December 7, 2022

Archives for July 2022

CT Dept. of Public Health Reports Monkeypox Cases in State Rise to 11, None in Middlesex County to Date

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release issued July 14 by CT DPH and sent to LymeLine by Ledge Light Health District. As of July 17, the number of monkeypox cases in Connecticut has increased to 12 per CDC data 

HARTFORD, Conn.— The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced that a total of 12 Connecticut residents have been diagnosed with monkeypox.

All 11 of these patients are between the ages of 20 and 50, and reside in Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford counties. The majority of these patients have not been hospitalized.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2022 US Map & Case Count includes an updated count of monkeypox cases throughout the country.

Connecticut’s first case was announced on July 5.

“Monkeypox spreads through close prolonged contact with an infected person. This might include coming into contact with skin lesions, or body fluids, sharing clothes or other materials that have been used by an infected person, or inhaling respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD.

She added, “Residents who are concerned about fever, swollen glands, and a new rash, should contact their health care provider.

Diagnostic testing for monkeypox is now available from commercial laboratories, including LabCorpMayo Clinic, and Quest, and providers can order testing from these laboratories as they would order other diagnostic tests. Testing is available through the State Public Health Laboratory, Monday-Friday.

Although anyone can get and spread monkeypox, the current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. For those who have multiple or anonymous sex partners, their likelihood of monkeypox exposure is high.

Due to the state’s current low case count, Connecticut has not received a substantial allotment of the monkeypox vaccine from the federal government at this time. More doses are expected in the coming weeks.  

Vaccination may be recommended for those who:

Are close personal contacts of people with monkeypox (post-exposure prophylaxis)
May have been exposed to the virus
May have increased risk of being exposed to the virus, such as people who perform laboratory testing to diagnose monkeypox

“At the present time, our top priority is ensuring access to post-exposure prophylaxis and then expanding to a larger pool of atrisk persons when our vaccine supply allows us to do so,” explained Commissioner Juthani.

For those seeking treatment or additional information on the vaccine and antivirals, contact your health care provider or call the DPH Epidemiology Program at (860) 509-7994 or (860) 509-8000 after hours.

For more information about monkeypox, visit the CDC monkeypox webpage and the DPH monkeypox webpage.

Letter From Paris: From Macron v1 to Macron v2: France Negotiates Turbulent Times 

Editor’s Note: We are delighted to welcome back Nicole Prévost Logan. Today she offers a detailed analysis of happenings in the French political landscape, saying, “A lot has happened in France in the past two months and I felt it important to write about what is not making the headlines.”

Nicole Prévost Logan

Surreal political developments are taking taken place in France. 

Barely had President Emmanuel Macron been reelected on April 24 with 58.5 percent of the votes on the second round of the majority ballot that a vote of no confidence against the newly appointed prime minister Elizabeth Borne was already announced as well as a possible dissolution of the Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly).

Three ministers which had been appointed in the new Cabinet just six weeks earlier had to step down losing their seats in the legislative elections.  Two strong supporters of Macron – Richard Ferrand, President of the National Assembly and Christophe Castaner, the former president of the majority party – had to resign.

What had seemed like a victory for Emmanuel Macron, when he was reelected for a second five-year mandate turned into a cold shower brought on by the outcome of the Legislative elections.  The far left party was quick to describe it as a déroute (total collapse.) 

French President Emmanuel Macron.

Presidential elections had been held on April 10 and 24. The legislative elections on June 12 and 19 changed the aspect of the National Assembly, (incidentally, note the remarkable number of 577 ‘deputés‘ in France as compared to only 435 in the House of Representatives). The number of seats of Macrons’ party, La République en Marche or LREM, was  reduced from 346 to  to 246. It has now only a “relative majority” and is short 44 seats to reach the absolute majority of 289. 

For five years the Presidential party was in control, but now it has to share its power with the opposition. Making compromises is not in the DNA of French politics. This is an unprecedented situation when the government needs to supplement its relative majority.  Quite a difference from a country like Germany where Olaf Shultz was able to strike an alliance with four parties. 

The new Assemblée Nationale is now basically made up of three competing blocks:  LREM, NUPES (New Union Political Economic and Social)  and the Rassemblement National or RN. 

Jean Luc Mélanchon, head of the far left parti La France Insoumise or LFI,  led an active campaign  between April and June to create an anti Macron coalition.

It bore fruit.

He was able to pull together the forces of the Socialists, the Europe Ecologie les Verts or EELV, the Communist Party and his own radical LFI together under the name of NUPES for a total of 131 deputés. It is not a party but a fragile coalition, which could fall apart at any time. Its main objective is to block Macron’s action . 

