neon green and long plumes

4.22.22 ~ Bride Brook Salt Marsh, Rocky Neck State Park

It’s breeding season at the salt marsh. All these pictures were of great egrets who were close enough to photograph. We also saw ospreys flying on and off their nests, Canada geese honking up a storm and quite a few ducks paddling around, but out of reach from my camera, even with the tripod which Tim lugged around for me. 💙

The pristinely white Great Egret gets even more dressed up for the breeding season. A patch of skin on its face turns neon green, and long plumes grow from its back. Called aigrettes, those plumes were the bane of egrets in the late nineteenth century, when such adornments were prized for ladies’ hats.
~ All About Birds website


After enjoying our birdwatching at the salt marsh we drove over to the nature center to check on mama goose. Monday night we had a nor’easter with lots of wind and rain so we checked on her Tuesday morning. She had turned around in the nest. When we checked again on Friday (pictures below) she was still in Tuesday’s position so we had to walk part way around the pond to get some pictures of her. Papa goose was there on Tuesday but nowhere to be found on Friday. We don’t know if we should be concerned or not.

4.22.22 ~ Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center

Earlier this week the dishwasher died. It was buzzing and when I went to turn it off I got a shock. Our condo was built in the 1970s so it has aluminum wiring. We’ve always had electrical problems with the dishwasher connection and have gone through quite a few since we moved in here nearly twenty-nine years ago. The last one died in 2018. Even though the technicians installing them assure me that the goop they use to connect the aluminum wiring to the dishwasher wiring is safe and effective, I refuse to believe it any more. And so I have decided this time there will not be a new dishwasher.

skunk cabbages are flourishing

I feel surprisingly zen about it. I thought of my grandmother who enjoyed doing her dishes by hand for her whole life. I remember her telling me it was her favorite household chore. As a child I disliked the task intensely and was utterly fascinated by her revelation. But now I’m finding the time spent doing dishes by hand meditative and mindful.

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Thinking about all that is happening in Ukraine I feel grateful to simply have some dishes to do. Connecticut’s covid positivity rate was climbing all week, and reached 8% on Friday. Sigh… Looks like we need more practice living with uncertainty.

36 thoughts on “neon green and long plumes”

  1. The only time I appreciate our dishwasher is after a big party, which hasn’t happened in several years now due to you know what!
    Having grown up washing by hand for a family of nine (my mother posted a monthly rotating schedule and we started in first grade!), I wasn’t fond of the chore. I remember once asking her why we couldn’t get a dishwasher and her reply was, “I have seven dishwashers!”

    1. With nine of you to feed I can just imagine how many dishes there were to wash! Did one child have the whole job or was it shared? My sister and I took turns every night. One had to run the dog after school and set the table, the other had to wash the dishes. Next night, switch. Somehow we’d get in arguments when we tried trading nights for various reasons and then memories differed about how many times we switched… To this day I wonder if it would have made more sense to have us share the chore. One wash, one dry.

      1. Oh yeah, lots of squabbles, as I remember.
        One washed, another dried and put away. With all those kids, it worked out to about twice a week at that chore. But Saturday was all about cleaning, which as the youngest girl, I mostly dusted and cleaned the sinks. I used to pretend I was Cinderella 😀 … at least my mother didn’t do the white glove inspection!

        1. Ah yes, Saturdays were cleaning days at our house, too. Again with the taking turns… One week I cleaned my sister’s and my bathroom and the next Saturday I vacuumed the upstairs and collected all the trash in the wastebaskets. Then trips to the dump and family yard and garden work. It probably didn’t take up as much of the day as it seemed to at the time. That’s so cute that your imagination led you to pretend you were Cinderella! 😀

    1. I wasn’t that close to them — I was using the zoom lens on my camera, and for the one displaying his feathers I was using a tripod, too. But that one did seem to be posing just for me. 🙂

  2. Fabulous Great Egret shots in breeding plumage, Barbara! You had a perfect front row seat for the one’s gorgeous courtship display, just for you, now nice!

