in the fields of the commonplace

12.9.22 ~ Poquonnock River Walkway

It was time to dust off the camera and resume taking our walks again. The big project is, for all intents and purposes, finally completed. But, I haven’t figured out how to write about it yet, so that long story will have to wait until after the holidays. Now to prepare for the coming visit of our darling grandchildren!

I added a layer of thermal leggings under my jeans for the first time this season and then we enjoyed the winter scenery along the Poquonnock River Walkway. We might be getting a coating of snow this afternoon. I love the cloudy light before snowstorms.

But the winter sun was shining brightly for the day of our walk, illuminating the tops of the reeds in a magical way.

Let us dig our furrow in the fields of the commonplace … and leave to others, more favoured by fortune, the job of explaining the world’s mechanism, if the spirit moves them.
~ Jean-Henri Fabre
(The Life of the Fly: With Which are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography)

We came across a large flock of house sparrows flitting around in the bushes along the boardwalk — how commonplace can it get? But a couple of them actually stayed put long enough to get their portraits taken.

It felt very good getting out of the house again and enjoying the ordinary, simple things the natural world has to offer.

43 thoughts on “in the fields of the commonplace”

  1. Looks like a nice walk. Loved the little bird all fluffed up. Sounded like a long-john thermal underwear day. We have had too much rain in our area to be able to get out and walk.

    1. We have about an inch of snow this morning, the first of the season. It’s fun watching the birds out there in the cold while we keep warm inside. I hope you get a sunny day for a walk soon!

  2. We’ve had cloudy, gloomy, and coolish days for most of this week, Barbara, so I’m feeling a bit jealous over your sunshine! They keep telling us we need rain, but sadly, it only comes in droplets here and there. And Monkey manages to find every single drop!

    1. Looks like we got your clouds for the weekend and then had a little snow last night. It’s so pretty to wake up to but the older I get the colder I feel! Brrr… And the really cold weather hasn’t got here yet! I can picture Monkey coming inside with little muddy paws. 🙂

  3. My guy and I swore this fall as we walked (and every Saturday and Sunday we walked/hiked 2 hours + in woods/city/towns) that we would continue when it got cold. We’d just wear better clothes. Well, I still have a difficult time when the temps get below 35. And the wind is bitter. And my eyes water so I can’t see. But I miss the walks so much. Thanks for bringing me out on yours!

    1. I hear you, Pam! We have a cutoff point of 25°F, below which we just won’t go out there. It’s taken me a while to find the right clothes to wear, especially gloves and mittens warm enough to protect these skinny little hands. Interesting, I haven’t noticed any trouble with my eyes watering — that must be so uncomfortable for you. I find that when we can’t walk the memories of past walks keep coming back to cheer me on. Winter won’t last forever!

          1. I suppose it is what it is, no matter what we shivering mortals call it!!! ❄️❄️❄️

  4. Beautiful images, Barbara, and I love that quote about the commonplace. 🙂 The right clothing makes all the difference in winter. M and I were just looking at photos from our hike to the Blue Wall (a frozen waterfall) in Ohio from 2010. I said something about it being -7°F and he said, “No, it was -15° when we started,” and I wonder, now, how we did it. Lots of layers, that’s for sure, and I have this hood thing that covers my face, but I do remember having a very cold nose. I’m the poster girl for fleece underlayers during the winter months.

    1. Thank you, Robin! 🙂 As you say, lots of layers are the key to keeping warm. Sometimes I shiver when I see kids on their way to school so lightly dressed for the temps. And these days I’m starting to consider wearing layers inside the house. We haven’t changed our thermostat settings but the older I get the colder I feel. Your story made me think of walking half a mile to the school bus stop back in the 1960s… There were so many winter mornings when the temperature dipped well below zero. I remember those knitted hats with holes for the eyes and mouth. 🙂

  5. Reading your post and comments this afternoon.

    My favorite photo is the bridge leading to the unknown.