Marine LePen. 1922 photo published under Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0.

The most striking change in the parliament was the spectacular surge of the RN, from seven seats in the previous Assembly to 89 today. Even the RN leader Marine Le Pen was stunned. She had expected 60 seats at most.

After her disastrous performance in the debate against Macron in the 2017 presidential elections, Le Pen had kept a low profile in the recent electoral campaigns.

And it paid off.

She has also been helped by the collapse of the far right camp of Erik Zemmour, who was left with only 7 percent of the vote in the Presidential elections. 

In the past Le Pens’ electoral base was limited to small areas in the north of France and in the south east. Now she has supporters in the entire country. The RN is progressively changing from being a pariah to becoming “acceptable,” … but one should always be cautious with Le Pen and not overlook the fact that she was in Moscow, cozying up to Putin and seeking his help in obtaining a loan. 

When she suggested her aim was to emulate the politics of Viktor Orban as a model, it is a clear red flag that, under a liberal veneer, she is still a true populist. 

On July 4, Macron introduced his definitive and reshuffled cabinet. Overall it included a number of unknown faces, with several technocrats, specialized in their field. 

For example Braun, a doctor-ER specialist was nominated to tackle the huge problem of health, public hospitals, access to medical treatment which has disappeared in many regions away from the urban centers.

Another specialist is Olivier Klein, mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, a popular neighborhood, former socialist, to handle housing and urban issues.

Pap Ndiaye is the new Education minister. A historian, born in France, of African descent, he is highly educated and a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is the symbol of diversity and the egalité des chances (equal opportunities).  He is being criticized by some for entering his children in the elite- and expensive-Ecole Alsacienne private school on the Left Bank (full transparency — four of my grand children attended that school.) 

The Borne 2 Cabinet has a total of 42 members, including 16 ministers, 15 ministres delegués and 10 secretaires d’Etat.  Three heavyweight ministers retained their positions:  Bruno Lemaire, with an expanded Ministry of Economy and Finances,  Gerald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior and Eric Dupond -Moretti, as minister of Justice.  Moretti is a heavy set, often regarded as a bully, but a brilliant, though controversial, criminal defense lawyer.

The “feminization” process is showing mixed progress : there are only five women ministers versus 11 men. Nine of the 10 of the Secretaires d’Etat (Secretaries of State) are women. Therefore it still looks like that women occupy lower positions than men.

However, one should point out that some women are now holding key posts:  Elizabeth Borne as Prime Minister, Yaël Braun-Pivet as President of the National Assembly,  Aurore Bergé, as president of the LREM.

Foreign Affairs and European Affairs are now the domain of Catherine Colonna, a career diploma and a former ambassador to the UK . This was a surprising move because the post had been held for many years by Jean-Yves Le Drian, an old-timer, who had served in the government since the Francois Holland government. 

The ongoing problems with sexual harassment had some impact with the appointment of ministers. Heavily-handicapped Damien Abad, minister of Solidarity, was denounced by four women for rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault and had to resign probably under the influence of the new Prime Minister. Sexual scandals could not be tolerated any longer, said Borne, and the principle of “exemplarity” would be applied.

This raised the question whether Eric Cockerel , LFI, the newly appointed head to the key post of the Assembly Finances Committee, might be brought under investigation on the accusation by a former Gilet Jaune (yellow jacket) militant, for improper sexual behavior. A complaint by a woman for improper sexual behavior is still outstanding. The far left NUPE so far has paid not attention to that complaint. Incidentally, Cockerel ‘s unlikely profession is as an organizer of the famous Vendée Globe, the only round-the-world solo sailing race. 

But the prime minister may not tolerate that double standard for long. 

The #Metoo movement is still going strong here.

Macron was criticized (as usual) for being too slow in creating his Cabinet, for dragging his feet. Public opinion resented the fact that the French president seemed to be always addressing the population between two doors, on his way abroad, or from the tarmac of an airport. 

It is true that Macron has been busy with international affairs particularly during the six months as president of the Council of the EU From January to June 2022 .  

The 27 EU members take turns leading this body on a rotating basis every six months. (Note: the Council of the EU is not to be confused with the European Council where EU leaders meet quarterly to discuss broad policy matters. At the writing of this article the Czech Republic is heading the Council of the EU.

On July 2, a superb documentary — produced by France 2, one of the main French public TV channels — was released. It is titled “Macron,  l’Europe et la Guerre.”

The film showed how intense the French president ‘s involvement has been in the crisis created by the war in Ukraine.   Conversations with Putin were listened to, recorded and analyzed at the Elysées Palace and the Quai d’Orsay round the clock. 