    Oh my with your dishwasher, ouch! I think I’d go dishwasherless as well. The house we recently bought has a super cheap dishwasher in it, seems I’m always rewashing by hand myself once it’s done. Sometimes I just hand wash because I have time. But when I was a kid, I hated dishwashing. Always begged for a dishwasher, was told like Eliza, “we already have a dishwasher.” When I was 12, my Pop Pop (who loved to tease me) asked what I wanted for Christmas. I said a dishwasher. He promised he’d get me one. Well, Christmas Day, I did get one. Barbie’s dishwasher, which actually really worked with batteries. I was not a happy kid. 🤣

    1. Thank you, Donna! I wasn’t looking for a great egret encounter that day but it was a delightful surprise. 🙂

      So far the handwashing of dishes is going well. I can’t remember how old I was when I encountered my first dishwasher but I think for most of my childhood I didn’t even know such a thing existed. My parents got a portable one when I was in my teens, but not because we asked for one. It was a lot of trouble to load it and roll it over to the sink to hook it up and it made so much noise! Then they gave it to me when I was living in an apartment when my children were small. It was still pretty cumbersome. Barbie had a dishwasher?!? I didn’t know that existed, either! Oh my, that was not a nice way for your Pop Pop to tease you!

    1. I don’t normally use a tripod, Kathy, although we keep one handy in the car. Most of the time it’s just the zoom lens on my camera. But we took the tripod this time to a viewing platform hoping to photograph ospreys on their nests. It still wasn’t enough to get a good shot. But the egret was happy to show off his feathers, a rather nice consolation prize. 🙂

  3. I understand your decision about the dishwasher. We went for a few years without a dishwasher because they cost so much and we said we can re-live our childhoods when neither had a dishwasher. In the end it was soothing to wash dishes and think about things while doing so. Eventually we had our kitchen remodeled and got a dishwasher again, but for a while it was a pleasant way to step back from machines.

    1. It’s nice to know you understand how soothing and mindful it can be to wash dishes by hand. It seems like most of my readers grew up without a dishwasher. I find myself wondering how we might remove the darn thing and make better use of the space it occupies, but then, I think, if we ever sell this place it’s hard to imagine somebody these days wanting to buy a home without a dishwasher. But I’m not going to think about that for now.

  4. I don’t think I could go without a dishwasher, Barbara — particularly during our long, cold winters. With the pandemic still around, I find my hands in soapy water far too often as it is, and I just can’t get enough hand cream on them to ward off the redness and chapping. I love your bird pictures — they look completely relaxed posing for your camera!

    1. Thank you, Debbie! I was delighted the egrets were so photogenic that day. So sorry to hear your hands get redness and chapping from soap and water! It sounds so painful. I imagine you’ve tried everything but have you tried plant based soaps and/or dishwashing liquids? I find I’m sensitive to anything petroleum based, including shampoo.

        1. You’re welcome! So true, the colder the air is the drier it gets. My lips get very chapped in the winter. The alcohol in hand sanitizer.. it’s no wonder the skin on or hands has been getting so dry.

  5. That white Great Egret siting is wonderful, Barbara! Lucky to notice. I’m curious if there were a lot of them, a few, or only the one? I adore your photo capture and appreciate Tim’s strength for carrying the tripod.

    We don’t have the Great Egrets here (that I’ve ever noticed), but we do have the snowy egret and the cattle egret.

    I just had to go to the all about birds website to “listen” and share with Yorkie. The Great Egret sounds like my first husband blowing his noise! Made me laugh and Yorkie look all around us!!

    On thoughts of dishwasher: I hope the shock didn’t harm you into the emergency room, although I’m sure the shock hurt! And in the length of time living in the condo that is too many replacing one particular appliance. I agree, it might be electric wiring issue. This 80+ old cottage has lots of electric wiring issues. It’s scary (feels haunted at times) and sometimes I worry about it. (Sigh)

    1. There were quite a few great egrets in the salt marsh that day. I have only seen snowy egrets here twice a few summers ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cattle egret. You had me laughing, the egrets do sound a lot like someone snoring! On the day we were there they weren’t being vocal but the Canada geese were honking up a storm.

      No, it was a very mild shock. But enough to cause me to forget about trying to have a dishwasher in this place once and for all. Having aluminum wiring here gives me a lot of worry about the fire danger, but so far there’s never been a fire in the complex. We just can’t afford to have the place re-wired (more than $10,000!). Most of the time I just bury my head in the sand about the whole situation.

