snowiest month ever

This month is the snowiest January on record in Connecticut. In fact, it’s the state’s snowiest month in history, period. As if you couldn’t have guessed.
~ Ed Stannard
(New Haven Register, January 26, 2011)

It snowed most of Tuesday so I put off the food shopping expedition again. Wednesday morning my sister happened to be here so we decided to clean the snow off the car and do errands and shopping together before the “big” storm due that night. It was still morning, and I was standing in a very long line at the check-out with an overflowing shopping cart in the midst of folks on a quick errand for two or three items, pre-storm batteries, milk, bread, eggs or water. Even let one or two of them cut in front of me as there was no express line open. Happened to look out the window and commented to Beverly that the storm looked imminent, even though it wasn’t supposed to arrive until late afternoon. Sure enough, the first flakes greeted us as we exited the store.

When we got home Beverly took off for work early, to get a good parking spot, while I put my groceries away and then settled in front of the TV with a cup of coffee to see what the explanation might be for another inaccurate forecast. Meteorologist Dr. Mel was grinning from ear to ear as he announced that this month was now officially the snowiest month ever recorded in Connecticut history. This was before the big storm, and two more little storms predicted for Friday and Saturday. He simply couldn’t hide the delight he felt in offering this remarkable fact to his colleagues and television audience!

Then he got to the matter of the snow falling in the morning. It turns out it was another storm, an unexpected low pressure pocket formed off the coast and surprised everyone with a few inches to contend with before the big one. Unbelievable!

Woke up at 4 a.m. this morning – no official totals for the overnight storm yet – it’s still snowing. Dr. Mel says a good 10-15 inches fell so far in about 5 short hours over the state. (Does he ever go home and sleep?) There is a truck ban on the interstates until 10:00 a.m. Amtrak has suspended service. No city buses running. And of course schools are closed. Looks like Tim will be working from home this morning.

Took a picture of our Yankee weather rock in the dark. (A whimsical gift from Nate & Shea many summers ago…) Can’t see the word rock!! I’ve always loved the energy and excitement of storms, and taking this picture revealed a couple of orbs! I’ll be outside shoveling for a long time… And loving very minute of it until I get cold or tired or both…

lines on the sky

“Lines on the Sky” by Ane Lisbet Smedås

the whole world, wide
grazing land, the open spaces
wind across the land
and the sky, blue, high
~ Nils-Aslak Valkeapää

My friend Ane Lisbet lives in Norway and she took this amazing picture there on Saturday.

…project in the clouds those lovely unwritten stories
that curl and veer and change like mist-wreaths in the sun…
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
(The Writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe)

This is turning into a winter for the record books. I can’t remember the last time the snow didn’t melt between snowstorms. Connecticut is usually pretty drab, brown and gray for most of the season, with an occasional snowstorm to punctuate the monotony. It usually rains at least as often as it snows. I’m grateful, though, for the current wonder of looking out the window each morning and seeing snow on the ground. My view isn’t as spectacular as Ane Lisbet’s, but it’s my own little wonderland.

Last night Nate & Shea picked us up in their snow-worthy Jeep and took us out to dinner at Olive Garden — they now have a gluten-free menu. For a Monday night, the place was packed! We had a window seat and I commented that inside it felt like Italy but looking outside and seeing mounds of plowed snow gave us a reality check. We had a wonderful time!

When we got home we were so cold we climbed under the blankets with our clothes on and snuggled until I warmed up and Tim fell asleep. We had hats, gloves and extra layers on, but just walking from the nice warm Jeep to our front door chilled us to the bone. Probably all our blood had gone to our stomachs to digest the meal.

This morning it was 18°F — a heat wave! Swept a couple of inches of new snow off of the car in the dark for Tim. He left before sunrise… Big storm due tomorrow night. Must get food shopping done soon…

We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill; the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light, which enhances the snug cheer within. The stillness of the morning is impressive… From the eaves and fences hang stalactites of snow, and in the yard stand stalagmites covering some concealed core. The trees and shrubs rear white arms to the sky on every side; and where were walls and fences we see fantastic forms stretching in the frolic gambols across the dusky landscape, as if nature had strewn her fresh designs over the fields by night as models for man’s art.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Excursions)

a long cold winter walk

It was 4°F when I got up this morning. A year ago in January it wasn’t this cold when we had visitors for a weekend, Tim’s youngest cousin and her three children. Allegra is 18 years younger than Tim, who is the oldest in that group of cousins. (The span between the oldest – Nate – and the youngest – Lizzie – second cousins is even greater – 30 years! But they are not part of this particular story.) I hadn’t started By the Sea yet, so I’m remembering this wonderful day here now.

