persuaded to live with trees

5.14.20 ~ The Merritt Family Forest, Groton, Connecticut
a colonial stone slab bridge crosses Eccleston Brook
This property was acquired by the Groton Open Space Association
in May of 2008
5.14.20 ~ robin in the Merritt Family Forest
I loved the way this tree was growing on a flat stone “stage”

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)

living with trees

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

glacial erratic
moss
ferns
5.14.20 ~ Jack-in-the-pulpit, side view
5.14.20 ~ Jack-in-the-pulpit, front view

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. 🙂

scarlet tanager

5.12.20 ~ Avery Tract, Waterford, Connecticut

While video chatting with our son and daughter-in-law they mentioned an open space property where they used to love hiking when they lived up here. (They live in Georgia now.) So we set about finding Avery Tract the next day. The highlight of our adventure was spotting this scarlet tanager!

5.12.20 ~ an unusual trailhead

If you squint you can see “NATURE SANCTUARY” written into the cement on the landing. Our only clue that we found the property.

5.12.20 ~ Tim spotted what little was left of this decaying tree
5.12.20 ~ an inviting path

The trail quickly started going downhill towards the Thames River and the New England Central Railroad tracks.

5.12.20 ~ looking north
5.12.20 ~ looking south towards the Gold Star Memorial Bridge

We turned around and headed back up the hill, trying to get some pictures of the scarlet tanager who was flying from treetop to treetop. He was very elusive! All taken with the telephoto lens.

The scarlet tanager sighting was definitely the most exciting part of my day!

5.12.20 ~ spring green in the woods
5.12.20 ~ pincushion moss?
5.12.20 ~ pincushion moss?

Since I am getting frustrated trying to identify mosses online I just ordered a field guide book to mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. And since I have no idea what liverworts and hornworts are it looks like I have a lot to learn.

5.12.20 ~ little sapling

Another hour long walk. Lots of huffing and puffing coming back up the hill but it was all worth the effort. Until next time…

Flåm

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Morning light in Flåm, Norway, looking off the balcony of our hotel room. (above) Morning is my favorite time of day and this particular morning we did not have to rush off to catch a train or a ferry or a bus so we could enjoy a a few leisurely hours in the village before our next adventure.

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good morning! ~ friendly little curious bird

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later on we would cross this bridge on a bus to get to a long tunnel to Gudvangen

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it didn’t take me long to find a few gulls

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entrance to Ægir Brewery & Pub, where we had dinner the night before

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wood carvings in a dead tree near our hotel

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so many lovely birch trees

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Ægir Brewery & Pub ~ it’s only open for dinner

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Flåmsbrygga Hotel, the warmth of knotty pine floors and doors

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Ægir Brewery, sign above entrance

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Tim on a little stone seat sticking out of the wall of the Flåmstova Restaurant

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wall in the Flåmstova Restaurant, where we had breakfast

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ceiling in the Flåmstova Restaurant

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While we were eating breakfast by a picture window, enjoying the view of garden, fjord and mountain, a cruise ship very slowly pulled into port! Then we could barely see the mountain over the top of it! Cruise ships are amazingly large – Flåm was such a tiny port I am sure it couldn’t possibly accommodate more than one of them at a time.

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I still can’t get over how it was spring on the fjord and winter in the mountains

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there was a hiking path up through the farms hugging the side of the mountain

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wish we had time to hike up there, but the zoom lens came in handy to capture this scene

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We boarded a small bus to take us through the mountains to Gudvangen. This is the entrance to Flenja Tunnel (above) which is 5,053m long. (16,578′). We came out of it for only 500m (1,640′) before entering Gudvanga Tunnel, which is 11,428m (7.1 mi) long, Norway’s second longest road tunnel.

Next stop: Ferry ride on Nærøyfjord from Gudvangen back to Flåm.

Brevik

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

Brevik is the place in Norway I most wanted to see. My grandmother’s sea-captain great-grandfather, Ingebrigt Martinus Hansen, was born there in 1818 and emigrated to America by himself in 1836. As far as I can tell, his parents, five brothers and two sisters remained in Norway. Was he a rebellious teen? Or simply restless, adventurous? His grandfather was a ship’s carpenter, his father and four uncles, all sailors. According to Wikipedia, Brevik is thought to be one of the best preserved towns from the sailing ship era.

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

Brevik is now part of Porsgrunn in the county of Telemark. The Brevik Bridge (Breviksbrua) in the background (above) goes over the mouth of Frierfjord to Stathelle, which is part of Bamble. It was opened in 1962.

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

We arrived in the evening, much later than planned because our plane was delayed and it took forever to pick up the rental car. But the two-hour ride from Oslo was beautiful, the scenery lovely. Because the sun sets so late we were still able to stop for dinner and explore the town afterwards.