    Three good things.

    One big project complete.
    One more sunny day walk.
    One inch of snow.

    (46 days)

    1. Is the 46 days how long I was working on my project? Wow! But I did finish before the winter solstice. 🙂 Good to see you here, TD!

        1. Oh dear, that’s an awfully long time to be sick, TD. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and will be starting to feel better very soon. 🤒 (((hugs)))

          1. I will take those virtual hugs! Yes, I’m counting how many days Nurse Yorkie is keeping me sane with her necessary daily routines. It warms my heart, Barbara, to read that your children and grandchildren are planning a visit soon.

          2. Thank goodness you have Yorkie to keep you company and help you through this ordeal. Sending you healing energy and hugs every day! I’m looking forward to seeing the little ones but am also concerned about catching one of the viruses while they’re here… We bought some cold and flu medicine yesterday, the last boxes on the shelf…

    1. Thank you, Eliza. It turns out we got 2.3 inches of snow. How much did you get “up north” there? Ready for the storm coming on Friday?

        1. We’re just getting rain from this storm. Good luck with whatever is coming your way today! Looks like we might get a big storm next week, Thursday and Friday.

          1. Yes, winter seems to have arrived. We’re getting a mix of heavy wet snow with rain later. I fear for the trees under that weight… fingers crossed the power stays on. 🤞🏼

          2. Oh yes, as long as the power stays on we can put up with just about anything. That heavy wet snow is so worrisome — I hope you made it through the storm without any unwanted trouble.

  6. Barbara – I enjoyed your bundled-up walk, finally getting out to enjoy nature as a sorbet between your big project and your upcoming visit by the grandchildren. That enjoyable time will speed by, though your project probably felt like it was going in slow motion. That wooden Poquonnock River Walkway is similar to Lake Erie Metropark’s overlooks where you walk right through a marsh or see those tall Phragmites waving in the breeze on either side. The natural light is such a mood brightener isn’t it? The plump (or maybe floofed-up as Jocelyn Anderson calls them) House Sparrows posed nicely for you and we can see all the details of their plumage.

    1. The days do seem to be flying by right now but I’m sure things will seem to be slowing down by January and February. I understand that these common reeds, Phragmites, although very pretty, are not native and extremely invasive, driving out native plants and upsetting the natural balance of nutrients and habitat for fish and migratory birds. They also block our views of the river!!! It leaves me wondering what the riverside looked like before these arrived on the scene and I also wonder if anything is being done to try to remove them. Oh yes, the sunshine is definitely a mood brightener and the puffy sparrows were the icing on the cake. 🙂

      1. In the suburbs that are near water venues, the Phragmites and other reeds have extensive roots which get into storm sewers and cause big problems. They have removal services to get them out of urban areas. We’ve not had any sun to speak of in a while, but cloudy skies are better than wintry precip which we will get this weekend. Having heavy rain tonight and tomorrow through 10:00 a.m., so no walk tomorrow for sure.

        1. We’re getting your heavy rain today. Now that I’m free to walk again the weather isn’t cooperating! Looks like we might get a big storm next Thursday and Friday so I’m hoping that won’t mess up the kids’ travel plans. I wonder if those reeds on the Poquonnock River Walkway are killing some of the trees — we were sad to see a number of trees cut down and wondered if they were unhealthy. It was sad, too, because we saw fewer songbirds and waterbirds than we used to see there.

          1. Our weather folks are already warning us about the Arctic blast that’s coming on Christmas Day (a high of 18 degrees) plus possible snow, but only an inch or two. Our weather folks were telling people to leave earlier if they could, but truly, who can leave that much earlier unless you are retired and even then, you just can’t reschedule transportation plans that easily. I did hear about your heavy rain today. That’s a shame now that you’re free the weather won’t cooperate. I’ll cross my fingers the kids’ travel plans don’t go awry. Wouldn’t it figure that we have had such mild and non-stormy weather for November through mid-December and now at peak travel time, it becomes problematic. I know the Phragmites grow rapidly and I wonder if they could be choking roots of trees just like the roots cause issues in storm drains?

