August 3, 2020

Shiny Lapel Trio to add new sizzle to 27th Annual Lobster Bake

Essex, CT – On Saturday, August 7, the town green on Main Street in Essex Village will be a-rocking with great food and music, all for a good cause. The Essex Lions Club will host its 27th Annual Lobster Bake, the group’s major fundraiser with net proceeds donated to local charitable organizations.

Tickets are $28 per person and include a lobster or steak, potato, tossed salad, corn on the cob, ice cream, and soft drink. Shrimp, steamers, and clam chowder will also be offered a la carte for an additional charge and if you have a favorite beverage, you are welcome to bring your own. This year’s musical entertainment promises to add some extra sizzle with The Shiny Lapel Trio, a popular band known for putting the swing into every crowd, scheduled to perform.

Rain or shine, it all kicks off at 3:30 pm with dinner served at 5:00 pm until the close of the event at 7:00 pm. Traditionally, people arrive early to reserve a table and then go all out dressing them up for a chance to win the Best Dressed Table prize. Items donated by local merchants will also be raffled off. Tickets are available at Essex Detailing, That’s The Spirit Shoppe, Bogaert Construction, Bob’s Centerbrook Package, Essex Hardware or from any Essex Lion Club member.

The Essex Lions Club is a non-profit organization that has served the Town of Essex for over 50 years. During this past year, in keeping with the Lions Club’s support of vision-related organizations, contributions were made to the CT Lion’s Eye Research Center, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and the CT Low Vision Center. The Club also paid for eye exams and eyeglasses for Essex residents who could not afford them and made substantial donations to the Essex Library, the Ivoryton Library, the Essex Fire Department, the Essex Ambulance-Association, the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and the Tri-Town Youth Service Bureau. One special project this year has been to help the Ivoryton Playhouse with its new sound system. For more information on the Essex Lions Club, go to


Free Family Maritime Festival & Concert at Connecticut River Museum – August 14th

The Connecticut River Museum’s Family Maritime Festival and Concert, scheduled for Saturday, August 14, will feature maritime games, schooner deck tours, river cruises and an evening concert.

Essex, CT – Gather the entire crew and head down to Essex’s historic waterfront on Saturday, August 14 for a boat load of family fun and entertainment. The Connecticut River Museum’s Annual Family Maritime Festival starts at 1 pm with maritime games, songs, and schooner deck tours offered free of charge throughout the afternoon. You can learn how to make rope, caulk a ship, and sing a sea chantey or two. And for those who want to get out on the water, the historic schooner Mary E will set sail at 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 6:00 pm for a leisurely sail along the Connecticut River. Tickets for the 1.5 hour afternoon cruises are $26 for adults and $16 for children age 12 and under. Tickets for the two-hour sunset cruise are $30 per person, all ages.

At 5:00 pm, the Connecticut River Museum’s Annual Picnic and Concert gets underway with all invited to bring a blanket or chair and picnic dinner to enjoy while listening to sea chanteys performed by the Freemen of the Sea and folk rock performed by Amalgamated Muck. Wine, beer, and soda will also be available for purchase. A good time for everyone is guaranteed. Festival activities and concert are free of charge.
For more information on the day’s events as well as schooner cruise schedules and advanced reservations, call 860-767-8269 or go to

Preserve Developers Lose Court Appeal

ESSEX— A three-judge panel of the Connecticut Appellate Court has denied an appeal for the proposed Preserve development on Bokum Road, upholding a 2006 rejection of the project by the Old Saybrook Inland-Wetlands Commission.

Essex was a party to the litigation over the project, along with the Town of Old Saybrook, the Connecticut Fund For the Environment, and the Alliance For Sound Area Planning, a grassroots group of opponents.

While plans for development of the 1,000-acre parcel on the north side of Bokum Road have been under discussion for a decade, the latest application from River Sound Development called for a 221-unit housing complex with an 18-hole golf course.

