I live in a small town. Just under 13,000 people call Uxbridge home. The village, or as we say around here, “downtown,” has a classic brick town hall, circa 1879, an elegant old library, and several other historic buildings.

Our neighboring town, Millville, makes Uxbridge look like Metropolis.

Their town hall is a unit in an old condo building. The center of town is a sub shop. There’s no sign to indicate you are in Millville, so it’s easy to miss. When you get there, it will be closed anyway. The following notice is posted on Millville’s website:

Due to budget constraints, effective immediately the Town Clerk’s office will only be open on Mondays from 9am-1pm and Wednesday evenings from 6pm-8pm for public assistance. If you cannot be at the Municipal Center during these scheduled hours, please call the Town Clerk’s Office to schedule an appointment.m

There are approximately 3100 people living in Millville, spread out thinly.

Perhaps 7  or 8 years ago, the town of Millville decided they needed a Deputy Animal Control Officer. I don’t remember how I heard about the job. It may have been a tip from our local animal control officer who knew I liked animals and needed part-time work.


This was about as part-time as a job could be. The pay was $1200 per year, payable semi-annually. Before taxes.

Millville already had a Senior Animal Control Officer who was theoretically in charge, but passionately fond of golf. I suspect he also had a full-time job elsewhere. So, in exchange for $600 every 6 months, I would have the official title of Deputy Animal Control Officer. I would be on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

I’m basically an optimist. I figured Millville is tiny. How many calls could there be? I took the job. I was sworn in, just like in the movies, hand on the Bible. I promised to protect and serve.


A mere couple of hours later, I got my first call. A homeowner had found an almost dead skunk by their trash bin and wanted it taken away. It was my first call — a Sunday morning — so my “senior officer” thought he should come along, show me the ropes as it were.

Photo: Greenshield Pest Control

Photo: Greenshield Pest Control

Luckily, the skunk did the right thing and went from nearly dead to absolutely dead while I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I was informed by my erstwhile boss that the skunk had probably been rabid and I should not touch it. If the skunk had not died on his own, I would have been obliged to shoot it.

Me: “Shoot it?”

Boss: “Yes, shoot it. With the rifle.”

Me: “Rifle? What rifle?”

Boss: “Oh, didn’t I mention that? We have a couple of rifles in the office. When an animal is behaving suspiciously, you have to shoot it.”

Me: “Behaving suspiciously?”

Boss: “You know, approaching people rather than running away. Acting weird. Most of the animals you’ll get calls about are rabid. There’s a lotta rabies around here so you don’t want to get close. Just shoot’em.”

Rabies. Shoot the animals. $100 a month. I was getting that creepy feeling I get when I think maybe I’ve signed up for something, the implications of which I had failed to fully grasp.

After we bagged the skunk to send to the county animal medical examiner, I promised to go to city hall as soon as they reopened to discuss guns and the other equipment I would need. Like shovels, leather gloves, heavy-duty plastic trash bags (the non-human version of body bags), tags for the medical examiner. Forms to fill out. Oh, and where to put the corpses. Turns out, you can’t just stack them up in city hall.

My boss was not upset that I’d never handled a real weapon. I’d never shot anything currently or previously alive. I was puzzled about what I was supposed to do if I got a call, actually needed a rifle, but it was locked up at city hall which was pretty much always closed.


Would the offending animal make an appointment for a more convenient time? Or wait for me to call someone, get them to unlock the gun cabinet, then hang around while I drove over to get it, then drove back to shoot him? Are the rabid animals of Millville that cooperative? Was I supposed to keep the big hunting rifle in my house in case I needed it? The rabies thing had me spooked, too.

When I was finally able to get to city hall, I demanded a rabies vaccination. No way was I going to handle rabid animals without a vaccination. They pointed out rabies vaccinations are expensive and I was only the deputy. They suggested I pay for it myself.

Me: “How much will it cost?”

Clerk: “Around $450.”

Me: “That’s four and a half months pay.”

Clerk: “Well, we don’t normally pay for it.”

Me: “I’m not doing this unless I’m vaccinated.”

It turned out that the animal medical examiner could provide me with the appropriate vaccination, so Garry — who had begun to look alarmed — drove me to the doctor. While the doctor prepared the inoculation, we got a rundown of exactly how common rabies is in our neck of the woods.

“Why,” he said, “Just last week they found a deer with rabies. Chipmunks, skunk, fox, coyotes, squirrels, deer … even possums get rabies.” The only exceptions are rabbits who are naturally immune. Go figure.

