Recently my blogging friend Linda, over at Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy, has been posting about her visit to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and this inspired me to finally visit Connecticut’s own national wildlife refuge. I’ve lived in Connecticut most of my life and had never been! We decided to start with the Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook, closest to home.
Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 10 units stretched across 70 miles of Connecticut’s coastline. It was established in 1972 and was originally called Salt Meadow National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was renamed in 1987 to honor the late U.S. Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who was instrumental in expanding it. ~ Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge website
We were very excited to reach the wildlife viewing platform overlooking the salt marsh. Unfortunately, though, we did not see a single waterbird, even though we waited patiently for a while. Wrong time of year or maybe wrong time of day…
I was surprised to find an andromeda bush (on the right) in the woods. Perhaps it originated in the garden of Esther Lape & Elizabeth Read, who owned the property and donated it to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 1972.
Looking forward to returning some day to take the Marsh (Blue) and Woodcock (Orange) Trails. And maybe to see some birds!
The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. How easily we might walk onward into opening the landscape, absorbed by new pictures, and by thoughts fast succeeding each other, until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present, and we were led in triumph by nature. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson)
The Merritt Family Forest is part of a large block of forested open space. The upper portion includes a steep, rocky, wooded upland with a mature hardwood forest. Descendants claim the forest remained uncut since the family acquired the property in 1848. The lower portion includes a meadow, and hosts a Tier 1 vernal pool and two Class A streams – Eccleston Brook and an intermittent tributary. Eccleston Brook flows into Palmer Cove, Fisher’s Island Sound and Long Island Sound. ~ Groton Open Space Association website
I had an especially good time enjoying the paths through the trees on that lovely, warm spring day. And I had an enjoyable afternoon creating this post today, a month later. A pleasant memory to savor. It’s been rough the past few weeks, battling the poison ivy. Tomorrow will be my last dose of prednisone and it will be nice to say goodbye to its side-effects, for me, anxiety and a headache. It’s no fun being up half the night with a panic attack! I’m ready to start living again. 🙂
The lovely flower you sent me is like a little Vase of Spice and fills the Hall with Cinnamon – You must have skillful Hands – to make such sweet Carnations. Perhaps your Doll taught you. I know that Dolls are sometimes wise. Robins are my Dolls. I am glad you love the Blossoms so well. I hope you love the Birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven. ~ Emily Dickinson (Letter to Eugenia Hall, c. 1885)
Before the bud swells, before the grass springs, before the plow is started, comes the sugar harvest. It is the sequel of the bitter frost; a sap run is the sweet goodbye of winter. ~ John Burroughs (Signs & Seasons)
We had no idea what a treat we were in for when we checked into a motel in Orange, Massachusetts Saturday night. Our plan was to spend the night, grab a breakfast somewhere, and head over to a family reunion in the neighboring town of Athol on Sunday afternoon. In the morning we discovered a great place to have breakfast, on Johnson’s Farm, a restaurant, sugar house, and gift shop! Maple syrup production was well under way, the old-fashioned way.
Sugar weather is crisp weather. How the tin buckets glisten in the gray woods; how the robins laugh; how the nuthatches call; how lightly the thin blue smoke rises among the trees! The squirrels are out of their dens; the migrating waterfowls are streaming northward; the sheep and cattle look wistfully toward the bare fields; the tide of the season, in fact, is just beginning to rise. ~ John Burroughs (Signs & Seasons)
If only some way could be found to share the smell of New England in maple sugar season on a blog post! Our olfactory receptors were tickled with delight to whiff in the aromas of wood-burning stoves and sap boiling down into syrup. We bought a couple of jugs of pure maple syrup! Mostly we’ll be using it in marinades, since pancakes are no longer on our grain-free diet…
It was if we had been transported back in time to a place in the heart of New England. It made me appreciate anew that there are more “seasons” than the four four we normally notice as the year goes around. The gnarly old tree in the above picture caught our attention – what an amazing life it has had. And I loved the knotty pine interior of the sugar house in the picture below – so typical of New England.
When we got home Sunday night Zoë and Scarby seemed a little angry with us (ears pinned back, ignoring us) for leaving them overnight, but they’re back to purring and following us around, rubbing our legs and talking to us again.
The above picture was taken in the Connecticut College Arboretum a year ago today, a warm and bright sunny day. Tonight will be a full moon. Native Americans in this area called this full moon the Worm Moon. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.” I have seen a lot of robins recently. And tomorrow will be Spring! We made it!
The period leading up to the spring equinox is … a time of great upheaval in nature: the first full moon of March usually heralds high tides and strong winds that enliven the long-dead period of late winter. The change of spring is one that we welcome with all our hearts, but we appreciate it warmly only because of what has gone before it. Our ability to cope with change will improve if we discover the art of living in the present moment, of being at home where and when we are. Caitlín Matthews (The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)
Poor Tim is working another weekend… The upheavals at his job have corresponded with the recent upheavals in nature. But he handles changes with a lot more grace than I can usually manage. As for me, I plan to go down to the beach this evening and take in the full moon and a little meditation and grounding. Perhaps there will be a high tide and a strong wind… Maybe something to photograph as I welcome spring.