So… on one day of the visit we decided that taking a long cold walk at Bluff Point would be an invigorating way to release some pent-up energy…

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Bluff Point ~ January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Bluff Point is a 1½ mile long peninsula here in Groton which juts out into Long Island Sound. It is part Connecticut State Park and part Coastal Reserve. The trails meander through the woods and open areas and finally lead to the bluff. The main trail is a four mile loop.

Winter is an etching…
~ Stanley Horowitz

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

The Poquonnock River (above) is on the west side of the peninsula, and on this day we followed the river. Cold as it was there were lots of people out and about, walking dogs, riding horses, and jogging, as well as walking like we were.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

The winter sun is striking… Families who come outdoors find some satisfaction for the hunger to connect with nature and with each other, in any season.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

A glimpse of a beach in the distance helps to encourage us forward, in spite of very rosy cheeks!

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We didn’t make it to the bluff because we took a detour to Bluff Point Beach, which faces the sound and stretches into a barrier between the sound and the river, Bushy Point Beach. The Great Hurricane of 1938 (aka the Great New England Hurricane) washed away more than a hundred cottages here, which were never rebuilt. (Mother Nature doesn’t have to tell the typical New Englander twice when rebuilding would be a bad idea!) The storm surge also breached Bushy Point Beach which created an island at its western end.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We endured the wind a little while to explore the beach, and Allegra found a whelk egg case.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We were so cold by then that we decided to retrace our steps back to the car. So in the end we walked almost four miles, according to the pedometers. We came home to a round or two of hot cocoa…

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Blake, Ariana and Clarice ~ Bluff Point State Park ~ January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Maybe our family will come see us again in a different season, and perhaps then we’ll make it to the bluff – we were so close! – and finish the loop on the other, eastern side of the peninsula!

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Each of our lives is a path. To know this requires intuition and trust. If we are true to the steps we take, the travel makes sense and the journey confirms itself.
~ Lin Jensen

Galápagos Islands

Image: National Georaphic
Image: National Geographic

Doesn’t this look like fun?

Last week a travel catalog came in the mail – not sure how we got on their mailing list – a copy of National Geographic Expeditions for 2011. It’s fun to dream and fantasize… And we did find an expedition cruise we thought we’d both enjoy! As Grandmother used to say, with a twinkle in her eye, you never know just which dreams might come true.

Tim has always loved turtles. Before Walt Disney World in Florida had Animal Kingdom, they had a little place called Discovery Island. For our 20th anniversary we visited it and I have fond memories of Tim lying on his stomach photographing the Galápagos turtles interacting with each other. Interacting very slowly, but Tim has infinite patience and he got some great pictures.

Well, National Geographic has an expedition called “Galápagos Family Odyssey.” It seems about our speed, ten slow-paced days exploring and mingling with the wildlife on several of the Galápagos Islands. “Gaze into the old eyes of a giant sea tortoise…” And I’d love to see courtship dance of the indigenous blue-footed boobies!

Galápagos dreams in January…

And speaking of anniversaries…

Happy 8th Anniversary, Nate & Shea!!!

(¯`’•.¸(¯`’•.¸*♥*¸.•’´¯)¸.•’´¯)

afflicted with consciousness

"The Difficult Lesson" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“The Difficult Lesson” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Had Madness, had it once or twice
The yawning Consciousness
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1325)

Whenever I read an Emily Dickinson poem I am struck with a deep sense of affinity and connection, sometimes even a moment of transcendence. And yet words fail me when I try to describe what it is about each poem that moves me.

Emily Every Day is my favorite blog, written by Constance Adler. I discovered it almost a year ago, when I started poking around WordPress and following tags to see where they might lead. And while the author no longer posts every day, each post is still a treasure trove of ideas to ponder and of clues to the mystery of Emily’s consciousness.

In the January 6th post, Emily and Jeanne, Constance uses the phrase “afflicted with consciousness,” which seems a fitting description of the essence of my own spiritual journey. Even though I would never dare equate myself with Emily, so often I’ve felt that I “could not escape or ignore the experience of awareness.” It plagued me all through my childhood, as my father did his level best, but ultimately failed, to raise me to be an atheist. Awareness of awareness has driven me to “Madness” on several occasions… But, as Constance concludes:

Emily shows us how to turn and see deeply behind our own eyes. That loss of solid space/time boundaries might scare us back toward front and center. But no. It’s okay to follow Emily’s directive. She’s gone there first. We don’t have to be afraid.

And I think that is what it is for me. When I read Emily’ words I stop fearing, even if only for a little while, that journey ‘behind my own eyes.’ She’s paved a way that I can find and follow. Many thanks to Constance for helping me to gain more insight into the works of my favorite poet.

