Today Magazine • November 2022

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TODAY Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley

REALITY REFUGE George Payne McLean

McLean Game Refuge Marks 90th Anniversary

NOVEMBER 2022

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BLUE CLUES • The male Eastern Bluebird is royal blue on the back and head and red-brown on the breast • Eastern Bluebirds live across eastern North America and as far south as Nicaragua • Young b luebirds from spring and summer nests typically leave their parents, but young from later nests often stay with their parents through the winter

Photos by Wendy Rosenberg

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LEADING OFF

One Game For All + All For McLean

CONTENTS COVER STORY

4 — Happy 90th Anniversary As McLean Game Refuge celebrates its 90th birthday, reps from the Farmington Valley land trusts and others voice their appreciation for this breathtaking treasure NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

6 — Extra, Extra: Exclusive Interview McLean Game Refuge director Connor Hogan offers an exclusive Q&A for Today Magazine readers VETERAN VOICES

17 — Veteran Invite Your wish is their command — a VFW commander issues an inviting welcome to vets who seek friendship

MCLEAN GAME REFUGE is celebrating its 90th anniversary throughout 2022, and the November edition of Today Magazine applauds this remarkable Farmington Valley masterpiece. The Game Refuge is a wildlife sanctuary comprising nearly 7 square miles. Given the ubiquitous nature of our hightech computer era, we need a haven from virtual reality — and McLean Game Refuge offers such a refuge via the bona-fide reality of creation’s glory. Connecticut Gov. and Sen. George McLean founded the refuge posthumously in his will. His birthdate — October 7 — shares history with the day the Afghanistan War began in 2001. The date of his death — June 6 — shares history with D-Day, which essentially ended World War II. McLean was born (1857) and died (1932) in Simsbury and is buried in Simsbury Cemetery. Here’s a classic McLean quote: The Game Refuge is “a place where some of the things God made may be seen by those who love them as I loved them and who may find in them the peace of mind and body I have found” — BWD

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18 — Milestone Biz News Farmington Valley business enterprises mark myriad milestones as the holiday season draws near QUOTE OF THE MONTH

The Game Refuge is “a place where some of the things God made may be seen by those who love them as I loved them”—George McLean BY THE NUMBERS

US presidents at McLean cabin — 2

LETTERS

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COVER STORY KUDOS Today Magazine’s October cover story features a graceful and poignant first-person account of an adoption journey • CLICK HERE for our coverage Our September cover story is a cogent account about Italian WWII veteran Diego Mozzanica — but the link was mistakenly omitted • CLICK HERE for that coverage THE STORY about my adoption process and family looks great — thank you again for all your work and editorial guidance! — Katherine Trinh Napier • Canton

Today Magazine • Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley Bruce William Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 • Bruce.Deckert@TodayPublishing.net www.TodayPublishing.net > Digital Editions • Award-Winning Today Online • 24/7 news — www.TodayPublishing.net/blog Follow Today Magazine CT on social media > Advertising — Contact the Publisher Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Photographer — Wendy Rosenberg Five Towns • One Aim — Exceptional Community Journalism Farmington • Avon • Canton • Simsbury • Granby – CT • USA

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It is a beautiful and profound firsthand account. Lots of good wishes to her for the future, and prayers and hope for all the kids still awaiting a second chance at a better life. — Sana Syed • Simsbury THANK YOU for the feature on my education career in the September edition. My family was so happy to read it. My elder son (the Saint Thomas resident) is the reason I have Berlin aka my favorite rescue cat from Saint Thomas! I was also so happy to see that Avon High senior Chloe Kieper wrote the feature. I love to see students in your magazine. — Dr. Eileen O’Neil • Simsbury SUBSCRIBE to TODAY for FREE — CLICK HERE TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – NOVEMBER 2022

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The Eastern Barndoor Hill Summit is one of the most botanically diverse areas at McLean Game Refuge

REALITY REFUGE

McLean Game Refuge Celebrates 90th Anniversary By James Q. Rice Special to Today Magazine

