12.11.20 ~ Barn Island Wildlife Management Area
Pawcatuck, Connecticut

Somehow a week passed between our walks and I was feeling the definite lack of my regular endorphin boost. How did that happen? Some of the time was spent decorating our tree, which is almost done. I’m waiting on a mail order of ornament hooks. For some reason I ran out of them before all the pretty glass icicles made it onto the tree. But mostly I’ve been puttering around aimlessly.

Barn Island is the largest coastal wildlife management area in the state. It has about 1,000 acres of deciduous forest and tidal saltmarshes and lovely views of Little Narragansett Bay. The area supports “at least 9 State-listed avian species.”

clouds reflected in a tidal creek

I love it here, even if we didn’t see any birds this time. That might be because several couples were there walking their dogs. One couple was even letting their two large rambunctious dogs off the leash, putting them on the leashes when they saw us and then letting them go again after they had passed. Infuriating!

After a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what — how — when — where?
~ Henry David Thoreau

I’m missing my grandchildren. Most of the time I don’t dwell on it because I’m so grateful that we’re all safe and have incomes and food and roofs over our heads, the basics that so many Americans have lost or are losing soon. But recently, on a video call, Finn, age 2, called me Grammy for the first time, and the sound of his little voice coming into his own tugged at my heart.

Little Narragansett Bay in the distance
tidal creek

And then there was the evening that Katherine, age 6, created a solar system model out of Play-Doh. I watched for about an hour as she told me about the different planets and that the first four were rocky and the last four were gaseous. I was captivated.

spotted wintergreen
moss and lichen

Another morning I got a phone call, Katherine wanted to know if I still had the Barbie Animal Rescuer set she played with here over a year ago. Yes! It is waiting right here in the living room for her next visit. When she visited us that November (2019) I meant for her to take it home with her but she said no, it was to stay at Grammy’s to be played with here. We had such fun playing with it together and I had wondered if she would remember that, and she did.

tidal creek

Katherine has lost four of her baby teeth. And Finn, an agile little guy who loves speeding around on his scooter with the greatest of ease, wound up tripping over his bean bag chair in the middle of the night, hitting and cutting his lip with his tooth on the bedframe and getting 7 stitches! But it’s healing up well and the scar is almost invisible.

trees reflected in tidal creek

The beauty of the earth answers exactly to your demand and appreciation.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, November 2, 1858)

I trust that the walkers of the present day are conscious of the blessings which they enjoy in the comparative freedom with which they can ramble over the country and enjoy the landscape.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, February 12, 1851)

29 thoughts on “reflections”

  1. Loved this post. The walk and photos were so wonderful. The part I liked the best was your interaction with your precious little grandkids. The worse part of this pandemic is not being able to hug our family members or see them in person. I do hope our world straightens up soon.

    1. Thank you, Peggy. Not being able to hug our family members is the worst part, for us. But we are all safe, so far, and haven’t had to endure having a loved one isolated away in the hospital. It looks like it might be another six months before I can be vaccinated. Who knows how long before the grandchildren will be?

  2. Your walk was lovely, as always, but my heart feels heavy for you. I have tears in my eyes. Where is that magic wand that will fix everything? Sending hugs to you today, dear friend. xx

    1. Thank you so much for the hugs, my friend. I felt better after I shared my grandchildren stories and most of the time I think of video calls as the magic that keeps us connected, even if the hugs and snuggles are missing. πŸ’™

        1. The news about the vaccine is so exciting — thank you, Scientists! πŸ™‚ It may be months before my turn comes but the anticipation is growing daily.

  3. I found this post so endearing, Barbara. Your walk through Barn Island and the photos are so rich with color and beauty and life. I have never seen wintergreen, so I found that one espec. interesting. My favorite photo and quote was of the bare tree with the bright blue sky behind it, and Thoreau’s quote about the “beauty of the earth.” I also appreciated your narrative about missing your grandchildren, and watching their development on video, and the reminder you give yourself about the blessings you do have during this extremely difficult pandemic. My warmest blessings to you….

    1. Thank you, Jet! I love spotting little patches of spotted (or striped) wintergreen on the ground in the winter. It’s not related to common wintergreen, which is in a separate plant family. For some reason the deer don’t care for it and it seems to be thriving here in Connecticut, although it’s endangered in Maine. A hot cup of spotted wintergreen tea is said to be delicious but I hesitate to pick any of the few leaves I find. The sun came out and the sky turned so blue behind the those white puffy clouds, add the sculptural bare branches — it was the perfect photo op! I appreciate your kind comments, Jet, and thank you so much for stopping by.