The documentary does not consist of staged interviews but rather gives the viewer the opportunity to share the spontaneous reactions of the government’s inner circle. This is diplomacy in action. 

Using the familiar “tu” of the French language, one witnesses a sometime intimate exchange with Putin, who at one point tells Macron he has to leave to go to an ice hockey match. 

Macron is in Moscow on Feb. 7. the situation was more incendiary than in 2008 or 2014. 

On Feb. 8, Macron is in Kiev and spends three hours with Zelensky in the Maryinsky Palace. 

Six days before the onset of the Russian invasion, Putin declared, “The war games have come to an end.”T

Three days before Feb.  24, Putin announces the independence of Donetsk and Lujhansk. 

On Feb. 22, Macron is instrumental in setting European sanctions against Russia. Macron states, “We are here to help Ukraine not to topple the Russian government.

On June 23, France strongly supports giving Ukraine the official status of candidate to membership in the EU. An incredible nine-hour train ride through a country at war, brings Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Sholz and Mario Dragui to Kiev.

The film shows that, no matter how futile it may have appeared, it was an extraordinary effort on the part of the French president to maintain the dialogue open with a Russian leader unwavering in his objective of total destruction of a country.  

Is France ungovernable ?  

Will politics be a wrestling match between the Executive and the Legislative Chambers from now on?

Macron will have to be a real “artist” if he wants to be able to  make compromises with an unbending opposition. The problem is that the president, having been elected by universal suffrage, is still perceived as acting as “Jupiter”.

At the beginning of his second mandate he excluded both the extreme partiers RN and NUPEs from a possible coalition.  Les Republicains, (center right) or LR refused to act as the” spare tire” of the government.  The NUPEs threatened to introduce  a vote of no confidence even before the government unveiled its program.  In other words, if the system is to function as a parliamentary democracy, the lack of an absolute majority will force both sides to abandon the posturing game.

The power center of gravity has moved: public opinion is now the arbiter.  

What tools does the government has to govern without the support of the Assembly ? In fact it has more power than appears at first sight :The main tool is the article 49-3, equivalent of Executive Orders in the US.

In 1988, under Francois Mitterand, the Prime Minister Michel Rocard used it 28 times during the first three years,  then  39 times during the following five years under the second mandate. 

Today the rules have changed: only one 49-3 is allowed  during a parliament’s session.

Two other tools exist: it is not easy to dissolve the Assembly since 2/3 , or 289 of the votes are needed.  Besides, Article 47 stipulates that in the event  the budget is not voted upon within 70 days , the government may act by Executive Order.

The government faces a daunting task.

The priority is to manage the pouvoir d’achat  or purchasing power, in order to cope with the rising cost of living including energy and food essentials makes it is urgent to help the poorest households, which cannot make ends meet. 

A Green deputy violently attacked Macron, saying that he does not understand anything about environment. He even wants to dig into the deepest depth of the ocean, she said. But Macron understands the urgency of the environment problems very well, also but he has to set priorities.

Whenever people get hungry the situation becomes explosive. Threatening famine was the main cause of the “Arab Spring” in the early 2010s. 

Bruno Lemaire comments about the dire economic situation of France. Inflation is now 5.8%, a little less than in other European countries because France has dis-industrialized and increased its services sector. The interest on the public debt used to be negative, but now it is 2% and growing. This interest will this year will be 55 billion Euros, an increase of 45% or 66% in two years. 

The debt has reached 120% of the GDP.

The BCE  (Central Bank of Europe) is drying up its buying of sovereign debts of the EU member states. This is the end of quoiqu’il en coûte (no matter the cost ), which became necessary with COVID. 

The RN proposes to lower the TVA (value added tax)  from 20% to 5% , to raise the minimum wage to 1,500 euros per month  These proposals are totally unrealistic and would drive France’s economy into the wall very quickly.

While Russia has made 60 billion Euros selling its gas and oil, it cost Europe a great deal to declare embargo on energy from Russia since it has to buy it – at a higher cost from other countries. 

At the G7 meeting in Bavaria, in late June, Macron condemned the profiteurs de Guerre (war profiteers) who make millions. He pointed out Total, which increased its profits by 48% this year, or CMA CGM, the third largest container shipping company (headquarters in Marseille and in Norfolk Virginia ) made 56 billion Euros in profits in 2021. 

EDF, the electricity and gas supply giant and the big companies of the CAC 40 also made huge profits. 

In the UK, the government imposed a 25% windfall tax on oil and gas producers to support the poorest households. 

Will France do the same?