EDITOR’S NOTES

COVER STORY

IT IS EASY to miss McLean Game Refuge as we zip past while driving by the main entrance on Salmon Brook Street in Granby. What looks like a small commuter lot is just one of about 20 entry points to these 4400 acres of wild land that are only accessible by foot. Wandering through parts of Granby, West Granby and into Simsbury, McLean means more than just trees, birds and ponds. It is part of the fabric and soul of this area. Like any natural wonder, McLean offers something different in every season. Visitors in the summer may enjoy access through a back entrance on Bushy Hill Road that leads them to the Summit Trail. This perch is the perfect spot to watch hawks soar over their prey in the cooling breeze while waiting for the golden hour before sunset. It is not uncommon to startle hikers who have stretched their

McLean Game Refuge is observing its 90th anniversary this year, and the November edition of Today Magazine celebrates this amazing Farmington Valley treasure

hammocks between a couple of cedar trees in hopes of catching a leisurely catnap just off the beaten path. Fall brings a symphony of color and urgency to the forest as squirrels work overtime getting ready for the cooler months that lay ahead. The first frost bites and we enjoy the end of bug season. Multihour hikes are possible and it is now much harder to get lost with the new trail signs. Early morning and late afternoon outings are darker and the noon “rush hour” now looks like the best time for a quick scramble. Winter, though, is perhaps the best time to experience McLean because every footprint tells a story. Who was this? When were they here? Where were they going? The kid in me has all these unanswered questions as I slide by on my ancient cross-country skis hoping to catch a

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The Game Refuge is a 4400-acre wildlife sanctuary located primarily in Granby and Simsbury, with a smaller section in Canton Given the pervasive nature of our high-tech computer age, it’s safe to say that we sometimes need a refuge from video games and virtual reality — and McLean Game Refuge offers precisely such a haven, offering the genuine reality of nature’s splendor ———————————————————————— PAGE 6—Q&A: Game Refuge Director PAGE 9—Land Trust Reps Salute McLean ———————————————————————————

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ON THE COVER Trout Pond Cabin — McLean Game Refuge George Payne McLean, a senator and governor of Connecticut, built this log cabin near Trout Pond early in the 20th century — he hosted U.S. presidents Calvin Coolidge and William Howard Taft at the cabin, and established McLean Game Refuge in 1932

glimpse of a new four-legged friend. Early birds may even arrive into McLean with virgin powder beckoning deeper and deeper into the woods for more adventure. Spring — of course — is the time for rebirth and young love. As the ice melts on Trout Pond, baby turtles emerge and slumber at night on the warmer dry land. Canada geese parade their goslings around the pond just until the turtles are ready for solid food. The buds start to pop around Tax Day and the forest is once again full of green by the time Memorial Day rolls around to complete the cycle. I have gotten “lost” in McLean Game Refuge only to find that life has never been more clear to me. Every year a major magazine publishes a list of the happiest countries in the world. Finland is almost always near the top of the list. When interviewed, the Finnish people often cite their kinship with nature as a primary reason for the smiles on their faces. Indeed, many of us enjoy a regular “woods bath” in the hidden treasures like McLean that are sprinkled around our small state. Perhaps good things really do come in small packages and beauty is often sitting right under our noses. + James Q. (aka Jamie) Rice is the founder and owner of registered investment advisory firm JQR Capital — he was a longtime Granby resident until earlier this year

Photo by James Q. Rice

Eastern Box Turtle — McLean Game Refuge

Rice serves on the board of directors of the Granby-Simsbury Chamber of Commerce JQR Capital • 860-325-0330 • www.jqrcapital.com TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – NOVEMBER 2022

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Nine Decades of Natural Wonder

Photo by James Q. Rice

90 Years Later, McLean’s Vision Endures Special to Today Magazine

McLean Game Refuge director Connor Hogan has answered this exclusive Q&A The McLean Game Refuge is a 4400acre wildlife sanctuary located mostly in Granby and Simsbury, with a smaller section in Canton — the two main entrances are in Granby, and there are 20 entrances overall The Game Refuge was established in 1932 by George Payne McLean, the renowned senator and governor of Connecticut who was born in Simsbury

