In his lifetime in Westport — as a youngster, a Staples High School Class of 1979 student, and now an author and homeowner — Tom Greenwald has seen a lot.
Right now, green lawns have him seeing red. Tom writes:
Green usually means good. But this summer, it means bad.
Setting aside my leaf-blower obsession for a minute (though I’m sure that will be back in full bloom in the fall), my newest fixation is lawns.
(Who would have thought I would become all about yardwork? Certainly not me, and most certainly not my wife.)
Anyone who’s conscious knows that there is a drought on. A pretty big, pretty bad one.
Yet there as still gorgeous green lawns all over Westport. When I see sprinklers sprinkling (which is often), it makes me a little mad.
Green lawn during a brown drought. (Photo/Tom Greenwald)
I get it: Everyone wants a nice property. And most people who live in Westport have made it here because they’re not used to settling for less than what they want. But the time has come to allow our lawns to look a little bad, for the greater good.
I also get that the rules are murky, and not everyone knows them. (In case you don’t, here they are.
But if you do know them, and you’re ignoring them — well, that’s just not cool.
So come on, fellow Westporters: Embrace the brown.
Let’s let whatever water is out there be used for things like cooking, showers and hydration for humans and animals.
By next spring you’ll be showing off your gorgeous lawns. This stretch will be a dry, distant memory.
But for now: No more Lawns Of Shame in our town!
Tom Greenwald enjoys his (brown) lawn.
(“06880” covers the drought — and everything else going on in Westport. Please click here to support your local blog.)
Wynston was there again Monday — the day before beginning his sophomore year at Staples High School. Owner Andrea Pecoriello hosted him.
His mother Lynda Kommel-Browne says: “Wynston had a nice conversation with 4 families, who were not familiar with non-speakers and spelling boards. Wynston beamed with pride and energy to show folks his communication skills.It was a great eye-opening experience for all.
Wynston Browne and his communication partner, Elisa Feinman, show his spelling board to customers at The Porch. His brother Harrison is standing (right).
“Wynston’s 16-year-old brother Harrison beamed with pride too, seeing customers take an interest in Wyn, and seeing Wyn respond to questions with high level answers.
“For example, he said, ‘In biology we are studying macro molecules … carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates is your body’s main energy source.'”
He talked about “The Kite Runner” too — and asked some of his new friends questions like what they like to eat at The Porch.
Wynston’s world is opening up — and he is opening up ours. “06880” will continue to report on his progress, and on opportunities for Westporters to meet him.
“We use the ‘speed load’ setting. Our washing machine runs for 25 minutes, instead of an hour and 10 minutes on the regular setting. Our clothes get just as clean — we have never had an issue with that.”
Any other water-saving ideas? Click “Comments” below.
Select “quick wash,” which you probably never noticed before.
Connecticut’s official 9/11 memorial is at Sherwood Island State Park for 2 reasons.
On that horrific day 21 years ago, people gathered on the shore saw smoke rise from the Twin Towers 50 miles away.
And the area was ready to be used as a staging area for rescue helicopters. Sadly, none were needed.
Two decades later, the simple memorial attracts a steady stream of visitors. It includes the names of state residents who died in the terrorist attacks.
Each year, there is a remembrance ceremony at the Sherwood Island Living Memorial. This year’s is set for Thursday, September 8 (5:30 p.m.). Family members of those killed will participate, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut will be read aloud.
The ceremony will be livestreamed at ct-n.com. An on-demand video will be made available there shortly after its conclusion.
The 9/11 Living Memorial at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photos/Ellen Bowen)
Held, as always, in the Westport Country Playhouse barn, it features works by homeless veterans. The art was created in classes run by the Collective, at Bridgeport’s Homes for the Brave shelter.
There’s a reception next Wednesday (September 7, 6 to 8 p.m.), and an artists’ talk Saturday, September 10 (4 p.m.). The works are on display to the public September 8 to 10, from 2 to 6 p.m. each day.
The Artists’ Collective does great work, very quietly. They don’t toot their own horns. So I’ll toot it for them.
See you at the show!
I hate to keep throwing barbs at Hook’d.
But really, the Compo Beach concession is just mailing it in.
Earlier this summer, after sharp comments on “06880,” they finally began posting their hours on the door.