It is in this climate of mounting economic and social problems that Elizabeth Borne, the new Prime Minister, made her general policy speech at the Assemblée Nationale on July 6. It was an impressive performance and was received with flying colors by most. Not phased by a loud and sometime rowdy Chamber, she was firm and showed her authority.  Without discussing specifics of the government’s program, she set the tone and method of her future actions.  

She had already held conversations with all political groups and intends to continue in the Fall. She made it clear that substantive decisions will be made in a consensual manner, that the government will show a back bone but at the same time reach out for compromises. 

What a contrast with what happened to Edith Cresson in 1991-1992 – the only other woman Prime Minister in France!   For 11 months, she was the non-stop target of sexism in the Assembly, the street and the media.The Guignols puppet show satirizing French politics made fun of her day after day. 

Borne, a civil engineer by profession, is the product of the elite school Polytechnique,  has held several ministerial posts, and showed her talent of tough negotiator during the months of talks with the powerful Cheminots or railroad workers of the SNCF  (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français). She was able to combine her no-nonsense attitude with a personal tone, saying, “I owe a lot to the Republic, she said, since I am a pupille de la Nation (a ward of the State). Her father, a Polish Jew and a survivor from Auschwitz, committed suicide when she was 11.    

Borne knows her stuff. She touched on important topics: security, police, agriculture, vulnerable women — particularly if single parents,  in need of health care, etc.  Her remark about the French would have to work “a bit more” provoked loud protests by a good chunk of the deputés.

Disorder is not an option, she said. 

She made an important announcement: the government intends to nationalize EDF, which manages the nuclear plants and is heavily in debt. Currently the State owns 85% of the shares. One percent is held by the staff and 14% by individuals and institutions.  

This will give more room to the government to maneuver. The objective of the Macron government is a reduction in nuclear power by 50% by 2035 and a carbon-free country by 2050.  

In 1960, under General de Gaulle, France became the fourth most important nuclear power in the world. France’s nuclear power underwent a surge during the 1973 OPEC oil crisis. 

Today there are 56 plants in France with an average age of 37 years. Half the plants are closed due to routine maintenance or defects. By 2020 France had 70% of the power plants in Europe, Slovakia had 53%, Ukraine 51% and Hungary 48%.

There have been problems with the construction of the fourth generation EPR (water-pressurized plant) of Flamanville.  Macron wants France is to become a leader in low-carbon-energy using small modular reactors and green hydrogen. 

The largest and most advanced experimental project on nuclear fusion or ITER is under construction in the south east of France managed by a collaboration of 35 European countries.

The transition between the first and the second mandate of Macron will not be easy . “Do not expect things to go smoothly,” commented Borne.    

One must trust the ability of Macron to adjust. Between a president, who is on a permanent crusade to promote a stronger EU and a pragmatic prime minister to work on the home front, one is entitled to be optimistic. 

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes an occasional column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

Join a Conversation with NYT Best Selling Author Luanne Rice at the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival

NYT best-selling author Luanne Rice will speak at the Old Lyme-PGN Library during the Midsummer Festival. File photo.

OLD LYME — A highlight of this year’s Old Lyme Midsummer Festival promises to be an afternoon conversation with New York Times best-selling author Luanne Rice at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. The event will be held on the library lawn starting at 3 p.m.

Always an engaging speaker, Rice will talk about books, art, writing, inspiration and life in Old Lyme.

Tickets are $50 per person and include a reserved table seat plus a delicious charcuterie appetizer prepared by Cloud 9 and served in a reusable bento box. The ticket price also includes a bottle of Fever Tree flavored tonic and a dessert. A vegetarian option is available upon request.

The library is also offering a general admission option:- simply bring your own blanket or lawn chair at no charge.

Copies of The Shadow Box and other select titles by Rice will be available for purchase and signing courtesy of Bank Square Books.

After Two-Year Absence, Long-Awaited White Elephant Sale Opens TODAY at 9am

The annual White Elephant Sale starts opens today on the first strike of the church bell at 9 a.m.

OLD LYME — After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the perennially popular White Elephant Sale (WES) opens TODAY, Friday, July 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and continues Saturday, July 9, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Most departments offer items at half-price on the second day. There may be some mask restrictions on inside shopping.

The Sale is hosted by the Ladies Benevolent Society of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

For those new to the town or folk who have never participated, this sale is one of the main events on both the town and church calendars.

Garage, tag and rummage sales may be everyday affairs, but few, if any, can match the size and color of this one. The sale items are organized into some 20 departments that fill the church buildings as well as every available space on the lawn.

The WES has grown so large that it has become a true “community event” since many of the donations are from non-church members and quite a number of volunteers are also from outside the church.

