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New Research on Loneliness

December 9th, 2010

I recently published an article in AARP magazine on chronic loneliness.  Their new national  survey shows that more than one-third of Americans aged 45 and older have pervasive feelings of loneliness that have been with them for more than a year.  Whether or not you qualify as lonely depends on who highly you score on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a  20-question test devised by a professor there named Dan Russell.  Prof. Russell wishes you would not just haul off and take this test without doing some background reading, though, because he thinks the results only make sense when they’re viewed in conjunction with the large and growing body of academic research on loneliness.  So if you take the test, or even if you don’t but you’re still interested in the subject, please follow up by reading a book by  John Cacioppo and Dan Patrick called Loneliness.  Cacioppo is a neuroscientist, Patrick is a science writer, and together they have produced a great overview.  They describe what loneliness is, how the cycle of chronic  loneliness gets started and gets worse, and how to get out of it.

The AARP survey also found that the proportion of adults who are chronically lonely has  risen a lot in the last decade.  This makes sense, if you think about it.  Social isolation often follows unemployment, of course, but it is also a danger when you’re working so  hard that you don’t have time for a social life. Those two categories describe a whole lot of working-age Americans. You might think that loneliness is only a problem among people who live alone, but it isn’t so, We found a lot of lonely married people, too.   Loneliness is a state of mind, so it isn’t restricted to any demographic category.

Easter Bread the Big Lydia Way

March 27th, 2010

My mother-in-law, Lydia Werbizky of Vestal, NY, learned to make Kulich in Kiev in the 1930s.  Kulich is a sweet twice-risen bread that is the centerpiece of the Easter feast in Orthodox Christian households; Lydia, 85, is a founding member of a small Russian Orthodox congregation in Endicott, NY.  Tania and I visited her recently to learn the fine points.  At the end of the process, while Lydia was rolling the cylindrical loaves back and forth to keep the insides from becoming, gooey, she discovered she had made a small mistake on one of them.  She said a Russian proverb which translates as, “Live a century, learn as long as a century.”

6 to 7 cups unbleached flour
4 packages “rapid rise” dry yeast
Grated peel of two lemons
3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar
3 packs vanilla sugar
8 egg yolks and 1 whole egg at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter
1-1/4 to 1- 1/2 cup milk at room temperature,  (lower humidity = more milk)
1/4 tsp. salt (if butter is unsalted)

Mix flour and yeast; set aside.  Don’t be afraid to put in a lot of yeast.

Add lemon zest and sugars to eggs; beat in small bowl until stiff and whitish.  Don’t put in too much sugar, it makes the dough too heavy.

Add melted butter and milk to egg/sugar mixture.  Take care not to put in too much butter, which also makes the dough heavy.

Use some of the milk to clean lemon zest off the grater. Also use some of the milk to pour into the eggs to help get the stiff batter off the beaters.

Put dough hook on Kitchenaid or other large mixer.  Put wet ingredients into its bowl.  Add the flour/yeast mixture a little at a time.  Mix for several minutes – first on low, then high speed.  Dough should come off the sides of the bowl but not become too stiff.  Add more milk if it’s too stiff.  Mix until it is the consistency of bread dough before kneading (ie, soft).  If it’s too thin, add flour.

Scrape sides of bowl and turn dough out onto lightly floured board.  Shape the dough but don’t knead it.  It should have a light consistency.  Lightly flour the bowl and put the dough back into it.  Let rise 1 to 2 hours until doubled.  Don’t let it rise too long or it will become sour.

Cut risen dough into quarters.  Put each quarter in a Kulich form in such a way that the dough’s surface on top is smooth (tuck folds underneath). A Kulich form can be made from a large tin can (such as a 32 oz. juice can) that has had the top cut off.  Put a layer of tinfoil around the outside of the can on the bottom. Line the inside of the can with parchment to keep it from sticking: one layer of parchment on the side, three layerson the bottom. Raisins can be added to the dough at this point if desired (although the traditional Kulich does not have raisins).  Let rise again until doubled in size, then bake at 275 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes. It will continue to rise as it bakes. To test for doneness, tap the top of the loaf; when it’s done, it will sound hollow.

