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2013 - Issue 2

Finally Spring

Spring was slow to arrive this year but over the next two weeks there are seven events taking place in the area to get you motivated and moving.

This newsletter is to primarily to make you aware of these opportunities. They include a book sale, hike along the Hockanum River, slideshow on Tankerhoosen Treasures, talk on the Old Connecticut Path, Earth Day presentations on protecting our natural habitats, 100 year church anniversary and, for the kids, an animals on the farm program. See 'Upcoming Activities' for more on each.

The gardens are popping and although its too soon to smell the roses there are a lot of other blooms to enjoy. And planning ahead to summer the Vernon Garden Club will hold its biennial Vernon Garden Tour on Saturday, July 13.

There are a number of news items relating to the Tankerhoosen Valley that aren't included in these newsletters. You are encouraged to join our Facebook Page or visit our News Page regularly for more frequent updates. See News Items for links and recent news.

As always click on the images for a larger picture.

Jon Roe   

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Upcoming Activities

As the 2013 season gets underway in the Tankerhoosen Valley there are seven events in the next two weeks you should be aware of. More information on these events can be found on our Activities Page.

Dart Hill North Hike/Nature Walk

The Vernon Hockanum River Linear Park Committee is leading a hike and nature walk along the Hockanum River on Sunday, April 28. The free event begins at 1 p.m. at the Water Treatment Plant parking lot, Route 74, Vernon, between Stop & Shop and the Ellington circle. The hike is 1.4 miles in each direction. Cars will be parked at the Dart Hill Road parking lot for those who only desire to go in one direction.

The Hike/Walk will be led by GEORGE ARTHUR with JANE SEYMOUR, DEEP Wildlife Technician, offering nature comments along the way. Our first guided hike of the season.

Tankerhoosen Valley Treasures

On Wednesday, May 1 at 1 p.m. your website host JON ROE will offer a presentation on the Tankerhoosen River Valley sponsored by the Vernon Senior Center, 26 Park Place in Rockville. The Tankerhoosen River is only five miles long flowing east to west across southern Vernon. It is often overshadowed by Rockville and its rich industrial history; yet the Tankerhoosen River valley has its own story to tell of old mills, manufacturing, murder, lost villages, war heroes, scientific discovery and enterprising pioneers. Deservedly known for its many hiking trails what is not be appreciated is how connected the green areas are, giving Vernon a unique characteristic not found in any other area town. Take a tour down the Tankerhoosen Valley exploring special gardens, landscape features, historical sites, and share the beauty of the area as well as the stories of those who visited or lived in the area.

The event is free and everyone is welcome. To reserve a place contact ELLEN BALLOS, eballos@vernon-ct.gov or (860) 870-3680.

Vernon Greenways Volunteers Annual Program

Also on Wednesday, May 1 in the evening at 7 p.m. the Vernon Greenways Volunteers will hold their annual Spring Kickoff Program at the Teen Center, 375 Hartford Turnpike (Route 30) in Vernon. This year the featured speaker will be JASON NEWTON, who has been researching the Old Connecticut Path, the route Thomas Hooker and other early settlers took from Cambridge, MA to Hartford in 1635. Newton believes the path passes through Tolland and Vernon. See our next article for more information.

The cost is free and the public is welcome. For information contact DON BELLINGHAM (860) 872-6061 or vernongreenways@att.net. If you enjoy the outdoors consider becoming a member of the volunteers.

Earth Day Celebration: Protecting Vernon's Natural Habitats

On Saturday, May 4 the Vernon Conservation Commission hosts an Earth Day Symposium where two presentations will be offered:

Residential Rain Gardens and Healthy Lawn Care: 9:30-10:30: MIKAEL DIETZ, water resources educator will show how you can protect the water quality of our streams and ponds by installing rain gardens and properly using lawn fertilizers.

Managing Habitats to Protect Native Species: 11-12: JANE SEYMOUR, CT Wildlife Biologist and Steward of the Belding and Tankerhoosen Wildlife Management Areas, will tell about projects to restore American chestnut and pitch pine forests and expand grassland.

It will be held at the Tolland County Agricultural Center, 24 Hyde St. (Rte. 30), Vernon from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. For information contact TOM OUELLETTE at (860) 965-6180 or tom.r.ouellette@gmail.com

Other Upcoming Events

A summary of three other events taking place in the Tankerhoosen Valley during the next month. The Activities Page of our website lists detail on these and all known upcoming events, while immediate events are listed at the top of our Home Page and are also posted on our Facebook Page.

Friday, April 25 through Sunday, May 5: The Vernon Historical Society holds its Annual Book Sale at their museum on Route 30. The sale is a fund raiser and features a wide selection of used hardcover and paperback books, DVDs, VCR tapes and books on tape. See VHS website for days and hours. Learn more.

Talcottville Congregational Church's 100th Anniversary: The original Talcottville Congregational Church was destroyed by fire in 1906. It was rebuilt over the next few years and the first service was held there on May 9, 1913. On Sunday, May 5 the church will be rededicated marking the 100th anniversary of that first service. The Talcottville Congregational Church is located at 10 Elm Hill Road in Talcottville. The service begins at 11 a.m. For information call (860) 649-0815.

