joycesirota@gmail.com; mickeysirota@gmail.com

322-7572; 322-5671

Signs of life

Searsmonters who stop working full time think they will have lots of leisure hours. But like many of our neighbors, neither of us is good at that. So when we have free time, walking the road is a real gift. On a sunny cold January afternoon you can hear a confused chickadee’s spring call. There’s a pileated woodpecker thumping on a dead tree, flying away before you can grab a photo. The wind rushes and sighs and rattles through last year’s dried cattails by the side of the road. Life is good. We continue to be grateful for the extraordinary place that is Searsmont.

Town Office

Selectmen continued with budget and town meeting discussions at their Jan. 24 work session, with likely warrant items and budget increases next year for roads, paving and a new Community Center electric sign board. The public budget hearing is set for Tuesday, Feb. 8, 6 p.m., following the February Selectmen’s meeting at 5 p.m.

The Donation Advisory Committee met last week to consider $15,000 in requests from 18 charitable organizations. Combined, they served 700 Searsmonters last year. The committee’s recommendations amount to about $20 per person served, a little less “per capita” than last year. Selectmen will review the list and present it to Town Meeting April 3 for discussion and a vote.

Moth harvest time

Searsmont has been a brown-tail moth hot spot for years. You can give yourself a break from the rash and itch in the spring and summer by cutting out and destroying winter nests now. Stand with the sun behind you and find the silk-shining nests that look like a folded leaf at the end of a branch (not the gypsy moth nests in the crook by the stem). Wear gloves, which you would anyway because it’s cold out there, cut off the branch end, and dump the whole thing (except for the gloves) into a bucket of soapy water for a day or three. You won’t get them all, but every nest produces up to 400 of the crawly, hairy things so it’s worth a half-day to try. Let us know how you are dealing with the nests high up in oaks and apple trees.

Bits and pieces

If you have not done so yet, go to COVIDTests.gov and order four free home test boxes, courtesy of the feds. We did it and it was easy, though we will not get them for a week or two. We checked, and the tests can stay in your mail box in the cold for a day or so and will still work. Searsmonters, like everyone else, are waiting to see how the omicron surge plays out. Will COVID become a “forever illness” like the flu, with yearly boosters and precautions? Stay tuned.

Lots of Searsmont traffic after it snows. Photo by Joyce Sirota

Wild critters like Searsmont. The snow shows a whole mess of tracks and a short walk holding a track-and-scat nature guide lets us know who made them. Sure, the picture in the book never quite matches the actual tracks. Figuring it out is half the fun.

Folks in town are reporting a ton of turkeys. They are also seeing hawks, with plenty of feathers on the ground near bird feeders to indicate a successful hunt. City folk do not get to see these things. Most of them do not experience how easily frozen logs split for the woodstove, either.

A happy Lunar New Year to our Asian-American friends and neighbors.