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Mission There is no formal mission statement, but we have four management initiatives: research, conservation, education and recreation. Most fulfilling aspect of your work? I am endlessly amazed by how diverse and beautiful these forestlands are, and I love that I get to explore and document them each day. Your biggest obstacle, and how you overcome it? Destructive recreation — off-leash dogs, dirt-biking, camping/campfires, unauthorized trailblazing, etc. — has

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NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS ————————————————— MCLEAN GAME REFUGE Mailing Address 75 Great Pond Road – Simsbury (860) 653-7869 gamerefugeinfo@mcleancare.org Instagram — @mclean_game_refuge www.mcleangamerefuge.org Year Established — 1932 ————————————————


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always been a problem. We have improved signage and tightened restrictions on dog access with some success. It’s an endless task to manage people. Most satisfying accomplishment? Establishing the Forest Ranger internship program for college students in 2018. Goals for the next 1-5 years? Increase research partnerships, improve wildlife management projects, regional conservation partnerships. How has the COVID pandemic impacted your work? Before 2020, we saw about 20,000 visitations annually. That number jumped to 50,000 in 2020. All the normal struggles from recreation increased proportionally — trash, vandalism, offleash dogs, etc. Interesting stats + numbers: • Nearly 600 plant species and hundreds of animals • We’ve documented over 1,500 species living here • Our oldest known tree began growing before 1645 and our tallest trees are 150 feet tall

that life has never been more clear to me — James Q. Rice Board members:

Besides donations, how is your work funded?

Kathleen Alsgaard RN • Retired Director of Clinical Programs and Services • United Health Care

George McLean established the Game Refuge with an endowment to help fund operations.

James Cox-Chapman MD • Chief Medical Officer ProHealth Physicians

How closely do you work with other agencies/nonprofits?

Jared Grise The Dennis Group LLC

Constantly — we work with local, state and federal conservation entities as well as other nonprofits, universities and recreation groups.

Robert S. Hensley Managing Partner Robert Hensley & Associates LLC

What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley?

Michael Paine Chair and President • Paine’s Inc.

It has beautiful pines and old forests.

Linda Schofield Former Connecticut State Representative

What constructive change would you like to see in the Valley?

Philip Schulz Retired Managing Partner PricewaterhouseCoopers

More collaboration among the conservation groups. Number of employees: This varies constantly — usually we have 2-5 forest rangers at any point throughout the year.

Mark Wetzel President Fiduciary Investment Advisors LLC Volunteers — none right now +

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This free-flowing waterfall in McLean Game Refuge is juxtaposed with two small rock caves on either side Photo by Phil Philbrick

Paying Tribute to McLean Game Refuge ——————————————————————————————————————— In this tribute and salute to McLean Game Refuge, representatives of the five Farmington Valley land trusts — plus the Farmington River Watershed Association — express their appreciation for this sylvan Valley treasure that is both local and national in its scope Five core towns comprise the Farmington Valley, based on how Today Magazine defines the Valley’s coverage area — Avon, Canton, Farmington, Granby and Simsbury ———————————————————————————————————————

Exploring Via Eyes of Child

deployed long-term temperature loggers in Bissell Brook and Salmon Brook’s West Branch to monitor the cold water habitat year-round for temperature-sensitive species such as trout. Land protection and forests are critical to the health of our streams and our watershed. The McLean Game Refuge is not only providing clean, cool waters, but also beneficial wildlife habitat for many diverse species. As development puts pressure on our waterways, and open spaces and forested lands have become fragmented and fewer, the Game Refuge shines out as a treasure. I was lucky to be able