The Old Saybrook Inland-Wetlands Commission denied permits for the project in 2006, and an appeal of the denial filed by River Sound had been rejected by superior Court Judge Julie Aurigemma in February 2008. River Sound Development is a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers Holdings, which declared bankruptcy last year. The prospective developers now have 20 days to file a further appeal with the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Most of the forest land proposed for development was in Old Saybrook, but 65 acres were in Essex. The main access to the proposed development would have been from Bokum Road, just east of the Essex town line.

First Selectman Phil Miller said Thursday he is pleased with the outcome, and remains hopeful the large tract could eventually be acquired by various parties for preservation as open space. The parcel contains about 114 acres of wetlands.

Miller said environmental issues raised by opponents, including the presence of large numbers of wood frogs on the property, appears to have been a factor in the panel’s decision. Essex had obtained intevenor status to the proceedings, and had retained the law firm of Shipman & Goodman to represent the town’s interests in the process.

Miller said the $30,000 the town has expended for legal costs on the Preserve case was a necessary investment. “Most of the residential traffic and the construction traffic would have come on Bokum Road and through Essex,” he said


Green Scene – Water, Water Everywhere…

Mariette Brown is an office manager at a law firm, a sculptor and a watercolor painter.  She lived in Old Lyme for 18 years, and three years ago moved to Old Saybrook, where she lives on a hill with her husband, two dogs, two cats, 4,357 voles and approximately 90,000 bees.  The daughter of our founding publisher, Jack Turner, she loves the woods, the ocean, rivers, clouds, animals, plants, bugs, chocolate and good French bread.  In short, she loves the world.  (She can take or leave humans as a species, but does enjoy a few individuals.)  At this point, to her, almost everything has environmental ramifications.

Water, Water Everywhere … and Not a Drop to Drink

The recent sudden summer storms bring home a situation I encountered this past February.  I had recently returned from a trip to El  Salvador, which—in my quest for eternal youth—I took with our teen group from the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. 
We were there near the end of the dry season, and while it was dry and dusty, available water was not an issue.  It came gushing from the hose to water the lawn where we stayed, and to fill our pool.  It was spread on the roads to keep down the dust.  It was freely available from the relatively high water table on the coastal plain where we were working.  The plants in peoples’ gardens were lush, even in this dry season.
Only 25% of the population of El Salvador has safe drinking water, even though a lot of the country gets 6 feet of rain a year, mostly falling w/in their six-month rainy season.  Contrast that to here in Connecticut, where we get an average annual rainfall of 3.5 feet a year, and you get a sense of how soggy it must get.
The results of flooding showed in the washed-out bridges, the years-old detours around homes to a shallow place where a makeshift bridge serves one-way traffic.  Perpetual guards were stationed before the old bridges, to make sure no one mistook the roads as complete.  They had nice little set-ups, seats of overturned buckets, umbrellas for shade, a flashlight for night-time.  But everyone knew.  It had been that way for so long.
The water, abundant from the tap, the toilets, the showers, the pools, was a disaster to get in your mouth.  The group we worked with supplied water for our drinking (and toothbrushing, food rinsing, dishwashing – the list grew as we thought about the problem – and as more and more of us came down with some mysterious malady…) provided in ubiquitous five-gallon blue water bottles. 