 (above) How the dough looks after first rising; finished loaves coming out of the oven

After removing the loaves from their forms, roll them one-quarter turn every five minutes as they cool. This keeps the inside from becoing gooey.  When they’re cool, put white icing on the top and spell out “XB,” for “He is Risen,” with raisins or squeeze icing.

In Orthodox Pasha (Easter) service, one Kulich is designated as the “Artos,”  or “consecrated bread.”  This one must not have frosting or raisins.  After the Easter service it sits inside the opened altar for a week. It is consumed the Sunday after Easter.

Happy Easter to everybody!

Le Figaro Deep Springs Article Translated (badly)

February 28th, 2009

On January 19, 2009, the French publication Le Figaro published an article about Deep Springs College.  I ran it through the Froogle automatic translator to turn it into English.  Here’s the result: pretty funny, I think.  My favorite line: “Hence the two basic rules, never called into question since 1917: prohibition of alcohol and mixed impossible.”


This institution is most unlikely that is, mid-mid-school ranch. Located in the desert in California, Deep Springs College hosts the best students in the country. Students in the morning, cowboys in the afternoon, they will be tomorrow at Harvard or Oxford.

For six hours we have left Los Angeles and its skyscrapers. Along the Death Valley and the Sierra Nevada. In fact full of dusty towns qu’ennuyeuses all. A pass to cross in the mountains peeled, and we débouchons on a geological depression in eastern California, nestled at 1 600 meters, as large as the bowl of Dien Bien Phu, but the hair … and more calm.

Here, 50 kilometers from the first village a little human, that is Deep Springs College, “one of the most selective colleges and most innovative in the world” (The New York Times says). A venerable institution that recently celebrated its 91 spring. And that looks more like a ranch than a school. Aged 17 to 23 years, his twenty-six students, long hair and beards drues, filthy overalls and Timberland feet, going about their occupations, that repairing a fence, which includes cows. For it is one of the features of the facility: the day begins at 4 h 30; study work in the morning and the afternoon (minimum of twenty hours per week, depending on the tasks carried out). Three times a day, 6 to 30 h, 12 h 30 h 30 and 18, a bell invites them to the canteen for a snack robori, but diet, mitonnée students affected by the cooking.

On the tables, not Coca-Cola, but the milk (of cows) or water (from source). No burgers, but my vegetables (garden) and steak house (ultimate delivery of cattle and calves, reared and slaughtered by the students). No television (banned), but books lying around everywhere, Thus Spake Zarathustra Nietzsche côtoie The Banquet of Plato or the works of Jane Austen. The anti-American in appearance. It pinched: was the starry banner which floats in the courtyard, it’s like being in a phalanstery Fourierist or one of Icari Etienne Cabet these collectivist and socialist utopias of the nineteenth century. Women less: to Deep Springs, it accepts only men.

David Neidorf, the president of the college, we illico mistake: “This is not a socialist experiment. Nothing to do with communities of 60 years or the new left. Moreover, Deep Springs was founded much earlier. “In 1917, exactly. “A year that saw the birth of two utopias jokes David Neidorf: Communism and our college. Only the latter survived. “Surely the inventor of this unique educational, Lucien L. Nunn (1853-1925), was not exactly a Bolshevik. On the contrary. An icon of the conquest of the West.

The idea of a self-made man, the icon of the West

This is in Colorado that has built its fortune in the years 1880-1890: in turn minor, then a banker, he finally hit the jackpot by building hydroelectric power stations (including Niagara) and demonstrating that the current alternative could be transported via son over long distances in the West.

At its businesses, the self-made man realized that he needed young men, intellectually operational (engineers, if possible), but also capable of physically and morally spartan living conditions. The pioneering spirit. One day, he sold his assets, toured America, sank into the desert and bought the field of Deep Springs.

The isolation of the scene was the main advantage. Convinced that “the desert has a voice” (leading to wisdom), he wanted his future elite is formed far from the miasma of the city and its corrosive temptations.

Hence the two basic rules, never called into question since 1917: prohibition of alcohol and mixed impossible.

