summer solstice in the woods

6.20.22 ~ Bluff Point State Park & Coastal Reserve

This is the third year we’ve celebrated Midsummer since this endless coronavirus pandemic began. Driving on our way to a walk in the woods I was chattering to Tim about the “end” of the pandemic, how it was becoming more or less endemic now and that maybe I should stop tagging my posts with “pandemic.”

last quarter moon

Monday was a perfect summer day and the trees were green and lovely. Tim was already wearing shorts and I was still in my hoodie, typical between-season attire for this couple. πŸ˜‰ We had forgotten it was a 3-day weekend, a Monday holiday for Juneteenth, so there were lots of people in the state park. No matter, everyone was friendly and in good spirits.

a peek at the Poquonnock River

We had a nice conversation with a young couple from New Hampshire who were very excited about a bird they had spotted. (We finally got a glimpse of it but couldn’t see it well enough to identify it.) And another conversation with a man, about our age, who commented on how good the honeysuckle was smelling and asked me about the zoom lens on my camera. I really didn’t feel too nervous being so close without a mask since we were outside.

it looks like these two trees are lifting the glacial erratic up off the ground

I took a picture of these trees holding the boulder (above) in November 2020. See here. Interesting difference between autumn and summer surroundings.

beach rose blossom
honeysuckle blossoms

It turned out to be the longest walk we’ve taken in ages, a whole hour and a half! And I don’t know what it is about catbirds this year — they are turning up everywhere! It was one of those days where it simply felt exhilarating to be alive and present.

gray catbird
twig art on glacial erratic
the twig and the glacial erratic in the above picture
clover blossom
another sunlit glacial erratic
another gray catbird

I’m still enjoying daily encounters with the catbird coming to the birch tree outside my kitchen window. He usually announces the visit with a few meows and then begins his repertoire of varied melodies, songs that I imagine he has picked up and adopted along the way.

on another branch

People who watch a banded gray catbird outside their window all summer will find it hard not to wonder exactly where it’s spending the winter, or to marvel that science still doesn’t have the answer. And if the catbird doesn’t come back, they, too, will inevitably wonder why.
~ Miyoko Chu
(Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds)

looking the other way
hawkweed (thanks to Eliza for the id)
a chipmunk on the path

But perceptions will inevitably shift, as fickle as the weather. On arriving home we learned that a fully vaccinated relative has come down with covid and had a very high fever. The news shattered my hopeful illusions. Other relatives who have had the virus have said it was no worse than a cold. One of the most disconcerting things about the illness is that it is impossible to know how it will hit you until you actually catch it.

And then, the next morning I woke to the news that a play we were planning to attend outdoors this week was put on hold:

Update on PEER GYNT: Due to COVID delays, our production will not be opening this weekend (June 23-26) in Wilcox Park. We will update on our revised schedule of performances as soon as we can. Thank you for your understanding and stay safe!
~ Flock Theatre

Connecticut’s positivity rate is hovering around 8%. So, all things considered, I guess it’s too soon to remove the pandemic tag from my posts. This refreshing walk will be recalled as our third pandemic summer solstice celebration. Feeling gratitude for the company of sociable strangers, playful catbirds and a chipmunk with the munchies on this memorable, bittersweet day.

26 thoughts on “summer solstice in the woods”

    1. Mother Nature is a versatile artist who works with so many different mediums! It makes me happy to share the things she creates when I find them. Thank you, Leelah. πŸ’™

  1. Barbara, the media might not be talking about COVID anymore, but it’s still out there. Our summer Band director announced the other day that two more members had notified her they’d tested positive; and my sister’s house cleaner told her she’d tested positive, too. It seems not to matter whether you’ve been vaccinated or not (though perhaps the vaccinated are getting a “lighter” case of it??). Lovely walk — glad you were able to enjoy it.

    1. Thank you, Debbie. I’ve been reading that the latest variants of the coronavirus are less severe but much more transmissible. Did the positive cases in your band precipitate any changes in your summer performance schedule? So far it does seem that vaccinated people are usually faring better, but not always. I worry because of our age and underlying conditions. There is still so much that we don’t understand about this disease. Still wearing our masks in the grocery store, even though most people don’t.