  4. I love Thoreau’s last quote — it reminds us that, despite this stupid pandemic, we at least can still get outside and enjoy the beauty of Nature. Your wistfulness at not being able to visit with your grandchildren really comes through here, Barbara. I’m sorry. At least you’re able to chat with them long distance. Getting together with family who live afar is a blessing we’ve taken for granted — bet we won’t hereafter, huh?!

    1. I also thought that last quote was a perfect match for our lives during this awful pandemic. And to think, I let a week go by without going outside and then wondered why I was so out of sorts. It’s been a hard lesson, too, in not taking the blessings family visits for granted. When Katherine was born I vowed to visit her at least every three months and kept that vow until I got sick last winter and then before I recovered enough to travel the pandemic hit. Sigh… But some day we will all be together again!

  5. Oh, Grammy, I loved your stories…and my heart aches along with you that you can’t be with the grandbabies right now. These are some difficult days, and the skies so often gray, and the colors muted…but am remembering once again that muted colors carry their own sweet beauty. Thanks for taking us along with you with your pictures and words.

    1. It’s so sweet of you to call me Grammy, too, Kathy! Your comment made me smile. πŸ™‚ There is beauty in everything, as you say, even if we don’t see it at times. I wonder, is your name Kathy a nickname for Katherine? My little Katherine likes her full name and rejected the nickname Katie we gave her when she was a baby. Now she says she likes Kat, but only sometimes, leaving me to wonder just which times are okay to use it – lol.

  6. I enjoyed this post Barbara and would enjoy taking this walk too. I know the frustration of dogs nearby as the “wildlife” always scatter, then hide, when a dog is prowling around. Off leash is even worse. Sigh. I especially like how you interspersed your feeling about missing your grandchildren and what has been happening with them, with your photos from your walk and the quotes. It must be very difficult to have to go so long without seeing them. Since I don’t have any family, I can’t identify, but I can empathize with you. If your ornament hangers have arrived, but you’ve not yet finished decorating the tree, looks like you will have lots of time with this upcoming storm. Hopefully they are wrong on the estimates of snow totals and you will remain unscathed by their predicted amounts.

    1. I know you understand about the dogs, too, Linda! Sunday we went to the beach and found lots of dog prints on the sand in spite of the fact they’re allowed on the property, leashed, but NOT allowed on the beach at all. Grrr. I’ve thought of taking pictures of owners and dogs if I ever catch them on the beach while I’m there and posting the pictures on the beach’s Facebook group, to shame them. No wonder the gulls aren’t hanging around on the rocks or the sand like they used to. People!

      Well, it looks like we’re supposed to get 12-16 inches of snow Wednesday night and Thursday morning. It’s been 5 years since we’ve had that much snow down here on the coast. Tim’s going food shopping today instead of his usual Thursday. We tried Instacart last week and it took them 51 minutes to get our order from the store to our place, a 5 minute ride. And of course, the order was not filled correctly. So we decided the stress of dealing with Instacart was more risky to Tim’s well being than masking up (two masks and a face shield) and going to the store himself. When he goes mid-morning on weekdays the store has very few people in it and he’s in and out in a flash. Keeping our fingers crossed!

      1. My same feelings with any dog at Council Point Park, especially since it is a City code violation and it is posted (admittedly on the same sign as a handicapped parking sign) and ignored. The dog on leash, but the leash drags behind him is really annoying. Shaming may work, as long as there is no retribution for you and Tim.

        I have been hearing about your big snow – I am sure you’re not looking forward to it; neither would I. A friend of mine orders from Meijer grocery store and their delivery service which is Shipt and she says she requests a daytime deliver and the delivery arrives as late as midnight. That’s sounds like a better idea – shopping on your own as it’ll get worse during this holiday season for sure. All the better to go when fewer people shop. Does Tim do self-scan or use a clerk to do the order? I always do the self-scan but I don’t know if it is safer that way or not for checking out the groceries. I have not been back to the grocery store since November 23rd and I think I’m good til Spring (hopefully).

        Our COVID stats continue to rise, though the Governor said they are declining a little since this last “pause” we’re on, but we had 1,000 deaths in one week’s time and I don’t think that is good at all! My worry now is about gasoline for the entire Winter. I filled my gas tank on November 23rd when I was out for errands, but I did give it a 20-mile run last weekend since it was clear and dry and have 3/4s of a tank of gas left. I worry the gas won’t last all Winter as I run it in the garage daily, yet want to stay away from COVID germs. I have 3/4s of a tank of gas which is about 12 gallons. I’m wavering what to do – will decide soon, before the snow flies tomorrow. It’s a small gas station and I’d rather top it off before it snows and then I feel I have to get a car wash after going out in the salt. Since I will try to not “mingle” anywhere, I’m hoping the gas lasts at least until February when cases subside after Christmas. I hate all the decisions about going out. I wear two of the neoprene masks and they are pretty heavy and a paper mask beneath that. I wore gloves in the Summer, before it got cold. I don’t take any chances. I never thought about getting a shield, though I looked at them on Amazon. That is a good idea. I heard Dr. Fauci say today that even after we have had widespread vaccinations to keep socially distancing and wear a mast long into 2021.