We saw enormous trucks of blue water bottles out for delivery in San Salvador.  Some places had rows and rows of bottles lined up outside their doors.  We also saw trucks pumping water from the river – for what, I don’t want to know.  To fill our blue bottles?
Conveniently, waiting at home for me on my return was the new issue of National Geographic—devoted to water.  Polluted water for much of the world is not just an inconvenience, it’s a fact of life.  In many countries around the world, people just cannot afford to buy those blue bottles of clean water.  Dirty water causes many illnesses, resulting in time lost from school, from work, medical expenses and many times, death. 
El Salvador’s problem is very similar to the problems in other poor countries around the world.  Their infrastructure and planning are poor to non-existant, resulting in polluted wells from lack of engineering oversight.  Wells are contaminated by being put too close to latrines, to polluted rivers or from flooding.  The water table in El Salvador is so high that when the rains come, the resulting floods contaminate their shallow wells.  (We saw this here at home in the late March storm when wells in Rhode Island and parts of Southeastern Connecticut were contaminated by the floodwaters.)
The solutions all sound so simple—dig a well, or dig a deeper well, right?  Many NGOs and charitable aid groups are working hard on exactly this sort of thing.  All too often, though, aid groups come in and provide the materials for clean wells and water in a particular region, but fail to provide for maintenance.  Everything works fabulously until something breaks, and then the community doesn’t have the knowledge or the finances to fix the pump, the leak, whatever. 
Fortunately this is changing.  Aid organizations are now training and supporting people in establishing governing boards to manage their communal resource, teaching them to repair the equipment and to establish a budget for maintenance.
There are other solutions, and some of them seem so easy.  In some places in Africa, people sterilize their water by putting it in bottles, and laying it in the hot equatorial sun for a day.  The heat and the sunlight kill the harmful bacteria, making it safe to drink.  (Google the “SODIS” method, developed by a Swiss group)   Another group works with local potters to make ceramic filters to filter out impurities. (Google “Potters for Peace”.) 
As the water improves, so do the lives it affects.  Less time is spent down and out from illness, away from school or work. Incomes go up, kids manage to finish school, and less time is spent on the very act of obtaining water, freeing people (usually women and girls) up to do the rest of living.
Barbara Kingsolver wrote one of the essays in the water issue of National Geographic, and closed with this astute observation: While we may depend on water, all the harm we do to it we do to ourselves.  We need water.  But water does not need us.  It will carry on, with or without us.


It’s Almost Time for Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival

The free concert behind the Florence Griswold Museum always draws a large crowd

This highly anticipated summer event is a town-wide celebration of the arts and takes place this year on Friday and Saturday, July 30 and 31.  The two-day community event, a quintessential New England celebration for all ages, is held in the heart of Old Lyme’s historic district.

Since the early 20th century Old Lyme has been known to artists and artlovers alike as a haven for the arts.  For more than 20 years, the town has showcased its artistic heritage with a Midsummer Festival.  This two-day community event, a quintessential New England celebration for all ages, takes place in the heart of Old Lyme’s historic district. The activities span two locations along Lyme Street, the Florence Griswold Museum and the Lyme Art Association.

On Friday, July 30, the evening begins with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lyme Art Association.  Enjoy music, refreshments and two great exhibitions, Marine Art and Anything Goes Art Sale.
At the Florence Griswold Museum, visitors enjoy free admission to the special exhibition Connecticut Treasures: Works from Private Collections from 5 to 7 p.m.
The annual free concert is always a favorite. This year, Ed Fast and Conga-Bop, known for their Caribbean heart and hard-bop soul, bring island sounds to the banks of the Lieutenant River.

Concert-goers are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner or let Dinners at the Farm do the work, see photo below.  A delicious, all-local meal served from a vintage “chuckwagon.”  Dinners are $25 and kids eat free with an adult meal.  Reservations can be made at  Ice cream is also available from the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe.  It is the perfect summer evening.

On Saturday, the festival continues at 9 a.m. with activities and events at the Florence Griswold Museum.  Festival-goers may park at the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle and High School, and the Old Lyme Marketplace.  From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. a shuttle bus will travel from the Old Lyme Marketplace and schools to the Florence Griswold Museum.

One of the highlights of the day is Market En Plein Air.  This outdoor market features Connecticut-grown flowers, fruits, vegetables, breads, fine cheeses, herbs and specialty foods in a setting modeled after outdoor markets in French villages.  Crafted-by-Hand: An Artisan Fair features noted jewelry designers Billie Beads, Kristen Brown, Jennifer Johnson, and Michaelle Pearson, potter Pat Rist and fabric artist Christelle Lachapelle.  These events close at 3 p.m.

Next door to the Museum, at the Lyme Art Association, activities begin at 9 a.m. with art exhibitions and sales. Nationally recognized Marine artists are featured alongside LAA members and offer affordable paintings, drawings, and sculpture.

Also at the Lyme Art Association is the Paperback Book Sale: Cheaper by the Dozen, organized by the Friends of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.  All books are 50¢ each or 12 for $5. 

The firemen at the Old Lyme Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand selling their award-winning chili and hot dogs for their annual fundraiser.  These events close at 3p.m.

