a holy curiosity

great blue heron ~ 9.20.21 ~ Avery Pond

On our way to the beach for a walk I spotted a great blue heron perched on a stone in Avery Pond. Had to get out of the car and walk down the road to find a spot without vegetation blocking my view.

double-crested cormorant on the breakwater ~ 9.20.21 ~ Eastern Point

At the beach we found lots of cormorants on the breakwaters again. Since there were very few people down on the sand we walked the length of the beach and I was able to get a picture with some of this cormorant’s markings more visible.

ring-billed gull with feet covered in sand

Lots of gulls were enjoying the sun, sand and sea. This time of year they can hang out on the beach in peace. I know I take too many pictures of gulls but I think they are so beautiful and photogenic.

ring-billed gull by the sea
ring-billed gull woolgathering
ring-billed gull sunbathing
laughing gulls, juvenile and nonbreeding adult

I’ve seen very few laughing gulls this year. I almost didn’t notice these two.

When we headed over to the estuary I saw a bee on a goldenrod plant growing up through the cement and rocks on the edge of the parking lot. The last place I expected to see something cool to photograph!

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
~ Albert Einstein
(Life, May 2, 1955)

double-crested cormorant in the estuary

Another cormorant was out on a rock in the estuary, and still another one was swimming around fishing. It was high tide. My camera was finally able to capture some of their coloring subtleties. It’s amazing what a little sunlight will reveal.

double-crested cormorant ~ it just swallowed a fish

I love my little beach, especially this time of year.

crunch and rustle of leaves

“Autumn Morning” by Grigoriy Myasoyedov

A few days ago, I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different, and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.
~ Eric Sloane
(Seasons on the Farm: A Celebration of Country Life Through the Year)

in soft silent beauty

“The Harvest Moon” by Samuel Palmer

When we were young
and feeling the need to prove ourselves,
we generated heat and energy
like the noonday sun.
But now we take time to reflect the Tao
and bathe our world in soft silent beauty
like the full moon on an Autumn evening.

An abundance of opinions will generate heat
but accomplish nothing.
You no longer have to comment
on each and every little thing.
You can observe events with a detached serenity.
When you speak,
your words are gentle, helpful, few.
Your silence is as beautiful as the Harvest moon.

~ William Martin
(The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life)

gossamer

9.19.21 ~ Merritt Family Forest, Groton, Connecticut

There’s a web like a spider’s web
Made of silver light and shadows
Spun by the moon in my room at night
It’s a web made to catch a dream
Hold it tight ‘til I awaken
As if to tell me, my dream is all right

♫ (American Folk Song) ♫

We used to sing that song around the campfire when I was a girl. It’s such a comforting tune but my spider dreams were never all right. The following pictures are of the pappi of American burnweed seeds caught in another cobweb. I don’t think this spider could have been pleased with what his net trapped!

From the first opening of our eyes, it is the light that attracts us. We clutch aimlessly with our baby fingers at the gossamer-motes in the sunbeam.
~ Lucy Larcom
(The Unseen Friend)

I am an incurable arachnophobe so I was happy to not see any spiders out and about. But I couldn’t help appreciating the handiwork they left behind.

Stephen Hopkins

One of the first ancestors my grandmother ever told me about was my 10th-great-grandfather, Stephen Hopkins, who came here from England on the Mayflower. But my grandmother didn’t tell me that it wasn’t his first trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Or about the troubles he got into. Recently I started reading (listening to) a book about him, Here Shall I Die Ashore: Stephen Hopkins: Bermuda Castaway, Jamestown Survivor & Mayflower Pilgrim by Caleb Johnson. What an adventurous life he led!

My 10th-great-grandfather, Stephen Hopkins, son of John and Elizabeth (Williams) Hopkins, was baptized 30 April 1581 at Upper Clatford, Hampshire, England, and died at Plymouth Colony, before 17 July 1644, when his will was proved. He married (as his first wife) about 1603, Mary (—), who died before 9 May 1613, when she was buried in Hursley, Hampshire, England.