The sale raises a significant amount of money for missions and good works both locally and throughout the world. Some of the beneficiaries include food pantries, health organizations, family support centers, children’s programs, literacy volunteers, affordable housing, and disaster relief worldwide.

For more information about the sale or if you would like to volunteer to help in any capacity, whether with the sale itself or clean-up, call the church office at 860.434.8686 and/or visit www.fccol.org/wes.

See you at ‘The Sale’!

A la Carte: Two Columns Bursting with Strawberry Treats

Lee White

Column 1

Oh my, no matter the season, last week was a perfect summer day. Was it always sunny? Not really, but for Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, the clouds didn’t explode with raindrops and the humidity stayed around 70 percent and in Groton and Madison, there was always a soft breeze.

Friday I learned how to make a watermelon “sorbet (well, it required some sweetened condensed milk),” and I will try it with other fruits.

Next week I will give you that recipe (and the new friend who created it) and another recipe for fresh fruit and a two or three cream that tops a grainy bread. I just met a new friend that was a lovely appetizer that requires only if you make your own bread (which she did!).

For today, now that strawberries are local and delicious. Then again, strawberry’s  two- or three-week season may be my favorite time of the year. (At least until it’s corn time, or tomato time, or basil time).

Toasted-almond Cake with Strawberries in Whipped Cream

Adapted from Gourmet, June, 2007, page 143

Yield: about 8 to 10 servings

Three-quarters cup whole almonds with skins (one-quarter pound), toasted and cooled
1 ¼  cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½  teaspoon salt
4 large eggs at room temperature about 30 minutes
1 ¼  cup superfine granulated sugar (I put sugar into processor to get it fine)
1 ½  sticks (three-quarter cup) unsalted butter, melted and cool
1/3  cup milk (2 percent is fine)
¼  teaspoon almond extract
½  cup sliced almonds
2 pints frozen strawberries with sugar, thawed, or 2 pints fresh strawberries, sugared to taste
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or one-half teaspoon rose water)
1 and one-half heavy cream, whipped

Put oven rack on middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8- or 9-inch square or round cake pan. 

With blender on high, add half toasted almonds through top hole and finely grind (be careful not to grind to a paste). Transfer to bowl and grind remaining almonds in same manner, transferring to bowl. Add flour, baking powder and salt to ground almonds and whisk until combined well.

Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until foamy, about 15 seconds, then add sugar a little at a time, beating. Continue beating until mixture is thick, pale and forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, 7 to 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 10 to 14 minutes with a handheld.

Add butter in a slow stream, then add milk and almond extract and beat until just combined. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Spread batter in pan, smoothing top, and then sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until  top is golden, cake begins to pull away from side of pan and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes in clean, around 25 to 35 minutes, depending on size of cake pan.

Cool on a rack around 30 minutes, then run knife around edge to loosen and invert onto rack. Take cake right side up on rack and cool completely.

To serve, slice cake onto individual plates, cover with strawberries and top with lots of whipped cream. 

Column 2

Oh, the two recipes I’d promised to give you today will have to wait. My friend, Jennifer is leaving today for London for a few weeks, so her recipe will come later in the summer. When she gets home, fruits will be even riper and she will show me how to make them.

I will, however, give you two other fruity recipes.

The first is easy and it comes from Karen Valente.

Cut watermelon from its rind (get rid of all the green and yellow). Cut the watermelon into approximately 1-inch chunks. Place the melon chunks into a fresh gallon-sized plastic bag, carefully push the bag somewhat flat and seal it well.

Freeze the melon overnight or even a few days later.

Open the bag of melon and pour into a Cuisinart bowl. As you puree the fruit, add sweetened condensed milk into the melon. Stop the food processor and taste the melon. When it is sweet enough for you, add a whisk of salt and puree another second or two.

Spoon the mixture into a plastic container, seal it and freeze, What you have here is not a sorbet, actually; sorbet is usually dairy-free. But there is so little dairy in the dessert, yet it has the mouth-feel and texture that is heavenly. 

For my second dessert, I was going to give you a Bon Appetit recipe for a strawberry hand pie, but it requires making a pie dough, making a strawberry filling, then creating frosting and assembling the dessert. And, with that, the hand pie might gush out on your white pants or sneakers. Instead, why not make enough crisp recipes for the whole summer, freezing it (right out of the freezer you can crumble it over the fruit and serve it after dinner). This is a dish you can serve in no time. So here is the recipe for crisp that top almost any dessert all summer long.

Strawberry Filling 

From Bon Appetit, Summer, 2022

12 ounces strawberries, hulled, finely chopped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salter

Toss all ingredients in a medium bowl to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes. Place the strawberries in a gratin or Pyrex pan. Top with one package of crisp over the fruit and place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the filling bubbles.