          2. I’m wondering the same thing about those poor trees. The weather people are starting to roll back their predictions for next week’s storm. Now it might turn to rain. I bet by the time it gets here it will be all rain. So much for dreams of taking the little ones sledding. I hope we’re not stuck inside for the whole visit because of rain… Starting to plan more indoor fun…

          3. I hope they roll back our storm … they keep saying it depends how it tracks by Tuesday/Wednesday time frame, but right now it is going to be very cold (high of 18), 3-6 inches of snow, but most worrisome is the 25-35 mph winds. With that dead tree and they spliced that electric wire back together (according to my neighbor when I called him the next day to get all my facts before I called Flame for the generator being offline again – it came on and shut down). They have not replaced the faulty part in my generator which irks me … it is brand new (August 18th installation) and not worked as they keep replacing parts. Friday I wrote them (president of the company, supervisor and salesman as I’ve blasted them before about this equipment). I said “the part was supposed to take 7-10 days … it is day 11” so parts guy called and said “we’ve tracked it – it will be in Saturday and I’ll call you.” Yesterday, I did not walk or take the car for a needed run as it’s so cold. I took the phone off the hook at 7:30 a.m. and went out and ran the car and scurried back in. No call all day, so I wrote same three people last night and said “no call about the part and we are having a major snow storm next week.” I have no confidence this part will fix it but they have to try all measures before the replace it. That’s one thing if it is September, but my main objective for getting a generator was for Winter as I have no family and I have no one I could stay with and I worry about the pipes freezing. This morning it was snowing lightly, so I didn’t drive but walked and it started squalling, so came home covered in snow. How about jigsaw puzzles or board games?

          4. Having to face the coming storm and cold snap without a working generator sounds like a nightmare! I hope they get it fixed in time. We’re supposed to get gale force winds and rain on Friday, with coastal flooding, and then have temperatures drop dramatically Friday night. Winter is upon us all. Do you have Red Cross storm shelters in your city? Not an ideal place to go but in a worst case scenario that might be your best option. Yeah, I think we’re planning to stay inside now. There is a new elementary magnet school up the road with a cool playground so if we want to go outside and stick close to home we’ll try taking the kids there. Lowering expectations. Puzzles and games are a good idea.

          5. Sorry Barbara, I did not get here yesterday, just to comments. The generator is fixed per the generator tech who is 99.9% confident it will run perfectly. Should I be nervous about that .1%? I am a little the more I hear about the weather. I had an 8-10 a.m. window on Wednesday. I was ready at 7:30 a.m. and a Nervous Nellie. At 9:30 a.m. he called and said he was on his way and had been troubleshooting with Generac and had three things to try out before replacing this latest oil pressure part. The first one was the “fix” – he called me over to see. He is a big guy – has to be over 6 feet tall and 250+ pounds, so I had stood on the patio to watch him. There were a row of metal posts with red plastic tops (sensors) and one of them was loose with the red plastic wiggling around. This was deep in the generator and not noticeable at a glance. I had wanted him to test it at least 35 minutes which he did and it worked fine. He deemed it okay and I will tell you I was teary eyed when I thanked him when he went to leave. We do not have any Red Cross shelters around me and any shelters are basically for homeless. At one time, the police station was the only available shelter that had a generator. I have been in the police station because my mom and I had to be fingerprinted there for renewing our green cards (now they have electronic captures) and it is very small. And in this Covid/Flu/RSV age … we have a senior center just around the corner from me and in bad weather, it would have been ideal and it is big (no close quarters there), but it does not have a generator. I really don’t like to drive in ice/snow to begin with … and, on top of everything else with this bomb cyclone (which I think you had last year or early this year if I remember correctly), my car had a small leak on Tuesday when I took it out to go to the Park. I prefer just running it in the garage during the work week about 10 minutes and then walking to the Park, but the mechanic said “drive this car more.” So I have. Well it already had an oil leak at Labor Day – the car now has 10,300 miles on it … it was in for two weeks for electrical issues and a new A/C unit in May. So this has made me very upset. I didn’t take it out yesterday because it was late when the generator tech left, so I had to get to work and had something I had to get done and so stayed later. I backed it out of the garage this morning (a beautiful day – 40 F) and it was leaking again (on the paper I put down) and drops in the driveway, so I put it back in. Not going to deal with it until better weather but it kills me as it’s been wonderful weather all this time.