The following day, I got another call. A really big snapping turtle had wandered into the road and was blocking traffic. It didn’t sound too threatening, so armed with my shoulder-high heavy leather gauntlets (no rifle), I drove to the site and met the snapping turtle from Hell.


Keep in mind that there is water everywhere in the valley. Not only the Blackstone, but all its tributaries, feeder creeks, lakes, brooks, ponds, pools, and swamps. Snapping turtles are called common for good reason. They live just about everywhere you find water. Undoubtedly, the big snapper had wandered into the road, lost his bearings. Someone needed to grab the turtle and carry him back on the river side of the road. That someone was me.

This turtle was not in the water, not docile. His beak was sharp. His neck was extremely flexible. Not my kind of nature pal.

So there I was, by the side of the road, trying to figure out how I could grab him. He was approximately 30 pounds of pissed turtle. He seemed pretty agile to me. He could move. Okay, maybe he’d lose a footrace to a rabbit, but he could trundle along at a nice pace. And he had that snaky neck and was determined to bite me.


Meanwhile, an entire construction crew — big brawny guys who were supposed to be repairing the bridge — were watching. They didn’t seem eager to help. In fact, they were the ones who called in the first place.

I eventually herded him across the road. I looked at those jaws, looked at my leather gloves, did a quick mental calculation as to strength of gloves versus power of turtle’s jaws, decided the gloves weren’t all that sturdy.

My personal weapon: a Red Ryder BB rifle

My personal weapon: a Red Ryder BB rifle

Have you ever tried herding a turtle? Of course not. You can’t herd a turtle, but I did. I don’t know exactly how I got him across the road. I know there was a big shovel involved, but otherwise, it’s a blur. The next thing I remember doing after getting the turtle over to the river side of the road, was calling the clerk and resigning.

The turtle was enough for me. I figured if I didn’t get out quick, they’d have me hunting rabid coyotes with a large gun and I’d shoot my foot off.

They tried to bill me for the rabies shot. We settled for not paying me. I think I got the better part of the deal.



Ladybug says:

I would like you to take three pictures in or around your home of things that are special to you. Tell me the story about it. Why is it special?


I live in the woods and living here is like … well … living in the woods. The trees are all around us, naked in winter, providing deep shade in summer … and glorious in October.


Life amidst the trees has its drawbacks. The house is dark in the summer. The oaks are tall forming a canopy the sun cannot penetrate. But our house stays cooler in the summer than most.


The trees are constantly changing. Growing. Reshaping themselves. They whisper between themselves, secrets only they know and I would love to share.



It wasn’t a photo excursion. We were driving from a doctor’s office to the mall. To PetSmart, to get extra dog food. And biscuits. Have to make sure the doggies have plenty of kibble and biscuits. They’ve never missed a meal and I wouldn’t want this to be the first time.


The road between North Street and Route 140 is lovely. The woods are bright because its is dominated by alders. They turn bright yellow in the fall, and unlike the oak, they don’t form a canopy to block the sun.


The train tracks cross the road, though I’ve never seen a train. We have train tracks running through Uxbridge too, but no train station … not any more. What used to be the train station is now a real estate office. Once a week, you can hear the wail of the train’s whistle as it rumbles through, coming from somewhere. Going somewhere else.


I don’t know what it is about this train crossing, but I love it. Something about the way the road dips and curves. It reminds me of something, but I’m not sure what. It makes me wistful, as if there is a memory somewhere tucked in a corner of my brain … but I don’t know where.


The leaves were bright today. Not at peak. Not quite. At least I don’t think they are at peak … yet they are falling, even before many of the trees have changed color. It’s as if autumn has been short-circuited. Is it the lack of rain?


One year ago, we were on the road to Jackman, Maine. Autumn in northern New England. This year, the leaves have barely begun to change. Strange.


Change: This week, show us a change in progress. This can be done in one or multiple photos — we’ll let you decide!

ice at the dam

In the middle of town, there is a dam and a bridge. The river is the Mumford, which is one of the larger tributaries of the Blackstone River and the bridge is just the overpass where Route 16 turns towards Mendon, Milford and other points southeast of Uxbridge.

This is the middle of town, through the seasons, from December through the following November.

Mumford Dam




path woods golden november at the dam


23 September 2015: SUMMER’S HARVEST

It’s Frisbee Wednesday again. Late September. And today is the Autumnal Equinox, when the length of the day and night is the same. At least it is almost the same. Actually, it is never exactly the same, but today it is as close as it will get this season. From this day on and for three lovely months, it’s Fall.

So what did we do on our summer vacation?


First, we went to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the birthplace of America’s first best-selling author, James Fenimore Cooper.