Crisp Topping
Created by Deb Jensen, a dear friend who died just a few years ago
I quadruple this recipe and freeze it in little plastic bags.

Yield: makes around 5 cups 

1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal (rolled oats)
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 cup almonds or pine nuts
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together with nice, clean hands.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

A Special ‘View From My Porch’ in Recognition of Independence Day: CT’s General Israel Putnam was a ‘Man of Legendary Courage’, a Brooklyn ‘Rock Star’

Major General Israel Putnam, during the American Revolutionary War. Public Domain.

Prelude:

The June 9 edition of The Day reported that the team of Tessa Grethel and Sophia D’Amico — both Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School seventh graders — took first place in Connecticut in the junior group exhibit category of the National History Day Contest with their project titled “Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Origins of Atomic Diplomacy.”

Phil Rizzuto would have exclaimed “holy cow” for a homerun like that! 

Introduction:

I reported in my last essay that Connecticut legend credits General Israel Putnam with “increasing the popularity of cigars in New England after he returned from an expedition to Cuba with thousands of Havana cigars.”

In trying to corroborate that claim with an additional source, I discovered that there is substantial folklore surrounding the General’s life and his acclaim as a warrior and military hero. (To avoid any misinterpretation of this essay’s title, note that I use “Rock Star” to express high praise.) 

Kerri Provost, writing in “Real Hartford”, refers to Putnam as “Connecticut’s first authentic folk hero”. I am not suggesting that his story is historic fiction, just something worthy of a friendly review. All that said, he was very cool, and a fascinating American patriot, who had significant influence on freeing New England from the Redcoats, and Connecticut from predatory wolves. 

I have also considered other Connecticut Revolutionary War heroes in previous columns, including Ezra Lee, who was the first man to command a submarine in an attack on the enemy; and David Bushnell, who invented “The Turtle”, which was used by Lee in his 1776 assault on the British flagship, “HMS Eagle”, in New York harbor.

Israel Putnam was born in 1718 into a wealthy farming family in what is now Danvers, Mass. and moved to Connecticut in 1739 to establish his own farm, a “500-acre spread just south of what is now Pomfret, Conn. He had 10 children with his first wife; and much later, in 1767, established a “house for the general accommodation of the public” (i.e., a tavern) in Brooklyn, Conn. with his second wife.

He owned a slave, and as we have learned through the “Witness Stones” Project, that was not unusual in Connecticut at that time.

The Hartford Courant reported that “Israel Putnam defied the image of a classic American hero. “Stout, if not fat, he was unreserved, a man of many words who reveled in racy ballads and rum-fueled stories.” So, I guess that he bore more resemblance to Ben Franklin than George Washington. 

Putnam and the Wolf:

In 1742, after he and his neighbors had suffered repeated losses of sheep from wolf attacks, Putnam organized watches in an effort to protect the flocks and to help track the wolf back to its den. They spotted the wolf at dusk on a winter’s day and followed it to the den, a cave with a very narrow and shallow entrance.

Absent another volunteer, Putnam attached a rope to a yoke around his ankles and crawled into the cave with a lighted torch, trying to determine whether he could get within musket range of the animal … and he did come within yards of the snarling wolf. 

He signaled, and was dragged out; and then crawled back in with torch and musket and shot the wolf. His neighbors drew him out again, nearly overcome by smoke. 

After being revived, he crawled back into the cave a third time, where he grabbed the wolf by the ears; and the dead wolf and the live farmer were hauled out together. Putnam had dispatched Connecticut’s last wolf with a single shot.

The Colonial Warrior:

I’ll review a few of the notable battlefield events that contributed to Putnam’s legendary status with the following historical vignettes; and then identify some of the memorials and public works of art associated with those events. He became known for his natural leadership ability and reckless courage; and rose steadily through the ranks, ultimately gaining the rank of brigadier general before the Battle of Bunker Hill.

This is not a skirmish-by-skirmish list; just a few highlights.

French and Indian War:

In 1755, he joined Rogers’ Rangers, a New Hampshire-based militia company affiliated with the British. The Rangers were a “highly resourceful force trained in irregular warfare tactics” and stealthy reconnaissance. Ranger companies were developed because the English Regulars (i.e., the British foot soldiers) were so unaccustomed to frontier warfare. 

Rogers’ is considered as the precursor to the U.S. Army Rangers.

Putnam is said to have excelled at that form of frontier fighting. He was captured in 1758 by French-allied Mohawks while on a military mission near Crown Point, N.Y., and was saved from the ritual burning allegedly exacted by Mohawk warriors on their enemies through the intervention of a French officer. 