Once again this year, the Lyme Art Association hosts a festival favorite, Artists and Animals, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Using farm animals as models, professional artists work on the lawn to capture their funny farm friends on paper.  Bring your drawings supplies and join the fun.

At 10 a.m., more events begin at the Museum, including the Hands-On, Minds-On area, where local cultural organizations provide creative projects for all ages.  Included are activities by the Old Lyme PGN Library, and Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, and High Hopes Therapeutic Riding.  These events close at 3 p.m.

Even four-legged family members can have fun (and win prizes)!  Vista Vittles, the 100% natural treats for dogs made by Vista Vocational and Life Skills Center students and members in Westbrook, presents The Parading Paws Dog Contest and Show.  Does your dog have the best smile?  Longest tail?  Biggest paws?  Register between 10 and 10:30 a.m.  Judging begins at 11 a.m.  All dogs must be on leashes.  The final parade is immediately following the show.  Special categories include Best Trick and Best Costume.

From 10 a.m. to noon,  award-winning New York Times food writer Kim Severson signs her latest book Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life.  From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Wholesome Wave founder, sustainable food pioneer and James Beard Award-winning chef and author Michel Nischan signs his latest book Sustainably Delicious: Making the World a Better Place, One Recipe at a Time.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Lymes Youth Services Bureau presents the Treehouse Players.  The audience becomes part of the plays.  From mixed up fairy tales to Dr. Seuss and Free to be You and Me, it’s a guaranteed fun-filled creative experience that will delight the whole family.  Drop in at 10 a.m. for storytelling, 11a.m. for theater adventures, and noon for more storytelling.

Visitors enjoy reduced admission ($5) to the Museum all day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), including the historic Florence Griswold House and the special exhibition Connecticut Treasures: Works from Private Collections.

At 7 p.m. the Bee and Thistle Inn and Spa hosts A Midsummer Dinner: Feast, Fairies and Fun, where you can enjoy a scrumptious feast under the light of the moon, complete with strolling minstrels and fairies.  Shakespearean dress optional.  $75 per person (part of the proceeds benefit the Lyme Art Association).  For reservations and information call the Inn at 860-434-1667.

Alternatively round off the evening with a free concert by the Old Lyme Town Band beginning at 7:30 p.m. behind Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.  Bring a picnic, a blanket or chair and your friends.  Enjoy the music and then after a short break watch the town-funded fireworks display, which  begins at dusk (around 9:15 p.m.)


90th Anniversary Celebration for Camp Hazen YMCA

A Camp Hazen Brochure

Founded in 1920, Camp Hazen YMCA will mark 90 years of service to generations of children and teenagers with a family orientated 90th Anniversary Celebration for alumni, camper families, and friends to be held on, Saturday, August 7, 2010.

 This fun filled day will feature camp and waterfront activities, special events, time to renew friendships and end with a campfire and candlelighting ceremony. Camp Hazen YMCA was founded on the shores of Cedar Lake in Chester, CT by the Connecticut YMCA. This group of businessmen was spearheaded by state senator and retired publisher Edward W. Hazen, of Haddam, who donated the original camp property.

The 1920 parent brochure stated Camp will provide a place where young men will “Live in the great out doors, rub shoulders with fellows, learn the secrets of the woods, imbibe the spirit of the campfire, learn the lessons of nature and the God of Nature, with experiences which send him back home thrilled for higher attainments in his own life and conduct.” The camp served boys and young men for its first 59 years, and became coeducational in 1979.

The 90th Anniversary Celebration will provide opportunities for staff and camp alumni, camper families and the community to renew friendships, refresh memories of camp, and see how Hazen has changed since their last visit.

Bring your bathing suit, hiking boots, climbing shoes, family and friends and be prepared for an exciting day at Camp Hazen YMCA. Registration begins at 11:00 am. All activities, picnic lunch and dinner are included in the registration fee: $25.00 per individual or $50.00 per family. For information or call Camp Hazen YMCA at 860-526-9529.