By Laura Hart Special to Today Magazine

Laura Hart is conservation director of the Simsbury-based Farmington River Watershed Association — aka FRWA ———————————————————————————————————————————— ON A CLEAR DAY with blue skies and the sun shining brightly, I find myself with my 1-year old daughter Nova hiking in McLean Game Refuge. She is happily sitting in her backpack as I carry her through the beautiful woods. We take the trail that crosses over the West Branch of Salmon Brook and see the clear water flowing under the bridge. As I breathe in the fresh air, I think of the work that the Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) does in partnership with McLean Game Refuge to evaluate water quality. Last year we performed macroinvertebrate surveys in the Game Refuge and the results indicate high water quality in tributaries and in the West Branch of Salmon Brook. We

to hike and ski in the refuge as a child — I grew up in Farmington, and after living in New York state, Sweden, New Hartford and Burlington, I’m now back in Farmington. Spending time in McLean as a youth made me appreciate nature and ultimately led me to a career in the environmental nonprofit world. FRWA’s educational programs, especially our macroinvertebrate surveys, allow us to show and explore our streams with children of all ages. The wonder and amazement when a child finds a water penny beetle or a caddisfly under a rock connect them to their environment — and that is the beginning of stewardship. continued on next page TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – NOVEMBER 2022

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Protecting land is the key to healthy, cool streams and rivers that support wildlife and are places we enjoy with our families and the future generations to come. I am excited to show the beautiful places within McLean to my daughter and to re-explore it through her eyes. The path continues, with the crunching of leaves underfoot and the songs of birds in the trees. + CLICK HERE for Today’s award-winning November 2021 cover story on FRWA — by the way, our award owes significant thanks to the amazing photos of FRWA board member Rick Warters

Beauty Beyond Parking Lots By Christine Graesser Special to Today Magazine

GRANBY TODAY

Chris Graesser is president of the Avon Land Trust ———————————————————————————————————————— BEFORE MANY PEOPLE were even aware of preserved open space in the Farmington Valley, the McLean Game Refuge was there, providing a model. I visited McLean often in the 1980s when we lived down the road in Simsbury. Back then the parking lot wasn’t full as it is today. I had many good cross-country ski trips there, running into old friends along the way. I remember particularly a lone Canada goose on the pond, apparently waiting for its mate, who might have been killed. This goose lingered, day after day, honking mournfully until, weeks later, it was gone, hopefully moving on. I also recall when I drove by the west side of the preserve and saw a coyote moving through the meadow. McLean is home to an unusually large swath of lady’s slipper orchids that thrive in a grove of white pine. McLean Game Refuge demonstrates how beautiful moments and sights like this can still exist in a world of roads and parking lots and developments that become economically defunct in a matter of years.

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1/4 PAGE AD 4.9” x 3.65” high Photo bywide Rick Warters


Photo by Phil Philbrick

Land trusts have been inspired by the example of the Nature Conservancy to recognize and fight for open space that future generations can enjoy. +

Return Visit Well Worth It By Stephen “Phil” Philbrick Special to Today Magazine

Phil Philbrick is president of the Canton Land Conservation Trust ——————————————————————————————————————————— I BELONG TO the Adirondack Mountain Club hiking group. Despite its name, it has a Connecticut chapter and schedules many hikes throughout the state. In early June, one of the hike leaders scheduled an 8-mile hike to go through some of the trails on the McLean Game Refuge. This nature preserve has protected 4400 acres, primarily in Granby, but with some acreage in Simsbury and a tiny amount in Canton. I live in Canton and have passed by several of the McLean entrances many times, but had never hiked on their trails, so my visit was overdue. We started at the parking area on Route 10 and headed down the Sandy Trail, examining the failed efforts of an overly ambitious beaver. We walked by Spring Pond and saw McLean’s trail camera, used to keep track of traffic on their property. We passed an old manure spreader, whose wooden parts were long gone, leaving only rusted iron. We ascended the brief uphill to the top of Eastern Barndoor Hill, then headed back going by the senator’s cabin. The cabin gets its name from George McLean, who served as both a senator

