The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 30, 1999


When Will This Ever End?

As I drive down Concord Street heading towards Concord, it breaks my heart to see what is happening to the land on the left side of the road, just before the town line. Large pieces of earth-moving equipment are cutting a great swath into the property now known as Buttrick Woods, a new 13-lot development in Carlisle. The line-up of "for sale" signs along the way makes matters even worse.

There had been the hope that Carlisle could keep the vistas along roads leading in and out of Carlisle open and free of development. That seems not to be the case.

Carlisle is not the only town concerned with open space and development. Surrounding towns in the vicinity of Route 495 are now experiencing the same pressures for development that towns around Route 128 did almost 50 years ago.

Mansionization, tear-downs, preserving open space and conservation land are all issues facing communities like Carlisle that wish to preserve some semblance of rural character. Each town is grappling with these issues in its own way.

At next week's Town Meeting, Carlisleans will have an opportunity to vote for two important articles that will go a long way to stem this onslaught of development. First, a vote to acquire the 43 acres of Wang-Coombs property at the corner of Fiske and Curve Street will be a crucial step towards preserving a piece of actively farmed land near the Carlisle Cranberry Bog.

Second, although the $5 million serial bonding article has been taken off the Warrant for the time being, Article 21 asks the town to vote $100,000 for the seriously depleted Conservation Fund. This fund enables the conservation commission to secure options, make deposits, conduct surveys and appraisals, and generally maintain credibility as a buyer when desirable parcels come up for sale.

Preserving open space and conservation land costs money, no doubt about it. But, as the recently published report "Growing Pains" advocates, the town must explore all avenues toward controlling development before it is necessary to build a new school, which the authors contend could cost the town more money in the long run than buying parcels of land as they come on the market. This is useful information to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase the Wang-Coombs property and support the Conservation Fund.

Dances With Bears

It began three weekends ago. I awoke to see one of my two bee hives knocked off its stand. Fortunately, I had taped the two deep super hive boxes together to make them warmer for the winter. The tape had held the core of the hive together.

Over the next week, my hives were disturbed a number of times. Once, a frame of honey had been detached, dragged into the woods, and half devoured. Other hives on Acton Street had also been disturbed, and officers had chased a small black bear into the woods. Recently, we had three female turkeys roosting near us and parading over our lawn each morning. Suddenly, they had disappeared. I found scuff marks at the edge of the woods. One night our bird feeder was flattened, the seed emptied.

The shadows in the woods behind my house took on a sinister quality. I considered carrying an "Arkansas toothpick" a Bowie knife Davy Crockett had used successfully against a bear on a Disney show in the '50s. Instead, I called the police. Chief Galvin informed me that he had contacted the Fish and Wildlife Department. They would only act if and when a bear disturbed an agricultural enterprise. Could my two hives be classified as an agricultural enterprise? I wasn't even in the ballpark.

I then consulted my bee mentor, thinking I might move the hives inside my pool fence. But no you can only move hives two or three feet per day; otherwise, the bees will fly back to the place where the hive was the previous day. My hives were over 50 feet from the pool fence.

I bought materials for a 4-foot-high fence. That night, I put a working light and a radio out by the hives. I tuned the radio to a rap station, and retired to watch Mystery! on Channel 2. At 10:30 p.m. I looked out the window to check the light. It wasn't where I had placed it! This is exactly how murder cases on Mystery! begin a dark house, a nearby light; then the light moves, and the owner is lured into the night!

I gripped my Louisville Slugger and a flashlight and tiptoed up to the hives. The light had been dragged to the edge of the woods.[!] I walked carefully into the pool of light; the hives were undisturbed.[!!] Suddenly, I heard a sharp grunt and noise from the other side of the pool of light.[!!!] Raising the Louisville Slugger over my head, I charged into the woods in full battle cry, which in my family (owing to my mother's maiden name of McIntosh) happens to be "Loch Moy!", the name of the lake beside the ancestral McIntosh mansion in Scotland. In 1745 the clan had charged across Culloden Field to their deaths against the British army with the same battle cry.

About five feet into the woods, hearing the bear bounding away through the underbrush, I realized that I ought not press my advantage. When cornered, even little bears can turn ornery. One summer before college I worked in a roadside zoo. I got to be friends with Suzie, a little black bear who liked to stand on her hind legs and waltz with me as another helper cleaned her cage. Even though Suzie only stood up to my waist, I can still remember prying her sharp claws out of the flesh of my back.

Since that encounter, nothing has been disturbed. The bear was last seen heading east at a high rate of speed. East Carlisle, it's your problem now.


1999 The Carlisle Mosquito