a preserve by the railroad tracks

1.19.22 ~ Knox Preserve, Stonington, Connecticut

It’s hard to believe after almost two years of walking outings during the pandemic we’re still finding open spaces we haven’t visited yet. Tim was reading about this one, Knox Preserve, in an editorial in the Sunday paper. The writer was frustrated because a fence had been put up between the nature preserve and the railroad tracks, keeping trespassers off the tracks, yes, but also obscuring the views of Long Island Sound.

Wednesday afternoon was finally “warm” enough to head out there, bundled up, of course. (We usually walk in the morning but decided it might be warmer after lunch!) I forgot to make note of the temperature. My new mittens did a fine job keeping my fingers warm. 🙂 We headed up a muddy path along a lovely stone wall with a rusty, golden salt meadow off to our right.

muddy path along salt meadow

What I see is mine.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers)

At a break in the stone wall we took another very soggy path through the salt meadow, then leading up to a grassy knoll where we found a bench with a view.

While we enjoyed the view a little boy and his mother came along and sat down to wait for the next train. Mom had an app on her cell phone that let her know when the next train would be along. The little guy was very excited, even though he had done this many times before. We smiled, thinking of all the good memories they will have to look back on some day.

view of fence, Amtrak train tracks and Long Island Sound

Railroad iron is a magician’s rod, in its power to evoke the sleeping energies of land and water.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(The Young American)

the controversial fence

Next we decided to follow a path into the woods and along the new fence. We heard the expected train approach and hoped the little boy was enjoying himself! It was probably a high-speed Acela train.

into the woods
train whizzing by
reindeer moss

When we came out of the woods we found ourselves at Quiambog Cove and walked along it until we came back to the salt meadow where we started. It was fun completing a loop instead of retracing our steps the way we usually do.

Quiambog Cove and railroad bridge
afternoon sun

Is not January alone pure winter? December belongs to the fall — is a wintery November — February to the spring — it is a snowy March.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, February 9, 1854)

ice in the salt meadow

When we woke up this morning the wind chill was 0°F/-18°C. Needless to say, we did not take a walk. Instead, it was more yoga for me!

After peaking at 25% on January 7th, Connecticut’s covid positivity rate has slowly inched its way down to 13% yesterday. Baby steps in the right direction.

34 thoughts on “a preserve by the railroad tracks”

  1. Random thoughts: It seems to me that the land donated for a preserve made with good intentions is still doing so much more good than the focus of complaints of a safety fence separating man-made harm from those fantasy of wonders within the boundaries of the preserve.

    So much beauty was captured with your lens on the loop; and even captured the delight of a young boy and smart mother along your walk. Paying attention to what truly is important is the lesson I see here from afar. Gorgeous delights of nature which few people have the privilege!

    Adjacent is, well; It’s just a fence serving to protect and a train to serve those in need of transportation.

    I’m listening to an audiobook “All the Light We Cannot See” by a lovely reader Anthony Doerr. Our weather temps dropped from 84 down to 32 degrees overnight and is sticking for a few days. It’s COLD in my eighty year old cottage. Nine (9) people passed away from COVID last night in my county. I live within walking distance to one of the main hospitals that are caring for COVID-19. I hear sirens every day more than I want to bare, most evenings and early mornings, every every every day. Between Halo-flight, Coast Guard, Boarder Patrol and the Military Base Helicopters are also a constant passing by, some very low that I must cover my ears. And yet there’s the beauty of the bay, the trees, the birds of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Within my own personal life hardships that I’m currently challenging, dealing, coping; One must have awareness of reality and in those same moments paying attention to what’s truly important are the lessons that surface for me.

    I see so much along the walks that you take me, Barbara. I appreciate you!

    1. I appreciate you, too, TD! I’ve added “All the Light We Cannot See” to my listening list — I love listening to audiobooks, too. We are living in a strange world of paradox. The pandemic is still wreaking havoc and killing people yet some of my neighbors have returned to life as if there is no longer any danger. Finding some sort of sensible balance is tricky, and as you point out, different for each of us based on our personal risk factors. With all our underlying conditions Tim & I are still being very cautious. It’s wonderful you can find beauty and peace in the midst of your unpleasant and unsettling circumstances.

