By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

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North Shore art

I took one of my favorite rides Saturday — from Danvers Center along the rail trail and then east and north to Wenham, Hamilton and Bradley Palmer State Park, south to Route 97 and back along the rail trail from the Topsfield Fairgrounds to Danvers, a little over 18½ miles. I also cruised around the Pingree School and took pictures of some of the outdoor art installations. Enjoy!

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“On Your Mark,” by Michael Aldred and Tim Johnson

“Guitar,” by José Criollo

Unlabeled as far as I could tell

“Think and Be Free,” by Dale Rogers

“Fintasia,” by Steve Heller

Bird is the word

At the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield earlier today.

The rocks of Topsfield

The Rockery, part of the Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. We stomped around earlier today — I hadn’t been there in years, and for some reason Barbara had never been.

The disaster that may be corroding in your cellar

Photo (cc) 2012 by limecools

One afternoon more than 25 years ago I was talking with the late Boston Globe columnist David Nyhan. I mentioned to him that we were buying a three-family house in Topsfield as a rental property. He warned me about new state septic-system regulations. I didn’t pay much attention.

I should have. Several years later, after a heavy rainstorm, the septic system failed, and we had to replace it. As I recall, it cost us $50,000. We sold the house and vowed to stay out of the rental market from that point on.

I thought about that this morning when I read the horrifying story of Emmaline and Brian Proctor, whose new home in Wareham became a financial disaster when their oil tank leaked. According to the Globe’s Sean Murphy, state-mandated cleanup will cost them more than $185,000, and their homeowners insurance doesn’t cover it. Murphy writes:

Under strictly enforced state environmental laws, the Proctors are now responsible for removing contamination caused by the spill. That means their contractor must excavate at least 10 feet under the house to test the soil and remove contaminated portions. And to do that, the contractor must temporarily lift the house off its foundation for access.

Yow! This could happen to any of us with oil heat. The oil tank in our current house started leaking within a week or two of our moving in seven years ago. There was little spillage, fortunately, and I remember being peeved that we had to spend $700 on a new tank. Now I realize it could have been much, much worse.

As Murphy writes, coverage for such disasters should be mandatory. And something should be done to help unsuspecting homeowners like the Proctors, who face financial disaster for a problem that was not of their making.

Video of a goat drinking Gatorade

You’re welcome.

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Willowdale State Forest

I took a six-mile hike in Willowdale State Forest in Topsfield on Saturday. And for th first time in ages, I managed to avoid getting off the trail in the confusing northwest section. Beautiful day for a hike!

Mile Brook, Topsfield

Along Perkins Row in Topsfield, in the middle of an 18-mile ride. This is Mile Brook, looking north.

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North Shore bike ride

Near the Danvers-Peabody line. The sign in the middle says “God Bless America.”

Near Danvers Center

Salem Beverly Waterway Canal

Footbridge over the Ipswich River


Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield-Ipswich line.

Blue, green and gray

Beverly Salem canal

Looking south along the Salem Beverly Waterway Canal from the old bridge in Topsfield.

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