Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Prep in Connecticut

Chances are, if you live anywhere in the state of Connecticut, you've been absorbed these last few days with preparing for Tropical Storm Sandy.

Sometimes, the advice you can find online is a bit generic (stock up on batteries, plan an escape route) so I thought I'd share some of my own storm prep tips. Much of these I learned last year during Hurricane Irene.

Fridge & Freezer: The conventional advice is that refrigerated foods will last just four hours without power while a fully stocked freezer should last two days (provided you don't open the door). As the winds pick up and the storm approaches, I'm trying to "eat down" everything in my refrigerator, but I've already had an early "lunch" at 9:45 am, enjoying a full package of Trader Joe's shrimp stuffed wontons, a half an acorn squash (already cooked) and the rest of an opened jar of pickled beets. I'm pretty stuffed!

I decided to take my locally laid farm eggs (9 of 'em), crack them open and freeze them. I've also frozen an opened jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil. Fresh apples and grapes I've already taken out and put in a bowl on the kitchen table; the less I open that fridge door once I lose power, the better. At this point, there's not much left in the fridge except fresh produce, vitamins and lots of condiments. I've also thrown a wool blanket over the entire fridge/freezer.

Fortunately, at least half of the contents in my packed freezer are homegrown tomatoes from my summer garden, and these can safely be refrozen, if need be. I have already turned down the temperature settings in both the refrigerator and freezer to their lowest possible levels.

Tonight, if I still have power, I'll be dining on a very large bowl of Edy's ice cream, just because I buy it so rarely, but it was a heavily discounted treat and one that would have to be tossed early in case of extended power loss.


Outside, I dismantled a tall, pole-mounted bird feeder that was not too secure in the soft ground. Anything else that could blow away has already been stored in the garage, including my car.

I cleared two storm drains on the road in front of my house. They were already completely obscured by fallen leaves. I did the same with a length of gutter on my family room roof. Even though it has screens, it readily clogs with all the needles dropping from a nearby white pine. Fortunately, I can easily climb out my upstairs bathroom window onto the shallow roof and removed fistfuls of wet leaves.

I've put my cache of batteries, along with my cell phone, battery-powered shortwave radio and utility company phone numbers in a central location where I can find them easily. I am hopeful that my exterior solar lights (the kind you simply stick in the ground, no wires) will still contain some energy after all these overcast days so I can use them to illuminate my rooms. The light won't be strong enough to read by, but it will make getting around considerably easier.

I have taken what could be my last shower for a while, all dishes are washed and I've turned the heat up here to a balmy 65 degrees, just to have that much more warmth captured inside. I've created a makeshift stand out of scrap wood and bricks to lift 10 large cardboard boxes of Costco cat litter off the basement floor. I'm enjoying what may be my last cup of hot tea for a while. I anticipate losing power at any time now as it's getting pretty gusty out there.

I've been able to cancel two work-related obligations Monday and Tuesday and now it's just me and the kitties.

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Autumn Jaunt at Redding's Huntington State Park

I'd been longing to hike in the woods to enjoy the autumn foliage for the past two weeks, but work kept getting in the way. Finally, I got out there today, on what was forecast to be a sunny day, but Hurricane Sandy turned it into a wholly cloudy, overcast day.

If you're unfamiliar with Huntington, it became a state park in 1973 after it was willed to the state by Archer M. Huntington. Used mostly as agricultural land into the late 1800s, its 1,017 acres today feature eight miles of carriage roads, trails, vernal pools and interesting geologic formations.

A familiar sight to any visitor who pulls in the gravel parking lot off Sunset Hill Road are the twin statues of bears and wolves.

This is a view of a footbridge traversing one of five ponds at the park.

The trail beckons

I'm sorry I didn't take a closer look at the foliage on this tree with handsome furrowed bark.

There were some interesting glacial rocks off the Red Trail. The explorer in me wanted to go scampering up them.

Gnarled mountain laurel branches

This tree trunk is wearing slippers!

Oak leaves on the water's surface

Seasonal colors

A restful place

Pond view

Water, water everywhere...

Sugar maple leaves on the forest floor