            I loved cards, puzzles and board games as a youngster and I can remember many a night when I was older that my mom would spend a night playing Scrabble, or Monopoly. At least you are all together and hopefully you get a chance to get to the playground down the street.

            Mother Nature sure played the “spoiler” for this holiday didn’t she? We have rain now, but turning to snow overnight and a flash freeze, so they are predicting very icy roads and sidewalks. My car is plugged into a trickle charger and I’d say I wouldn’t go out, but I have to shovel the snow. If it’s wet, I’ll just shovel a path on the sidewalk and for the mailman – they are saying the snow will be 2-4 inches only, but heavy. So I’ll see. I usually don’t have a problem with it, but don’t take chances, especially if it is 6-8 inches as another meteorologist says. Winter descended with a vengeance.

          6. I can see why that generator is so important to you! I’m feeling grateful to live in a place with so many shelters and warming centers listed on TV every time we have a storm. I assumed it was the same everywhere. We’ve never had to use one but it’s reassuring to know that they are there. Keeping my fingers crossed that your generator is good to go the next time you need it. Too bad your car is acting up now. As many have said, it seems like life is just one damned thing after another.

            We had a terrific wind storm yesterday and last night. And a 47° drop in temperature in 24 hours. I have a feeling it might be too cold to go to the playground!!! Stay safe and warm, my friend!

          7. Yes, it was disconcerting to think of no power and nowhere to go Barbara. I think when they call for ideas for the City with our new mayor I am going to suggest it for the community center around the corner from me. I hope I don’t need to worry, but you never know and the furnace could give out.
            I don’t have a space heater – kind of afraid to get one with all the fires stemming from space heaters. Cramming into the small police station is not a good idea and I am sure there are some people that have oxygen tanks or CPAP machines and need a power source (unless they have a generator). My friend Marge was on a full-sized oxygen tank 24/7 the last few years of her life. I suggested she get a gas-powered portable generator but she did not. The fire station used to have a generator but no longer do.
            I had checked for her as I really thought she was taking a chance.

            Unbelievably, so far, in two days of these high winds, only about 15,000 homes have lost power. That is not bad at all considering it is not unusual after bad Summer storms for 100,000 + to lose power. Our energy provider ran public service ads earlier in the week that every DTE worker’s vacation was cancelled, so power would be restored as soon as lineman could get on the pole when winds subsided. That cold weather is brutal as are the winds. Your big drop in temperature was quite incredible – it was really nice Thursday morning but I don’t think we tanked like that. We are getting a nice warm-up, to 49 degrees next Friday, so you’ll get that too, Saturday, but likely too late by then. Frustrating for you.

  7. Yay, your project is complete! I am looking forward to hearing about it after the holidays. How exciting with the grandkids coming! So glad to see you back out with nature too. Love love love the boardwalk photo and lovely House Sparrows. I see in your comments you got a good snow dusting of couple inches and I’m hearing about the upcoming end of week storm. Make your plans to be ready!

    1. Thank you, Donna! It was so refreshing to get outside again. 🙂 I hope it snows while the grandchildren are here — it would be fun to take them sledding. As of this morning the weather people are predicting rain for most of that storm when it reaches us Friday, but perhaps finishing off with some snow when cold air rushes in behind it. Who knows what will actually happen, though! I just hope there won’t be any icy conditions in the mix.

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