a squirrel’s estimate

11.6.20 ~ Bluff Point State Park & Coastal Reserve
Groton, Connecticut

A Saucer holds a Cup
In sordid human Life
But in a Squirrel’s estimate
A Saucer holds a Loaf —

A Table of a Tree
Demands the little King
And every Breeze that run along
His Dining Room do swing —

His Cutlery — he keeps
Within his Russet Lips —
To see it flashing when he dines
Do Birmingham eclipse —

Convicted — could we be
Of our Minutiae
The smallest Citizen that flies
Is heartier than we —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1407)

It had been a couple of years since I’ve visited Bluff Point, but Tim hadn’t been here in ten years! There was still plenty of fall colors to enjoy.

The first time we came here was about forty years ago. I was very pregnant with our daughter and our sons were three and five years old. We walked all the way to the point, about a mile and a half, I think, maybe two, but on the way back the boys were too tired to walk any more. So Tim put the five-year-old on his shoulders and carried the three-year-old facing forward in front of him. The memory of his feat still amazes me to this day.

Ten years ago, when Tim’s cousin and her three children were visiting us for a weekend, we took them here for a long cold winter walk. Those children are grown up and on their own now, too.

We didn’t go all the way to the point this day, Tim’s hip started acting up about half an hour in. The path is pretty flat, which probably worked against him, as we learned this spring he does much better on uneven terrain. On the way back, we got off the path and wandered along the Poquonnock River bank back to the parking lot.

How different things are these days. That young couple with so much energy has vanished out of the scene. An older couple remains, strolling along, one of them stopping frequently to settle his bones while the other flutters around him, taking pictures of this and that with her camera. He’s still my best companion.

There were more people in the park than I thought there would be for a week day. Most had masks on and all were respectful of social distancing. Two squirrels were near the entrance, nibbling on something someone may have left for them earlier.

Once we encountered two women with masks on, walking down the wide path six feet apart from each other, but having a lively conversation. I guessed they might be friends meeting up for a visit. It made me start wondering if it would be safe for me to do something like that, too. Or would I be too nervous about inadvertently getting too close?

I have a feeling the pandemic will be over before I find a good way to make these decisions. For now, we’ll stay the course. This was a very refreshing walk.

it looks like these two trees are lifting the glacial erratic up off the ground
someone might be living under these roots
Poquonnock River
waning gibbous moon
I loved the sunlight on the bark of these trees
pretty bark
leaf caught by a branch on its way down
you never know where a smile might turn up
an adorable tufted titmouse
as we were leaving, a surprise in the sky, a powered hang glider

43 thoughts on “a squirrel’s estimate”

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Leelah. It’s a blessing that you and I see “eye to eye” on so many things — I love that, too. I’m so happy we found each other here from so far across the ocean. πŸ’™

  1. One of the nicest posts I have run across in a long time. Love the squirrel, the poem by Emily Dickinson. Your pictures of your walk were so beautiful. I would loved to have walked that trail. Life does go on and as we age – the special moments from the past seem so precious. I have only one child and I thought I would have none, but God gave me my precious daughter who is 46 now. This covid-19 has disturbed the lives of the entire population of the world and stressed most of us almost beyond our limits. But today your beautiful post has brightened the beginning of my day. Thanks Barbara.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Peggy. Are you an Emily Dickinson fan, too? Children are a blessing and I can see why your daughter is so precious to you when you didn’t think you would have any. My daughter will be 40 in April — it’s so hard to believe I will soon have 3 middle-aged children! (When I mentioned this to my aunt, who is 92, she said, “Just wait until one of your children retires!”) I’m so touched that my post brightened your day. With all the stress from this pandemic it is these walks that keep me sane. I would definitely go bonkers without taking them and sharing my pictures! πŸ’™

