfect place to learn about trees.

So mark July 21 (6:30 p.m.) for a free program there. Earthplace and the Westport Tree Board are sponsoring an outdoor showing of “Call of the Forest: Wisdom of Trees.”

In the video, noted scientist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger will discuss the profound human connection to ancient and sacred northern forests, and the essential role they play in sustaining the health of our planet.

Admission is free.

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Finding Westport always finds great causes to support.

This “Independence” month, they invite you to show off your patriotism by shopping their collection of unisex tees, camping mugs, sweatshirts, beach towels, stickers, pins and weekly specials.

All say “God Bless Westport … The Land That I Love.” 10% of all sales go to VFW Joseph Clinton Post 399, right here in town. Click here to see, and order.

Camping mug

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Ah, to be young and agile. Seen somersaulting on Soundview Avenue were Branden Acselrod and Adam Cooper.

(Photo/Marc Sheinbaum)

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Today’s “Naturally … Westport” series features Tina Green. She’s been photographing birds in and around town — and she sure knows what’s up.

Here’s her report on our bald eagles:

“The juvenile bald eagles are the Sherwood Island State Park siblings from what I believe is the first documented nest in Westport. An adult pair of bald eagles began working on a nest last fall in the park, and were successful in fledging 2 young. It’s extremely likely the eagles will continue nesting at this location. They will add sticks to the nest each year, and will continue to be seen year round in that area.”

Here are 2 double-crested cormorants. They nest on Goose Island, just west of Cockenoe.

Finally, here’s a marsh wren. Tina says they nest in the cattails and phragmites that surround most of Gorham Island.

(Photos/Tina Green)

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And finally … Van McCoy died of a heart attack on this day in 1979. He was just 39 years old.

He has 700 song copyrights to his credit, and produced songs for artists like Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Stylistics, Aretha Franklin, Brenda & the Tabulations, David Ruffin, Peaches & Herb  and Lesley Gore. But he will be forever known for his Grammy-winning, million-selling, summer-of-1975-defining smash:

Adele Valovich’s Bench Dogs

String musicians are very protective of their hands.

Artists of large sculptures — who bang, move and weld — are not.

Adele Cutrali-Valovich (Photo/Melani Lust)

For nearly 3 decades, Adele Valovich was Staples High School’s beloved orchestra director. Since retiring 3 years ago, after 41 years in education, she’s been a sculptor.

Her pieces are gorgeous. Now — combining 3 passions (metal sculpture, golden retrievers and her garden) — she offers a new form of art to everyone who knew her as a musician.

And everyone who doesn’t.

“Bench Dogs” are beautiful pieces. The back shows the dogs’ faces; paw prints enhance the front skir.

Designed for the 4 most popular breeds — golden retriever, Lab retriever, French bulldog and German shepherd — they  are hand-crafted of 10-gauge steel. The back and bench skirt are laser cut; the marine-grade matte black powder coat finish withstands the elements.

One view of Adele Valovich’s “Bench Dog” bench …

Her customers are homeowners with beautiful gardens who love their animals. She’s contacted Earth Animal here in Westport, Black Dog on Martha’s Vineyard, to see if they’re interested.

She’d also love to have a Bench Dog in the Rose Garden, honoring President Biden’s late dog Champ. If anyone has an in with the White House, she’d be grateful for it.

(Adele Valovich offers free delivery within 100 miles of Fairfield. She will also custom design benches for breeds not listed. For more information, click here.)

… and a close-up. (Photos/Joe H. Adams)

 

Roundup: Salsa Fresca, Library Cafe, Fireworks …

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Chipotle didn’t make it. Neither did Qdoba.

But Salsa Fresca is betting the 3rd time’s the charm.

The idea is the same: build your own Mexican meal — burrito, bowl, taco, salad, nachos, quesadilla — from a list of items.

Salsa Fresca is a lot smaller than either of the 2 chains that preceded it. They had hundreds. This will be just the 9th Salsa Fresca in New York and Connecticut. The closest locations now are Danbury and Bedford Hills.

They’ll open in the exact same spot — at the foot of Playhouse Square, underneath Kennedy’s Barber Shop — that Qdoba vacated more than 3 years ago.

So I’ll say this about Salsa Fresca: They’ve got some big cojones.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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The Westport Library Café is — like so much else — reopening up more and more.

Hours are now 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Come for the treats. Stay for the views!

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Hey — it was a great idea while it lasted.

With no 4th of July fireworks yesterday, “06880” reader Jennifer McCarthy floated the idea of rescheduling the pyrotechnics — this year only — to Labor Day.

Looks like a washout, though (just like Friday night’s would have been). Westport PAL — longtime sponsor of the annual event — says that town officials nixed the concept a while ago, not wanting to risk being a super-spreader.

In addition, staffing would be tough. Many seasonal employees will already be back in college.

See you at Compo in early July, 2022!

Fears of another super-spreader event mean no fireworks until next year. (Photo/Rick Benson)

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The Gillespie Center food pantry is out of essentials.

Items needed include canned meats (chicken, tuna, salmon, Spam), pasta sauces, jams and jellies, hot and cold cereals, canned fruits and vegetables,, and paper and reusable bags.

They can be dropped off at the Gillespie Center courtyard (behind Don Memo restaurant) today, tomorrow and Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Yesterday, America celebrated its 245th birthday.

But anyone wandering by the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot across from the Southport Diner yesterday — just over the town line — might have thought it was our 145th.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows delicious raspberries, ready to ripen at Baron’s South. Yum!

