Bliss Carman - Canadian Poet Laureate - Lived and died in New Canaan - his poem "Fireflies"

A poem written by Bliss Carman while living in New Canaan around 1915. 


THE fireflies across the dusk
Are flashing signals through the gloom—
Courageous messengers of light
That dare immensities of doom.
About the seeding meadow-grass,
Like busy watchmen in the street,
They come and go, they turn and pass,
Lighting the way for Beauty's feet

Or up they float on viewless wings
To twinkle high among the trees,
And rival with soft glimmerings
The shining of the Pleiades.
The stars that wheel above the hill
Are not more wonderful to see,
Nor the great tasks that they fulfil
More needed in eternity.

April Airs : A Book of New England Lyrics
Bliss Carman

Boston, Mass: Snall, Maynard and Company, 1920

Fireflies, 9:30 PM at the Firefly Sanctuary, 524 Smith Ridge

Land Trusters,
Bill McDonald did indeed host a firefly visit last night. We were three adults, one current high-school steward (John), one former steward (Justin), three college girls, and 3 college boys made 11 people stepping lightly in the not-so-dark woods and meadow. 

Mars, Jupiter, Saturn all came out for us. The afternoon rains made for a spooky fog over the meadow, and the full moon sent the fireflies seeking darker tree cover. As the firefly mating season winds down the cricket and frog season gets underway. 

We learned that of the thousands of species of fireflies we have about 17 in these meadows and traveling the firefly highway in between. 

We learned about the importance of clean water, sprung from a subterranean aquifer that Bill says produces 2 million gallons per year down this side of the ridge. 

We learned that the (pregnant) females are close to the ground and the males are up in the trees, synchronous pulsing in groups. 

We learned about a species of female firefly that pretends to be somebody else, lures in the males if a different species, grabs on to them and eats their heads off. 

John Engel

On Jul 14, 2016, at 4:54 PM, Mike Johnson wrote:

Hello Everyone,

It was very kind of Bill McDonald to show us around his expansive wildflower meadow this afternoon. He has generously offered to guide folks this evening (Thursday) at 9:30 pm to the best spot for viewing the magnificent display of several thousand fireflies flitting about through his firefly highway.

They won't be around all summer, and I would hate for anyone to miss out on this remarkable spectacle. The stewards know the spot, and the clouds should have broken by dusk, just in time for the "lights" to come on.


Mike Johnson

Fwd: Fireflies picture

Hello everyone!

I was at the firefly sanctuary last night with a family friend who is quite a fantastic photographer. He was able to achieve success with the fireflies last night by using a 30 second exposure on his camera to capture the beauty of all the fireflies! Enjoy! Credit to John Owen

Aquarion gets ok to sell 18 acres of vacant land in New Canaan

Skip, Great research. PURA casually overlooked this aspect. When you get down to it, clean water, biodiversity, scenic beauty and an involved citizenry are the key natural resources of our Town. Continuing the conservation effort to preserve this parcel cuts across party lines and is in all our interests. Like Nantucket, we should be leaders in conservation. If we can't accomplish this in New Canaan, what hope is there for the world?
Have a wonderful 4th.
Best, Chris Schipper

On Jul 2, 2016 8:19 AM, "Skip Hobbs" wrote:
Dear Cristina......... and Chris, Susan, Sue, Rob and Cam and Margaret Miner of Rivers Alliance;

PURA has ruled in favor of Aquarion, as Aquarion has made the case that it no longer needs the lands to service its water customers.  The current law only thinks about water supply for "now", although there does appear to be a 50 year plan.

Rob Mallozzi was finally able to get some documentation about the former well field from Aquarion and made copies for me.  Aquarion could not locate any maps of the aquifer ( I know they exist). The wellfield was apparently a fairly robust source of potable water for the New Canaan Water Company. 