The three “pillars” of the school, the foundations of philosophy nunnienne have not changed: quality education, labor and self-management. Just a list of past courses conducted by three professors surdiplômés (in social and political sciences, humanities, mathematics and science) and the shelves of the library (25 000 volumes) to understand that cancres are not welcome. A laboratory intellectuals. On étudie jumble Herodotus, Heidegger, the Copernican revolution or linear algebra. At the end of their course of two years (with a single vacation - three weeks - in the middle), these bright subjects incorporate best universities: Harvard, Chicago, Columbia, Stanford or Oxford in Great Britain. It is no coincidence that a survey has classified Deep Springs in the third rank of American excellence, behind Princeton and Yale.

But, according to the students, there is not the major attraction of Deep Springs. The “more” is the manual work. Every two or four months, it gives them a job: caring for 10 horses and 300 head of cattle, fields of alfalfa, the garden of the Fleet (a dozen pick-up truck and that old they have), supply (a journey “in town” per week), catering (kitchen, service, cleaning). Sam Allen, 20-year-old from Massachusetts, who milked the cows every morning at 4 am 30, summarizes the general opinion: “It’s unique, very rewarding. Six months ago, I was responsible for the slaughter and rendering of animals. Tomorrow, I’ll be a cowboy and I’ll take care of a calf is born. And everything we do is useful. Deep Springs to live. That is why the studies are free, which is rare in the USA (annual cost estimated at $ 50 000, ed). ”

Last but not least, the self-preparation by students. The President told us his role is essentially to manage the college (funded by donations from alumni and foundations). For the rest, everything is decided by the students, who meet weekly to discuss and vote. A kind of agora where everything is discussed and adopted at the majority of the possibility of having a pet in the recruitment of teachers and students (200 candidates each year, selected on 40 records and written tests, 12 selected after a course of three days on site), through the choice of programs.

Surprising? Certainly. But do not repeat to anyone, because Deep Springs College do not like advertising.

The South Grows Green & Edmondson Farm

December 9th, 2008

My grandfather, George Mountain Edmondson Jr., invited a film crew from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to his farm in Culpeper, VA in 1947.  Images of my grandfather and father made it past the final cut. My uncle John remembered the film to me earlier this year, so I tracked it down at the National Archives and had a copy made.  I found a big-budget production with two clips that everyone agrees on, and two more clips that might or might not show Edmondsons.  I have put them all here so you can make up your own minds and discuss this among yourselves.

Although Grandpa ran a small farm in northern Virginia, his father was a prominent photographer in Cleveland. The photographer sent Junior to Cornell University in 1921, but he didn’t stay.  When the Depression hit, grandpa and grandma had three boys and two girls to feed. Jobs were hard to find, so he bought the farm to ensure a safe place to raise his family. But Grandpa was a scholar, too. He studied agricultural techniques. He was devoted to improving land, and he was active in the local Republican Party. These two things might explain his involvement in the Culpeper Soil Conservation District.

Traditional agricultural methods had been hard on Southern soil. Putting in a tobacco or cotton crop several years in a row depletes soil nutrients, and the longer you keep doing it, the worse the soil gets.  Plowing and planting a hillside causes severe soil erosion if you don’t do it right, and many farmers messed this up, too.  Thousands of southern farmers were failing because their land had been played out. Their children were moving away because there were no jobs, and there were no jobs because no one had told the farmers a few simple techniques that could preserve and enhance the value of their land.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service was a New Deal program that sent agents to teach farmers these tricks. Soil Conservation Districts were the local coordinating boards for the USDA.  My grandfather was active on his local board, and this is how the USDA learned that his farm used contour plowing and other techniques they wanted to talk about in their educational film.

“The South Grows Green” was released in 1948. It is charming, corny, and hopelessly dated. Its message could easily be covered in a short pamphlet:  cover crops, contour plowing, crop rotation, and diversification can boost a small farm’s productivity.  But a lot of southern farmers back then didn’t read pamphlets.  The film was an organizing tool.  It was made for small groups to see in rural meeting halls, so it also had to be a show.

The film is about 45 minutes long, in two reels. It opens with an expensive dolly shot, and the first several minutes are devoted to a goofy travelogue celebrating the south. There are scenes of the shopping districts of downtown Dallas and Knoxville, which must have been thrilling to a farm wife who didn’t often get further than the general store. There are several shots of attractive young women, some of them wearing bathing suits, which have nothing to do with soil conservation but were almost certainly thrilling to the farmers. And there is a cringe-worthy scene of a black “mammy” serving fried chicken and cornbread to a scrubbed-up white family in the dining room of an old plantation house. Sixty years ago, nobody gave that one a second thought.

