Tuesday, October 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Conn. woman spends 170 nights in backyard tent

By
From page OSF12 | May 08, 2014 |

DARIEN, Conn. — Nearly every night around 9, Nina Miller turns off the TV in her Darien home and says good night to her husband. As he retires to their bedroom, she throws on a pair of snow boots and trudges up the hill in their backyard to the two-person tent she’s been sleeping in for the better part of the year.

Since June 26, through heat waves, thunderstorms and the recent polar vortex, Miller has spent more than 170 nights in the small North Face tent, with only a sleeping bag (sometimes two), a battery-operated book light and her notebook.

“It is amazing what I’ve seen in this spot right here,” she said on a recent Thursday afternoon.

One morning she peeked outside the tent and she saw a deer just 6 feet away. She’s seen ospreys, turkeys and a red-tailed hawk.

She said one of the highlights of sleeping in the tent is the fact that the animals are none the wiser.

“When you’re in there . . . the animals don’t know it,” she said. “The birds sit right on top of the tent and just sing away. Sometimes it’s startling because it’s so loud.”

The half-acre property on Kings Highway South, which runs parallel to Post Road near the library, is less than a mile from the Darien train station and about a half-mile from Interstate 95. Miller wants to show others that in a town that’s 98.5 percent developed, Darien still is teeming with wildlife.

And, as someone who’s lived in Hawaii and Alaska, she would know.

“Kids think they have to go far away to places like Vermont or the Everglades to experience nature,” the Darien native said. “They really don’t. All they need is time and a pair of binoculars.”

Miller, 62, worked at the Darien Nature Center for 21 years.

“I started as a volunteer in 1992 taking care of the animals,” she said.

The position evolved over the years as the nature center started summer camps, special events and programs. Eventually, she was named the preschool program director.

She now does off-campus programs for the center, taking students on field trips to local parks to learn more about nature.

“My big focus is on getting kids outside just for their health,” she said. “Never mind anything else.”

Miller is convinced that when children become more familiar with the animals in their backyards, they’ll care more about the planet and its inhabitants.

“You can’t protect what you love unless you know it, and it starts with kids,” she said.

Her tent, which sits on an elevated portion of land in her backyard, is in view of three neighboring houses. But Miller said her neighbors haven’t said a word about her unusual sleeping arrangement.

Once she settles into the tent, she’s in for the night. It doesn’t matter if the temperature dips to the single digits or the air is so thick with humidity she can barely breathe.

“I’ve been in a thunderstorm,” she said. “I’ve been up there in scary, windy and stormy weather. In lightning. It’s scary.”

Miller said she never encountered any creepy critters. But her definition of “creepy” may differ from most.

“Just the groundhog,” she said. “No rats. But I’ve heard voles scratching at the back of the tent. But I haven’t seen skunks or possums or raccoons.”

And she has no complaints about the scenery, either.

“The stars are really beautiful,” she said. “On the bare tree branches, they look like diamonds on fingers.”

Out of the 89 days that make up the winter season, she spent 47 in the tent. She slept there for 57 days when temperatures were 30 degrees and below. And she made it through 12 nights of snow.

“I can pick ‘em,” she said, referring to the ridiculous winter and the 18 inches of snow that surrounded her tent.

“Snow is great insulation,” she said. “The flakes trap the air, so it worked out well for that. And when the snow was that thick, it was pretty quiet. And who can hate snow? It’s so pretty.”

And even when she woke up at 5:30 a.m. with the thermometer reading 4 degrees, she didn’t complain.

“I put on my hat, my boots, and my fingers were freezing as I tried to open the tent,” she said.

Miller put tracks on her boots to keep her from slipping on the ice in the morning.

At night, she concentrated on the silence and let her mind slow down. She spent time crafting poems about saving animals for her writing class.

She has her iPhone, but she only uses it as a flashlight.

“I don’t even know how to play games,” she said.

Miller’s goal is to spend 200 nights in the tent before the end of June.

“I’m not surprised at how much I like it,” she said. “Anything you expect out of nature – you’ll always get more.”

Ashley Varese is a reporter for the Connecticut Post.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Crime key topic again at Fairfield candidates night

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Pair testify in Laurel Creek shooting case

By Jess Sullivan | From Page:

 
Dixon corn maze breaks own world record

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5 | Gallery

PAL center seeks volunteers

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5

 
Police Department hosts employee recognition event

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5

.

US / World

Police say they might have spotted ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dies at 82

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Yosemite proposes raising entrance, camping fees

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
CDC releases revised Ebola gear guidelines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Clinton: Midterm elections should motivate women

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Surfer fends off shark attack with fist, board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

WWII airman to be buried in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Brown: California needs long-term vision on water

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Colorado proposes edible pot ban, then retreats

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Submarine hunt sends Cold War chill across Baltic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Oscar Pistorius to finally learn his sentence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Youths, tech workers duel over San Francisco field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Suspect in Va. abduction charged in DC area rape

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warming Earth heading for hottest year on record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lacking a plan, Abbas opts for rhetoric

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Police: Indiana suspect hints at more killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Turkey says it helps Kurdish fighters enter Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Nigeria declared Ebola-free; ‘spectacular success’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Urgent-care clinics ill-equipped to treat Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
GOP governors don’t see ‘Obamacare’ going away

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

British royal couples’ 2nd child due in April

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Opinion

Spering kept youth league going

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Day, Blankenchip good for respective cities

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

‘Misleading’ mailer sent to residents

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Yearwood, Santana to perform at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Standing ovation at Met Opera despite protest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Still the Same: Bob Seger launching tour, album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
San Francisco radio stations ban hit song ‘Royals’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Pitbull to host American Music Awards on Nov. 23

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ actor arrested in Idaho

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

NBC’s Snyderman faces credibility issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Not so fast cordcutters – cable’s not going anywhere

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

TVGrid Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Local Report: Armijo boys soccer team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Steelers rally past stunned Texans 30-23

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Bumgarner against Shields in World Series opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders plagued by 3rd-down defensive woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Champion drag racer Raymond Beadle dies at 70

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Stiviano lawsuit against Shelly Sterling dismissed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

With TD mark in bag, Manning can set more records

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
49ers lose center Daniel Kilgore, needs surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Giants-Royals: A capsule look at World Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Belichick, Brady praise Manning on TD record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Penn State board to meet on disputed Freeh Report

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
McIlroy to skip 2 events to focus on lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Column: Keselowski marches to his own beat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Wanted: Cities interested in hosting 2024 Olympics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants rely on core of 4 relievers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Royals, fans bond over improbable postseason run

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Voynov suspended on domestic violence suspicion

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Facebook sues law firms, claims fraud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Apple reports record 39.3 million iPhone sales

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

US regulator: Fannie, Freddie in deal with banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Sears plans to raise more cash via rights offering

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Survey: Pay raises rarer despite strong US hiring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
US agency warns car owners to get air bags fixed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Pickles Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baby Blues Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Garfield Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Beetle Bailey Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6