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Photos by Phil Philbrick

and the governor of Connecticut in the early part of the 20th century. McLean Game Refuge wasn’t just named after him — the property had been purchased by him throughout his life, which he then donated to the McLean fund when he died in 1932. I didn’t look at the full map until returning and can see that my good day’s hike only scratched the surface of this impressive preserve. On a crisp day in October, I returned for another visit. This time I started at neighboring Holcomb Farm and walked the 13-mile loop mostly through McLean that returns to the farm. I was hiking with a mushroom expert who pointed out many varieties found in the property, including a relatively rare hen-in-the-woods mushroom — aka grifola frondosa. This hiking route features three different waterfalls, one of which is adjacent to a small rock cave. On this autumn day, the trail was a mixture of gold and brown as we walked through forest roads of maples, chestnut and beech interspersed with varieties of evergreens. +

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Kindergarten Friend-Walk By Francie Brown Holmes Special to Today Magazine

Francie Brown Holmes is president of the Farmington Land Trust ——————————————————————— AS PRESIDENT of the Farmington Land Trust, I can say how much we value open land. Many congratulations to McLean Game Refuge for its historic 90 years of stewardship, creating such a peaceful restorative place for all of us — thank you! With its preserved land, beautiful trails, varied topography, birds and wildlife, and well-maintained woods, it is surely a pleasure to spend time at McLean Game Refuge. Over the years I have walked there with my best friend from kindergarten. She lives in the Amherst MA area and I live here in Farmington, so we often meet in the middle at McLean. We always leave smiling, nurtured by the beauty and quiet of the preserve — certainly it is a refuge. Thank you! +

Husband-Wife Memories Rick Orluk Special to Today Magazine

Rick Orluk is president of the Granby Land Trust —————————————————————————————————————— THE MCLEAN GAME REFUGE has always been a special place for me and my family. We are so fortunate to have this incredible natural resource here in Granby. I grew up on Glen Road in Granby and moved back to town as an adult, so I have reaped the benefits of having the Game Refuge in my backyard for pretty much my entire life. As a young boy, I remember hiking with my brother in McLean — once with a friend of my parents, who had us convinced that the cabin by Trout Pond was once George Washington’s house and the cabin at Spring Pond was once Abe Lincoln’s house. Gullible, maybe … but if you let your mind wonder the next time you visit these places, you might just understand. • Editor’s Note — The Trout Pond cabin was built by the Game Refuge’s namesake, George Payne McLean, who hosted two U.S. presidents there, per multiple sources I also remember swimming in the brook near the Barndoor Hills entrance to the Refuge and playing baseball in the nearby field, and I remember the Snack Shack being open, selling cool drinks and candy. It did not get much better than that on a hot summer day in Granby! In high school, I often went for runs in McLean with my then-girlfriend Trish Percival, who is now my wife. Once we ran holding hands and I nearly dragged her to her death running down a steep hill. At least that’s what she tells people — it was just a sprained ankle. When I moved back to town, I lived on Whitman Drive, across the street from the Canton Road entrance to McLean, and my wife and I were in the Game Refuge almost daily — running, hiking with friends, and cross-country skiing. We knew our way around every trail and could string together long, peaceful runs. Those were the years when we encountered the most “game” in the Refuge. There is something extraordinary TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – NOVEMBER Photo by James Q.2022 Rice

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that occurs when you come across a buck on your early morning run, and you and the deer both freeze and stare at one another, hearts pounding. In addition to many deer, we regularly encountered turkeys and foxes — and we once startled a beaver, who literally rolled down a steep bank into Spring Pond to get away from us. When my brother Mat passed away, my wife and I first noticed the song of the wood thrush while on a walk in the McLean woods, sorting out our thoughts, and we’ve associated that beautiful song with my brother ever since — he loved McLean’s and the outdoors too! Soon Trish and I had kids of our own, and I tried to share the lore of the

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Washington and Lincoln cabins, but my children were a bit smarter than I had been. They, too, loved being in the Game Refuge, walking by the vernal pools, checking out Spring and Trout Ponds, and taking in the view from the Eastern Barndoor Hill. Today, as president of the Granby Land Trust, I spend much of my time monitoring Granby Land Trust trails, but I still get into the Game Refuge when I can. If fact, having written this, I find I miss it. I think I’ll have to go for a hike there this weekend. Happy 90th anniversary to one of the best places in the world, and thank you to Senator McLean for sharing it with all of us. +