About nine minutes into the movie, the booming “Voice of God” narrator starts talking about Soil Conservation Districts, and my grandfather makes his first appearance. The men of the Culpeper District are shown at the edge of a field, discussing and evaluating. My grandfather, the guy with wire-rimmed glasses and brown hair, is shown briefly, squatting, talking, and pointing. He’s taking charge, as usual.

A few minutes later, the narrator is talking about how smart it is to plant lespedesia, a form of clover, in fields that aren’t being used for crops. This is where my father, Tom Edmondson, makes his first appearance. He is 18 years old, and he is helping a conveyor belt deliver bales of clover hay into the loft of the Edmondson barn.

Edmondson Farm was considered an example back then because the Federal government was encouraging farmers to grow lots of different things and reduce their impact on the land. Today things couldn’t be more different: the USDA has spent decades promoting monoculture, fertilizer, pesticides, and federal subsidies. Meanwhile, local markets in many places have returned to the 1940s by rewarding small, diversified, low-impact operations that sell direct to consumers. Today it’s called “sustainability.”

When I saw this movie, I saw two more clips that I thought showed Culpeper and the Edmondsons. One of them happens during a segment on managing woodlots. It seemed to me that the broad-bottomed man walking into the woodlot was my grandfather, and the guy watching a core sample being removed from a tree is my father. When I showed this to my dad and Uncle John, however, they said this could not be because they did not have a woodlot. My dad also said that the young man in the woodlot is not the same young man who’s loading hay. He does not remember anything about the filming, however. So what do you think? Is this another shot of the 18-year-old Tom Edmondson, and do you remember Grandpa’s rambling gait the same way I do?

Unfortunately, my uncles (Bill and John), aunts (Liz and Alice), and grandmother (Mary Elizabeth) are not in the film. But I think there is one more shot of my grandfather. My father and uncle say that the dairy farm shown in the following clip is not theirs, and that the man hanging up a pail of milk is not their father. I think it’s the same guy who was squatting in the field and walking into the woodlot. What do you think?

For me, the most poignant moment in “The South Grows Green” comes at the end. The announcer says, “When Northern farms are still covered with snow, livestock are filling out on Southern pastures.” My grandfather paid attention. By the time this film was released, the Edmondsons had left Culpeper and moved to another farm in Nokomis, a rural outpost in the southern part of Sarasota County, Florida. My grandfather’s Florida pastures had been cleared just 25 years before he arrived. He moved the family into a small house that was covered with tarpaper. The first thing he did was dig a drainage ditch to control flooding, and his children remember being frightened by things howling in the marsh on pitch-dark nights. Edmondson Farm in Nokomis was a lot closer to the raw frontier than it was to the mansions of Cleveland. But Grandpa proved his homestead, and he also moved back into his old role as a community leader as Sarasota County’s postwar boom began. He even served a term in the Florida State Legislature.

My grandfather is 44 years old in these images. He was 56 when I was born in 1959. When he died in 1973, he was 69 and I had just turned 13. In my first-hand memories, grandpa is a jolly old man who has a bad hip and back pain. He smokes Pall Mall cigarettes and has heart disease, but he hides this from the grandkids. His health is fading as my childhood memories become clearer. “The South Grows Green” is a wonderful gift because it shows me Grandpa in his prime, working with his neighbors to make a better world. Thanks to Uncle John for remembering the film crew and setting me off to find the footage, and Merry Christmas to all the Edmondsons.


The Big Bike Ride Blog & Book

December 8th, 2008

Between August 12 and October 22, I joined my friends Jim and Sara Kersting on a bicycle trip across the United States.  We had a blast and raised $39,000 for the Finger Lakes Land Trust, a group Jim and I have served for many years.  We met a lot of interesting people, too.   I kept a blog during the ride, and if you want to know more about what happened to us on the road, it is the place to go.  If you’re really interested, you might also like to know that I turned the blog into a book that is available for purchase.  Search for “Coast to Coast for Conservation” to find it.  All of the proceeds will go to the Land Trust.

