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Appalachia journal, Winter Spring 2016
Back on the Ramsey Trail: The Boys Are There - with the boys

I first climbed the Ramsey Trail in central New Hampshire with my three big brothers—Bob, Steve, and John—in the mid-1960s, when my family vacationed at a camp on Squam Lake. I followed the boys up this trail that took the direct route up the small but formidable 1,260-foot rock face of Rattlesnake Mountain. The boys could reach the top in fifteen minutes going on the Ramsey, and I tried to go as fast as they did but never succeeded.

Last June, I stepped back onto the trail that the reckless Ramsey of long ago had blazed. Now I hesitated. The...

Connecticut Woodlands magazine, Summer 2015
Helen Binney Kitchel - Helen Binney Kitchel 1970s clipping

Champion of nature

A few years ago, Greenwich local history librarian Carl White called Helen Binney Kitchel “the Rachel Carson of Greenwich, Connecticut.” The two women were very different but similar in a basic sense. Both were New England natives who feared that civilization was damaging the natural world.

Ms. Carson was a marine biologist who wrote lyrical books about the sea. Her magnum opus, Silent Spring (Houghton Mifflin), appeared in 1962. She changed public attitudes about chemicals. The opening of that book starts with an ideal...

Appalachia journal, Summer/Fall 2014
Four Quartets and Eight Legs - WOODSIDE_79_Caratunk ME_scaled

Rituals fortify an Appalachian Trail trek

The thin paperback's cover bent back. My friend Phil held it up above his head in his left hand and tipped the page toward the beam of his tiny flashlight. He lay on his back next to his wife, Cay, on the dirty wooden floor of the open-fronted shelter. Three of us stared up into the dark rafters, listening, as Phil read “Burnt Norton,” the first part of T. S. Eliot’s work, Four Quartets. “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future.”

I lay on a flimsy...

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