flora by the sea

10.10.22 ~ Cognitive Garden at Avery Point

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day my good friend Janet and I took a long afternoon walk from Eastern Point to Avery Point and back again, passing by Beach Pond both ways. The weather was picture perfect, if a bit on the breezy side.

After admiring the views of Long Island Sound and identifying the various islands and lighthouses we could see on a clear day, we found the “Cognitive Garden” on the Avery Point campus. There was still a lot of interest to see there in the middle of autumn. Textures and colors.

Cognition means to acquire knowledge through the senses, experience, and thought. A cognitive garden encourages learning through these three processes while exposing people to nature. While the benefits of nature extend to all ages, young children learn primarily through their senses and a multitude of studies have demonstrated a correlation between sensory stimulation and brain development.
~ University of Connecticut, Avery Point Campus website

The naturalist is a civilized hunter. He goes goes alone into a field or woodland and closes his mind to everything but that time and place, so that life around him presses in on all the senses and small details grow in significance. He begins the scanning search for which cognition was engineered. His mind becomes unfocused, it focuses on everything, no longer directed toward any ordinary task or social pleasantry.
~ E. O. Wilson
(Biophilia)

black-eyed Susan

I wish I could include the smell of a patch of thyme for you, dear readers. What an amazing scent filled the air!

thyme ~ it smelled wonderful!
a bee enjoying the smell, too

On the way back I was happy to see that Beach Pond was full of water again, although we were still in a moderate drought that day. I suspect Thursday’s torrential rains may have moved us up into the abnormally dry category. No waterbirds around but still some flowers blooming, and others spent.

asters at Beach Pond
cattails with fluff

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

~ Mary Oliver
(Red Bird: Poems)

the pond is full of water and the breeze was making little ripples
juvenile song sparrow
backside of a lingering swamp rose mallow and orbs
swamp rose mallow bud and orbs

It felt so good sauntering along and catching up with a friend!!!

35 thoughts on “flora by the sea”

  1. Ah – you are becoming a Naturalist. Such a nice walk with all the little things in nature that many people miss. I loved this post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Peggy! It’s those little things that seem to catch hold of my attention when I have a camera in hand. So many delights for the eye to focus on.

    1. Thank you, Leelah! That was a striking contrast between the orange and the gray. Nature’s art is so much fun to frame and capture with the camera.

    1. Thank you, Anna! I can see where the black-eyed part of the name comes from but I’ve often wondered why it came to be a Susan? Your father must have loved bold colors.

  2. “His mind becomes unfocused, it focuses on everything, no longer directed toward any ordinary task or social pleasantry.” I like Wilson’s description of what happens to a receptive person when in nature. That’s exactly how I feel when on a long hike in the woods or by the sea.

    1. So true, Ally. I feel the same way. And while walking in nature with another person I’m always fascinated by the different things the other one notices. It adds so much to the experience.

    1. Thank you, Eliza! I appreciated the concept of a civilized hunter, too. One never knows what will be found, even in a place they’ve been to countless times. 🙂

  3. So wonderful to know that you have Janet, a lovely relaxing friend, to stroll on long cognitive walks, Barbara. It’s delightful to refresh our spirits now and then.

    Excellent study of texture in your photos today!

    1. Thank you, TD! It was such a pleasant, memorable day exploring all those textures and scents with a friend. 🙂

  4. How nice it is to see Susans again — mine died off way too early! And those asters are stunning. Glad the pond has water again — we’re in mild drought conditions, too, and I’ve noticed lots of places that should have water but don’t.

    1. Thank you, Debbie! The Susans felt like flashbacks to summer while the asters were welcoming autumn. Let’s hope both our droughts are over soon. Our updated maps come out on Thursdays (tomorrow) so maybe the rains will have made a difference.

  5. Ah, so it’s called the Cognitive Garden…very apt. I would go back there every week to watch the progressions of what has been planted and what has been allowed to find it’s own way into the garden; it’s a small but delightful space. Thank you for the “postcard” from this lovely day together!

    1. You’re welcome, Janet! It was a lovely day to talk and walk. It’s interesting what can found when googling online. I was trying to find a name for the garden since there was no sign to be found there and wound up on the campus website. We’ll have to make plans to go back and see what happens there as the seasons change.

  6. It sounds like a perfect day Barbara, not only catching up with an old friend, but enjoying Autumn’s finest. It is hard to beat Autumn with its subdued colors but still cheerful wildflowers. I have never seen Thyme before, nor smelled it, so now I want to smell that scent. I am not a baker or cook, so I don’t have that spice in the house. The colorful Black-eyed Susans to the lingering Swamp Rose, all beautiful reminders of a season on the wane and colder weather changing our landscape. I was at Humbug Marsh a few weeks ago and was shocked to see the Vernal Pool was reduced to leaves and some moss only. I stood on the walkway that goes over it and was shocked. Likewise at Coan Lake at Heritage Park, there was about five or six feet where the shoreline was not twigs and leaves and no water. A first for me to see that. We are 9 inches below normal rainfall amounts.

