On a recent winter drive with a friend, I was marveling at the beauty of the icicles—the long fingers of winter gripping the buildings of Sharon Springs.

My travel companion, the ever-practical Megan Holken, pointed out that icicles forming on the eaves indicate where heat is escaping from the structure.

This knowledge immediately made me start to see things differently. It reminded me that there’s a difference between looking at the world and observing it.

To observe is to try to understand and make sense of the things you see.

The single most common question I get asked is if I have any regrets about leaving the practice of medicine.

The spontaneous response is ‘no’.

But that definitive answer doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the process and the experience.

One of the most powerful aspects of medical training is developing the skill of observation.

 

A vertical crease in the ear lobe might indicate heart disease

Dry and brittle hair could be a thyroid condition.

And I could tell some things about the conditions of your lungs by looking at your fingernails.


But just because you have a skill, doesn’t mean you always use it.

Now that the winter is starting to loosen its grip, allowing spring to surface, there’s no better opportunity to brush off those skills.

See how one of the first rituals of spring at Beekman Farm has changed us.  Click here

Share with us your observations of the season in the comments section below.

by Dr. Brent

Reader Comments

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laurie

I LOVE your show and have watched it from the beginning. Your farm and land are so beautiful. I was wondering how the goats are adapting to the lambs? I thought it was funny farmer John appeared to be a sheep snob haha, a man truly dedicated to his goats 🙂 Cant wait to see the addition of the bee hives.

I have told all of my family and friends to watch your show! I ordered your new spicy carmel sauce and cant wait for it to arrive!

I am sorry Josh cannot spend more time at the farm – wishing you a productive successful 2011 to reach your goal to get him to be with you full time.

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Tess

Just stopped by to say that I LOVE your show and you guys truly are FABULOUS!! I live in Utica but grew up in a small town outside here. It's so nice to see NYS in such a positive light…yes, there IS more to NYS than the city! Your story is charming as are both of you (not to mention so witty!)

Spring is such a wonderful time and may actually be on its way! But the great thing about this area is that ALL of the seasons hold something beautiful.

I hope that your new ventures move forward smoothly. Hope to get to Sharon Springs this summer!

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Laura Good

Flowers are starting to bloom in the yard.Yes, I agree it was a long winter I live in Kentucky,and in my opinion SPRING HAS ARRIVED!!!!!!

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Deborah Gwinn

Just visited the Beekman 1802 Mercantile this past weekend and it is fabulous! I've been using your soaps since the beginning and was shopping for bridal shower gifts for my daughter's upcoming bridal tea. Actually going back today as I need more.

While there the ever helpful sales lady mentioned that some folks come in and rearrange your carefully and beautifully orchestrated displays ; – ) to see if they can get to you. That could be a good bit for a Fabulous episode! Seriously, the shop is so worth a visit–I am in Scotia and everyone in the tri-city area (Albany, Schenectady and Troy) should make a bees line for the Mercantile.

And can't wait to see what you do with the bees and their honey for future 1802 products.

Enjoy the spring that has to be just around the corner, right?

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JHassan

Love the idea of hives! Bring on the cool images (in your shop's windows) of honeycombs and flying bees. You are right Brent, Farmer John's work with the goats (and love for them!)is critical.

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Nancy McGee

Have you guys thought about keeping bees to help get Josh onto the farm sooner? Surely between the honey and beeswax (think of all the candles!) it could really boost your income. Not to mention what it does for the delicate situation of bees in our current environment.

We're working on 3 chickens and a garden in Freeport, NY right now, but plan to eventually live the dream like you guys.

Can't wait to see Josh get to move to the farm!

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JHassan

Just wanted to say as a former product development professional in the beauty industry….the soap is wonderful. It is very well made and it is moisturizing (does not strip the skin) The fragrance used is also impressive. It lifts well in the shower and is quite sophisticated. I'll have to check out your other products.

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Dr. Brent

Hi, Joanna

Wow. That is an incredible compliment. We take great care in the creation of our products, and it starts at the very beginning with Farmer John's care of the goats in the barn

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Lori Brognano

Dear Dr. Brent,

I just received A Year in the Country as a gift from my husband. Wow!!! I absolutely love the smells. We are big fans

of your show and appreciate all of the work you guys put into

making these great soaps. I definitely will buying more. I hope

this helps Josh to fulfill his dream of staying on the farm.

Good luck to both of you.

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Margo Gregor

Just discovered your show and love it! Looking forward to watching all episodes.

