Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fourteen Miles to New Haven

Today, I finally made good on a promise to my friend Pam at Farmhouse Primitives to publish a photo of an old colonial milepost situated alongside U.S. Route 1 in Stratford, Connecticut.

Back in January, Pam posted an excellent article commemorating Benjamin Franklin's birthday (January 17th, to be precise). With great interest, I read how Francis Lovelace, the second colonial governor of New York, established an early postal trail between New York and Boston, in 1673 (right around the time of construction of the Hawkins house). This trail eventually became known as the Old Boston Post Road, a roadway anyone living in southern Connecticut is generally familiar with.

Pam's article then goes on to describe how, starting in 1753, and at various times up until the Revolution, Benjamin Franklin helped lead the development of a highly efficient and reliable postal system throughout all of the colonies. Franklin was ultimately appointed Post Master General by the Second Continental Congress in 1775, and today, our modern U.S. postal system is generally attributed to Franklin's efforts.

Ben Franklin's "14 Miles to NH" milepost on the Old Boston Post Road, in Stratford, CT

I grew up in Stratford, Connecticut, on the other side of my block from U.S. Route 1, which the Old Boston Post Road is now a part of. While growing up, one of the oddities we encountered every day walking to and from school was this small stone monolith inscribed with "14 Miles to NH" (New Haven), shown in the photo above.

Local history has it that this stone, sitting just a few yards from the curb of Route 1, was a milepost established on the postal trail at some point during Franklin's administration of the continental mail system.

Almost completely forgotten by our local, collective memory, it's amazing that this milepost has sat here for so very long, largely unnoticed and, for the most part, unscathed by time, weather, and nearby development. And as a young lad in grade school, never had I dreamed, of course, that one day I'd be inspired to write so much about this very odd, and very old, stone.

(This article is cross-posted in Joseph and Abigail Hawkins House)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Emerging Acorn Squash and Pole Beans

My squash patch is doing quite well now. Several acorn (winter) squash have started to appear, and it looks like there's many more on the way. By late fall, I am hoping that a reasonable harvest is possible. I do need, however, to now guard against the onslaughts of marauding squirrels, as well as several of my Twitter friends (heh heh know who you are! :-).

Here's one of the growing baby squash. Note that the squash vine has become so long, it's left the boundaries of the garden proper, and is happily invading the lawn:

This particular plant has become so large, I've decided to name it "Audrey", after the notorious, carnivorous house plant in Little Shop of Horrors. "Feed me, I'm hungry," Audrey usually says to me most mornings....

It's hard to believe that all this came from the seeds of a single acorn squash I bought in Stop & Shop last fall for use in our Thanksgiving Day meal. Had I simply discarded the seeds along with the kitchen scraps, none of this would be happening in my garden right now. What a waste that would've been, and a failure for sustainability and the concept of locally grown foods. (No, I am no joking about that...I take these matters rather seriously, in fact).

My pole beans are also proliferating. When my collards from last season bolted and finally died, I collected their seed pods and tied their stalks together to form a natural trellis, and planted three varieties of pole beans around them. This is what is looked like as of this morning:

Of course, it would've been nicer if they were farther along, but I should have plenty of nice long pole beans by the fall. I thought it was a good way, though, to utilize and re-purpose the collard stalks, rather than just simply cutting them down.