The museum wasn’t quite the heartwarming experience we expected. This was my third visit and Garry’s second, so we thought we knew what to expect. We wuz wrong.


Someone decided the museum needed to be redesigned. A fine example of fixing something that wasn’t broke. Garry will have more to say on the subject, so I will merely say that I liked it a lot better before.


Of course, Cooperstown isn’t just about baseball. It’s about souvenir shops and tee shirts. Old baseball cards and signed bats. It has become (it was not always) a classic tourist town. It could be Edgartown, Carmel, or Gettysburg (minus the graveyards and zombies). It’s a certain “look” one gets to recognize.

72-Garry-Baseball-HOF-new_074If you have seen one tourist mecca, you will always recognize one. Not a bad thing. Such towns are always quaint, neat, clean, and customer service oriented. No surprises — good or bad — lurk in a tourist town.

Outside of town, it’s all about farms. Fields of hay, barley, and oats. Cows. Harvest time in the rolling foothills of the Adirondacks. We took pictures. You knew that, right?


We found a beaver dam, complete with ducks. And the occasional beaver.


Logic said we should go from Cooperstown to Peacham, Vermont … the next stop on our journey. Except it’s the punchline to a joke. You know, the one where you ask the old farmer how to get somewhere in New England. He stops, thinks a long time, then says: “You can’t get theah from heah.”


The roads in the north land … New England, upstate New York … all points north of Massachusetts? The major roads — anything that isn’t just two lanes, one in each direction — travel north-south. Local roads go every which way. Which means if you want to travel more or less northeast, it’s not such a long drive in miles, but it’s at least seven to eight hours driving on local roads.

72-Lake Otsego_14

We did that last October when we drove 10 hours from Jackman to Peacham. It was gorgeous. The mountains, the glowing trees. Endless twisting roads. Very slow drivers. Old pickup trucks. Weaving cars. Maddening.

The idea of repeating this was enough to make poor Garry froth at the mouth. It was as quick to go home for the night, then drive to Vermont the following morning.

So, that’s what we did. Went home. Then drove to Vermont, which was every bit as beautiful this year as last.


The first day, they came and harvested the corn.


From first light to late shadows, it was surpassingly lovely. There may be other places on earth as beautiful, but none more so.


Long shadows as the evening draws on.


And then, suddenly, too soon … it was time to go home. Reality. Ouch. Don’t you hate when that happens?


We got back from Vermont and Cooperstown the day before yesterday. The leaves look just like they did when we left, as if everything just stopped and waited for us.

Should you decide to accept “the challenge,” you may use any picture — and this week, you have some great choices — or use one of your own pictures. Write something about the picture or make something up using a picture as your jumping off point.

I maintain this is the easiest prompt in the world.

Happy Autumn to you all!



Long shadows across the grass. Evening is beginning earlier and it seems very sudden. The leaves are mostly not changing yet up here.


Color will come late this year. Hard to know how Autumn will be. So many factors. We need just the right amount of rain and a cold snap with chilly night and cool days.


The last two fall seasons were glorious, but before then, we had a series of washouts with lots of hurricanes coming up the coast and dropping tons of rain and blowing the leaves right off the trees.


This year, the problem down our way is not enough rain plus continuing summery temperatures.


We’ll have to wait and see. When change comes, it comes in a big hurry.



Monthly Photo Challenge: The Changing Seasons 09 – Harvest


Fall does not officially begin until the Wednesday, September 23, the first day of Autumn. That’s the day of the Autumnal Equinox, when days and night are of equal length.


Locally in central Massachusetts, the leaves began turning before August was done, leaving the beginning of September to feel like summer, with temperatures in the nineties and high humidity … while big swathes of the woods are bright yellow.


Full Autumn in New England does not visually arrive until early to mid-October. As we drove into upstate New York, it was obvious that the trees had not changed yet, but were thinking about it.


Two days later, Autumn is rushing in, surrounding golden fields full of corn and barley. Goldenrod and purple asters are everywhere.


So our early changing leaves must be from lack of rain. We had no rain in August, not one measurable rainfall.


About half of the gallery photos were all near my house during the first week of September when the aspens had just turned bright yellow. The rest of the photographs were taken today (September 15th) in and around Cooperstown, New York in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

If you live in this region, you know that the color of the leaves changes from month to month — from light golden green in the spring, to the deep green of late summer.


The big water is Lake Otsego, “Glimmerglass” of James Fenimore Cooper. The place in which we are staying is on the shore of the lake.


Cardinal Guzman, the host of this challenge, has totally blown us away with his own galleries this month. Absolutely, go take a look. Amazing photography.