That’s gone now.
With the doors locked yesterday, this was the scene:
That’s still better than a few days ago. The doors were locked then. The sandwich board sign was out.
Speaking of school: The Porch @ Christie’s on Cross Highway is located close to 4 of them: Staples High, Bedford Middle, and Coleytown Middle and Elementary.
It’s also on the route for people heading into and out of Westport.
A good number of folks passing near, or by, are teachers. To celebrate a new school year, The Porch is offering free coffee and tea to all educators, now through September 9, with any purchase (6:30 to 9 a.m.) or salad, bowl, sandwich or grill item (3 to 5 p.m.). Just show your school ID.
What a great way to honor teachers. Owners Bill and Andrea Pecoriello have learned their customer service lessons well.
On Sunday, Tutti’s Ristorante held a fundraiser for Jimmy Nuzzo. “DJ Jimmy James” — a friend to the owners (the Funicello family) and many others — needs a new heart and liver. 100% of the proceeds from the $25 penne-and-meatball dinner went to help.
Westporters, Norwalkers and others came through — big time. Tutti’s raised nearly $4,000 for Jimmy.
Maria Funicello asked me to thank the “06880” community. Consider it done — and thank you, Tutti’s, too!
Tutti’s owners Pasquale and Maria Funicello opened their restaurant (and hearts) to Jimmy Nuzzo.
Yesterday, residents received this message from 1st Selectwoman Samantha Nestor:
“I am reaching out to remind residents that Weston (and all of Fairfield County), have been experiencing Stage 2 drought conditions since mid-July due to below normal precipitation levels across Connecticut. Stage 2 identifies an emerging drought event that could potentially impact water supplies, agriculture, or natural ecosystems.
“Per Governor Lamont, ‘Residents should be mindful of their water consumption and take sensible steps to reduce impacts on other water uses and on the environment. We must begin early steps now to mitigate the potential for harm should the drought become prolonged.'”
Weston asks residents to voluntarily take measure to help reduce the impact of the drought conditions, including:
Reduce watering lawns, gardens, and other landscaped areas; if watering is essential, late evening hours are best
Avoid burning in or near woodlands or brush-lands
Take shorter showers
Run dishwashers and clothes washing machines with full loads
Shut off water while washing dishes, shaving, brushing teeth, and lathering up to wash hands, rather than running the water continuously
Avoid washing vehicles or power-washing homes and other buildings
Do not use water to clean sidewalks, driveways, and roads
Postpone planting new lawns or vegetation
Minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures
Follow any additional conservation requests
For more information from the Connecticut Drought Information Center, click here. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)
Meanwhile, one more indication that Westport is in a drought too:
Speaking of environmental threats, consider the spotted lanternfly.
It’s crossed Connecticut’s southwest border — that’s us — and could threaten businesses, nurseries and homeowners, causing billions of dollars in damage while devastating the landscape, in 2 years.
The SLF is a sap-feeding plant hopper native to China. It is believed to have entered this country as an egg mass stuck to a shipment of stone sent to Pennsylvania in 2012. Since then, that state’s agriculture, vineyards, forests, nurseries and residential areas have suffered serious damage.
The SLF started making its way into Connecticut last year. The state Agricultural Experiment Station issued a quarantine order. The hope is that the pest will be slowed long enough to find a treatment to control or eradicate it.
The beautiful-looking insect affects fruit trees, grapes, hops and ornamental trees. The nymphs (immature stage of the SLF) and adults feed on sap from trees and vines, causing them to weaken. Excretions from the SLF stick to the leaves; black sooty mold grows, reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize properly. This reduce crop yields, and weaken trees and plants further, eventually destroying them.
It can also wreak havoc on lawn furniture, sidewalks, sides of buildings, car tires and everything else outside, making them a sticky mess.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station urges everyone to report any sightings.
If you spot an SLF, kill it right away. Report it here; include a photo if possible. (Hat tip: Susan Iseman)
“My wife and I moved to Westport about a year and a half ago, and fell deeply in love with Westport.
“I am an avid hiker, but have mostly struck out finding good hikes with great views. I’ve been through Devil’s Den, Lake Windwing and Bennett’s Preserve, but still feel like I haven’t fully figured it out.
