Essex 2/27

A correction from last week's column to start: the business Barbara and Howie Page have on Main Street is the Neighborhood Nest, not the Bird's Nest, as I had it. I knew it was something ornithological.

Speaking of which, local ravens are starting courtship activities. This is the time of year when young birds select mates and it is not a quiet process. You can hear all sorts of croaking, barking and belch-like grunts as they display themselves to one another, chasing and swooping endlessly. I've seen a raven pair fly towards each other, lock talons and flap vertically upward several hundred feet, and then swoop down in parabolas to do it again. In the years I've lived here, ravens have supplanted hawks as the dominant large bird in our landscape. By the way, ravens mate for life.

Our seed order finally went out, thanks to Amy, although not without some stress and a bit of bad language. She took it upon herself to do the ordering on-line and ran into some poorly-designed web sites that were maddeningly slow, which, when mixed with our tedious dial-up, made for a frustrating experience. A fiber-optic cable runs along our road, but it can't be tapped to get faster internet. Ironically, residents on nearby Reynolds Road have no electric power but do have telephones, and with their phones, get great internet service.

For those of you interested in long distance walking, a group leaves most every Saturday morning at 8:30 from the deli in Essex. The destination is either the bakery in Wadhams or a restaurant in Westport. In other athletic news, my sources indicate there may be a swim for human polar bears in Lake Champlain, perhaps in mid-March. My sources would like me to participate but this is highly unlikely.

Our maple syrup making neighbors, the Frenches, are preparing to tap their trees this weekend, depending on the weather. A few syrup makers in Clinton County have already tapped, but with no results yet.

The once-every-10-years census is upon us again, and soon canvassers will be knocking on doors to hand you a questionnaire. The information on the nation's population is used to determine Congressional districts and the allocation of federal funds, so it's important everyone get counted correctly.

Finally, if you have any news or events you'd like to share, please call or email me at ivy@westelcom.com. I'm happy to keep you anonymous, like my human polar bear friend.

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