      About the preserve next to the railroad tracks, I think of a Barry Lopez quote: “One of the great dreams of a man must be to find some place between the extremes of nature and civilization where it is possible to live without regret.” It’s good to find some equanimity while looking for balance.

      1. Another very appropriate quote that reflects your photos of this walk.

        “… devoid of color!”? What I saw was the yellow ochre one of my favorite colors to paint with and the wheat tones. I saw lovely olive greens. And though dark (as winter is) I thought you captured the shades of grays into the black (as winter is). Your photos reminded me of the painter of light, Thomas Kinkade, who beautifully painted paths leading into the unknown. Lovely, just so lovely. For me, winter is my time for rest, hibernation, and long nights of sleep. Repairing for the spring ahead.

        … oh, I wish I could have balance and stability! I fell outside yesterday flat on my face!! I’m under my down comforter mending myself… the right side of my face is a mess, so it will take weeks to heal. By spring I will be good, I’m sure!

        1. Thank you, TD. To me, those colors you favor, while beautiful in their own right, belong in an autumn landscape. I crave snow white and the blue greens of evergreens with cardinals and blue jays for winter accents! 😊

          I’m so sorry to hear about your fall. I hope you will be well mended by the time spring rolls around. I remember a fall on cement I took once that took over six weeks of recovery — my hand got the worst of it. You’re lucky to have a down comforter to nest in while healing. *hugs*

          1. Oh yes, I certainly understand your craving. Those are beautiful scenes of which you are missing!

            I twisted out the recycled plastic mulch from my face, washed gently well, then applied antibiotic pain relief ointment, hoping to avoid staff infection. Thank you for the hugs. Today the sunshine returns for one day, so I must do my errands in between cold fronts. Our winters are short here. We do have evergreens and cardinals. Our last snow here was 2017 the same year as Hurricane Harvey. Perhaps you might take an adventure to where it’s snowing?

          2. Looks like we might get some snow on Saturday. Keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂 With my gut affliction I suspect my days of traveling are over. If I do manage to get away it will be down south to visit the grandchildren in North Carolina. It did snow there recently! You never know… I’m glad to hear you’re taking good care of your wound — it’s so important to avoid infections.

    1. You’re welcome, Frank. The landscape seems so dull, but I suppose drab has a certain beauty, if one can find it. The word lackluster keeps coming to mind as I walk along in my warm mittens…

  2. I wonder what Thoreau means with “what I see is mine” – maybe that my perception will be different than others?
    And I enjoyed the photo of the poor spiralling tree trunk – I have learned that when trees do that, there is a powerful radiation from the earth there. I use to walk with these sticks that show water a 30 years ago – have forgotten the english word. Ah, dowsing it was

    1. I do think it has everything to do with perception and parallax. Thoreau was observing how the landscapes he was visiting looked different from each new position, even to the same person.
      We wondered about the triple spiral in the tree trunk. It was in the middle of a grove of dozens of the same kind of trees but it was the only one without a straight trunk. Mysterious…

    1. Thank you, Kathy! The “tunnel” into the woods was so inviting and I would love to see what it will look like come spring. 🙂

  3. Another lovely property! I think the fence makes sense for safety’s sake, esp. since those trains go so fast. I once read that it can take a mile for a train to stop!
    Last night was wicked cold here, bottoming out at -7º. Our walks these days have been short and brisk! I applaud the person who came up with down coats. 🙂

    1. I might have to invest in a down coat one of these days. 🙂 So far the one labeled “warmest” at Kohl’s is serving me well but then again I haven’t attempted to walk at -7°! Doing a little research I discovered that the Acela trains in this area “only” go 66 mph because of infrastructure and traffic. But they are capable of going 150 mph. Trying to imagine one going by at that speed…

        1. There probably isn’t enough distance between train stations here on the east coast for the train to get up to speed. It would have to slow down for the next stop way before it even got going! It always amazes me how far away from an airport a jet has to begin its descent.

    1. We’re trying our best to stay warm, Donna! Sometimes we have to work extra hard to convince ourselves to get out there.

