Block Island

New London Ledge Light, at the mouth of the Thames River
Long Island Sound

Saturday was an overcast day. “Welcome aboard the Jessica W,” our captain’s voice came over the sound system. “We have rough seas today so please stay seated.” And we were off! Our very first high-speed ferry ride! We zoomed past the red lighthouse (above) and, a short time later, the lighthouse with solar panels on the deck (below). We kept our eyes on the horizon so we wouldn’t get sea-sick and a little over an hour later we docked at Old Harbor and set foot on a very picturesque Block Island for the first time in our lives.

Race Rock Light, off the coast of Fishers Island, Long Island Sound

“What took you so long?” quipped our taxi-driver/tour-guide, when he found out we lived just over the sound in Connecticut and had never been to Block Island before. He was a gregarious old salt with many a tale to tell about the heroes and villains of the island’s history. And we were amused by his frequent references to the historical society, which he called the “hysterical” society, presumably because of its overly zealous efforts to keep the island “as-is” for future generations.

Rebecca-at-the-Well? Sophrosyne?

One story was about the woman portrayed in the above statue. Apparently the temperance movement was quite active during Prohibition on Block Island and to pacify its members this monument was erected by the town to honor the biblical Rebecca-at-the-Well. Because of the grape clusters hanging from the woman’s ears, though, it is thought that the woman is actually Sophrosyne, the Greek goddess of moderation, self-control, restraint, and discretion. In other words, Temperance.

Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers,
Stand stable here
And silent be,
That through the channels of the ear
May wander like a river
The swaying sound of the sea.
~ W. H. Auden

Our new friend took us to Payne Overlook where we could look 182 feet down the bluff to the beach below. Next time we go, we plan to bring a picnic lunch and spend some time at Mohegan Bluffs. There are 152 wooden steps down to the beach below, so we can do some beach combing and then climb back up the steps at a snail’s pace with time for lots of rest stops.

When I inquired about the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge I was told there were lots of them. (Later on I bought a trail guide and found that there are indeed ten wildlife areas on this small island.)

Picking up on my interest in nature, our guide then asked if we had ever seen a great black-backed gull. It is the largest of all the seagulls. As he described it I began to think that perhaps he had helped us solve a mystery about a pair of gigantic seagulls that were visiting our beach in Groton (left) for a few days near the end of August. They were so much larger than the regular gulls, but were speckled like immature gulls. After we got home I did a little more research and found a picture of an immature great black-backed gull which does very much look like the ones we saw here in Groton.  Larus marinus

Later on, we visited Southeast Lighthouse. The following picture I took looking up the five-story stairway in the light tower.

Southeast Light, on Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island

It was a delightful day trip we had, something we’ve been meaning to do for many years. There are many more things to explore on Block Island. A cemetery that may be the resting place of some of my newly discovered Littlefield ancestors. A labyrinth… Below is the Jessica W, high-speed ferry, waiting to take us home.

16 thoughts on “Block Island”

  1. Isn’t it strange how we always mean to visit places of interest locally, yet it takes us ages to get around to actually going?! Block Island seems to have so many areas of interest to explore and I wondered if there are facilities to stay overnight, as one day just doesn’t seem to be long enough, when you return. Do you know when the island was first established? I enjoyed your first visit Barbara and love the old buildings. 🙂

    1. It is strange, Joanne. We live in a tourist area and there are still things we haven’t seen or done. Sometimes when we have guests we’ll take them to see things, but that doesn’t happen often enough to see much of what is local. There are many inns and bed and breakfast places on Block Island, but they’re pretty expensive. For our first visit we wanted to get a feel for the place and we think next time we’ll spend a night or two so we can explore the island more thoroughly.

      The Narragansett Indians were the first inhabitants of Block Island. Giovanni de Verrazzano “discovered” the island in 1524, and the Dutch explorer Adrian Block “discovered” it in 1614, and gave it his name. English settlers arrived in 1661.

  2. Oh that was a very enjoyable outing for me too. Love your pictures of the beautiful lighthouses, and the winding staircase.
    You should frame the photo of “Race Rock Light, off the coast of Fishers Island”

    Am I correct that that’s you? Nice to see you.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, Rosie. I’m so excited because I finally figured out how to re-size and crop my photos with the new version of PhotoShop! Thank you for the compliment on the one of Race Rock Light – I had a hard time identifying it when I got home. Yes, that’s me… 🙂

  3. You’ve definitely had a delightful trip. The island is so beautiful. Can I join you for the picnic? Lovely place, you know, we have a similar looking area by the beach in Goa. Its close to Vagator beach, Goa. Coastal places do fill my heart. There’s something about it.
    I like the woman’s statue. It looks marvelous. There are many places in Goa where I haven’t been to. We would hardly go out on trips when I was studying back home.
    Another funny thing is that everytime you visit a place by the sea, you find something new that you had’nt noticed before. Something. Don’t you agree?
    Pretty pictures! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Sonali, and I would love for you to join us on our picnic! With your sense of adventure I’m sure we’d all discover some exciting new things. 🙂 We’ve often spoken about how special coastal places are, there is something about them that is so hard to describe, and it seems that shorelines the world over are filling our hearts and stirring our souls. Perhaps some future day will find us having a picnic on your beach in Goa, too. I agree, it is amazing how the tide coming in and out gives us a whole new chance to look for treasures, shells, sea glass, creatures, driftwood.

  4. What beautiful pictures – what a proud seagull! (he could just as easily be watching the vast ocean as he could be eyeing someone’s picnic lunch)

    It’s hot and hiddy in L.A., these photos both cheer me up and make me sad as well – I SO wish I was on that beach, walking through the cool, gray water!

    1. Thank you, Aubrey! That seagull was the biggest one we’ve ever seen, and I hope to post a few more pictures we tried to get of him standing sort of next to the “regular” gulls that live at our beach. Sorry to hear you’re suffering in the heat – I do love the change of seasons in New England, the cool, gray water of autumn is very welcome relief from the hot and humid summer.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mark – I bet you would enjoy photographing all the insects to be found in all those nooks and crannies in the island gardens.

    1. Yikes! I just found your comment here, Diane! So sorry – I really have to find a better way of keeping up with everything and everyone… Thank you so much for stopping by, Diane! ♥

  5. Hi Laura Littlefield here. My folks have a b and b on BI. I’m 11th generation Littlefield. My sister runs local historical society. Also Atwood and Tilson are current residents.

    1. Hello, Laura! I think I might have a Littlefield on my family tree, and I know I have many Atwood and Tilson lines, too. I’d love to go back to Block Island some day and do some research…

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