        1. Wow — that’s pretty brazen and defiant, having the dog leashed but letting it drag behind him. Yes, I think the fear of retribution is what keeps me from confronting people. Instead I fume and simmer…

          This might be the first big snowstorm when we actually get to stay home together! If we had room for a freezer I think we’d stock up for the winter and the COVID surge like you did. As it is we’ve taken over the guest room as a pantry for dry and canned goods.

          I know what you mean about all these decisions, it seems like every move must be planned out to reduce risks and limit exposure. Very tiring. Hang in there, Linda! It’s not like you’re going to a bar with loads of people to hang out for hours on end. You’re probably going to be safe with all that you’re doing in your bubble.

          1. I actually told this guy that there was a code/ordinance number posted and he shrugged it off. The dog is large as you know, barks at the squirrels and birds. Interestingly, when I told him, he didn’t seem to care, didn’t thank me (didn’t figure he would but there is a fine), yet a few weeks later, he walked along with me and we chatted about the weather. I didn’t want hard feelings as there are two many crazy people around here who would not think twice about doing you harm. I have lost count of how many freeway shootings we have had this year.

            I wish I had more space to store these pantry items. I have done the six-month shopping for many years, but I always supplemented that food with a once-a-month trip to get dairy products, bread and some other perishable foods. I think this is the first year I have not had eggnog. But this year since I got more than my usual food supply, I have run out of room to put it in and it a cluttered mess – it is only me so I overlook it as I’m grateful not to have to go to the store. I think a big freezer would be good, but I’d worry about losing power and losing food. Over the last 11 years I’ve been by myself, I’ve lost power three times and for a long period of time, so I lost the contents of the fridge/freezer, so I have opted for as much non-perishable foods as possible now – powdered milk for example. The other items I do without for now.

            It is tiring to worry all the time. But then I hear of someone who has died of COVID who took all precautions – what happened? I have no one coming to the house, nor do I go anywhere, so I think I’m fine and probably the gas station is okay as well.

            We have received just an inch of snow but the snow had some freezing rain in it so it had made a big mess of things. There were 13 vehicle accidents, two semi-tractors ran off the road. It was starting to snow on my way home from the Park. Nice you and Tim have a little down time and can enjoy each other’s company and not needing to be on the roads right now. Does someone plow at your condo so you don’t worry about that?

          2. It’s true. You never know what’s going to set someone off. Keeping a low profile has mostly been my modus operandi over the years. We haven’t had freeway shootings around here so I guess I should be grateful that people letting their dogs roam around on the beach is my biggest worry.

            I admire your self sufficiency! Eleven years! I wouldn’t last a month, at least I don’t think so. I hope one of my children or my sister will take me in if I lose Tim… It’s hard to manage around here without driving. Although I’m old enough to take the senior bus from the senior center. πŸ™‚

            I read an article about someone who was ill with COVID and said he couldn’t figure out how he got it, he felt he took all the precautions. But some people think they’re taking “all” the precautions when they really aren’t. This guy met his neighbors on the street corner for a socially distanced beer. He also went to the barber with a mask on, thinking that was enough of a precaution. So I suspect many who say they took all the precautions didn’t really.

            We’ve got 8 inches of snow so far this morning. They got up to 12 inches inland. No accidents so far. 36 DOT snowplow drivers are out sick with COVID. The governor ordered a truck ban in the state since last night so hopefully there will be no semitrailer accidents to worry about. Yes, we do have a contractor who plows the condo parking lots and shovels the sidewalks. One big advantage to condo living! πŸ™‚

  7. Beautifully composed captures and superb quotes, Barbara. Grandchildren are the best, if we had known how much so, we’d have had them first! πŸ˜‰ I got a huge smile on reading you are a “Grammy”, I am a Grammy too! Christmas is going to be tough, but we have the hope that one day soon we will get to hug them tightly once again!

    1. Thank you, Donna! So nice to know another Grammy!!! It’s funny, my grandmother was so warm and loving but insisted on being called the formal-sounding Grandmother, which didn’t match her fun and mischievous personality. But I loved listening to my mother talk about her Grammy and decided even before I had my own children that I would be called Grammy, too. πŸ’™ It’s comforting to know we aren’t the only grandparents who will be missing our little ones for Christmas this year. Think of all the those hugs when this terrible pandemic is behind us! It will be so hard to let go of them as they squirm away to play!

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