Photo: Skating on a Frozen River

This photo was taken December 19. It shows people ice skating, and an ice fishing shelter, on the West river just before it enters the Connecticut river in Brattleboro. Skating conditions were especially good because of the absence of snow, and weather forecasters were predicting more good skating weather. To reach this spot from the Brattleboro town common, take Route 30 for about half a mile. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full-size image.” photo by Eesha Williams

Photo: Goldfinch Near Brattleboro

This photo was taken on August 15 in Dummerston, Vermont, near Brattleboro. It shows three goldfinches. In autumn, male goldfinches shed their bright yellow feathers and become drab like the female. Females build nests in trees. The nests are woven so tightly that they will hold water.

One goldfinch that was banded in Ontario, Canada was found in Louisiana. The vast majority of the food eaten by American Goldfinches is grain. They eat large numbers of weed seeds, which helps vegetable farmers.

Photos: Birds and Dragonflies

These photos were taken on July 11 at a lake near Brattleboro. By the numbers: one dragonfly can eat 300 mosquitoes per day. If you don't see any dragonflies on a lake or river, the water is probably polluted. This lake is full of them, which means it's clean. Loons can stay under water for five minutes and fly 75 miles per hour. Loons can be 30 years old.

Loons are mostly solitary birds. But they sometimes gather for short periods in small groups of up to 20 birds in late summer and fall, and loons are sometimes seen in groups in the ocean, where they spend the winter.

Photos: At Work at the Dump and Fixing a Stone Bridge

These photos were taken on July 12. They show workers at the dump in Brattleboro, and fixing a stone bridge on Tucker Reed Road in Dummerston, Vermont. Town road chief Lee Chamberlin said the bridge will re-open on July 20. photos by Eesha Williams

People Power Defeats Plan to Narrow Brattleboro's Downtown Sidewalks

Brattleboro residents defeated a plan by the administration of lame duck Republican governor Jim Douglas and lieutenant-governor Brian Dubie – the Republican who wants to be elected governor in November – that would have narrowed already-narrow sidewalks in downtown Brattleboro. The goal was to make cars, trucks, and SUVs drive faster through the world-famous, historic downtown on the shore of the Connecticut river. Dubie-Douglas also wanted to cut down trees on Main Street.

Natalie Merchant Will Sing in Northampton on July 13

Natalie Merchant, probably the world’s best female singer, will sing in Northampton on July 13. It will be her first concert in the Valley in at least a decade. Her lyrics, and the music on her albums, are often – but not always – excellent. But Merchant’s concerts are always great, thanks to her incomparable voice.

In the song “Motherland," Merchant sings:

Where in hell can you go
Far from the things that you know
Far from the sprawl of concrete
That keeps crawling its way
About 1,000 miles a day?

In Danger: Giant Park Near Keene, Brattleboro

Pisgah State Park, with thousands of acres, is the biggest state park in New Hampshire. It is in the town of Hinsdale, and two other towns. Hinsdale is directly across the river from Brattleboro. The following article was written by Jeffrey Scott and Marti Hobbes of the group Defenders of Pisgah. It was posted on a bulletin board at one of the entrances to the park on June 27. The only contact info provided for the group was:

P.O. Box 31
Spofford, NH 03462

Photo: Climate Activists Camp on Amherst Town Common

Dozens of activists spent the night in tents on the Amherst town common June 23 - 24 to call for action on global warming. The event was organized by The Leadership Campaign www.TheLeadershipCampaign.org photo by Mino Caulton

Photo: Dogwood Flower in Rain

After months of virtually no rain in Brattleboro, on June 6 about an inch of rain fell. About four inches of rain per month is average in the Valley. Farmers celebrated and a dogwood tree blossomed near Brattleboro.

According to the book "Trees and Bushes in Wood and Hedgerow" by Vedel and Lange, dogwoods were first called dagwoods. Their hard wood is good for making daggers.

photo by Eesha Williams

Photos: Northampton Street Life

These two photos were taken on June 3 in downtown Northampton. Workers used a chemical solvent to wipe away graffiti that read, "You can't silence art." And a sign at the entrance to a parking garage proclaimed that Northampton's women and coffee are both strong. Northampton's mayor is a woman, and the city is home to Smith College, a famous women-only college.