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Leah

Hello,

Do you happen to sell your soaps at Anthropologie stores in the Boston area? Or is it only through their website? 🙂

Great start to Season 2! Those little black sheep are adorable.

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Dr. Brent

Hi, Leah. We've just shippped another big order to Anthropologie this week. Everything should be in the stores in the next couple of weeks.

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Melinda

I just wanted to thank you for opening up your life for us all to observe. I have just discovered your show and am hooked! I wish you continued success in every endeavor and will be watching every episode of the Beekman Boys! God bless!

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Emily

Brent,

Does the winter ever fade here in Upstate NY? Seems like it's lasted forever this year. The Season 2 premiere was wonderful, as always. Thank you for shining the light on local farming (especially in Upstate New York) and American-made products. Polka Spot certainly is a kindred spirit to you. I hope she continues to bring you joy.

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Carol Deforge

I received my May soap smells great.. Thanks so much,, My Daughter-in-Law will love it for Mother's Day..

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Carol Deforge

I received my May soap smells great.. Thanx so much,, My Daughter-in-Law will love it for Mother's Day..

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Sandra

I live in Texas and just found your show. The show makes me want to take a trip to Sharon Springs to see the town and enjoy the experience. I love the show and now will never miss an episode. Where in Texas can your products be seen. Thanks

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Dr. Brent

Check the closest Anthropologie store, Sandra, or look under the Contact tab on the homepage of our website to find other locations in Texas

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Deena

I watched your show last night for the first time. I just happened to see an ad on another station. I loved it so much I kept watching the following episodes. You guys are so real and the experience gave me hope for when my husband and I start our new chapter in a new country in a couple of years. I wish you all the best and can't wait to watch more. Tell Polka Spot she is a good sport!

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Carol Deforge

I took look forward to Spring.. we are a little behind in the Champlain Valley of Vermont..We have had one rough winter and the potholes that are left behind could swallow a small car in some spots.. But the what a pleasure to hear the Canadian Geese flying back to the Great White North and we have had Robins since beginning of February..silly things they were very challenged finding a food source I'm sure..All the birds are really singing in the am now..lovely to hear.. Mud and sugaring season now, a true sign of Spring.. Best to everyone on the Farm and that naughty girl Polkaspot..

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Nancy Tokar

Ours was a definite long winter, and so glad spring is here! I've been watching the birds making nests, the buzzards soaring in the sunlit skies and the dogs I walk, sniff, sniff, sniff at the sweet spring scents 🙂

Looking so forward to watching spring unfold at the Beekman!

Best wishes!

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Sheryl Browne

Hi Josh&Brent, Today is 3/22/11 my birthday.I just wanted you to know how happy I am your season 2 starts tonight. My husband and I will be watching,good luck to you both.Oh,please say hi to farmer John.I'd love to know how he's going to name all the goats. Hugs and kisses,Sheryl

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Jennifer

Inspiring blog Dr. Brent! I'm a nurse and I hear exactly what you're saying. Very thought provoking.

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Lisa

Hello Dr.Brent. I saw my very first glimpse of your show on Sat. I watched it all day. I love it. Something I have always wanted to do was have a farm but alas, it is just too much for me now, but watching yours is wonderful. Ya'll are teaching us many things that you don't even realize. I love this show and plan to watch every single episode. I have visited your web store. I love this stuff. Please continue your show for as many years as you can.

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Michael Massek

Just discovered your fabulous show. Thanks for brightening a cold wet Wisconsin day.

Good luck on the new season!

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Kellieannie

I am bleary-eyed today after too little sleep caused by a Fab marathon after discovering you, Josh, Farmer John, the Beekman House, and Sharon Springs. Thank you for sharing your life, and love. Oh, and I would marry Martha, and so would my husband.

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Patsy

It has been a tough winter this year. But the robins have arrived and are pulling worms from the newly thawed ground. The garden is a mud mess right now but I can envision the vegetables and herbs in just a few short months.

I have to tell you this will be the first season I have watched your show. I upgraded my cable just so I could get Planet Green and watch the Beekman Boys. I can't wait until it starts.

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Vicki Willits

I moved from the UK/Germany to upstate New York last July and so have just enjoyed my first winter here in the woods! Its been hard at times living in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a wood burning stove for heat but such a huge learning curve which I have thoroughly enjoyed! I have really loved in particular observing all the little nuances that make the winters here including the not so little icicles! The smells and sights have been awe inspiring and I am now looking forward to seeing the grass and birds and insects again! I also haven't seen your show yet but will certainly catch it this season! I feel comforted knowing I am not the only one in the area who has made such a dramatic change in their life recently! 🙂

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darcell

I believe that is true also.