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Photos by James Q. Rice


A Lyrical, Paradoxical Will By Put Brown Special to Today Magazine

Put Brown is a Granby Land Trust board member and a former chairman of the McLean Fund —————————————————————————————————— RETIRED U.S. SENATOR and former Connecticut governor George Payne McLean died in 1932. His will created a charitable trust, the McLean Fund, and directed his trustees to pursue a host of public benefits. Health care was a high priority for him, so he left money with directions that his trustees allow it to accumulate until a modern health-care facility could be built. That happened and the vibrant campus of the Simsbury-based McLean Home hums with energy now. Although Senator McLean did not expressly articulate the connection between people’s physical health and their experiences in the natural world, he understood the connection. Knowing that he was both improving the quality of people’s lives and protecting the varied habitats needed by the plants and animals that thrive there, he directed his trustees to manage his vast real estate holdings, and to increase them if they could, to achieve his goals. It was to be called the McLean Game Refuge — which was to be a “place where some of the things God made may be seen by those who love them as I loved them and who may find in them the peace of mind and body that I have found.” It was not only to be a place for human recreation and contemplation, but also a “refuge” for the fragile flora and fauna he held so dear. Hunting and fishing were to be prohibited, of course.

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His will was a lyrically written direction to his trustees to create a balance between his two hard-to-reconcile priorities: recreation and wildlife protection. Too much emphasis on one would threaten the other, and so over the years the generations of men and women who have served as trustees of the McLean Fund have created a mixed-use preserve that features many miles of hiking paths through its varied terrains, scenic overlooks, recreational areas and other public amenities, as well as “refuge” areas where human activities are discouraged. In fact, in the so-called Western Highlands of the Game Refuge, the trustees have designated 1800 acres of the property as an ecological natural area. The U.S. Department of the Interior has designated that part of the Game Refuge a National Natural Landmark. There are only seven other similarly designated sites in the entire state of Connecticut. The preserves of the Granby Land Trust share thousands of feet of common boundaries with the Game Refuge. Together, the protected land of both organizations, the abutting properties of Enders State Forest and the town of Granby’s Holcomb Farm, and the trails and wildlife corridors that snake between all of them are an irreplaceable regional treasure. Each property enhances the other and it always will be so. The Granby Land Trust celebrates and is inspired by the spectacular legacy Senator McLean’s trustees continue to oversee with such distinction. + continued on next page

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Photo by James Q. Rice

Stunning Wildlife Sightings By Margery Winters Special to Today Magazine

Margery Winters is president of the Simsbury Land Trust and assistant director at Canton-based Roaring Brook Nature Center ——————————————————————————————————————————————————— OVER THE ALMOST 40 YEARS that I have called Simsbury home, McLean Game Refuge has always been a destination for a hike, at first with small children or guests in tow, and more recently as a pandemic-exercise outing. Last month, while my husband and I enjoyed a midday hike along McLean’s Esker Trail, we spotted a black bear along the trail absorbed in some object of interest. We paused and watched. Eventually sensing our presence, the bear left the trail and disappeared downhill into the woods. Farther down the trail, as we crossed over Bissell Brook, a startled great blue heron emerged from beneath the bridge’s wooden planks and soared off downstream. Other hikes have yielded other memorable sightings — deer and coyote in the 16

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fields, spotted turtles sunning on a log and a beaver in Spring Pond, a blaze of cardinal flowers in bloom at Kettle Pond, the haze of beebalm in the field near the North Trail, and mushrooms of all descriptions. Each season has its own special surprises. Such sights that animate our walks at McLean make us appreciate even more the value of having this 4400-acre treasure and National Natural Landmark in our town. Due to its size and the diversity of its habitats, McLean serves as the hub of our local wild areas. The interconnecting network of town, state and land trust preserved open-space properties surrounding McLean are ecologically enhanced by its presence. The Simsbury Land Trust is fortunate to have abutting property with the Game Refuge. Although we do not have interconnecting trails with McLean from our land trust properties, I am happy to know that the wildlife that use these areas are unaware of these property boundaries and travel freely between our properties, making our hikes to other surrounding preserves just as surprising. +