“Can you ask your readers for suggestions? With fall coming, this is a great time to go hiking.”
Readers: Please help Thayer (and every other new resident/avid hiker). Click “Comments” below, and tell us your favorite trails.
Devil’s Den. Where else can Thayer hike this fall? (Photo/Claudia Sherwood Servidio)
“Driving around, I constantly see trucks stringing up new wiring on telephone poles. I wonder, given that there are only 3 companies (I believe) delivering cable services around here, are all of those fat wires still active?
“I asked one of the crews if they ever take down obsolete wires. The answer was that they have no clue. I suspect there are a lot of derelict wires, and taking them down is a cost the companies do not want to incur.
“Only the very top wires on the poles are actually power lines, and they are comparatively thin. It’s really unsightly wire pollution, and it’s getting worse all the time.”
Utility wires near Westport. Some may actually be in use. (Photo/Mike Brennecke)
Wynston Browne — the non-speaking autistic rising Staples High School senior, whose ability to communicate using a simple board device inspired and thrilled Westporters this summer — returns to The Porch @ Christie’s today (Monday, August 29, 12:45 to 2 p.m.).
During his visit earlier this month, he used his letter board to speak with customers. He answered questions about his life, in a session that was as gratifying for them as it was for him.
Wynston looks forward to meeting new friends again today, at the popular Cross Highway gathering spot.
Wynston and Elisa Feinman, at work with his spelling board.
I don’t care if you are from out of town. The sign is pretty clear: “Boat Launch Ramp/No Parking.” For extra clarity it’s paved, while all the cars around it are parked on grass.
But this Masshole didn’t care.
David Meth reports: “The driver took a photo of the sky while standing near the sign. She opened the back door, took out her folding chair and walked to another part of the beach. I was on my way out. I told one of the guys at the entrance.”
Online registration for fall Westport Parks & Recreation Department programs begins at 9 a.m. on Wednesday (September 7).
Among the events: traditional favorites like tennis clinics, Sports Squirts, IST football, Wakeman Town Farm and Skyhawks Sports Academy, and new ones: Future Wreckers’ basketball clinics, Next Generation skateboard clinics, Overtime Athletics Heads Up dodgeball and Kaboom Kickball.
Click here to search for programs (adult and youth). Click here to make sure your online account and family information is up to date. Click here to register.
Having trouble accessing your online account, or need an address change? Do not create another profile; call 203-341-5152 or email email@example.com for help.
A resident of Pequot Trail, off Sylvan Road North, writes:
“A house on our street has the greenest lawn in town, because they water it twice a day. Many neighbors have reported the house to Aquarion and the town, and placed notes in the mailbox. Yet the sprinklers keep running:=
“We’re curious about what happens in this situation, when someone blatantly ignores repeated notices about water usage/restrictions.”
But its website says that residents “should” follow the twice-weekly (not twice-daily) schedule.
And its FAQ page answers a question about penalties for “violating the two-day mandatory irrigation schedule” this way:
Our main commitment is to educate the public about how they can use water more efficiently and sustainably; however, we can penalize violators, including shutting off their water, if their failure to follow the schedule impairs public resources.
Sounds as if “can” has not yet translated to “will.”
Perhaps the next step is to print this story out, and put it in the green lawn owner’s mailbox.
And then send a copy to Aquarion.
PS: This was the scene this morning, with several sprinklers going. Sunday is a legal watering day for house numbers ending in even numbers, or homes without numbers. The Pequot Trail home has an odd number:
The curtain rose officially last night for “4000 Miles.” The Westport Country Playhouse production stars Staples High School Class of 2013 graduate Clay Singer, and Fairfield resident Mia Dillon. The thought-provoking, rollercoaster-of-emotions show runs through September 4.
Last night’s curtain call, wit Clay Singer and Mia Dillon. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
Jim White has lived or worked in Westport for 18 years.
His sister Kate White has no connection here, beyond knowing how much he loves this town.
But when Kate — a best-selling author, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan — was writing her 16th suspense novel, The Second Husband, she set it in Westport
Jim had a great time helping his sister with background research. Among the local spots mentioned: Terrain, Spotted Horse and the Whelk.
Surprise! Those are some of Jim’s favorite restaurants too.
