feeling gratitude

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9.16.16 ~ Katherine ~ first pigtails

Happy we who can bask in this warm September sun, which illumines all creatures, as well when they rest as when they toil, not without a feeling of gratitude.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers)

helping hand

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“The Helping Hand” by Émile Renouf

The first time I ever saw a print of this painting was at an estate sale, not long after my father died on September 19th in 2013. The expression on the man’s face reminded me of my father and the little girl reminded me of myself so I bought it. It’s not in the greatest condition and the coloring is way off. Perhaps the coloring on this digital copy is off, too. Some day I may replace it with a better copy.

He’s been gone for three years now and I still miss him, my favorite teacher. Papa taught me how to wash my hair, how to cross the street, how to trust my own instincts, how to treat animals, how to be compassionate and kind, how to swim, how to ice skate, how to paddle a canoe, how to chop an onion, how to look up words in a dictionary, how to do research, how to enjoy bird-watching, how to garden, how to walk (and play) in the woods — the list goes on. I think of him every time I do any of those things.

It’s almost autumn and I will be eating as many Macoun apples as I can while the season lasts. They were his favorites. He often told me the following story when I was growing up. (It first appeared almost 6 years ago on my blog!)

When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!
~ Barbara Rodgers
(Iduna: Keeper of Apples)

But perhaps I miss him the most whenever I hear a story on the news about a threat from a new virus or other infectious agent. Dad was a microbiologist and was utterly fascinated with microorganisms — viruses, bacteria, spirochetes, amoebas, fungi, parasites. He would never tire of explaining things about them to me and correcting any misinformation the media might be passing along to his fellow citizens. And I never tired of listening. I find myself wondering what he would have had to say about the Zika virus. It’s not easy finding someone so interested in this subject!

I didn’t notice it at first, but my father died on his older brother’s birthday. Jon Stephen was born on September 19th in 1909 in Ukraine. My father, Theodore William, never knew his older brother because Jon died of a ruptured appendix on March 15th in 1919 in New York, when he was only 9 years old. Papa was born three years later on March 13th in 1922. A little bit of synchronicity there I think.

Still missing you, my dear old Papa!

maritime heritage festival

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9.9.16 ~ the tugboat “Patricia Ann” leads the parade, shooting celebratory sprays of water into the air

Last weekend we went to the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival. The weather was terribly hot and unbearably humid, but we pressed on… You can see how hazy it was in the pictures. I love tall ship parades. After the parade we went home to recuperate in our air conditioning. When you can’t cool off standing by the sea it is just too hot.

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9.9.16 ~ pretty sure this is the schooner “Columbia” ~ home port Panama City, Florida
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9.9.16 ~ pretty sure this is the schooner “Brilliant” ~ home port Mystic, Connecticut
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9.9.16 ~ schooner “Mystic Whaler” ~ home port New London, Connecticut
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9.9.16 ~ spectators at Eastern Point Beach
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9.9.16 ~ pretty sure this is the schooner “Amistad” ~ home port New London, Connecticut
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9.9.16 ~ another spectator

Later on we went over to New London to take a dinner cruise on the Mystic Whaler. I have a bit of history with this schooner. Back in the early 1980s two of my aunts signed up for a two-night cruise to Block Island. But just before they were to leave, one aunt got sick and couldn’t make it. The other aunt insisted I go with her, which I did, very reluctantly. I had three small children and didn’t want to leave them for two nights!

The cruise was a mixture of very high and very low experiences. I loved the sailing and the meals grilled outside on the deck and the captain singing and playing his guitar when we were anchored for the night. I just wished I was there with my husband! Sadly, though, my period came early and heavy and it was a struggle to use the “head” (bathroom) correctly. And in the next cabin was a teenage boy and his mother. They were up most of the night, or so it seemed, as the mother pounded his back trying to loosen the stuff in his lungs. He had cystic fibrosis and his suffering tugged at my heart.