An Invitation to Veterans of Foreign Wars By Tim Healy Special to Today Magazine

VFW Provides Camaraderie, Advocacy

FROM TIME TO TIME I’m asked why I thought it was a good idea to become a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). I’d wondered about that myself, too. Eventually, I saw that there were personal, social, spiritual and political reasons why membership makes good sense. Personally, I learned much about the Veterans Administration (which the VFW was instrumental in creating) that I did not know before. There was direct benefit to me in accessing care to which I was entitled, but of which I was unaware. Socially, I found myself in the company of men and women who had been in the military like me and knew what it was like. There’s something about being well-understood that’s deeply necessary. Likewise, being able to listen compassionately to other people gave me

a sense of being constructively involved in the human story. We add a unique perspective to the sense of patriotism and service to our communities that is essential to our country’s continued independence and liberty. Spiritually, I found trust, hope and fellowship among my comrades. Being connected to others like me didn’t provide the whole meaning of life, but it certainly outlined what a good portion of it was about. Politically, I realized that if any group was going to look out for the

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needs of veterans, it would have to be us veterans ourselves. Groups of veterans, like the VFW, have a greater effect than individuals speaking just for themselves, it seems to me. If you’re a veteran of a foreign war, please consider joining your local VFW. At our post, Avon VFW Post 3272, we’re actively working on making it comfortable for younger veterans as well as older ones to participate enjoyably in ways that make sense and fit in readily with the very different priorities, obligations and time commitments each stage of life entails. Looking forward to meeting you! + Tim Healy is the commander of Avon-based VFW Post 3272

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Unique Collective Marks Milestone

BUSINESS BEAT

Special to Today Magazine

THE TALCOTT Mountain Collective will observe its first anniversary this holiday season. Based in Simsbury, on Nod Road in Weatogue, the collective is a diverse experience venue that brings together a collection of tastes and shared interests across indoor and outdoor facilities — with abundant offerings of food, beverage, recreation, music and more. Launched in December 2021, the Talcott Mountain Collective is nestled at the base of Talcott Mountain State Park, with the landmark Heublein Tower nearby and in full view. Tower Ridge Disc Golf is one of the recreation options on site. The venue draws upon its historic legacy as a conventional golf club, offering disc golf rather than the game that requires multiple expensive clubs and a small ball. Tower Ridge Disc Golf has already become a popular tournament destination, and hosted the Connecticut Amateur Disc Golf Championship this year. Other recreation activities at the collective include cornhole, yard games, live music and outdoor fire pits. The Talcott Mountain Collective is a member of the Granby-Simsbury Chamber of Commerce. +

Coaching Firm Attains Top 10% Ranking GRANBY-BASED Acadia ActionCOACH Business Coaching has been recognized for ranking in the top 10% in the global ActionCOACH network — the firm ranks #71 among more than 1000 ActionCOACH franchises worldwide. Owner/president David Olchowski and his right-hand man, Dan Callahan, launched the coaching firm in October 2020. Olchowski started his firm with the goal of enabling business owners in the Northeast to thrive and recapture the passion that led them to start their business in the first place. ActionCOACH applies a proven system to the unique needs of each client. “Our clients’ success is our greatest success,” says Olchowski. “Whether it’s watching new business owners be able to quit their part-time jobs because their business can fully support them and their family, or established 18

The Talcott Mountain Collective chose a bell for its logo because it’s a mechanism for answering calls from the hills above and a signal that the doors are open, per the organization’s About page

business owners getting to take their first real vacation in years, we are constantly rewarded by these client wins.” A resident of North Granby, Olchowski delivers most of the direct coaching of clients, while Callahan serves as the firm’s business development manager — both men are certified business coaches. They work with business owners to increase profits, hire and retain employees, and get their time back. “We are using the same system to grow our business that we are coaching our clients to use, so there is a ton of congruency,” Olchowski notes. “We are all part of the ActionCOACH community, working together to grow and succeed.” The firm is a member of two Farmington Valley chambers of commerce — the Avon-Canton COC and the GranbySimsbury COC. +