    1. Years ago there was a huge garden in Coventry called Caprilands Herb Farm run by Adelma Grenier Simmons. She died 24 years ago and the place deteriorated and finally closed. But I used to love going there as a teenager and then as a young adult. My brother-in-law worked there for a few years as a botanist before she died. The place smelled amazing!!! She sold dried herbs and herbal tinctures and sachets and potpourris and books she had written. The place had such a magical vibe to it. I keep looking for another place like it with no luck. Sigh… I hope you can find some thyme to sniff. It’s a great thing to plant between stepping stones as it gives off its scent even more when brushed against. Our new drought maps came out yesterday, we are now in the abnormally dry category, up from the moderate drought, yay!

      1. That sounds like a wonderful place, somewhere that I would have liked to go as well. I like little shops like that.

        We had rain and some snow flurries every day this week but today, but not enough to help with the drought condition. Some types of trees and bushes have wilted leaves here. At least you have moved up. That is good if you have a brutal Winter as the roots of trees and shrubs will have had some moisture enabling them to withstand the cold much better.

        1. Last night on PBS they were showing pictures of the drought-hit Mississippi River. It was shocking how low the water level is. And the ship traffic has been adversely affected. I hope the drought doesn’t get too bad where you are. A little rain at a time is much better than a deluge that would only run off.

          1. This state park where I was today was just incredible; a six-mile perimeter trail around the marsh with only about a mile of it having water and the rest dried up. There are other parts of the park that had large bodies of water (one was Lake Erie), but other lagoons that had water, so this was a puzzle. I took some pictures and am going to contact the DNR and ask them why?

          2. No, not yet and that disappointed me Barbara. I did not send any pictures that would have gone to SPAM. I did not use the contact me page on their website, but wrote to a woman I dealt with who had organized the Michigan DNR “Walk for the Trees” event. Maybe she moved on from the DNR, but I did not get a failed mail? I should try again tomorrow.

          3. I meant to add that I also heard that there is concern for the ship traffic on the Mississippi River. It is a major passageway for cargo ships so that would be horrendous, especially as the railroad workers turned down the contract they were offered, so hopefully they decide to ratify and not strike.
            Too bad we depend on these ways of moving food and other items. I thought I heard they are not allowed to strike (like the air traffic controllers), but I may be wrong.

          4. We really need to try harder to eat locally grown food and more in tune with the seasons. It’s so hard to do with how dependent we’ve become on food sources so far away.

          5. Yes and I see all the produce at our local Farmer’s Market. Do you remember the post I did showing all the produce plus they have vendors for other food like bread and jams/jellies? It all looks so good. The farmers in the country were mostly selling pumpkins and different gourds. The price of OJ is going to be too high and I like the Clementines once they arrive around Thanksgiving, but always avoid the ones from South America, as they were picked weeks before and not as nutritious. I forgot how many orange groves were wiped out from Hurricane Ian.

          6. I do remember that post. I love farmers markets. Also our local food co-op. Yesterday we went out there and ordered a locally grown organic turkey breast for Thanksgiving. I’ve never done just a breast before but it’s got to be a lot easier than struggling with a whole turkey for just the four of us. I like those clementines, too, but I never investigated where they came from. Will look closely this year, thanks for the tip. Hope I can find oranges to dry out for my holiday decorations. 🙂

          7. My mom and I always used to have the breast and had leftovers and it was tender and juicy. When my father was still around, he liked dark meat and wanted to have Rock Cornish Hens. They were a mess and would splatter up the oven – he would have one and my mom and I split the other one. They were good, though I prefer white meat and Mom stuffed them with long-grain wild rice with raisins. You’re welcome – we have had clementines all Summer/Fall from Chile, but none from the U.S. Yes, also look for your oranges now before they are non-existent. I’ll switch to V-8 juice if I can’t find clementines or OJ is hard to find.

          8. That’s interesting about your father and the rock cornish hens. My father insisted on having a roasted duck every Thanksgiving. He and my sister disliked turkey. I think I will get a head start on the dried oranges this year. I’m just hoping none of us will be sick for the holidays…

          9. My father liked duck too and said he often had it growing up (in Germany) – my mom and I weren’t fans as it was dark meat and greasy. We never had an entire turkey as it was too big for us, but the duck, being dark meat, seemed to make a greasy mess and big clean-up as did the rock cornish hens.

            Good idea on the oranges – when I went grocery shopping Thursday, they had California Clementines but they were very tiny and looked a little shrunken/withered, so I opted for orange juice. It was $4.19 for each bottle, so I got two bottles and will see what is going on next time I shop. I’d prefer the Clementines or the Minneolas if they have them.

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