“It’s an excellent read,” Jim praises. And, he adds proudly, “Not only is she an amazing writer and editor, but she recently gave the commencement address at Union College — where she received an honorary doctorate of letters.
“She was in the first class of women accepted at Union, and was part of their celebration of 50 years of being co-ed. She has been a great inspiration to me, and I am sure many others.”
Jim hopes to get Kate here for a book signing or discussion. In the meantime, click here to order.
Hayden S. Cabral died suddenly but peacefully in his sleep on Thursday. He was 21 years old.
Hayden is survived by his father Kevin Cabral, his mother Dawn Loecher, step-mother Laura Cabral, brothers Logan and Payton, sisters Lianna and Hailey, aunt and godmother Susan Cabral-Hiltz, uncle Harry Hiltz, uncle and godfather Scott Loecher, grand-uncle Carlo and aunt Marcy Cabral, cousins and many great friends.
He was predeceased by his grandparents Joseph and Betty Cabral, and Janet and Robert Loecher.
Friends will be received at the Harding Funeral Home tomorrow (Monday, August 29, 4 to 8 p.m.) A Funeral Mass will be held at Assumption Church on Tuesday (August 30, 1 p.m. Burial will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery.
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature features a beautiful blue heron. Amy Schneider sighted it on the Saugatuck River, near the Levitt Pavilion.
And finally … today is the 67th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till. In 1955, the Black 14-yer-old was abducted, tortured and murdered in Mississippi. His brutal death — and the decision by his mother to have an open casket, and a public funeral — helped galvanize the civil rights movement.
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Temperatures are in the Goldilocks zone. The sun shines nearly every day; breezes are cool.
The only thing missing — until yesterday — was rain.
Despite those downpours, lower rainfall than normal, plus high water demand (pools and lawns, we’re talking about you), led Connecticut’s lnteragency Drought Working Group has to declare Stage 2 Drought conditions for the entire state.
Aquarion has instituted a mandatory, twice-weekly irrigation schedule for 13 towns. Westport is one of 7 in Fairfield County. The others are Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Newtown and Stamford.
For homeowners, that means sprinkler usage is based on the last digit of the house address.
If your house number ends in an even number, or you have no house number, you can use a sprinkler on Sundays and Wednesdays only, from midnight to 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. to midnight.
If your house number ends in an odd number, you can use a sprinkler only on Saturdays and Tuesdays, from midnight to 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. to midnight.
Aquarion encourages customers living outside the 13 towns to voluntarily follow the same schedule.
Aquarion president Donald Morrissey says, “Our reservoir levels are currently sufficient, and we’re hopeful that rain amounts will soon return to normal. With our customers’ support, we are better able to mitigate the impacts of the current drought conditions.”
Other outdoor conservation measures include:
Adjusting your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture, so lawns requires less water.
Adjusting sprinklers so they water theh lawn and garden only, not the street or sidewalk.
Using hand watering or drip irrigation for shrubs and flowers.
Delaying new plantings until fall.
Inspecting irrigation systems for leaks, broken lines or blockages. In addition to water, this saves money and time.
Indoor water conservation measures include:
Turning off water while lathering up, shaving or brushing teeth.
Minimizing baths, and the amount of water used for them. Trim one minute off the length of your showers.
Washing only full loads in dishwashers and washing machines.
Hand washing dishes in a pan or the sink, not under continuous running water.
Reusing dehumidifier water, or using a bucket to capture shower and bath water while waiting for it to warm up; then using that to water plants.
Click here for additional water conservation tips.
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Despite recent rains, Connecticut remains mired in a drought.
A long, serious drought.
It has not gotten much attention. But it’s here. And it’s real.
Aquarion has asked customers to reduce water consumption by 20 percent. That’s a lot.
It’s also 5 percent more than Governor Malloy requested, just a month ago.
Aquarion says that from Greenwich to Bridgeport, its reservoirs are between 15 and 60 percent of capacity. The company is building temporary pipelines to balance supply among reservoirs. But more action is needed.
As wells run dry — among other effects — all residents are asked to take shorter showers, shut off water while brushing teeth, and do fewer loads of laundry.
Click here for information on stream flow, groundwater and related issues.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome, appreciated — and tax-deductible! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to “06880”: PO Box 744, Westport, CT 06881. Or use Venmo: @blog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)