  2. This is a beautiful post from beginning – the Emily Dickinson poem – to the end – a smiley face and a hang glider no less! It’s lovely that you and Tim were reminiscing about the days when your children were young. So many years pass by, and so fast too! You know that young man and woman you are thinking about so well, even though they seem in many ways like they are someone else, and not you. That’s how I feel sometimes when I think about me and Allan, and who we were 40 years ago. Sometimes I hardly recognise us!
    Thank you for another lovely stroll through Nature, Barbara. xx

      1. You’re welcome, Joanne, and thank you so much for your kind thoughts! So many of the walks we’ve taken since the pandemic began have been in parks that were new to us so it was nice to revisit the past in one that was old and familiar. It’s so popular that we had avoided it but decided to take a chance that day and I’m happy we did.

        I like the way you describe it, knowing that young couple so well and yet, at the same time, they seem like someone else. It illustrates how there are no boundaries in time, it flows in many directions and resists being chopped into segments. Makes me think of Kathy’s post, too, “You are part of this October pond now, too”
        https://upwoods.wordpress.com/2020/10/29/you-are-part-of-this-october-pond-now-too/
        Enjoyed, your visit today, Joanne, and I fixed the typo for you. πŸ™‚ πŸ’™

        1. Thank you!
          I saw that post of Kathy’s, and I agree, what I said does sound like a similar concept. We are all part of everything we touch, and as we go our separate ways, we leave a fragment of ourselves behind. <3

  3. First of all, I chuckled at Emily’s description of cutlery. A relaxing walk for my Monday morning. As my as I like my winter beach time, I can’t imagine that area can display fall scenes like we get. Well captured, Barbara … and cheers to spotting the smile.

    1. Thank you, Frank! I loved thinking of the squirrel’s cutlery hidden inside his russet lips, too. πŸ™‚ Up here in New England I’m often torn when planning for a long weekend autumn getaway. Do I head inland for the stunning fall colors or do I wander out to Cape Cod and the soul-stirring seashore where there is almost nothing in the way of fall colors…

      1. That is such a great line. I smiled as I re-read it. πŸ™‚ I can see how the choice is hard for the weekend getaways. Given the time of year, I say inland because the colors are temporary whereas the seashore is always present.

        1. That’s usually how it worked out, at least in the past, Columbus Day weekend was reserved for a trip to Vermont when we had friends living there. Visiting grandparents on the Cape any time. But now they’re all gone so finding a place to stay is a hurdle. And the grandchildren live in North Carolina so that’s where we usually wind up… before the pandemic…

  4. Greatly enjoying your posts, Barbara. And the photographs are wonderful. If I might ask, what brand of equipment are you shooting with on your walks?

    I also like to take pictures of nature and critters. I have three cameras in addition to my phone and each offers a benefit. I splurged not along ago on a Sony a6400 and have been very happy with my first mirrorless camera. And I have lenses for portraiture and distance.

    Anyway, loved the poem and the crisp pictures of the squirrel(s). The cute titmouse is also fun to see. That’s quite a hair-do! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, James. I have a Canon PowerShot SX60 HS. My grandmother loved her Canon cameras over the years so I have followed suit. πŸ™‚ To be honest, I’m not technically inclined so it stays set on automatic. And I have no idea what a mirrorless camera is! If you like taking pictures of nature and critters, have you thought of creating a nature photo blog?

      I love titmice — they seem so perky and cheerful. This might have been the first one I’ve seen in the wild, away from a bird feeder. πŸ™‚

      1. The mirrorless camera has a digital viewfinder so what you see is what the lens sees. But the feature I like most is that the mirrorless is substantially smaller than my Nikon DSLR so I’m able to maintain better control in low-light, fast motion or distant object shots.

        Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it! Your pictures are beautiful and I enjoy your blog very much. It’s the only site I am subscribed to so I am clearly spoiled.

        I’d love to start a nature photo blog but I’m in the midst of starting a non-profit with my son. So that has left me very busy but not so busy that I can’t check out your posts.

        It’s unfortunate that we don’t seem able to attach pictures of our own in reply because I have a few I’d like to show you. One of my shots of a buck, caught in a soccer net, was featured on Good Morning Montana. Right place, right time.