      Your cottage makes me think of my grandparents’ house, which was built in 1880. My uncle used to worry about my grandfather when he was living there by himself. He had questionable extension cords running all over the place. After he died my cousin renovated the place and I wonder what kind of wiring he found behind those ancient walls!

  6. What a difference to see the Great Egret in profile versus a full, head-on photo. It looks like a different bird doesn’t it? I hope Papa Goose has not strayed too far from his mate. Since you always have our weather the following day, I’m thinking your goose, faced with our cold temps and a damp, trying-to-be-a-wintry-mix-morning, may sit on those eggs as long as she can. Like you, I worry about the adults and the youngsters in this wacky weather. I contacted the guy who has the duck sanctuary (but also take all wounded waterfowl, so has geese and swans at his place as well). I told him I was worried that the space where the nest was seemed to be “wiped clean” – no evidence of the feathers, leaves, nor eggs. He said the mother eats the shells after the goslings hatch. I felt a little better about that. It’s okay for us to be bleeding hearts, as difficult as it is sometimes.

    1. These great egrets were different birds, just one was displaying its plumes and the other was busy hunting, although both had the the neon green face patch, which startled me when I first noticed them. The camera didn’t seem to pick up just how bright that green patch was. Papa goose and his mallard buddy returned on Tuesday, a week after the last time we saw him. How interesting that the mother eats the shells after the goslings hatch. Might help to satisfy her hunger after not eating for a month!

      1. I was not even thinking about the bird flu when reading your post and the missing Papa and his mallard pal. I’ve never seen the great egrets from the front as you have done in the pictures, usually for me it’s a side profile and from far away, so I would not have noticed the green face patch and I’v never seen the plumes. Perhaps I need to head to Lake Erie Metropark again – that’s where I may seen them if it’s mating season. I wonder if eating the shells gives her not only nourishment, but discourages predators who might see shells and know there were newly hatched goslings. We had a coyote family at Council Point Park a few years ago and it was when the goslings were very small and unable to fly. I was worried about them. I guess the parents could guide them to the water for that land predator, but a dog paddles in the water, so I wonder if a coyote would go after the goslings in the water?

        1. Good question, from what I found online, yes, coyotes do swim and do go after prey in the water, although they prefer being on land. Probably depends on how hungry they are. When we went to see the Canada goose family the nest was empty and as I zoomed in with the camera I did not see any shells so I guess mama did eat them. Lots of feathers left behind though. 🙂 Thanks for sharing that bit of information.

          1. Interesting – wow a coyote could conceivably go after the geese and their goslings in the water then – I don’t like knowing that. Thanks for your info Barbara.
            Here at the park where I walk daily, once I see the large flight feathers on the path and in the grass, the geese and their goslings take to the water and leave. The goslings cannot fly and neither can the parents, so they leave and go down to Dingell Park a mile away (big geese congregation there) and/or just follow the Detroit River to any of the shoreline parks where the Canada Geese congregate. Interestingly, if you are early enough in the morning down at the Detroit River shoreline, you will see the seagulls sleeping in huge groups, far from the shoreline, away from predators and they have a “lookout” just like the mallard ducks have one “sentry duck” to watch for predators while the others snooze.

            That’s interesting your Mama goose has left the nest and her goslings hatched – that is interesting how they ate the shells like mine did. There was nothing left in the nest I was watching, though we have had windy days nearly daily, so likely the goose downy feathers just blew away. I hope you see the goslings.

            I went back up to Heritage Park today to get some more pictures – saw them and saw how much they have grown in a week. They were running to and fro so got some pictures to use for my Mother’s Day post.

          2. Sigh, the circle of life is difficult to accept at times… Nature can be pretty brutal. It sounds like your local geese and ducks live by the “safety in numbers” rule. I wonder about this little goose family all on their own in this little pond here. I think we’ll go back sometime this week and see how much the little ones have grown. Will also see how many of those feathers remain on the nest. Looking forward to your Mothers Day post!