And so of larger — Darknesses —
Those Evenings of the Brain —
When not a Moon disclose a sign —
Or Star — come out — within —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #428)

Between Eternity and Time —
Your Consciousness — and Me —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #713)

winter by the sea

We had a lovely snowfall last night, the thick wet kind that sticks to and stays on the trees. After I shoveled the car out, we took off to do many errands. Everywhere we drove we were treated to scenes from a winter wonderland.

This little house across the street from us is always a pleasure to see when I open the shades in the morning. The color of it lets me imagine I am in Scandinavia, and the architecture reminds me of Cape Cod. (It’s called a ¾ Cape Cod house, because two windows are on one side of the front door, and one window is on the other side.)

1.8.11 ~ across the street

Snowlight everywhere…

1.8.11 ~ Groton Reservoir
1.8.11 ~ Beach Pond
1.8.11 ~ Baker Cove
1.8.11 ~ Thomas Road

A new batch of snow is starting to fall as I write this, but all errands are done and we’re tucked inside with a fresh supply of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Life is good!

the dark day

On May 19, 1780, my 5th-great-grandmother, Thankful (Nickerson) Weekes, was in Harwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, giving birth to my 4th-great-grandfather, her last child, Isaac Weekes. An anonymous recorder of our family history noted that this particular day was “The Dark Day.” My curiosity aroused, I was off to do some research.

What I found is that it is now known that there were massive forest fires burning in the western territories, which caused a smoky cloud to cast itself over the New England states. It was so dark that day that New Englanders had to light their candles and lamps at noontime. Of course then they had no way of knowing the reason for this ominous darkness during the day.

On Wednesday as I listened to Gov. Malloy’s inaugural speech, I was pleased that he went into our state’s contributions to history and that he mentioned some of our well-known historical and literary figures: Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Eli Whitney, and Prudence Crandall. And then I really perked up when he mentioned The Dark Day! This is what he said:

Abraham Davenport (1715–1789)

Perhaps nowhere was our character better defined than by Abraham Davenport of my hometown of Stamford when he spoke about The Dark Day in 1780. He was a public servant in Hartford when a mysterious episode brought darkness to the daytime skies throughout New England. There was a prevailing belief that Judgment Day was upon the land, threatening a shutdown of the Legislature, when Davenport stood and said:

“I am against an adjournment. The Day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

Today, we could use a few candles. Because as most people in Connecticut know, ours is not a pretty picture.

Another history buff! 🙂

intuition

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Image: Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday I made sure I was on hand to watch (on TV) the inauguration of Connecticut’s 88th governor, Dannel Malloy. Back in October Tim & I had the surprise and pleasure of meeting him when he approached our table as we were eating lunch out in Pomfret. The brief meeting made a favorable impression on me, not so much because of what he said, which I honestly don’t remember, but because of his down-to-earth demeanor, his energy, and that he was out on his own without reporters or TV cameras following and chronicling his every move. (Meeting a Politician)  I rely a lot on gut feelings, intuition.

So… Part of the ceremony yesterday was a reciting of a poem entitled Intuition, written and read by Connecticut State Poet Laureate Dick Allen. As an introduction Allen said:

A new governor, as he takes on his new tasks, will use reason and careful planning. But he will also use daring and instinct. And sometimes, he will need to call upon intuition to govern his people well. This is a small poem called just that, Intuition, an adaptation.

I found a copy of the original poem and tried to adjust the words to the adaptation by listening to a recording of the poet’s reading. Not sure where some of the new lines begin and end, but hopefully the gist of it is here:

Intuition
(An adaptation dedicated to Governor Malloy)

It’s not in your face. It says in quiet tones,
“I will help you.”
It drives an ordinary car on ordinary roads
into the flames

no one else will see for many years. It listens
like a young man in love,
so far down inside a happiness
it moves pebbles and stones.

One evening it read Wallace Stevens and gazed
on Hartford in a purple light,
then talked with the thin men of Haddam,
of the blackbird walking around them.

It wears its sleeves turned up above the elbows,
blinks in spotlights,
jogs for miles on Connecticut shorelines,
delivers messages that glow

faintly as a low-turned halogen
lamp in the corner of a poet’s bedroom. It
considers deeply as a governor
but without anxiety. It has

surveyed what it needs to know of farms and stars
and dismissed the rest. “I will help you,”
it whispers in the hallways of power,
“I will help you, I will lift you up.”

~ Dick Allen

It was as I was hearing this read it confirmed what my intuition has told me the past couple of months, that our new governor is intuitively aware, humble, and for that I am grateful and full of hope.