      1. We’ve always been pretty careful in Band. While we don’t wear masks (our performances are outdoors), we have only one folder and set of music per person, and we sit spread apart somewhat. I think we’ll all be glad when this thing runs its course.

        1. That sounds like your band has adopted a safe strategy for minimizing the risk. I’m glad so much music is being performed outside while we’re waiting to feel safe again inside.

  2. The photo of the clover blossom is delightful. I want to like your chipmunk shots but those little devils are causing me trouble around here. My SIL and her husband have Covid right now. Not horrible cases of it, but enough to mess with their summer vacation plans.

    1. Stay tuned for my next post, Ally — I got a clover blossom and a bug with outstretched wings hovering next to it. πŸ™‚ Chipmunks definitely belong in the woods where they are cute, NOT around houses where they are a big nuisance. My sister’s cat catches and kills about one a week. Sorry to hear about your in-laws brush with covid. Sigh…

  3. The weather this week has been cooler than normal, but beautiful all the same. Tomorrow and Sunday will be quite a bit warmer! Great photos (the yellow flower is hawkweed), and I hope your relative recovers quickly. This virus is a stubborn one.

    1. Thank you, Eliza. I’ve been enjoying the cooler than normal weather and not needing the air conditioning yet. But I’m sure the heat and humidity will return with a vengeance soon enough! Thank you for the hawkweed identification. We’re seeing it everywhere this year. Somehow I’ve never noticed it before. Will have to do some research…

  4. That’s very interesting to see the two trees with the rock at two times. Those trees are growing strong!

    I have no idea why the catbirds are capturing your attention. Are they migratory birds?

    I’m so glad you included the very cute chipmunks. I remember them during my hiking trails days back in the mountains of CO. And one year we had a chipmunk fellow who enjoyed our gutter as a quick slide from the roof down popping out of the bottom. Cute critters!

    And I adore the moon photo!!

    And, I agree that we are still in pandemic times unfortunately. It seems to me that even those of us who are highly vaccinated can still get it. It’s not a 100 percent guarantee, but lowers risks and severity. I’m glad I chose to be a pin cushion.

    1. Yes, catbirds are migratory and the ones that come here probably winter in Florida or the Caribbean. I just learned they like soaked raisins so I might try to give this one a treat. They seem very friendly and playful. πŸ™‚

      That must have been cool to see that chipmunk sliding out of the gutter! They sure are cute critters. I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos!

      I’m grateful to be vaccinated, too, although I shudder to remember how invincible I felt afterwards, before learning that we could still come down with the virus, even it it would be less severe it still sounds pretty awful.

  5. My husband, Joe, tested positive this morning! He’s quarantining upstairs. He’s mad at himself but we both have been more lax lately. Our trip to NC for my sister’s memorial is in 10 days! We’ll be disappointed if he can’t go but I’ll be devastated if I can’t so I’m being as careful as I can.

    1. Yikes! I hope Joe’s case will prove to be mild and that you will avoid catching it. It would be devastating to miss your sister’s memorial — keeping my fingers crossed for you. Tim’s been more lax lately, too, attending club functions, mostly outside but sometimes he goes inside with others for a bit. Sigh. It’s probably just a matter of time before he brings it home…

  6. I very much enjoyed your summer walk in the woods, Barbara, your photos and narrative. I always enjoy your appreciation of the glacial erratics, and the catbird joys were so pleasant. I liked seeing the uplifted glacial erratic a lot, and in the autumnal version as well supplied by your link. My warmest thanks for this beautiful post.

    1. You’re welcome, Jet, and many thanks for your kind words. I’m very glad you enjoyed my summer sauntering. The best thing about glacial erratics is that they hold still when I want to photograph them. 🌞 Yet somehow they seem alive and have been so for eons. Only the lighting and the vegetation surrounding them changes.