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Adapt & Learn Helps Children Via OT ADAPT & LEARN opened a new location in Simsbury this year, on Hopmeadow Street in Weatogue, that is serving as its main clinical location. Founder and owner Alescia Ford grew up in Simsbury and graduated from Simsbury High School in 1998. She is a certified occupational therapist and an assistive technology practitioner. Adapt & Learn specializes in pediatric occupational therapy services that support children in their homes, schools and communities. The staff offers medically based clinical services along with evaluation and consultation services to help children maximize their learning. Adapt & Learn takes a holistic approach to child development —


including reflex integration, sensory integration, motor skill development and functional skills. “Our team of occupational therapy clinicians evaluates a child’s strengths and needs, provides skilled intervention plans … and supports families and educators with ongoing consultation,” Ford says. She established Adapt & Learn in 2016, offering consultative, school-based and community-based work throughout Connecticut. “From 2016-2020 our practice grew significantly,” Ford says, “and my clinicians worked in educational programs or homes to provide therapy services.” When the COVID pandemic hit the state and nation in March 2020, stay-at-home mandates prevented the Adapt & Learn staff from visiting homes and providing educational programs in social settings. “So we pivoted in June 2020 to open a small clinical location in Farmington to meet the pandemic-related needs for therapy services,” Ford explains. Adapt & Learn continues to offer services in the Farmington office as well as the main location in Simsbury. The practice is a member of the GranbySimsbury Chamber of Commerce. +

Mary’s Place Receives Welcome Support A LOCAL NONPROFIT that supports children grieving a death has hosted a successful fundraiser. The annual Diamonds & Denim FUNdraising event benefits Mary’s Place: A Center for Grieving Children & Families. Mary’s Place was established by Carmon Community Funeral Homes, with nine locations in Greater Hartford — including two Farmington Valley locations in Avon and Granby. This year’s event was held at Farmington Gardens in Farmington. The master of ceremonies was sports broadcaster Joe D’Ambrosio, the longtime radio voice of the UConn Huskies. More than 150 guests enjoyed an evening of dinner, dancing, live entertainment and an auction. At Mary’s Place, children can find a hopeful haven to grieve with others who are experiencing the same sort of loss. Children and families seek out Mary’s Place to find comfort and support, share their experiences, and realize they are not alone.

Adapt & Learn has locations in Simsbury and Farmington

The nonprofit does not charge a fee for its services and receives no state or federal funding, relying instead on donations and fundraising to provide its services to the bereaved throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more info: www.marysplacect.org or call 860-688-9621. +

Making Decorating Dreams Reality AN INTERIOR DECORATING company observed a delayed first anniversary during the COVID pandemic and continues to serve the Farmington Valley. Simsbury resident Deborah Rucci is the founder and owner of Decorating Den Interiors: Deborah Lynn Designs. She established her business in August 2019 and less than a year later was impacted by the COVID shutdown, along with numerous other businesses across the state and nation. Rucci provides decorating services for homes and commercial spaces — including space planning, paint color selection, window treatments, custom furniture, lighting, home accessories and flooring.

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“I come to your home or office space and handle everything from concept to delivery,” says Rucci, who is a member of the Granby-Simsbury COC. +

CDA Roofing To Open Simsbury Location CDA ROOFING & SIDING has joined the Granby-Simsbury Chamber of Commerce and is planning to open a new satellite office in Simsbury at the Simsbury Town Shops on Hopmeadow Street. Headquartered in Agawam, Mass., the company already has a satellite office in West Hartford. One of CDA’s signature projects has been at Agawam-based Six Flags New England. CDA Roofing specializes in residential and commercial roof and siding projects, including metal roofs, plus window and gutter installation. CDA will also repair existing roofs, siding and more — and offers free estimates and senior discounts. Owners Clark Dore and James Acerra have over 60 years of combined experience in providing residential, commercial and industrial roofing solutions. They launched CDA Roofing in 2011. +

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ADVERTISER DIRECTORY

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