snow on snow…

WillardMetcalf.whiteveil

“The White Veil” by Willard Metcalf

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
~ Christina Rossetti
(In the Bleak Midwinter)

Welcome Winter!

falling of leaves…

WillardMetcalf.waningsummer

“Waning Summer” by Willard Metcalf

The time of the falling of leaves has come again. Once more in our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds or the rains out of these delicate textures while we slept.

How beautifully leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days!

~ John Burroughs
(Under the Maples)

Welcome Autumn!

so many claims…

8.18.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut

“ring-billed gull” by Barbara Rodgers

This week I have not read any book, nor once walked in the woods and field.  I meant to give its days to setting outward things in order, and its evenings to writing.  But, I know not how it is, I can never simplify my life; always so many ties, so many claims!  However, soon the winter winds will chant matins and vespers, which may make my house a cell, and in a snowy veil enfold me for my prayer.
~ Margaret Fuller
(Letter to William H. Channing, October 25, 1840)

Great Black-backed Gulls

8.19.12.2692

The seagulls know the truth of it
And scream it overhead
~ David Gray
♫ (Nos Da Cariad) ♫

8.19.12.2695

Growing up visiting the beaches of Cape Cod I never paid close attention to seagulls, taking them very much for granted.  But in 2011, after reading the book, A Time for Everything, by Karl O. Knausgård, I’ve been drawn to these interesting sea birds. However, it wasn’t until April of last year (2012) that I noticed that there are different kinds of seagulls, when I saw a pair of black-headed gulls perched on a dock at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia.

Now I’m pretty sure the gulls we commonly have on our beach here in Connecticut are ring-billed gulls. One day last August (2012), Tim & I were having a light supper sitting at a picnic table on the grass at our beach.  We were chatting away and I was watching a gull behind him, who was loitering on the grass, hoping for a handout.  (We never give them anything, however, because our food is not good for them.)  Slowly it dawned on me that this was the biggest gull I had ever laid eyes on!  And yet he had the speckled coloring of an immature one.

Thankfully I had my camera, but when Tim turned around to see what I was so excited about the gull took off.  He came back, however, and began strutting along the sidewalk as if he owned the place.

8.19.12.2720

Eventually he walked up onto the rocks and posed for me.

8.19.12.2751

8.19.12.2762

In the pictures above and below I was trying to capture this huge baby standing as close to an adult “regular” gull as I could, to illustrate the difference in size.  There were two of these large gulls present that day, but this was the one that came closer to us.

8.19.12.2763

Ten days after this gull encounter at the beach we had to take Tim to the hospital in the middle of the night.  At dawn I came home to shower and then return to the hospital.  As I started driving down Bank Street in New London there was a seagull in the middle of the street, feasting on some roadkill.  He didn’t move out of the way of my car until it was almost too late.  When he did take off he didn’t fly away, though.  He kept flying just a few feet in front of my car, flying very low, all the way down Bank Street to Parade Plaza.

If seagull shows up it means it’s time to clean up your home environment and let go of and recycle as much as you possibly can. … Spend a significant amount of time at the seashore meditating, allowing the rhythms of the waves and the wind to be your guiding pulse.
~ Dr. Steven D. Farmer
(Animal Spirit Guides)

It wasn’t until late September, when we took a day trip to Block Island, that we got a clue about the identity of these giant seagulls.  Our tour guide asked us if we had ever seen a great black-backed gull, the largest of all gulls.  Apparently they are showing up on Block Island, too!

After Tim came home from the hospital, but before we went to Block Island, son Nate came up from Georgia to help “clean out our home environment” after Tim’s hospital stay. While he was here we took him to the beach one evening, all excited about showing him the big seagulls.  But they weren’t there that night.  However, we sat with him there for hours, soaking up the healing power of the sea and talking about the wonders of the universe – a memory I will treasure forever.  The following sketch reminds me of some of our conversations, Mr. Logic and Ms. Wonder, chatting with their son…

DougNeill.exoplanets

image: Sketchnotes: Natalie Batalha on Exoplanets & Love

Since Nate left to go back home we have spotted the great black-backed gulls at the beach again many times, even after Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Charlotte, so it looks like the two of them are planning to stick around for a while.  And my sister has reported seeing them there a couple of times, too, when she’s gone to the beach to eat a peaceful lunch in her car.  Beverly thought I had to be exaggerating until she saw them for herself!

wanting the sea…

“Connecticut Shore, Winter” by John Henry Twachtman

Searching my heart for its true sorrow,
 This is the thing I find to be:
That I am weary of words and people,
Sick of the city, wanting the sea;

Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness
Of the strong wind and shattered spray;
Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound
Of the big surf that breaks all day.

Always before about my dooryard,
Marking the reach of the winter sea,
Rooted in sand and dragging drift-wood,
Straggled the purple wild sweet-pea.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Exiled)

 Where Mermaids Arrange their Hair

when the cold comes…

photo by Alyssa Bausch

When the cold comes to New England it arrives in sheets of sleet and ice.  In December, the wind wraps itself around bare trees and twists in between husbands and wives asleep in their beds.  It shakes the shingles from the roofs and sifts through cracks in the plaster.  The only green things left are the holly bushes and the old boxwood hedges in the village, and these are often painted white with snow.  Chipmunks and weasels come to nest in basements and barns; owls find their way into attics.  At night, the dark is blue and bluer still, as sapphire of night.
~ Alice Hoffman
(Here on Earth)