Stephen married (as his second wife) 19 February 1618 in Whitechapel, London, England, Elizabeth Fisher. Stephen and his pregnant wife Elizabeth came here together on the Mayflower in 1620, with their daughter and two children from his first marriage. Elizabeth gave birth to their son, Oceanus, on board the ship during the voyage. My grandmother delighted me with that tidbit of information!

There is a great biographical sketch of Stephen’s life on Caleb Johnson’s Mayflower History website: Stephen Hopkins

Mary & Stephen were the parents of three children, all baptized in Hursley:

i. Elizabeth Hopkins, born before 13 March 1604, died young.

ii. Constance Hopkins (my 10th-great-grandmother), born before 11 May 1606, died in October 1677 in Eastham (Barnstable) Massachusetts. Constance was 14 when she came over on the Mayflower. She married about 1627 in Plymouth, Nicholas Snow, who was born about 1600, and died 15 November 1676 in Eastham. Constance & Nicholas were the parents of twelve children. They lie buried in Cove Burying Ground in Eastham.

iii. Giles Hopkins (my 9th-great-grandfather), born before 30 January 1608, died before 16 April 1690, when his will was proved. Giles was 12 when he came over on the Mayflower. He married 9 October 1639 in Plymouth, Catherine Whelden, who was baptized 6 March 1617 in Basford, Nottinghamshire, England, arrived in Plymouth with her parents in 1638, and probably died shortly after her husband, daughter of Gabriel and Jane (—) Whelden. Giles & Catherine were the parents of ten children.

Elizabeth & Stephen were the parents of seven children:

i. Damaris Hopkins, born about 1619 in England, probably died young. Damaris was probably a baby when she came over on the Mayflower.

ii. Oceanus Hopkins, born at sea before 11 November 1620, probably died before 1623.

iii. Caleb Hopkins, born about 1622 in Plymouth, died before 3 April 1651 in Barbados. He was a seaman.

iv. Deborah Hopkins, born about 1624 in Plymouth, died there before 1674. She married (as his first wife) about 1645, Andrew Ring, who was born about 1618 in Leiden (South Holland) Netherlands, and died 4 March 1694 in Plymouth, son of William and Mary (Durrant) Ring. Deborah & Andrew were the parents of six children.

v. Damaris Hopkins, born about 1628 in Plymouth, died there before 18 November 1669. She married there (as his first wife) after 10 June 1646, Jacob Cook, who was born 20 May 1618 in Leiden, and died 11 December 1675 in Plymouth, son of Francis and Hester (Mahieu) Cook. Damaris & Jacob were the parents of seven children.

vi. Ruth Hopkins, born about 1630 in Plymouth, died there before 3 April 1651.

vii. Elizabeth Hopkins, born about 1632 in Plymouth, disappeared and presumed dead by 5 October 1659.

This is the line of descent my grandmother gave me. Marriages noted are between Hopkins cousins…

Stephen Hopkins (1581-1644)
Giles Hopkins (1608-1690)
Joshua Hopkins (1657-1738)
Joshua Hopkins (1698-1780)
Joshua Hopkins (1725-1775)
Abigail Hopkins (1764-1829) m. John Freeman (1761-1817) ~ 3rd cousins, once removed
Thomas Freeman (1787-1864)
Warren Freeman (1814-1894) m. Elisabeth Weekes (1822-1908) ~ 4th cousins
Elisabeth Emma Freeman (1851-1876)
Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (1875-1965)
Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother)

Over the years I have discovered three more lines from Stephen to my grandmother:

Stephen Hopkins (1581-1644)
Giles Hopkins (1608-1690)
Stephen Hopkins (1642-1718)
Stephen Hopkins (1670-1733)
Thankful Hopkins (1700-1753)
Thankful Linnell (1732-1810)
John Freeman (1761-1817) m. Abigail Hopkins (1764-1829) ~ 3rd cousins, once removed
Thomas Freeman (1787-1864)
Warren Freeman (1814-1894) m. Elisabeth Weekes (1822-1908) ~ 4th cousins
Elisabeth Emma Freeman (1851-1876)
Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (1875-1965)
Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother)

Stephen Hopkins (1581-1644)
Giles Hopkins (1608-1690)
Joshua Hopkins (1657-1738)
Hannah Hopkins (1700-1793) m. Capt. Ebenezer Paine (1692-1734) ~ 2nd cousins, once removed
Hannah Paine (1732-1808)
Seth Allen (1755-1838)
Elisabeth Allen (1784-1868)
Elisabeth Weekes (1822-1908) m. Warren Freeman (1814-1894) ~ 4th cousins
Elisabeth Emma Freeman (1851-1876)
Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (1875-1965)
Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother)

Stephen Hopkins (1581-1644)
Constance Hopkins (1606-1677)
Mary Snow (1630-1704)
Lt. Samuel Paine (1652-1712)
Capt. Ebenezer Paine (1692-1734) m. Hannah Hopkins (1700-1793) ~ 2nd cousins, once removed
Hannah Paine (1732-1808)
Seth Allen (1755-1838)
Elisabeth Allen (1784-1868)
Elisabeth Weekes (1822-1908) m. Warren Freeman (1814-1894) ~ 4th cousins
Elisabeth Emma Freeman (1851-1876)
Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson (1875-1965)
Emma Freeman Thompson (my grandmother)

it’s nowhere near over

9.7.21 ~ Eastern Point
double-crested cormorant on the rocks

Another nice day Tuesday. After Labor Day the beach is “closed.” No lifeguards, concession stand or restrooms open. Fewer people to navigate through. Great for a morning walk. Got closer to a cormorant than I’ve ever been before, but as luck would have it, the sun was behind him and he came out as mostly a silhouette.

ring-billed gull on the rocks
immature male common eiders in the estuary

The gift for this morning was spotting four immature male common eiders hanging out in the estuary. I’ve only seen a female common eider once, last summer. New England is in the southernmost part of their range. I was enchanted.

A bird of the cold north with a warm reputation, the Common Eider is famous for the insulating quality of its down (typically harvested from nests without harming the birds). Breeding males are sharp white and black, with pistachio green accents on the neck. Females are barred with warm brown and black. These largest of all Northern Hemisphere ducks gather along rocky ocean shores, diving for mussels and other shellfish, which they pry from rocks using long, chisel-like bills. Males court females throughout the year with gentle, crooning calls.
~ All About Birds website

monarch butterfly on the lawn

The coronavirus pandemic rages on, surging especially among the unvaccinated. But the fully vaccinated are getting sick, too, which gave us pause and led to our postponing our trip to North Carolina to see our grandchildren until we can get our third dose of vaccine. We don’t even want to get the “mild” version of COVID-19. We’re back to wearing double masks in the grocery store. And because we’re super cautious we stopped going inside anywhere else. Avoiding crowded outdoor places, too. Masks at the farmers market.

My sister reports from Connecticut College that on Monday, 20 students who were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and some of their friends were tested. Through contact tracing, it was determined that the students who had contracted the virus had been socializing without masks in cars, in friends’ rooms or apartments, at parties or in bars. Tuesday morning the test results showed an additional 34 students had tested positive. All were moved to isolation housing.

double-crested cormorant in the river

Connecticut College requires all students and staff to be fully vaccinated (and to wear masks indoors) so these are breakthrough cases. Beverly spent one week with us but is now teaching remotely from her home and probably won’t be back here for the semester. 🙁 I’m just glad we were able to see each other a few times this summer before this new social distancing period seems prudent. Sigh.