Putnam was then taken as a prisoner of war to a camp near Montreal. Note that many former Rogers’ Rangers’ officers eventually defected from the British ranks to fight for the Continental Army against the British.

The Siege of Havana:

He was freed from the French in an exchange of prisoners, and sailed in 1762 with a British mission that captured the Spanish garrison at Havana harbor and assumed control of the Caribbean Spanish fleet. He had survived a shipwreck during that expedition and may have been part of the British occupying force that remained on the island until the “Peace of Paris” ended the seven years of the French and Indian War in 1763. 

Putnam returned to his Connecticut farm after Cuba, and prospered.

He became a prominent member of the Connecticut Sons of Liberty and a leader in the opposition to the 1765 Stamp Act, which imposed a substantial tax on the colonies to fund the cost of the French and Indian War. He led the mob of former soldiers that forced the Mass. Colony’s Stamp administrator in Boston to resign.

The Battle of Bunker Hill:

Now 57years-old, Putnam was working in his fields with his son, Daniel, when a messenger rode into the village and proclaimed that the British had fired on the militia at Lexington, killing six men; and were on the march. This advance by the Redcoats on Lexington, and then Concord, marked the beginning of the American Revolution. 

Putnam left his plough in the field, and without changing from his working clothes, departed immediately on horseback for the home of Governor Trumbull in Lebanon, Conn., who ordered him to sound the alarm with the militia officers and the patriot assemblies in the neighboring townsm and then continue on to the conflict.

Putnam proceeded to Cambridge, where several colonial militias had encamped, and set up his headquarters. He began preparing what were untested fighters for the inevitable battle with the British. Their ranks comprised militiamen from several colonies, former soldiers, and farmers, who had signed on with “the cause”.to the revolution. 

The British ships controlling Boston’s harbor began firing their cannons on the Americans on the morning of June 17, 1775; and soon after, landed soldiers in preparation for attack.  

After General Warren, the American commander, had been seriously wounded, Putnam assumed command and then served as commanding officer in the battle. As the British approached the poorly-supplied militiamen, he ordered them to conserve their ammunition, and “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”

The colonists repelled the first two British assaults, but ran out of ammunition during the third attack and were forced to abandon their position, returning to their lines outside the battle perimeter. The entire time, Putnam rode his horse up and down the lines, setting an example of courage and steadying the troops.

Although the battle was a tactical victory for the British, it came at a terrible price. Nearly half of the 2,200 Redcoats who entered the battle were killed or wounded in the two hours of fighting — twice as many casualties as the Americans had suffered, including many of the British officers. 

The Americans’ fierce defense demonstrated their ability to fight “toe-to-toe” with the British, and provided an important confidence boost, convincing them that they could overcome the superior power of the British military. 

Although usually referred to as the Battle of Bunker Hill, the battle actually took place on Breed’s Hill.

The Aftermath:

“The loss we have sustained is greater than we can bear,” wrote British General Thomas Gage. After the battle, patriot leader Nathanael Greene remarked “I wish we could sell them another hill at the same price.” 

George Washington arrived and assumed command of the new Continental Army in Cambridge and stayed on to direct the ongoing campaign at Boston. Afterwards, he moved the Army to New York, and Putnam was given command at Long Island.  

Unfortunately, Putnam was “outflanked, out-maneuvered and out-smarted” in the Battle for Long Island”. Washington never blamed him for the loss, but it was clear that he was past his prime as a battlefield commander; and was delegated less important commands. If Bunker Hill was Putnam’s high point, then the Battle of Long Island was his lowest. 

The Die Is Cast: 

The Americans had long felt that relations with the British were nearly irreconcilable. The bloodshed at Bunker Hill, however, virtually eliminated any chance for reconciliation and pointed the colonies on the path to independence.

When King George III received the news of the battle in London on August 23, 1775, he issued a proclamation declaring the colonies in a state of “open and avowed rebellion.” Further, in the wake of Bunker Hill, Benjamin Franklin penned a letter to an English friend and member of Parliament that he closed with, “You are now my enemy and I am yours.” Finally, the high price of victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill made the British realize that the war with the colonies would be long, tough and costly. 

Israel Putnam Public Art and Memorials:

Substantial public space has been dedicated to memorializing Israel Putnam.

The Israel Putnam Wolf Den, the site where he killed the last wolf in Connecticut, is now maintained in Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A bronze Marker, installed by the Daughters of the American Revolution on Lake Road in Crown Point, N.Y. is inscribed, “182 feet north of this spot stood the oak to which Israel Putnam was tied and tortured by the Indians in 1758”.

