Sept. 14 Halloween Town & Moreau State Park
Before crossing the State line back into New York we paid a visit to Windsor, Vermont – the birthplace of Vermont. Apart from visiting Dan’s Windsor Diner, a chrome & wood diner car dating back to a much simpler era and the oddly named, but fascinating, American Precision Museum (site of the 1840’s Robbins and Lawrence Armory) I managed to focus in on the one thing the town is not likely to promote. Windsor Vermont is a Halloween town complete with a spooky old graveyard full of slate headstones topped with hollow-eyed angels and spiders. Lots of spiders.
I won’t dwell on this aspect, but the arachnids of Windsor appear to be working for Hollywood set designers. They have spanned nearly every building angle with webs and have occupied every crack and cranny in town. The stoplights at the corner of Main & State are mounted on the sidewalk like streetlights. The light on the northeast corner was completely draped with a layer of webbing (see below & here). It is real webbing and not the movie prop kind.
This means that Windsor is probably free of noxious all insect pests but few spider-phobic types would acknowledge that fact. Perhaps the town could hit on this as a slogan and proclaim themselves as “the bug free town” and remind folks that spiders are bug-eaters and are not bugs themselves.
The scenery around Lake Moreau in New York is a long way from that offered by Windsor’ween Town. The rolling topography and deep woods offered many highlights, but two came to the fore.
There was a beaver lodge actually marked on the park map. It was a real beaver lodge and not a creatively named picnic shelter. This thing shared as much ink on the paper guide as the other permanent facilities such as the bathrooms, park office and, well… picnic shelters. On one level this was like marking a woodpecker hole or a Chipmunk den, being a creature-made structure, but on the other hand it acknowledges the amazing abilities of our largest local rodent. Woodpeckers change location every year and chippy dens are hardly worth viewing. Beaver lodges can last for years and remain a part of the landscape long after the residents have moved on.
I assumed this lodge was abandoned but ample shoreline evidence proved that an active family of Castors still resided there. These guys had even attempted to dam up the narrows under the bridge between the lakes. My efforts to see these fellows were a bit frustrating, however. Beavers are primarily nocturnal. I did see the pair in the twilight at around 7 pm and resolved to return the next morning to catch them again.
Early the next morning before the sun had sufficiently crept over the mountains enough to illuminate the lake, the beavers were again in evidence. Unfortunately they were in the process of heading home. I was able to see them linger for a moment before plunging under and entering the lodge for the day(see here). It seems that the Lake Moreau beavers keep a 7 to 7 night schedule. They would not show themselves in the full light of day for better observation/photography. Dam.
I couldn’t have asked for better view of the Red Eft that showed itself on the beach just as the first beams of morning light struck the opposite shore. Efts are the terrestrial stage of the Eastern Newt. They start out as aquatic larvae, leave the water for a few years to live as a land lubber, and eventually return to the water to spend the rest of their days as a water beast. The water form is a green gill breather with a substantial tail fin. On land it becomes bright orange-red lung breather with a round tail. I believe Newt Gingrich, for instance, transformed into Newt Rockne for a brief time.
There is a possibility that this particular Newt was recently transformed (after losing out on his candidacy for the lake presidency). He was discovered on the sandy beach heading toward the forest and was about as fresh looking as you can get. This little beast actually glowed. The pebbly skin texture, gummy worm glow, and bright red speckling made it look almost good enough to eat.
I did not eat that Eft, but instead let it continue on its terrestrial adventure. Red Efts have toxic skin (it’s not just the eye of the newt that makes for a good witches brew). They will emit noxious compounds when roughed up by potential predators. Ingesting one would either have made me very sick or have turned me into a politician.
P.S. Just for fun, I thought I’d include this roadside image taken in the neighborhood of Halloween Town – talk about mixed messages!