        1. Thanks, James! What an honor!

          I will email you so you can send me attachments of your pictures. I’d love to see them.

  5. Lovely post and hike, Barbara, wonderful captures shared! Those trees lifting that boulder is a cool sighting. This year has had my husband & I reflecting on our 41 years together, what dreams succeeded in becoming reality, what dreams we still have, and how we have changed physically (getting old sucks!). πŸ˜‰ As you, we’re doing our best staying positive, trying to live our life the fullest we can each day.

    1. Thank you, Donna! Oh my, yes, getting old sucks! With a heart attack (him) and cancer (me) under our belts it’s a wonder we’re still on stage! Congratulations on 41 years! Our 45th passed in May, but because of the pandemic I think we missed it, at least I can’t remember marking it in any way. I remember my grandmother fretting, as she was approaching her 50th wedding anniversary, that she didn’t want her picture in the newspaper for the occaision. πŸ˜‰ (They had been married 67 years when she died.) It’s good to stay positive and live life to the fullest, as you say, in spite of it all. πŸ’™

      1. Hope you’re both doing well moving forward. Thank goodness for my husband (me a stress-related heart attack & an accident that required a total knee replacement). I always say, “Keep on keeping on!” That’s what we gotta do. 😊

        1. Yup, that’s what we gotta do! πŸ™‚ It’s encouraging to know you’ve dealt with some health problems, too, and have found ways to move forward. Nothing like a brush with death to renew one’s commitment to living fully.

  6. It’s odd about level ground, isn’t? I’ve noticed the same thing with my hips. And knees. Illinois is too flat for me!
    Your pictures are delicious, as always. It is remarkable, the changes. Like you, we remember well the couple we once were stepping out energetically, but that couple has gone.

    1. Thank you, Melissa! It is odd. My sister’s physical therapist says it’s because on level ground you keep using the same poor muscle and joint repeatedly. On uneven terrain you move the muscles and joints differently with each step which gives each position/motion a little break. I took up yoga so I could get up and down off the floor to play with my grandchildren more easily. (It worked!) Wish I could have some of that youthful energy back!

  7. I love the smiling rock. So sweet. I’m not sure when I’ll feel comfortable being around people again. As an introvert it’s been pleasant for me/us to be alone as much as I/we have this year. But I do miss the shared laughs and going out to dinner with friends.

    1. The smiling rock made me smile, but under my mask so nobody could see. πŸ˜‰ I’m an introvert, too, so staying home has been very easy for me. But like you, I do miss friends and family and those small gatherings which are so problematic right now. Sigh. We can do this, Ally! Stay safe! This too will pass…

  8. Oh, Barbara, what a lovely walk!! I so enjoyed the lingering Fall color, the squirrel, the moon, and the titmouse. And yes, I imagine it will be wonderful to get together with friends again. Sadly, Illinois has spiked dramatically in the virus department of late, and I fear we’re going to be locked down again before this thing ends. Sigh.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed this walk, Debbie!! We’ve been keeping a tight bubble since March so I’m not sure we could do anything much more, except perhaps getting our groceries delivered again. Sorry to hear things are so bad in Illinois right now. I suspect we’re all in for a long hard winter and we best brace ourselves and hunker down. Stay safe, my friend!

  9. I think we introverts have been able to handle the pandemic better than the extroverts. We get so much satisfaction being aloneβ€”and, besides, we have our blogging friends for company. Thank you for the walk, and sorry about Tim’s hip. How we change from those strong lively young ones to slower older ones. I had to go out among people today at the local hospital to get a physical. I would rather have stayed home, but needed to check things out. It felt safe there but you never know.

    1. I agree. I think I’m going to miss all the flurry of blog activity when this pandemic is history. Tim’s had to go to the doctor a few times since the pandemic started and it worries us every time but the medical offices do seem to be taking all the appropriate precautions… So far I’ve had a couple of telehealth appointments, thankfully, but I had a panic attack when I had to go inside the doctor’s office to get my flu shot in September. I hope you had a good report from your physical.