  7. P.S. – I have a small house, especially the kitchen and have never had a dishwasher. I’m no fan of doing dishes, but it’s just me, so the chore is not awful. I heard on the news yesterday that even though the chip shortage is not as bad as a year ago, dishwashers, since they use computer chips, may take up to a year after ordering to have installed. Whether this is true or not I don’t know, but a lot of people will be returning to washing dishes the old-fashioned way as this pandemic lingers. The rising COVID stats continue to alarm me.

    1. My parents had a very tiny kitchen, too. The portable dishwasher we eventually got took up half the floor space. I can see why my mother gave it to me after I left home! Sometimes when I watch renovating programs on HGTV I wonder what they would do with my parents’ little kitchen in their small Cape Cod house, to bring it “up to date.” My sister and her husband still live there, without a dishwasher.

      1. Yes, the renovation experts would probably tear your parents’ home apart and start from scratch, leaving only appliances and would there even be room for a tiny breakfast nook? Eating on the fly I guess. I think the quaint Cape Cod house as is would be nicer.

        I have not changed anything in this house and I know that I could update the style (Early American), but I spend most of my day here in the kitchen, (since working from home in 2011), so I really don’t go into the other rooms, except my room to sleep, so I’ve not done anything in years. I stopped my cable TV in 2010 and my TV in the den/TV room is ancient. I watch or read the news online.

        1. One thing I LOVE about my parents tiny kitchen is the knotty pine cabinets with the (copper? bronze?) hardware. Every time I see some like them on HGTV (Home & Garden TV network) the first thing the new owners say is that they’ve got to rip them out and replace them and I start yelling “NO!” at the TV. I don’t care if everyone else thinks they’re dated!

          1. I agree with you Barbara – I favor a rustic look myself. My parents had our kitchen cabinets “faced” in knotty pine. The cabinets that came with the house were just plain dark brown and there is really no cupboard spece in this house at all. They had an extra cabinet put in with a butcher block and added a double sink and new countertop (Formica). That was a messy job – we had sawdust all over the place but it does look nice. When we lived in Canada, the kitchen was also in Early American and we had a lot of cabinets/cupboards then. My father stained all the bare cabinets and used a toothbrush to make wood grain irregularities and drilled holes in them to make them look authentic. He would do that every weekend and it took a long time and smelled the house with the varnish/paint or whatever he used.

          2. It sounds like your dad was a great do-it-yourselfer. 🙂 My brother-in-law is like that, too, and replaced the shabby doors on our lower kitchen cabinets for us a few years ago. Hmmm… maybe I could persuade him to remove the dishwasher and put something else in that space… 😉 The apartment we lived in before we bought this condo was Early American in style, too. I enjoyed having the kind of windows I could hang old-fashioned Cape Cod curtains on. I bought a colonial dining table and bed frame, too. In fact, the complex was called Colonial Manor. But the style of this place is definitely modern and the furniture is now an eclectic mish-mash of IKEA and inherited antiques.

  8. What beautiful photos and I had NO idea about the mating of the Egrets; the plumes are amazing.
    I Hope papa Goose was just off having a moment alone; keep us updated. Storms are hard on nature and it’s amazing how much of it survives.

    So sad about your dishwasher woes, but I do appreciate your perspective about it. You are right; we’re fortunate to have dishes to wash and water to do so. I’m thinking if you remove it, maybe you can insert a cabinet for more storage? Or a few shelves covered with a little home made curtain. Do you remember seeing those in peoples houses? No cabinet door, but a little curtain.

    We had an internet outage earlier this week that affected a good portion of the west coast of Florida. My husband grumbled for a few minutes until I said: I’m happy we have air conditioning and water right now. (those two things have a habit of not always working) He agree with me.

    1. Thank you, Suz! I had seen those great egret plumes from a distance before because we have a colony of them breeding at the pond near the beach during the summer. But it was cool getting to see them even closer with a zoom lens.

      Our minds are thinking alike — lol — I would love to use the space for more storage, and would not be opposed to shelves with a pretty curtain. What I really crave, though, is some drawers! There are only two in this 1970s ‘one-butt’ kitchen. Can’t imagine what installing something like that would involve.

      We’re so dependent on connection to the internet! It feels like a lifeline. Whenever we lose it my husband is on the phone trying to get to the bottom of the problem. But I agree, air conditioning and water are much more important to have working.

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