"The Weed Street Wellfield consisted of a 12 foot diameter caison well about 30 feet deep and four 8-inch driven wells also about 30 feet deep, all in gravel..  THe driven wells are all equiped with 1.5 hp submersible pumps which discharge into the caisson well. the caisson well had a 25 hp pump and a 40 hp booster pump to the low service distribution system at rates of 338 and 350 gpm, respectfully.  The wellfield produced an average of 184 gallons/minute between 1980-1985. A 1970's court injunction limiting draw-down made use of the field impractical. - Joe Rucci told me that the owners of the Jellif Mill sued the water company for taking so much water out of the Noroton River system that the Jelliff Mill pond level fell below the mill's intake sluice. The wellfield apparently ceased operation in the 1980's and was finally abandoned last year.

There is a substantial aquifer present that could serve as a future source of water for New Canaan - for our grandchildren, when surface water becomes a valuable commodity due to global warming and local drought. Unfortunately, the current laws do not require us to think very far ahead.  PURA and Aquarion did not consider, and do not have to consider under current law, that the 18 acre parcel is in fact a recharge area for the downstream aquifer.


Skip Hobbs
Geologist, Farmer and Conservationist

On Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 10:05 PM, Cristina A Ross wrote:

Hi Skip,

This is devastating, it almost makes me wonder what the "PURA" commission's responsibility truly is and who's interest are they in charge of protecting.
Do you have any idea if thIs is an appealable decision?

I think we should plan to speak at the P&Z hearing, what are your thoughts?
Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend.


Cristina A. Ross, AIA

Aquarion gets ok to sell 18 acres of vacant land

Despite efforts from members of the New Canaan community in the recent months, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) approved the sale of two parcels of Noroton River watershed woodlands totaling 18.74 acres adjacent to Frogtown Road, Welles Lane, West Road and Indian Waters Drive, owned by the Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut, according to its June 29 decision.

"The sale of the land will not adversely affect the provision of water service to the public and is in the public interest," PURA said in its decision.

A PDF version of PURA's final decision is available here.

Aquarion's application to PURA called for about 10 acres to become a subdivision into two residential building lots. The water utility company has an agreement to sell about eight of the acres to Todd and Karen Holson for $1.5 million possibly to be used as a buffer between their Frogtown Road property and the remaining, Aquarion land.

Aquarion Director of Public Relations Peter Fazekas told the Advertiser, "The next steps for that sale would be going to [New Canaan] Planning and Zoning to get the lot line revised. That sale [to Holsons] would close by the third-quarter of this year."

For the remaining land, Fazekas said Aquarion will go to Planning and Zoning with its subdivision plans at some point in July.

For more coverage of this process, CLICK HERE.

Box Turtles and The Firefly Sanctuary on Smith Ridge Road

It's a female box turtle about 40 years old. Very beautiful. Note the heart design above the right leg. Many box turtles don't move more than 500 feet in their lifetimes. We have one that walks up on our lawn from the woods once every ten years. 

Mowing the field in the firefly sanctuary more than once a year, after the first hard frost, would probably kill this one. 

John Engel
203-247-4700  cell/text

Aquarion Ruling Expected Today

Land Trust Gives Thanks for Land (Letter to the Editor, NC Advertiser) March 16, 2016

