Be advised that I will do what I can to make “colder than Harry’s todger” a thing.
Ginia Bellafante is no slouch, either. From the Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Dept., Must We Gentrify the Rest Stop?
Five years ago, the New York State Thruway Authority conducted a survey of more than 2,600 drivers to take measure of the customer experience at the service areas lining the 570 miles of road that make up one of the largest toll highways in the country, stretching from the edge of the Bronx up past Buffalo. Whether participants were traveling for work or for pleasure, they had needs that apparently were going unfulfilled.
Among those who identified as occasional users of the Thruway, more than half said they would like food halls with “local artisan” offerings. Some commuters wanted Blue Apron meal kits. The resulting report listed as chief takeaways that leisure travelers complained about unappealing interiors and the lack of “Instagrammable moments.”
…on some [signs] the apostrophe seemed to float above the S, like the tongue of flame you see on a Renaissance painting of an apostle being visited by the Holy Spirit.
I am mortified that no one else stepped in to do this job, but gratified that Devon Henry was there to do it. White contractors wouldn’t remove Confederate statues. So a Black man did it., by Gregory S. Schneider.
Henry’s mission as the man who finally drove the Confederates out of Richmond was nearly complete. He had a brief, blunt message that morning for the chilly workers as they prepared to do the unusual work that has become so familiar.
“It’s the last one,” he told them. “Let’s do it right and get out of here.”
Goats and Soda, NPR’s plucky little blog that rarely has an audio component and hence can’t be monetized, remembers five inspiring women who went on ahead in 2022.
This is the sort of pure digital work that I fear we (NPR) won’t be able to afford in the current economic situation.
I didn’t make much time to write commentary on newer books this year. Faves:
- Crossroads, by Jonathan Franzen
- Life between the Tides, by Adam Nicolson
- Impossible Views of the World, by Lucy Ives sat on a wishlist for months and months
Farmers and town-dwellers cope with the collapse of California’s water supply in the Westlands Water District. Great longer form reporting by Dan Charles.
I love everything about this image from Shorpy (save one): the motion blur of the waitresses and ceiling fan, obscure prepackaged food, checkerboarded mini tile floor, shiny Coca-Cola fountain—and above all, the patrons ranked behind the diners, waiting their turn. The blot: as commenters have noted, this image is from 1942, when Washington was segregated. The photo is by Marjory Collins for the Farm Security Administration.
Birthday road trip and Virginia Master Naturalists conference.
Overnight stays in 2022:
- Abingdon, Washington County, Va. (and) (and)
- Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va.
- Virginia Beach, Va.
I’m chasing that next Trail Quest pin.
- Walker Nature Center, Reston, Fairfax County, Va.
- Great Backyard Bird Count at the Glade and Lexington Estates Park
- Elklick Woodlands NAP with Nelson DeBarros in the rain
- Huntley Meadows Park for the Mason & Bailey Club
- Clifton Institute odonates count
- NABA Butterfly Count at the Clifton Institute
- Riverbend Park with the VNPS Potowmack Grass Bunch
- Bioblitz at a private residence with the Clifton Institute
- Clinch River State Park, Wise County, Va.
- Virginia Creeper Trail, Washington County, Va.
- Grayson Highlands State Park, Grayson County, Va.
- Bluff Mountain Preserve, Ashe County, N.C.
- Thoroughfare Road grassland, Prince William County, Va., led by Bert Harris
- Boundary Bridge for the Mason & Bailey Club
- First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, Va.
- Great Dismal Swamp NWR
- Magothy Bay NAP, Northampton County, Va.
- Lichens workshop with Natalie Howe
- Seneca and Central Loudoun CBCs
Another moderately successful season of monitoring nest boxes at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Va.
This was my second year leading Seneca’s sector 14, and I was a last-minute recruit to lead a subsector of Central Loudoun’s sector 11, four sites in the vicinity of “Old Ashburn” (the crossroads with the W&OD Trail).
We found a warm place inside to get the sector 14 group organized and then dispersed into a pair of parties. We missed some birds that we found last year, but found new ones, for a total of 46 species. One of my feeder watchers reported an Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina). The Buttermilk Creek Trail (pinned as an eBird hotspot) was marginally productive for Candy and Pat’s party; on the other hand, I had reasonable success with the obscure Lexington Estates Park in Great Falls, despite a bumptious family group passing through. No luck finding Rock Pigeon in my sector, despite some near-twilight parking lot crawling. The north end of Lake Fairfax is more easily accessible from the boat house, rather than walking down the hill from the parking by the water park.
I got to meet some new places and denizens of Ashburn with sector leader Kent Clizbe, and my team of five “beginners” was relatively well experienced. A Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) teed up for us near the Graves Lane pond. Accipiters are still an ID challenge for me. Raptor-on-raptor confrontations are always fun: this time it was another Red-shouldered Hawk challenging a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), flustering a pack of European Starlings in the process. The Borrowers claimed the lens hood on my long lens, and then quickly returned it (thanks, Michael!).
It was a good season for Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) on both counts.