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

The restaurant we found was Sjøloftet (above). Brevik isn’t a tourist destination per se, but we found that our server spoke English and was even able to find and dust off 4 menus translated into English. The place was naturally full of talkative locals and it was nice to just sit back and absorb the sound of the language and imagine, while looking out the window over the water, what life was like here 200 years ago.

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

The roads going up and down the sides of the fjord in town were very steep!

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

There were sailboats and motorboats tucked into every possible mooring.

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

A switchback road can be seen to the left of and behind this building.

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

Sleepy little seaside village…

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

The asymmetrical  Grenland Bridge (Grenlandsbrua) (above) is new, opened in 1996. According to Wikipedia, it “is Norway’s highest cable-stayed bridge with a tower height of 168 metres (551 ft) … when built, it replaced Brevik Bridge as the primary route across the fjord …  the 608-metre (1,995 ft) long bridge uses cable stayed construction to provide clearance for vessels up to 50 metres (164 ft) in height.”

Inadvertently we wound up going across the bridge! We were going through a tunnel and it came out right onto the bridge! I suppose it was inevitable as we were exploring the higher elevations of the town. But we made a u-turn and crossed back to Brevik. We actually got pretty confused exploring the town. Some of the streets were very steep and had surprise dead-ends!

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

This little part of town is tucked under the older Brevik Bridge.

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

One of the dead-ends we came upon. It was fun (and a little embarrassing) having to do a 20-point turn with the rental car to back out of there…

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5.21.15 ~ Brevik, Norway

When we found the correct tunnel to leave Brevik we had to wait and then follow a leader car through it because only one lane was open. We didn’t see any flagmen in Norway where there was roadwork being done. Everyone just waited patiently until the leader car was done leading the opposing line of traffic through and then turned around and signaled for them to follow.

Satisfied to have seen the place where my ancestor started his journey, we headed for Skien to spend our first night in Norway.

Mystic Outdoor Art Festival

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

I’ve been a little sad this week, stumbling across a few painful reminders of losses in the past. One reminder was a deeply moving blog post, Silent Death-Alzheimer’s Disease story-1988, with striking photos that hit so close to home, bringing back memories of my grandmother’s decline and reminding me of what my father is going through now.

The idea of crowds and heat and humidity gave me a bit of pause, but today we ventured out to the 54th annual Mystic Outdoor Art Festival. We were lucky to find a parking spot we didn’t have to pay for and it was not too long a walk to the first booth.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The festival is a professionally juried outdoor art show, with booths for over 250 artists and over 60 crafters to display their works lining the streets of historic Mystic. One must cross over the Mystic River on a bascule drawbridge (above and below) to get from East Main Street to West Main Street in Mystic.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Before we got too far I fell in love with an oil painting of a cat sitting on a chair looking out the window, called “Oliver’s View” by Kimberley Scoble. The artist told me she painted the scene first and then Oliver cooperated by jumping on to the chair and sitting there for twenty minutes looking at something intently, the way cats do.

Because we were at an art show I was totally unprepared for a booth a few spots down for the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation. As a kind breast cancer survivor was explaining about the Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut coming up on October 1st I got all choked up and then the tears started. I explained to her that my mother died of breast cancer twenty years ago… I don’t know if this is menopause making me so sensitive… I’m kind of surprised that it hit me like that.

Tim took me away and comforted me as I collected some pamphlets. It took me a while to regain my composure. Now that I’m home I’m thinking maybe the universe is telling me it’s time to get involved in a cause that is obviously so dear to my heart. The woman said if we couldn’t walk the quarter marathon (6.55 miles) we could take part by being in a cheering section. And in October heat and humidity probably wouldn’t be a reason for concern…

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Anyhow, we went on to see many beautiful oil paintings, watercolors, photography, pastels, sculpture, acrylics, pottery, metalwork and crafts. Most were way out of our price range, and many had signs forbidding the taking of pictures. But we did buy some very refreshing all-natural frozen lemonade!

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

On March 6, 2000, there was a fire at the shops on 18-22 West Main Street in Mystic which burned them to the ground. Every plan proposed to rebuild the site has been rejected for one reason or another and it remains as the fire left it. A wall was erected to hide the empty spot, but there are some holes cut out of it for people to look through. For the festival, the wall has been decorated with children’s art.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Another treat was some lovely music we heard before we found the source. This woman was playing an ancient Chinese stringed instrument, a guzheng.

8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
8.13.11 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

We stopped at the local free-range chicken farm on our way home, and at a farmer’s market for tomatoes, eggplant, squash and cherries. I’m looking forward to autumn and apples – I’ve had enough of summer!