safely gathered in

the-harvest-1889-jpglarge
“The Harvest” by Frederick Morgan

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of Harvest-home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
~ Henry Alford
(The Poetical Works of Henry Alford)

Happy Thanksgiving!

sprightly

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8.27.16 ~ probably a juvenile great black-backed gull

So… Yesterday there were three cormorants sitting on the breakwater, closer to land than I’ve ever seen them before. But, confound it, still too far away for a decent picture. And of course, they had no interest in spreading their wings out to dry. So tantalizingly close by, yet still so far away…

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8.27.16 ~ cormorants on the end of the breakwater at high tide

However, in my efforts to get as close as I could to the cormorants, I discovered a large group of gulls wading in the rocky pools created by high tide.

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8.27.16 ~ herring gull, wading
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8.27.16 ~ herring gull, rock climbing
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8.27.16 ~ herring gull, waiting for the next wave to cool off his feet

A few days ago my gull friend with the mangled foot came back! He was sitting on the white post in front of us as we sat down on a bench to eat our supper. 🙂 He took off several times, soaring up high and circling around the beach house and landing each time again on the post in front of us. I think he was trying to demonstrate that he was just fine, thank you. He seems so healthy and energetic now — he must have recovered from whatever malady was troubling him earlier this summer.

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8.27.16 ~ look who is back!!!

Yesterday I spotted him hanging out with the other gulls on the rocks. He was getting a drink of water. Gulls are able to drink salt water or fresh water.

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8.27.16
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8.27.16 ~ posing for me – doesn’t he look sprightly?

My family thinks I should come up with a name for him but for some reason I can’t think of one. I’m also not even sure if “he” is male or female.

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8.27.16 ~ more drinking
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8.27.16 ~ so refreshing!
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8.27.16

After his thirst was quenched he decided to walk over to investigate a noisy group of gulls nearby.

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8.27.16 ~ walking with a sense of purpose
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8.27.16 ~ pausing to listen and contemplate

Meanwhile, another herring gull walked into view. He’s pretty handsome, too.

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8.27.16 ~ another herring gull

It seemed like everyone wanted their pictures taken!

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8.27.16 ~ another juvenile great black-backed gull
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8.27.16 ~ juvenile great black-backed gull

I’m still amazed that the juvenile great black-baked gulls are larger than the adult herring gulls. In fact, they are the largest species of gull in the world.

We didn’t see any laughing gulls this day, who are smaller than the herring gulls, but had seen several of them a few days beforehand.

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8.27.16 ~ Mystic Whaler heading out for a dinner cruise…

Summer is winding down, but it’s still hazy, hot and humid. We are close to setting a record for the hottest August in Connecticut weather history. Sigh… Looking forward to October!

snarfelly

just before take-off
just before take-off (Dec. 20)

Parents of very tiny humans have a delightful way of inventing new words. Snarfelly is one, new to me at least. Katie had a cold when she embarked on her first trip by airplane to visit both sets of her grandparents in Connecticut, and other assorted friends and family. The breathing through her congested nose was dubbed snarfelling by her attentive parents.

When Larisa emailed me this picture from the jet before taking off my already high levels of anticipation of holding my granddaughter intensified tenfold. We were getting ready for our solstice gathering, which turned out to be the biggest one we’ve had in years – twelve adults, two teens and  two babies. And Larisa, Dima and Katie arrived right in the middle of the festivities.

Janet’s new granddaughter, Summer, was here, too. She is just a month older than Katie. It was so much fun having two babies in the house!

We had Katie and her parents here for three wonderful days, even though everyone except for me was sick. One night Katie’s parents went out and Tim & I got to babysit. When I was changing her diaper, Tim gently jiggled her little rib cage and Katie laughed! She looked so surprised! We’re pretty sure we were the first ones to hear her laugh – what a gift!

Katie's parents help with opening her gifts
Katie’s parents help with opening her gifts (Dec.22)

The day before they left my sister and brother-in-law came down and we had an early Christmas. Then Katie and her parents were off to visit her other grandparents and great-grandmothers for a few days. Larisa sent emails and pictures saying Katie was getting less snarfelly every day.

less snarfelly (Dec. 25)
less snarfelly (Dec. 25)

It was such a joy to hold my little Katie so often during those three days. And once when she was taking a nap I just lay down next to her as she slept. I was going to read, but never actually picked up my Kindle, I was content to watch her sleep. Lost in awareness, thinking of my last baby becoming an amazing mother to her first baby. I love that Larisa is careful to keep as many carcinogens as possible away from her little one.

A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after – oh, that’ s love by a different name.
~ Barbara Kingsolver
(The Poisonwood Bible)

just before take-off on her trip home (Dec. 28)
just before take-off on her trip home (Dec. 28)

I have not been active in the blogosphere these past couple of months – I know I’ve missed many of my friend’s posts – and responding to comments on my own posts I’ve woefully neglected. I had surgery to remove a benign but bothersome cyst on my middle toe on November 12. Recovery seemed to be going well for a week and half when I woke up one morning in a lot of pain because an infection had developed. And the infection turned out to be a very stubborn one. The antibiotic I was given made me queasy much of the time. Not being able to keep a shoe on my foot for very long made decorating for the holidays and even routine household chores difficult. It was a good thing I had seeing Katie to look forward to to keep my spirits up!