So one day Tim surprised me with tickets for the dinner cruise. The following pictures were taken from the ship…

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9.9.16 ~ New London Harbor Light
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9.9.16 ~ New London Ledge Light
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9.9.16 ~ Zbierski House at Eastern Point Beach (our beach!) ~ it looks so different from the mouth of the Thames River
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9.9.16 ~ Tyler House at Eastern Point Beach ~ the benches behind the fence with the white posts are where Tim & I usually sit to have our supper in the summer
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9.9.16 ~ in for a landing

As it turned out this cruise had its share of negative aspects, too. It was still so hot outside that I never needed the jacket I brought, figuring it would be cool out on the water. And I wish we had been informed that most of the tickets were held by a raucous group of people celebrating a birthday. They brought their own drinks and things got lively very quickly. Someone even started choking on his food and luckily someone else was there to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him.

So much for romance at sea!

wild turkeys

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You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.
~ Hal Borland
(Sundial of the Seasons)

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After way too many days of miserable heat and sticky humidity the weather finally changed Sunday afternoon. We celebrated by going to our favorite gluten-free pizza place and having our supper there outside in the fresh air.

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On the way home I spotted six wild turkeys in a field and insisted Tim turn around so I could get some pictures. Most of them had their heads down in the grass, feeding. But the lookout was keeping his eye open for danger or trouble. I’m glad he didn’t seem to think we posed any threat.

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This field is separated from the road by a stone wall. After feeding for a while, the lookout turkey jumped up on the stone wall and started watching the cars go by. It seemed like he was looking for a good opportunity to cross the street with the rafter of turkeys in his charge.

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There was just too much traffic! We grew tired of waiting and the other turkeys kept on feeding themselves so we decided to leave. When we drove past him on the road I tried to get a picture of him from that side of the wall, but it came out blurry. But still, it was fun to watch them, and a great way to end the weekend.

before the storm

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9.2.16 ~ juvenile laughing gull

Five days ago there were a lot of birds at the beach, perhaps getting ready for Tropical Storm Hermine… I had some fun trying to identify the different stages of life of the laughing gulls…

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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull
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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull
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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull

We had a few gusts of wind which ruffled some feathers…

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9.2.16 ~ laughing gull with feathers puffed up from a gust of wind

I wondered if the cormorants would be staying out on their island during the storm…

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9.2.16 ~ cormorants on their exclusive off shore island

The baby great black-backed gull wondered if we would be handing out a french fry. Tim had unintentionally dropped one recently, renewing hopes for some of the younger birds…

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9.2.16 ~ juvenile great black-backed gull

My friend knows better — he’s content to visit with us. 🙂

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9.2.16 ~ my herring gull friend with the mangled foot

We also saw a great egret — they don’t often come this close, preferring their island in the middle of one of the salt ponds.

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9.2.16 ~ great egret

The swan’s pond has mostly dried up due to the drought…

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9.2.16 ~ swan

Sharing the estuary by the sea wall, we were amazed to see eight snowy egrets feeding with the great egret, the swan and a flock of Canada geese!

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9.2.16 ~ swan and snowy egrets
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9.2.16 ~ great egret, snowy egrets and Canada goose

The calm before the storm… Hermine gave us mostly gale force winds and drizzle. Several branches and many leaves and twigs came off the trees, but no trees were uprooted in our vicinity. That was more than enough excitement for us!

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9.2.16 ~ swan and Canada geese

safe harbor

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9.4.16 ~ USS Truxtun found a safe harbor at Fort Trumbull Pier in New London, Connecticut

Tropical Storm Hermine is supposed to head out to sea south of us, sending us very little rain or wind. (Too bad because we could really use some rain here.) Of more concern is a predicted storm surge of 2-4 feet tomorrow and beach erosion. But Hermine delivered us quite a surprise yesterday, a huge guided-missile destroyer, seeking shelter from the storm.

Today we decided to take a water taxi across the river so I could get a picture of this huge warship. As it happened, three sailors from the ship were on the water taxi, too, and Tim got to talking with them while I was snapping pictures. After the storm passes they will be headed to the Gulf or the Med, which is sailor slang for the Mediterranean Sea. They are hoping for the Med because it is hotter than hell in the Gulf.

When Tim called their ship a boat they corrected him — they refer to it properly as a destroyer. We may think this vessel is huge but they said it is one of the smaller navy ships.

These fellows seemed so young, even younger than our own children. As we go about our busy lives, it’s so easy to forget that our nation is still at war, that so much is being sacrificed. Carry on sailors, and thank you for your service.

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9.4.16 ~ the USS Truxton dwarfs the Cross Sound Ferry and New London Ledge Light