A Real Cowboy Bathtub

November 7th, 2007

This happy guy used to be in Beatty, Nevada, about 90 miles north of Las Vegas on U.S. 95. He was jumping for joy because there were natural hot pools for rent at the campground. The sign is gone and the campground is for sale, but the hot tubs are still for rent at $5 per pair of buttocks as of June 2009.  They aren’t fancy (cinderblock walls and a tin roof) but they aren’t chlorinated, either. If you’ve been sleeping out in some dry canyon somewhere and are covered with fine wind-blown grit, you can buy a nice hot soak and a towel here, then head into town for some steak and eggs at the Exchange Club. Now that’s livin’.

World More Urban Than Rural

May 25th, 2007

The world passed a big demographic milestone this week. On Wednesday, May 23, the earth’s population became more urban than rural. From now on, the average human will live in a city instead of a farm or village.

While the date is symbolic, the trend couldn’t be more important. Sociologist Ron Wimberly at North Carolina State University and two colleagues began with United Nations estimates predicting that the world will be 51.3 percent urban by 2010. They calculated the average daily rural and urban populations from 2005 to 2010 and the tipping point came last Wednesday, when an estimated 3,303,992,253 people lived in urban areas and 3,303,866,404 lived in rural areas.

This transition happened in the United States between 1910 and 1920. Our growth since then has been almost completely urban. Between 1950 and 2000, U.S. cities gained 127 million people, while rural areas gained just 4 million.

The lesson in all of this is interdependence. In the US and around the world, small towns and open spaces provide cities with clean air, water, food, and other natural resources. In return they get urban garbage, air and water pollution, and have higher rates of poverty. “Cities must depend on rural resources,” said Wimberly. “The question is, what can the urban majority do for poor rural people and the resources upon which cities depend for existence?”

If all of this makes your head hurt and you just want to get out into the country to think it over, the majority of the U.S. population is still rural in Vermont, Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

Chuck’s Online Bargain Bonanza

May 21st, 2007

Chuck Woodbury is a good travel companion for people who like small towns and freebies. He was a blogger ten years before blogs were invented, and his web sites are loaded with local insider information. If you prefer two-lane highways to Interstates, you’re one of his people.

Twenty years ago, Chuck sold a small business in Sacramento and used the cash to buy an 18-foot motor home and some early desktop publishing equipment, plus a laptop that could run on batteries. He loaded the camper with the tech gear and several large boxes of Cheez-Its, filled the gas tank and his travel mug, and the quarterly newspaper Out West was born. For the next 13 years, Woodbury drove on the roughest roads his rig could handle to the smallest towns he could find. He wrote about potato ice cream, a popular dessert in Idaho Falls, ID; a general store in Ferndale, CA that still stocked items it carried 98 years ago; and the early years of Laughlin, NV, a low-rent Las Vegas where the average age of visitors is 57. He also wrote a lot of funny, engaging columns about pit toilets, aggressive chipmunks, and the things that go through a person’s mind when he’s spending the night alone in the emptiest part of the continent. Subscriptions were $5. He never made much money, but by the time he retired the camper in 2000, he had produced a lot of good writing and made a lot of friends. You can see some of his favorite columns at the website

Chuck is still looking for humor, inspiration, and bargains in out-of-the-way places, but now he’s delivering the information through several web sites. His biggest is, which mostly contains practical information on such topics as how to keep a portable toilet smelling fresh. But the site also contains new dispatches in the Out West tradition, such as a campground in Sutherlin, OR that offers free drive-in movies. My favorite Woodbury effort is, which is built and maintained by users. As the title implies, it’s a list of about 1900 places across the U.S. where you can sleep for free, with updated reviews. Most of the places are parking lots of the Wal-Mart variety, but some are really intriguing – such as a free campground run by Canon City, CO that gives you a half price ticket to the Royal Gorge Bridge, and a free 23-hour parking area one mile from the ultra-exclusive beach in East Hampton, NY. The parking lot next to the beach is for village residents only, but the beach itself is public and the walk will do you good.

Gas at $4, RV In Driveway?

May 16th, 2007

Energy analysts are arguing over whether or not gasoline will reach $4 a gallon this summer. The industry association for gas-guzzling recreational vehicles says that most Americans who own RVs plan to take them out more often this summer than they did in 2006, no matter the cost. But an small independent publication for land yacht owners came up with a different result, and the official forecast for the travel industry agrees with the little guy.