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … on this day in 1954, Elvis Presley recorded his first single, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Records in Memphis. The world was never the same.

Pics Of The Day #1538

Between the gloomy weekend weather and canceled fireworks, this was a low-key 4th of July. But at least this Gorham Avenue homeowner got in the holiday spirit. (Photo/Tom Cook)

Maisy, out on the Sound today (Photo/Tammy Barry)

These chickens decorated their Hillspoint Road coop in the appropriate colors. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Compo Beach was uncharacteristically empty until late afternoon. There were plenty of grills available One family celebrated Independence Day by roasting a pig. (Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

Roundup: Fireworks, Mill Pond Jumping, River Cleanup …

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Jennifer Rago McCarthy grew up with Westport traditions. Like the Yankee Doodle Fair. And the 4th of July fireworks.

In 2020, COVID knocked out the June fair. To be safe, the Westport Woman’s Club moved this year’s event to September.

For the second straight summer, the fireworks wee canceled.

Which got Jennifer — a 1985 Staples High School graduate — thinking: Why not have the fireworks on Labor Day weekend?

Why not indeed?!

Jennifer asked me to post her idea. If enough people are interested, it may be worth pursuing.

So, “06880” readers: What do you think? If you’re down with fireworks on Labor Day weekend, click “Comments” below.

And if you think that’s a bad idea, click “Comments” too — and tell us why.

Labor Day, 2021?(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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“The show must go on” is a time-honored tradition. On Friday night, Drew Angus honored it well.

The Staples High School graduate, recording artist and all-around good guy was booked for the Levitt Pavilion. Right before showtime, a hard rain fell.

But Drew — standing behind his band’s covered instruments — gave a fantastic performance.

Most of the crowd was far in back, under the overhang. A few hardy folks sat on the grass. But it didn’t take long for many to get up and dance. It was an amazing scene. (It didn’t hurt that one of his numbers was “Singin’ in the Rain.”)

Carleigh Welsh announced that Drew will be booked for another performance this summer. Hopefully he knows “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine.” (Hat tip: Laura Schwartz)

Drew Angus, singing in the rain. (Photo/Laura Schwartz)

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For decades, kids jumped off the Sherwood Mill Pond bridge.

When the water got grotty, they stopped.

The pond is back in great shape. Several years ago, the jumpers returned.

Last summer, some of them were loud and rude. They ruined it for everyone. Residents complained. Parks & Rec put up a “Danger/No Jumping or Diving” sign, complete with little red-slash pictographs.

Yesterday, Ann Becker Moore, Pam Washburn and Karen Como spotted a new sign. It says simply: “Jump.”

(Photo/Karen Como)

WTF?!

If anyone knows what’s going on, click “Comments” below.

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This was 90 Morningside Drive South, when it was on the market.

It was bought last July for $2.64 million, by Mattera Construction. Here’s how it looked yesterday:

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Every other Saturday morning, Longshore Sailing School hosts a Saugatuck River cleanup.

Despite yesterday’s weather, 40 single and double kayaks headed out. Each came bag with incredible amounts of trash.

Paul Danielewicz and Mark Jaffe collected the most. They don’t win anything. But everyone who loves the Saugatuck River is grateful.

The next cleanup is July 17 (9:30 to 11 a.m.). Anyone interested should meet at Longshore Sailing School, behind the pool.

Paul Danielewicz and Mark Jaffe.

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Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Eastern Conference finals. They advance to the championship for the first time since 1974 (when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the starting center).

The Westport connection? The Bucks are co-owned by Westport hedge fund manager Marc Lasry. PS: They were named the Bucks long before the billionaire bought them. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

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Conversion of the former Armstrong Rubber Company headquarters in New Haven — the concrete box on the left as you head north, next to Ikea and just before the I-91 merge — into what may be the most energy-efficient hotel in the country has “Westport” all over it.

Hotel Marcel’s developer and architect is Westport-based Bruce Becker. He’s building it to meet net-zero energy standards. It will generate as much energy as it uses. All electricity is produced on site, and it’s the first passive house-certified hotel in the US. 

Saugatuck’s LANDTECH is the project’s site/civil engineer.

It’s a great project. To learn more, click on the video below. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)

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The weather hasn’t been great this 4th of July weekend. But Jolantha of Kellogg Hill proves you can put lipstick on this pig.

Or at least decorate her for the holiday.

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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“Naturally … Westport” ventures today to Bermuda Road, on Saugatuck Shores:

(Photo/Diane Yormark)

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And finally … happy birthday, America. We’ve made it through 245 years. Here’s to the next 245!

Ladybug, Ladybug …

Sushene and Tom Swenson moved to Westport last year. Sushene writes:

I find so much joy in having a backyard, after nearly 2 decades in the city.

Our yard is landscaped beautifully (by prior tenants). Wildflowers surround our back deck, which is covered in tomatoes, peppers, celery, herbs and flowers.

Some of our plants seemed to be suffering from an aphid infestation, though. After research, we figured out that we could purchase ladybugs to eat the aphids.

We bought over 1,000 ladybugs, which came in the mail from Amazon (who’d have thought!). We released them in the evening, when they would settle onto the plants for the night because of the cooler temperature.

Ladybugs at work …

They went to work, and seemed to eat every aphid they could find. Within days our plants thrived again, and have doubled in size.

These little guys ultimately flew off to live their lives elsewhere, but some remain in our garden. I love finding them from time to time. This one made my heart swell, as he slept in the center of this flower.

… and at rest. (Photos/Sushene Swenson)