Dear Members of the New Canaan Land Trust,
The Farmers Almanac has an old weather proverb: Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring. (Well…maybe in another day or two!!)
Here’s a Spring update on the activities of your New Canaan Land Trust.
At year-end 2015 we gratefully received an 8.25-acre gift of diverse woodlands including a section of Poor House Brook off Smith Ridge Road. This followed the mid-summer acquisition of the 4-acre “Firefly Sanctuary” also off of Smith Ridge. These preserves create important wildlife corridors and bring Trust holdings and conservation easements to 380-acres throughout Town.
Last summer six New Canaan High Schoolers participated in our Stewardship Program led by Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (YFES) Graduate Student Shelley Clark. With a continuation grant from the Anderson Family Foundation and support from local business organizations, we are expanding the Stewardship Program in 2016 under the leadership of another YFES Graduate, Michael Johnson. Our goal is to deepen the natural world experience of our youth through land stewardship projects, conservation literature and mentorship.
As Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina “Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
Work continues apace to improve public access from Apple Tree Lane to the 14-acre Livingston-Higley Meadows. Our 2015 Summer Stewards blazed a new trail and a 200 foot raised walkway was built through wetlands. The new entrance project was undertaken with support from the Stuart Higley Foundation.  Public visitation will be possible later this Spring.
Our long term “Gateways of New Canaan” program to reset dry stone walls along scenic Land Trust parcels got a great start thanks to a grant from the New Canaan Community Foundation. Nearly 400 feet of wall was rebuilt along the Colhoun Meadow & Woodlands off Davenport Ridge Road. The 21-acre Land Trust parcel will be ready for public visitation this Summer with a wildflower garden and winding 2-mile trail loop.
Planning is now underway to complete an Irwin Park to Nature Center Greenlink across Land Trust parcels and easements with the help of community resources and an Eagle Scout project. The project scope includes an extensive raised walkway and several small bridges. Envisioned in 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development, this completes a long-held dream of adding walking trails and greenlinks near Town Center.
April will also mark the start of a joint Land Trust and Trust for Public Land campaign to raise funds to acquire the 6.5-acre Jim Fowler Parcel off Silvermine Road, which adjoins the 41-acre Hicks-Audubon Sanctuary. Combined, this would create a 47-acre “Silvermine Sanctuary” that includes the varied wildlife and bird habitat of meadows, woodlands, wetlands and a pond.  More news to come…
In summary, your Land Trust Board is pursuing a policy of building bridges, re-building walls and adding connectivity for citizens and wildlife in our Town.
We recognize that there are many good causes to support, but few in your backyard or just down the road.  Your membership helps us become more proactive advocates for open space in New Canaan, protecting wildlife sanctuaries and the scenic beauty of our Town.
Research shows that people who spend time outside in sunny, green natural spaces tend to be happier and healthier. This Vernal Equinox marks a happy moment to plan a leisurely stroll through the Nancy Watson-Symington Woodlands off Wellesley Drive or the W. Prichard Browne Sanctuary off Valley Road. The Board of Trustees welcomes you to listen to returning songbirds and spring peepers and enjoy your Land Trust.
The Board of the New Canaan Land Trust
Chris Schipper, President
Art Berry, Vice President
Tom Cronin, Treasurer
Julia Portale, Secretary
Haik Kavookjian, Land Steward
Siw De Gysser
John Engel
John Fusek
Sally Hines
Emily Nissley
Carter Norton
Ditte Reifsnyder
Penny Ross

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NC Advertiser: Land Trust Announces New Leadership

Land Trust announces new leadership

The New Canaan Land Trust announces a planned leadership transition from Chris Schipper to Art Berry as incoming president effective June 1, and the recruitment of a new Executive Director, Mike Johnson. Incoming Land Trust President Art Berry, left, Executive Director Mike Johnson and President Emeritus Chris Schipper.
The New Canaan Land Trust has new leadership. Incoming Land Trust President Art Berry, left, Executive Director Mike Johnson and President Emeritus Chris Schipper.
The New Canaan Land Trust announces a planned leadership transition from Chris Schipper to Art Berry as incoming president effective June 1, and the recruitment of a new Executive Director, Mike Johnson.
Outgoing President Chris Schipper stated, “it has been an honor to serve as president of the Land Trust for the past four years. I  have found a strong and longstanding undercurrent of support for land conservation in New Canaan, manifested by the growth in membership and increased acreage under protection.”
Chris will remain on the board of the Land Trust with a focus on open space development.
Berry, a 32-year resident of New Canaan, has been a strong proponent for open space since the 1970s. Having served as Land Trust vice president and treasurer for the past two years, he is well versed in Land Trust management and issues. Going forward, he plans “to focus on preserving more open space, continuing the growth of engagement of New Canaan young people and the improvement of our overall land stewardship.”
Marking an important transition from an all-volunteer organization, the Land Trust board is also pleased to announce that Johnson joins June 6 as executive director following his graduation from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
“I look forward to meeting members and supporters of the Land Trust, engaging with the community, and introducing advanced land stewardship methods to continue and expand upon the tremendous progress made to-date in support of the Land Trust mission,” he said.

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