DEP Biologist to Present on Bat Die-Off in Chester, August 15th

From a press release:

Mark your calendar for Sunday, August 15th from 4-6 pm at the Chester Meeting House in Chester, CT for a special program “What is killing the bats, and why does this affect us?” a presentation by Jennie Dickson, Supervising Wildlife Biologist at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Dickson has been surveying caves in Connecticut tracking the mortality rates of sickened bats and will speak on the disease and research for causes and cures. Come and learn about ways you can help the DEP conserve wildlife. Refreshments will be served.

Email for more information.


Ten Tips for a Healthy, Eco-friendly Lawn

We welcomed another new columnist George James.   

George, a  former Old Lyme Citizen of the Year and veteran environmentalist, pictured left, presents his inaugural Conservation Corner column about how to maintain a eco-friendly lawn.

Healthy lawns have been around long before the chemical industry convinced people that heavy doses of chemical fertilizer, weed killer, and insecticides were absolutely essential in order to have a decent looking lawn.  The end product is often sterile soil contaminated with herbicides and pesticides that may be harmful to birds, pets, and especially children.  Follow these 10 steps and have a healthy lawn and a better environment!

1. Save yourself time, work, and money by testing your soil’s pH – for forms and sampling kits, contact

2. Choose the right seed for reseeding the lawn in the spring and fall.  There are numerous varieties to suit your special lawn conditions- direct sun, partial shade, dense shade, sandy or moist soil.  Reduce the size of your lawn with plantings of perennials and shrubs.  Lawn mowers are notorious polluters.  The less time they are used the better for the environment.

3. Rake out the thatch in the spring and save it for soil building organic matter in a composting bin.  Very heavy thatch may indicate an unhealthy lack of active microbes in the soil.

4. Based on the soil test, add organic fertilizer and soil additives such as rock dust or lime but do so sparingly.  More is not better!  An insoluble organic fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous is appropriate.  Avoid high nitrogen chemical fertilizers.

5. Add a thin layer of organic compost, available at most garden centers, if you haven’t made your own from thatch, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, wood ashes, vegetable wastes, etc.

6. Mow the grass when it is three to four inches high and keep the cutting blade sharp.  Short cut grass requires much more water and is subject to more disease and drought.  Cut the grass short only in the late fall.  Grass clippings can be left on the lawn and will supply about half of the required nitrogen for the lawn at no cost to you.  Clippings do not cause thatch.

7. A dense healthy lawn is the best herbicide.  There is no such thing as a weed free lawn.  Clover is not a weed.  It is one of the few plants that restores nitrogen to the soil.  Wood ashes encourage the growth of clover, and clover doesn’t need as many cuttings.  It also self-seeds.

8. Use corn gluten products to control weeds before they emerge, but apply the corn gluten only on established lawns.  Weed patches can be covered with black plastic in the fall and reseeded after the weeds die.  Vinegar is a good spot weed killer.

9. August sun and heat cause the lawn to undergo a natural die back or rest each summer, especially if the lawn is cut very short.  Leaving grass clippings on the lawn helps to prevent excessive drying at this time.  Water deeply (two inches – one full tuna can) if you must water at this time.

10. Use beneficial nematodes and milky spore powder for effective grub control.  Plant shrubs that encourage birds to frequent your yard.


Eagle Watch Boat Trips Continue Through March

Both the Connecticut River Museum and Connecticut Audubon society will continue their eagle watch tours this month. Both organizations feature vessels with heated cabins and large outdoor decks to accomodate eagle watchers.

Connecticut Audubon EcoTravel and CT River Expeditions – RiverQuest tours run through March 21st, departing from Haddam’s Eagle Landing State Park. Tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 9:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:30PM, and 3:30PM. Complimentary coffee and tea included and binoculars are available for use during the cruise. For information, scheduling and prices visit Connecticut Audubon Society at, phone 860-767-0660 or RiverQuest at, phone 860-662-0577.

The Connecticut River Museum’s tours depart from Essex Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March 14th. Coffee and binoculars are provided, and each $40 ticket includes admission to the Museum. Departure times are 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 1:00 p.m. Fridays. Call (860) 767-8269 for more information and ticket purchases.