The image of Putnam leaving his plough in the field after learning of the British attack on the Americans at Lexington, is carved on the east façade of the Connecticut State Capitol Building, one of five tympana on the east façade portraying the founding of Connecticut and the Revolutionary War.

Putnam’s actual plough and saddle are on display in the Entrance Hall of the Hartford Armory.

John Quincy Adams Ward’s bronze of Israel Putnam, completed in 1874, was one of the first public sculptures dedicated in Bushnell Park; and the first of six Revolutionary War memorials executed by Ward. Putnam is depicted striding forward, with his sword held under his arm. 

His remains are buried in the base of an equestrian monument on the Brooklyn Town Green. The monument was created in response to the deteriorated condition of Putnam’s original grave marker; and was funded by the Connecticut state government with the provision that it also serves as a tomb for Putnam.

Upon its completion, Putnam’s remains were reinterred under the monument.  The dedication was held on June 14, 1888 and included the governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island. The equestrian monument was criticized by contemporary reviewers, who especially criticized the horse, with one reviewer  saying  that the horse appeared to be suffering from bone spavin (i.e., Osteoarthritis).

The original grave marker is under glass and can be seen in the north alcove of the Connecticut State Capital in Hartford; his epitaph was “He dared to lead where any dared to follow”.

A statue of William Prescott was installed next to the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, Mass.

Some Final Thoughts:

I want to say up front that I see absolutely no parallels between what I have presented in this essay and the activities of January 6th. 

I have read history since I got my first library card from the Darwin R. Barker Library in Fredonia NY; and not because I thought that ” those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” (see https://lymeline.com/2021/02/a-view-from-my-porch-the-marquis-groucho-sam-and-me/ )

I still read history and I realize that it helps me re-confirm the honor, courage, heroism and eloquence of Americans. 

Clearly, my essay presents a Connecticut-centric view of Putnam’s exploits.  

However, William Prescott (Mass.) shared leadership responsibility with Putnam on the battlefield. “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes.” has also been attributed by some to Prescott. Historians have not reached agreement on whom is responsible for that exact quote.

Regarding the original question: I still cannot confirm whether Putnam brought a cache of Cuban cigars with him on his return to Connecticut; and my original statement did come from a legitimate source, However, as a successful farmer, it is more likely that he returned with tobacco seeds; and I have since found several sources supporting “tobacco seeds”.

Finally, Robert Rogers created the ” 28 “Rules of Ranging”, a series of procedures and guidelines, in 1757 during the French and Indian War. A modified version of the “Rules” is still followed by the 75th Ranger Regiment, (i.e., the U. S. Army Rangers), and they are considered as “standing orders” for Ranger activities.  

Sources:

Niven, John. Connecticut Hero: Israel Putnam. American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut. 1977.
Leavenworth, Jesse. Israel Putnam, A Man of Legendary Courage. Hartford Courant.  May 24, 2014.
(Note that the following two sources are available from that omnipresent online bookseller with all the blue vans):
Goodrich, Samuel G. A Tale of the Revolution: and Other Sketches. Peter Parley Children’s Series.1845
Marsh, John. Putnam And the Wolf, Or, The Monster Destroyed: An Address Delivered At Pomfret, Connecticut Before The Windham Co. Temperance Society.  October 28, 1829.

Editor’s Notes: (i) The photo above is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a08971.

(ii) This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

 About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK. A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

CT Dept. Of Public Health Announces State’s First Monkeypox Case

HARTFORD, Conn.—The Connecticut Department of Public Health has announced the first case of monkeypox in a Connecticut resident.  The patient is a male between the ages of 40 and 49 and is a resident of New Haven County. The patient is isolating and has not been hospitalized. No other patient information will be released.

“DPH believes that the risk to Connecticut residents from this case is low,” said Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD.

She continued, “The United States is currently experiencing a monkeypox outbreak, and there will likely be additional cases in Connecticut in the weeks ahead.”

Monkeypox can spread through close prolonged contact with an infected person. This might include coming into contact with skin lesions, or body fluids, sharing clothes or other materials that have been used by an infected person, or inhaling respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact.” 

Over the past month, DPH has raised awareness of monkeypox among higher risk populations, alerted and educated local medical professionals, and informed local health departments throughout the state to monitor for cases.

For Connecticut residents that are concerned about fever, swollen glands, and a new rash, contact your health care provider for evaluation. Health care providers should request orthopoxvirus testing for patients at the state public health laboratory by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at (860) 509-7994.

For more information about monkeypox, visit Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

Editor’s Note: This article is based on a press release issued by Ledge Light Health Department.