  4. Your pics and your quotes are very New England. I have an old leather bound book of Emerson that belonged to my father. I may pull it out today. It’s a cold day in FL. 40’s. Cold enough to build the first fire of the season.

    1. It’s true, I’m a New Englander through and through. 🙂 Your father’s old leather bound book of Emerson sounds like a real treasure. 40° would be a heat wave for us about now! I hope you enjoyed curling up with your book by the fire.

  5. I used to ride Amtrak with my son when he was little, so I can assure you that little boy will have many wonderful memories of doing that with his mama! Bitterly cold here, made worse by the wind. I braved the outdoors yesterday to walk Monkey, but I think it might be too dangerous to try today. However, Monday is supposed to warm a bit, so we’ll go then. Such lovely wintertime photos, Barbara!

    1. Thank you, Debbie! The little boy was there to see the train go by but I hope he does get a chance to ride on one some day. We’ve taken Amtrak to visit relatives in VA, NC, FL — it sure beats driving on I-95! One of our sons was crazy for trains and we took the Cog RR to the top of Mt. Washington in NH on one of our vacations. Does Monkey get boots and a coat to keep him warm when you go out in the cold?

      1. Monkey wears a warm coat, despite his fur, but I’ve not tried booties yet. Dallas wouldn’t wear them, but maybe Monk will. I’ll have to see — should be interesting! Thanks for the nudge.

  6. I enjoyed going along on your new walk. Amazed that you found something unexplored but happy that you did. As for HDT’s question “Is not January alone pure winter?” I believe he is right.

    1. I have to agree with Thoreau’s observation, too. I used to love sunny January and winter, but when I was growing up there was a lot of snow and a lot of evergreens in our woods. Things are so dull and dreary in this season down here by the shore.

  7. All your quotes fit perfectly with this post Barbara. The landscape is serene, though devoid of color. Peaceful until the train comes whizzing by and interrupts the stillness. I don’t think I ever rode a train when I was a youngster, so I can’t associate the enthusiasm of the youngster with myself, but it sounds like he was excited. Our positivity rate is decreasing slightly here as well, however, we have two Federal health teams that have been here since December to relieve hospital workers in two hospitals (both within five miles from my home). That’s no great comfort to know that those two hospitals are overrun with COVID cases and what staff members aren’t overwhelmed and beat up from two years of administering COVID care, are recuperating from COVID themselves.

    1. Thank you, Linda. Yes, so very devoid of color! I miss the snow on the evergreens of my childhood. It was so magical, especially seeing the cardinals and blue jays and chickadees in the snowy landscape. Sigh…
      The little boy was bubbling over with excitement! Not sure if he ever rode on a train before but he was thrilled just to see one go by. His mom said they come often to see the trains and it gives them a good excuse to get outside and take a walk. 🙂 It’s nice that they placed a bench there so you sit and watch the train approach from across the salt meadow, more than the passing glimpse we go while we were in the woods.
      My heart goes out to the health care workers. Let’s hope these cursed covid numbers keep going down and that a new variant doesn’t come out and send us back to square one again. Keeping my fingers crossed!

      1. It’s fun to see youngsters with enthusiasm for something other than their devices … I think that’s nice as I have seen kids in stores with iPad mini tablets or phones and they’re young enough to be sitting in the seat of the grocery cart!

        Yes, I pray the same thing Barbara. They said we are down a very measly amount today, but you’d never know it from glancing at the stats.

        1. I agree, children look so much happier and healthier when they’re outside! Too bad parents couldn’t give their children books to look at in the grocery store. I rarely took my kids food shopping, but when I had to I used to give them a favored snack to munch on to keep them occupied. 😉

          1. I can remember when sitting in the shopping cart seat, I got a box of the Barnum and Bailey animal crackers with the pink string. We didn’t go shopping weekly so it was an occasional treat. But I didn’t eat them at the store, just held onto the string and dreamed about eating them when I got home. 🙂

          2. Oh my, yes! I remember those boxes of animal crackers! 🙂 We didn’t get them that often, either. Funny how I remember those but not what I gave my kids. Memory can be so random…

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