  10. Though the leaf colors were waning and the trees were getting bare, you had a wonderful walk out in nature and a chance to reflect on your first visit here forty years ago and the present … such a nice comment about you and Tim’s life together. The stone was a cute surprise as was the sweet Tufted Titmouse with the dark eyes and the perfect crest. Barbara – I can’t leave without commenting on how cute your gray squirrel is … I think they know they’re cute and thus pose for us. πŸ™‚

    1. The titmouse sighting was such a treat. I can never decide who I love more, chickadees or titmice. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed my stroll down memory lane, I think that walk 40 years ago will stand out in my mind forever. There are so many moments long forgotten. I think you’re right, those squirrels do pose when they sense our adoring energy coming their way. Tomorrow I’m posting another squirrel pic from another walk in a different place. This one seemed more wild and I only got the one shot before he darted off.

      1. Barbara – I mentioned Jocelyn Anderson, the nature photographer from Michigan that I follow on Twitter. I follow some nature sites, weather and news sites on Twitter, but her bird photos are such a joy to see. The titmice and chickadees are her favorite birds too and she has lots of videos of them taking food from her palm. They are so cute and perky. The squirrels and their begging do me in every time. πŸ™‚
        I had the cute gray squirrels for three years at the house … first just Grady, then his mate/buddy and soon two black squirrels (Pitch and Tar) and two Fox squirrels (one named Willard as he had mange so bad he had no fur), two Jays and two Cardinals. Every morning I fed them before going outside, but Grady begged incessantly … he was not shy like most of the gray and black squirrels and would tag along near my feet or jump on the porch to get my attention. I took some fun pictures of him and was devastated when the Cooper’s Hawk “got” all my squirrels (per my neighbor). I won’t feed any critters here at the house ever again and worry about the group at the Park. I am two days behind in Reader … I never seem to catch up anymore, but likely will after Thanksgiving. Fall, for me, is a time of chores – grocery shopping, yardwork wrap-up and I get behind in inside chores and rally back after the long weekend. We are having rain 3/4s of this upcoming weekend, so I may put a dent in inside chores and be rarin’ to go again … at least I think so because the COVID stats are scary. I like my own company so am social distancing and masked-up, so should be fine, but have reservations to be honest. But big parks are fine. I have some fat squirrel shots I’m going to use and some “fluffy-tailed” shots to use as well.

        1. I remember the sad tale of the squirrels you used to have near your house. Nature seems so cruel at times. I loved the Jocelyn Anderson website. Her “Tufted Titmouse with American Bittersweet” print is amazing! πŸ’™ I haven’t thought to feed the squirrels in the parks before, although I have seen others doing so. One woman mentioned cracked corn for the birds because bread, which a lot of people give them, is very bad for them. Our beach has strict rules against feeding the wildlife, but I see nothing posted in most of the parks. I’m terribly worried about the coming days with the pandemic, too.

          1. I wasn’t sure if I told you about my “house squirrels” – I was very sad that happened to them right here at this house to make it worse. I really enjoy Jocelyn’s photos and videos and she always has a quip to go with them. I started feeding the squirrels the year I started walking at that Park, in 2013. I have heard of cracked corn for the ducks too, but I’d think you’d have to just feed them on land then as it would sink in the water. I fed the ducks bread for years, then learned it gave them “angel wing” syndrome so I stopped. In the UK, a fellow blogger told me you can buy swan food for the Mute Swans that live there.

          2. Your poor squirrels… It must have been like losing some dear friends. We have a duck and goose pond at a shopping village near here and they sell the proper food for them in some of the stores. It’s hard to get good pictures of them, though, with all the fences and tourists in the way! πŸ™‚ Once a gray goose got sick and the stores put out donation cups and raised enough money to take it to the vet.

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