Much depends on who turns out to be right. About 330 million “person trips” will happen in the U.S. in June, July, and August of this year. A person trip is one person traveling 50 miles or more, and a big chunk of the economy depends on what the overall number turns out to be.

On May 3, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association reported that 76 percent of RV owners intend to use their rigs more often this spring and summer than they did last year. Only 4 percent said they were planning to go out less, and 20 percent said there would be no change. About half said that higher fuel prices would affect their plans, either by staying closer to home or staying longer in one place. The findings were based on a regular survey with 479 respondents, and a margin of error rate of 4 percent either way.

“I don’t see how they can say that,” says Chuck Woodbury, editor and publisher of and related sites that attract about 750,000 visitors a month. Shortly after the poll appeared, Woodbury asked his readers how $4 a gallon fuel would affect their travels. About 3,700 responded, and three quarters said they would cut back on their driving. Only one-quarter said it would have no effect.

This week, Woodbury asked the exact question the RVIA had asked to get a better comparison. With about 1,200 respondents, 42 percent say their travel will be about the same, 30 percent plan to travel less, and 28 percent plan to travel more. “It’s just common sense. I don’t see how people can just keep paying whatever,” he says. Filling a 75 gallon tank at $3.50 a gallon costs $262.50, and at 12 MPG that tank takes you about 900 miles. It isn’t as much as a plane ticket and a motel, but it’s getting close.

The big dogs listen to the Travel Industry Association, which surveys 60,000 traveling households a year and maintains an error margin of 0.4 percent. TIA’s research director, Suzanne Cook, predicted this morning that summer travel in 2007 would be 1.4 percent higher than it was in 2006, because most people still have enough money to pay the higher fuel cost. However, she added that things could change dramatically if gas goes above $3.50 a gallon. One-third of those surveyed said they would cancel their trip if the national average price for gas reaches that point. About ten percent said they’re changing their summer plans at $3 a gallon.

“People who to take their RVs out are going to be staying closer to home this year,” predicts Woodbury. That might be good news for 19th century resort towns like Lake Geneva, WI, about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. But if you’re visiting Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada, more than 200 miles from either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, you’ll probably find things especially desolate this year.

Pandemonium On the Hudson

May 14th, 2007

Spring is busting out all over New York’s Hudson River this week. Trees are leafing, wildflowers are blooming despite the mostly dry weather, and lilacs scent the air. Sit on the riverbank for a half-hour and you might hear the calls of rose-breasted grosbeaks, wood thrushes, northern orioles, and scarlet tanagers. This is also the time when newly hatched eagle and falcon nestlings get their first taste of river fish, delivered to their tree-top nests by attentive parents.
Peregrine falcon and nestlings

Shad, herring, striped bass, and Atlantic sturgeon are coursing up the Hudson by the millions this week, each seeking its preferred spawning habitat. The fish become fast food for ospreys that float over the water surface until they spot the silver flash of scales, then dive-bomb their way to a meal. The water travelers include blueback herring, which swim all the way up to Albany, turn left at the Erie Canal, change lanes into the Mohawk River, and continue nearly to Rochester before they spawn — an inland journey of more than 300 miles. Lower down, you can still find a few aquatic monsters. Atlantic sturgeon can grow to ten feet or more and weigh more than 400 pounds. They are now coming in from the sea to their spawning grounds in the deep water above the Hudson Highlands. For reasons unknown, these strange fish occasionally leap clear of the water and then reenter with a monumental splash.

Commercial shad fishing on the Hudson peaks and concludes in May as the fish make a 150-mile run from New York Harbor to above Albany. Shad eggs are hatching on the river spawning grounds north of Kingston, and the lucky adults who evade a gauntlet of hooks, nets, teeth, and talons will return to the sea. Some of the less lucky ones become the property of the Hudson River Foundation, which has been sponsoring public shad bakes along the estuary for nearly 20 years. They’re having one this Sunday, May 20 at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. For more information, check the Foundation’s web site or call (914)739-3222. And if you want regular correspondence from a careful observer of the river, check out Tom Lake’s Hudson River Almanac, from which this post is adapted.