It’s been a while since I’ve made note of our local coronavirus statistics. We have had 3,014 detected cases in our town. Connecticut has had 376,747 confirmed cases and 8,395 deaths. We’re coming close to the 8,500 number of estimated deaths we had in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. On September 8th we had 403 new cases. Overall, 2,368,830 people or 66% of Connecticut’s population has been fully vaccinated.

driftwood caught in the rocks

And now CNN is reporting that 1 in 4 new cases of COVID-19 are in children.

summer’s end

It’s nowhere near over.

Update: As of Thursday 107 students have now tested positive. Many are going home instead of quarantining on campus. Seems like that would not help to contain the spread.

hints of autumn

9.4.21 ~ Sheep Farm, Groton, Connecticut

Labor Day weekend with autumn weather! I didn’t think it was possible. We couldn’t resist taking a morning walk in the woods in spite of mosquito and poison ivy threats. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this kind of day all summer.

American burnweed

To include nature in our stories is to return to an older form of human awareness in which nature is not scenery, not a warehouse of natural resources, not real estate, not a possession, but a continuation of community.
~ Barry Lopez
(High Country News, September 14, 1998)

smaller bug with bee on goldenrod

As I’ve often said, I love the sunlight this time of year, in the months surrounding the equinoxes. It seems just right, not too dim nor too bright, and it immerses everything I see in a wonderful presence. Sometimes my camera even catches it the way I perceive it.

Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are “patches of Godlight” in the woods of our experience.
~ C. S. Lewis
(Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C. S. Lewis & The Chronicles of Narnia)

waterfall in Fort Hill Brook
daddy-longlegs on the top trunk of a tree,
snapped off during Hurricane Henri

Impermanence and fragility are essential components of beauty, and of love. In some mysterious way, we are all here together, one whole happening, awake to the sorrow, the joy, and the inconceivability of every fresh and instantly vanishing moment, each of us a bright light in the dazzling darkness.
~ Joan Tollifson
(Facebook, February 24, 2021)

wheels, flowers, puzzle, dove

8.29.21 ~ Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford, Connecticut

Last weekend I went with Tim to the Connecticut MG Club’s ‘British by the Sea’ Gathering. I liked the blue MGB GT (above), the color, knowing nothing of cars… Tim, however, was hoping to see a Triumph Herald, his first set of wheels, but came away disappointed.

He did enjoy looking at the 1947 MG (above). I couldn’t help wondering if he has a thing for red vehicles from 1947! (Take a peek at the 1947 Ford Pickup he was admiring a couple of months ago in this post: with fields of lavender)

This tiny Wolseley Hornet Mk III (above) caught Tim’s eye because he said he had never heard of Wolseley Motors before…

I was amused by the sticker placed on one of its windows, indicating the auto was actually its actual size. 🤣

The above buggy was made in 1937 and had only three wheels.

After we browsed for a while I noticed some flowers peeping over the hedge surrounding the nearby cutting garden. We took a little detour to get a few end-of-summer snapshots!


Back at home…

“Tall Sea Tale” by Charles Wysocki

… on Monday I started and finished the above 300-piece puzzle in one afternoon. With all the practice I’ve been getting during the pandemic it seems I’m getting faster and am developing a marked preference for Charles Wysocki jigsaw puzzles.


On Wednesday the remnants of Hurricane Ida arrived, and by the time she left Thursday morning, had dumped 5 inches of rain on us. When I looked out the window early Wednesday afternoon I spotted a mourning dove hunkering down for the storm in one of the arborvitaes.

Each time I looked over the next several hours he was still sitting there in the same place and position. Finally, just before dark, he was gone. We heard some thunder rumbling in the night but thankfully no tornadoes or flash flooding in our neck of the woods.

summer lapsing away

“Flower Girls – A Summer’s Night”
by Augustus Edwin Mulready

As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away —
Too imperceptible at last
To seem like Perfidy —
A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun,
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon —
The Dusk drew earlier in —
The Morning foreign shone —
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone —
And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #935)