You never know where your path is going to go and that is the fun of life.

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darcell

What a beauty photo.

I was wondering why you did leave medicine? I know there are many years of schooling and residency and fellowships ect to become a MD. I would have loved to have gone into medicine but I have a weak stomach so I went into public health (MPH) instead. I love to help non-profit community organizations

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Bruce W. Medanich

What a nice find, this blog of yours…..thanks doc……yes, this winter really has been a long one……i've had no water in my cottage in the woods for two months, so to make up for that…..i have enjoyed the gift of warmth…….right, heat escaping from this old circa 1850 cottage has created wonderful icicles…..i watch the morning sun shine thru…waiting for new episodes of your show……you teach, you inspire……life in the country of upstate N Y……bold * wonderful choice for all of us…..waiting for spring……waiting for the thaw…….song birds are returning to the pines…….upstate N Y…..what a good choice…!

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pumpkin

i hope you don't mind my hijacking of your lovely photo as a screensaver. i love icicles, and find them inspiring in artistic endeavors…as well as hot cocoa fueled moments of reverie.

xoxo

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Sabino

Brent,

The fact that you are not practicing right now does not mean you are retired.

GOOD doctors are always practicing, whether they are in sabbatical, or if they decided to start a Farm and a new Business in upstate New York, or whatever…… they will always be practicing, it's in their good nature!

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Laurie

There are lots and lots of little things happening on our little plot that mark the passage of time: the Breath of Heaven is heavy with tiny flowers, the wisteria is bursting forth with flowers and foliage, the coral trees' strange and spiky flowers are forming, the mulberry's buds are breaking open, an unidentified weed is blissfully flowering in bright yellow across our sadly defeated lawn, the sun is rising in the hemisphere and casting a blinding morning light into my dressing room, and the whiteflies have returned to my hibiscus. Oh, Spring!

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suzanne spina

🙂

What I read here is a doctor who thinks of himself as no longer practicing.

The truth? Dr Brent is still practicing, just in different ways and forms.

I have very keen observation skills myself I think due to the fact that I am partially deaf in one ear. You know, heightened senses elsewhere and all… But combine that with "womens' intuition" and there can be an uncanny and startling amount of information flying my way!!

My daffodils are starting to sprout and they are always one of the first indicators of the end of winter here in CT. so I am happy. Spring is coming after all.

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Heather

For me, spring begins when the red-winged blackbirds start singing. Which is usually in February. Which is good.

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Bose

Thanks for sharing this moment of reflection, Brent.

I started college thinking about a journalism career (it was a family tradition, and I love to write). Next, I fell into a Chemistry major (loving the logic and mystery, happy to discover that it was so different from the high school version).

I finished the BA in Chem in the mid-80s and fell (reluctantly, at first) into IT work.

It took me a couple decades to fully appreciate the connections. At their best, journalism, science, and IT all speak plainly yet truthfully. Done well, people are drawn in, challenged, and end up changed and/or enhanced in tiny, unpredictable steps, by any/all of the three.

But, a quirky combination of common-sense communication, appreciation of available evidence, and ability to innovate (all infused with passion) while listening carefully and adjusting as needed, tends to work well in many/any fields, eh?

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Mark Stage

Thank you Dr Brent! One thing I always notice is the seasonal changes on my and friends mental attitudes during the year. Spring= awakening, Summer= hot lazy days and family vacations, Fall= cooler weather, no more biting bugs and beginning of the holidays, Winter= fires in the fireplace, family and looking forward to Spring.

All my best to you and yours!

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Cindy

I've noticed the last few mornings that the birds are singing with happiness in their songs. When I close my eyes I can imagine the sweetness of a spring morning. I've noticed the huge increase in the number of Robins this year. They are about a month early and I usually see maybe 4 in my yard, this year I've seen maybe 15 in one tree at the same time. Most of all I've noticed I'm ready for Spring and the change of mood that comes with the change of season.

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Patty Carlson

Beautiful post. Thought provoking. My dog Emmett knows the sound of icicles falling off the house and will pick them carefully out of the snow piles and eat, or I suppose drink them. Animals are good at observing vs just looking.

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Kevin White

Bury a strand of Christmas lights. In the snow take some of those icicles, stick in the snow above the lights.I also have used a solar garden light.

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Pam

Your's is my absolute favorite show on TV. You two have touched my heart, my funny bone, my think tank and my sensibilities in so many ways……sometimes all at the same time. Occasionally you will overwhelm me but in such a good way.

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