When WordPress sent me my blog’s statistics for 2014 I was startled to see how long it had been since I posted anything. Laurie, Kathy, Sybil and Diane turned out to be my four most active commenters – thank you so very much for all your thoughtful comments over the year!

The post most viewed was Cat Cataracts, even though no one commented on it this year, posted back in 2011! And people from 114 countries viewed this blog. It makes me wonder about them – were they just passing through or do they return for more? When you think about it, the internet is an astonishing thing.

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asleep with new toy in hand (Dec. 30)

I am so grateful for family. Tim & I had fun spending Christmas morning on Skype with Nate, Shea and Dominic, all the way down there in Georgia. And also Christmas afternoon here with Bonnie, Kia and Khari. We saw the third installment of “The Hobbit.” We’re planning a trip to Germany, Norway and Italy. Zoë loves to sit between us , purring contentedly, when we watch TV in the evening. And we have plans to see Katie in January.

Happy New Year!

storm on the way

8.12.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
swamp rose mallow ~ 8.12.14 ~ Beach Pond

misty sunlit noon
swamp mallows basking in pink
a storm on the way
~ Barbara Rodgers
(By the Sea)

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8.12.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

I first met this battered old gull three years ago in August of 2011, when we were expecting Hurricane Irene. Today he sat on this post right next to us, closer than he’s ever come before, and we heard his long and mournful cry again. He looks a lot worse for wear, his life has no doubt been difficult with that badly mangled foot. Now it looks like he has a barnacle or a growth on his beak. I think he was letting us know about the approaching rain storm. No hurricane this time, though.

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8.12.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

gull mystery

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8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

I wonder if some of these big juvenile gulls could be hybrids. I have given up trying to identify them…

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8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

All things come and go:
People, seasons, the wind.
Only the sea remains,
the sea’s breakers repeating themselves.
Never the same.
Always the same.
~ Kolbein Falkeid
(Sea & Sky)

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8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

test flights

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common tern? ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

On August first I was delighted to see what I think was a fledgling American oystercatcher chick, who was testing its wings. It was about half the size of the parents, who were relaxing on the other side of the rock. We first saw the parents July 19. Even though I took these photos with the telescopic lens, I find myself wishing for an even more powerful one! The flights were pretty short – taking off and landing smoothly are no doubt the most difficult part.

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common tern? ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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common tern? ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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common tern? ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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common tern? ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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common tern? ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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common tern? ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach
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American oystercatchers ~ 8.1.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

gull photo shoot

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7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

My love for gulls is no secret. Yesterday evening we went down to the beach and found the gulls pleasantly eager to pose for my camera. Incredibly, I came home with 79 pictures of these common and seemingly unremarkable shorebirds.

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7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

It was a very windy day as you can tell by the ruffled feathers in some of these shots.

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7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

It’s a good thing I took so many pictures of the other kinds of gulls last summer because we aren’t seeing many of them here this year. (But we did have oystercatchers this year, much to my surprise and delight!) These ”regular” ring-billed gulls seemed very happy to have their beach back to themselves… I envy them at times…

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7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Some bodyminds have more stormy weather systems than other bodyminds, just as some geographical locations have more stormy weather than others, and it is neither helpful nor relevant to compare ourselves to others. It is also very liberating to realize that change always happens on its own timetable, not on the the timetable the thinking mind conjures up. Especially in our speeded-up, fast-food, modern culture, we tend to want instant results, and life just doesn’t work that way. Most changes in nature happen slowly.
~ Joan Tollifson
(Nothing to Grasp)

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7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

As I sit here wishing for another bout of figurative “stormy weather system” to pass me by, communing with the gulls reminds me that change always happens on its own timetable…

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7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Buttonwood Farm

7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut
7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut

Last year at this time Tim & I discovered Buttonwood Farm, and since our niece Bonnie and her two children were in town we decided to take them with us to this amazing place. Waiting in a very long line (above) for farm fresh ice cream – made from the milk of grass-fed cows – was well worth it!

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7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut

This shagbark hickory tree (above) caught my eye as we were waiting in another very long line for a hayride through the cow pasture and the sunflower field. The ride was bumpy but the tractor stopped every once in a while so we could feed the cows hay and Khari could take pictures of cows (below) to his heart’s content.

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7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut
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7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut
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7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut

At Buttonwood Farm, 14 acres of sunflowers are grown to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut, a non-profit organization devoted to making wishes possible for children with life-threatening medical conditions. 100% of the $5 donation made when one buys a bouquet of these sunflowers goes directly to the foundation, a worthy cause. In spite of a cool wet spring which has delayed the blooms in the cutting fields, the farm went on with its 11th Annual Sunflowers for Wishes campaign.

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7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut

Camera back in my hands, above and below are two of my sunflower-with-bee shots! It was fun getting these pictures at eye-level with the blooms. The wagon we were in was high off the ground and the tractor pulled us along into the middle of the field. The driver turned off the engine and let us take pictures and marvel at the sea of sunflowers in every direction. It was interesting to see the many unopened blooms mixed in with the ones all ready for picking.

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7.20.14 ~ Griswold, Connecticut

The photo below was taken by Kia, when she finally got her turn with the camera. The late afternoon ride back to home in our car was very quiet. When Tim looked in the rear-view mirror he found all three of our guests sound asleep. A wonderful day!

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sunflower and bee by Kia Ward