Animals On The Farm Day: On Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. the Strong Family Farm is having a day for kids young and old to learn about farm animals. There will be baby farm animals, an Adopt-a-Chicken program, children’s activities, a farm tour, community activities information as well as doughnuts, coffee and other foods for sale. The farm is located at 274 West Street in Vernon. For information contact (860) 874-9020 or info@strongfarm.org. (Pouring rain date May 18th)

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History: Old Connecticut Path

REVEREND THOMAS HOOKER and his congregation set out on a journey from Cambridge, MA to Hartford, CT in May 1636 along what came to be known as the Old Connecticut Path. This group was among those who followed the trail west through the unsettled wilderness to build a new life in Connecticut. With him were the founders of the Connecticut Talcott, Steele and Skinner families, some of whose descendants settled in Vernon.

The project to rediscover the Old Connecticut Path began for JASON NEWTON as a family history project to find the route from Cambridge to Hartford followed by his ancestors. Rediscovering the almost forgotten route required many hours over the past three years exploring the woods and forgotten byways along the way to find traces of the Path and to confirm markers described in histories.

Although open to debate Newton feels the most likely path was through Tolland and then along Route 30, Hartford Turnpike in Vernon. This was a major Native American path from the villages on the Connecticut River to a large village in the Stafford Springs area. It follows something of a ridge line along the northern edge of the Tankerhoosen Valley. Along this path and ridge line our first settlers built their farms, homes and churches.

Jason's hope is to work with town and state organizations to create a heritage trail where the Old Connecticut Path may have been. If the Trail becomes a reality he is recommending that from Tolland to Hartford it follow Tankerhoosen Valley trails to the Hockanum River. Although this may not be the actual path it comes closest to showing the type of terrain the early settlers would have journeyed on.

» Learn more about Thomas Hooker and the Old Connecticut Path.

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Out & About: Vernon Healthfest

Although the primary purpose of the Vernon Healthfest, held at VCMS the first weekend in April, was to educate area families about natural health alternatives, holistic modalities, and services available regionally; it has also become an opportunity for area recreation and preservation groups to meet with the public. This year represented were the Strong Family Farm, Vernon Conservation Commission, Northern CT Land Trust, Vernon Park & Rec Department, Friends of Valley Falls and The Tankerhoosen. Vernon has over 30 miles of trails and extensive green areas. We were proud to let our neighbors also know what treasures we have in Vernon.

The photo shows Friends of Valley Falls president GINNY GINGRAS with NANCY STRONG of the Strong Family Farm. It was taken by photographer ANDRE GARANT.

» Learn more about the Vernon Healthfest.
» See more Andre Garant Vernon Healthfest photos.

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Nature: Spirit Of The Tankerhoosen

Many cultures recognize the Spirit of Place; the Romans called it 'genius loci.' It refers to the unique, distinctive and cherished aspects of a place. It is as much in the invisible weave of culture (stories, art, memories, beliefs, histories, etc.) as it is the tangible physical aspects of a place (monuments, boundaries, rivers, woods, pathways, views, and so on).

I like to believe the Tankerhoosen has this magical quality that we can connect with as we walk her paths, rest beside her streams and lakes, and breath in her air. It refreshes and invigorates us physically, mentally and spiritually.

POLLY SCHAEFER took this wonderful picture capturing an angelic image. You can call it just a play of light through the trees, but I choose to think of it as the Spirit of the Tankerhoosen. Thanks for sharing it Polly.

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Recreation: Gardens

Spring is late this year and so is the awakening of our gardens. Featured this month are two that bloom in the spring. Each is unusual and a treasured addition to the Tankerhoosen Valley. We hope you will visit each before the blooms fade.

Daffodil Labyrinth

Located at the Tolland County Agricultural Center is the Daffodil Labyrinth, a spring labyrinth made from flowers. When the yellow daffodils of spring appear in late March so does the labyrinth. As the daffodils fade in April violet grape hyacinths appear to hold the pattern into May. As summer arrives the labyrinth is mowed and vanishes until the following spring.

The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness and has been found in all cultures and religions. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering, but purposeful, path representing a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

» Visit TAC's Daffodil Labyrinth.

Wings Butterfly Garden

The Wings Butterfly Garden at 60 Lake Street is another spring garden, primarily azaleas and rhododendrons. It was created for families who have suffered the deaths of their babies or unborn children. It is laid out in the shape of a butterfly and features numerous winged decorations.

The garden is owned by the Town of Vernon and maintained by Vernon Parks & Rec and Manchester Memorial Hospital bereavement nurse NANCY KRUPIENSKI. With many azaleas and rhododendrons it is particularly lovely in May and is open to everyone to enjoy. Parking is available on the site.

» Visit Wings Butterfly Garden.

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News Items

Between issues of this newsletter stay current with news and updates on our News and Facebook Pages. Also as events are scheduled for the coming season we'll add them to our Activities Page as well as post them on Facebook.

Some stories you may have missed: Spring Turkey Hunting Opens at Tankerhoosen WMA, John Talcott, Jr In National Geographic magazine, the PZC Approves Incorporating LID Techniques, the Strong Farm Is Added To CT Registry Of Historic Places, and Winter Storm Charlotte.

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