  7. First of all – what great news that you and Tim were on an hour and a half walk. The pacemaker was a breath of new life for both of you, but too bad just laving your home is still tainted by the pandemic woes. I’m still wearing a blue paper mask whenever I go outside and an N95 for the grocery store or errands. I’m already worried about these new variants that are not covered by our existing vaccines. Sigh.

    Today was a memorial service for a friend of mine I knew from the ad agency and we had kept in touch. I did not attend – it was not near me and I never knew his wife or family. He and his wife moved to New Mexico five years ago, but since they lived here for decades, she had a memorial service. My friend was 73 and died from a stroke and complications from COVID. I am very leery still, despite being double boosted. As you know, even Dr. Fauci had COVID a few weeks ago.

    I’ve still never seen a chipmunk – I wonder where they are near me because I go to woodsy places. Oh well. I’ll enjoy your chipmunks instead. I went back to look at the earlier post about the rock between the trees and saw that darling squirrel when I opened the post. πŸ™‚

    I’ve never seen a catbird either and I am glad to see yours and go on this wonderful walk with you. We had 91 degrees yesterday and it was not quite as hot today, but still muggy.

    1. It does seem that life is always a mixed bag of blessings and challenges. As my father used to say, “It was ever thus…” I worry about the variants, too. So far they seem less severe but more transmissible. At least I feel pretty safe outside. We might try going out on the dock for fish and chips again this summer. We did it once last summer.

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, Linda. It’s very sad that people are still dying from this plague. I’m kind of looking at the vaccines as seatbelts. They provide some protection if we get infected, like seatbelts provide some protection if we get in an accident. We will probably still get hurt, just not as badly, hopefully.

      I don’t see chipmunks very often around here which is why this one captured so much of my attention. But growing up north of here in the woods I used to see them all the time, as often as we saw squirrels. I hope you get to see one some day. One of my blogging friends on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan had one who would eat out of her hand.

      May spotting a catbird and a chipmunk be in your future, and some warm, less humid days! 🌞

      1. I have not been out to eat in many years. First, Michigan had the hepatitis outbreak and 32 or 52 people died. It was from unsanitary food handling practices. I spoke to a woman at the grocery store whose daughter was a nurse at a local hospital and she told me about it and that their family no longer ate out or bought baked goods or deli foods made in Michigan. I’m going to get a hepatitis shot next year. It was on my agenda before all the Covid shots. I have to go back for my part 2 shingles shot next month.

        I would love to have a chipmunk eating from my hand – how sweet. I hope to find some chipmunks and a catbird one day. In the meantime, we both keep trekking on in our nature quests.

        1. I didn’t know they had hepatitis vaccines. I bet if we could see behind the scenes at many restaurants we’d probably never want to eat out again. I know I had avoided salad bars and buffets for years before the pandemic. I’m in no rush to eat out, although eating outside by the water is a big temptation for me.

          1. When I started working at the diner in 1973, I had to have a food handler’s card that showed I was free from TB and other diseases. That card went to me, but I got a certificate and it was displayed with other employee’s certificates so customers could see them. Outside dining would be a temptation, especially the water. Our COVID cases here in Michigan are on the rise … a dramatic rise with 14,353 new cases in six days, 5K more than this time last year and 174 deaths in six days, which makes me very uneasy.

          2. That sounds like a good idea, making sure food handlers are healthy. I wonder if Connecticut has any similar policy. But I am unaware of any outbreaks of foodborne illnesses from restaurants here over the years. Our covid positivity rate seems to be stuck around 8%. Sigh….

  8. So many lovely photos. The sunlit glacial erratic looked like a buffalo resting to me. πŸ˜‰ I love catbirds; they are so pretty to me.
    Sorry about your friend who is ill. Praying that by now the fever has lifted and they are on the mend. Five people I know just got through it; mostly low fever/cold symptoms.
    This too shall end. Right?

    1. Thank you, Suz. Now that you mention it that glacial erratic does look very much like a buffalo. 😊 I always feel like I’ve come across something prehistoric when I see one in the woods. The relative is on the mend and yesterday we learned that two more relatives have tested positive, with only cold-like symptoms, thankfully. Sigh…

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