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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

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Archive for the ‘Rivers’ Category


A Midwinter Walk Along The Farmington River

Monday, February 9th, 2015

The weather in New England, from the middle of January until now, can be summed up in two words — snow and cold. A lot of both. We are starting to measure snow in feet instead of inches. There have also been days when cold is measured by the Alaskan standard of “seconds to frostbite” instead of degrees. Winter weather patterns like this are not new in this area, but once this type of weather cycle sets in, it is slow to move on. There are only two ways to deal with this weather — complain about it or embrace it. In past years, my wife, Tricia, and I often would take a two week vacation from all of this and drive south to Louisiana to visit friends and embrace Mardi Gras and the warm weather. This year, however, we decided to embrace the cold and snow. This is the time of year when I begin interviewing the professional farmers and the gardeners that work the soil on the “flats” to get an idea of what varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers will be planted come spring. If weather permits, I first take a walk along the river and around the fields before talking to anyone. Unfortunately, the first snowstorm turned to  freezing rain before it ended, and coated all of the trails with a sheet of ice. Since I don’t own ice cleats, I had to wait for more snow to cover the ice. I didn’t have to wait long. A week later, another large storm moved across the country and dumped as much as 30 inches on the East Coast. The Farmington area only got about 12 inches. This was enough to cover the ice sheet and make my 5-mile hike possible.

In the warm weather months, I hike this trail every day, and collect mental images of what I see and experience during the hikes. I have included some of my favorite warm weather images along with the snowy photos that I shot during this winter hike.

Below are photos of two of my favorite fishing spots, taken during  fishing season, followed by some recent shots of the same areas as winter settled in.

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Here are two photos of Kolp Gardens at the beginning of the gardening season and later as the gardens flourish.

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Below: The snow-covered back path along the gardens, looking east.

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As I continue walking east, the gardeners’ rest area comes into view.

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I have reached the east end of the gardens and head back to the west and into the woods along the river.

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There were folks ice fishing on this day.

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This pudgy little sparrow landed in front of me several times as I walked along the river path. I think he was gathering animal hairs for a nest.

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This bridge crosses a drainage canal then empties into the river. In the back, on the right, is a boat house used by the crew teams of Farmington High School and Miss Porter’s School, a private school. From here I turn around and head back to the parking area.

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Leaving the river path back onto the flats and down the path to the parking area.

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Walking at my usual pace, I can cover a mile in about 15 minutes. On this day it took at least 30 minutes to  travel that distance.

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The Farmington Valley and Its River

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The Farmington Valley was once wholly under water, covered by Lake Hitchcock, one of the largest glacial lakes in New England. This 175 mile long lake stretched from northern Vermont to central Connecticut where it was it was impounded by glacial deposits. These damming deposits were breached about 12000 years ago draining the lake and creating the Farmington Valley watershed, a 600 square area that drains into the Farmington River.

The Watershed provides drinking water for the 600,000 people in the Farmington Valley and the greater Hartford area. The River’s combination of gin-clear water with clear flat pools broken up by classic riffles and runs, and wide sediment filled areas, provide excellent fishing for several species of trout and Atlantic salmon.

The river provides water for working farms and community gardens along its shores during growing season dry periods. However, having a river flowing through your neighborhood has consequences as well as benefits.

When nature dumps more water into any river than the river can contain, the river corrects the situation by pushing this excess water over its banks. Last year, in September, heavy rain from Tropical Storm Irene caused the river to overrun its banks. This was followed by an October snow storm that dumped more water into the river and did unprecedented damage to trees and crops.  The following photos illustrate both the problems and benefits of having a river as a next door neighbor.


This is the Pinchot Sycamore, the largest tree in the state of  Connecticut and one of largest sycamores in this country. It is located near the base of Talcott Mountain on the east bank of the Farmington River. If you look through the space between the branches on the lower left, you will see the Heublein Tower in the distance. The tree is 95 feet tall, measures 26 feet around at the trunk with a canopy diameter of 140 feet. It is named after Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the United States Forestry Service . The tree is recovering from damage caused by the October 2011 snowstorm that destroyed thousands of lesser trees in the North East.

Welcome to the Meadows, an area of fertile land by the the Farmington River that native Americans named Tunxis Sepus, (“at the bend of the little river”). The Tunxis Tribe settled here to reap the benefits of the abundant hunting, fishing and farming. Farmington residents call this area “the flats”. The fishing and farming are as rewarding today as the were in the sixteen-hundreds. The “flats” support several successful commercial farms and the largest community garden area in the state with more then 200 registered gardeners.

Tropical storm Irene deposited more water than the river could contain. Under normal conditions the river bank is behind the trees in the back of this picture.

A picture taken several days ago, shows the remarkable ability of the Farmington River to recover from disaster.

Fly fish this season has been better then in years past.

A picture of Terri’s garden after Tropical Storm Irene. This is one possible outcome when a river shares a  problem with neighbors.



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