One morning in Provincetown we drove out to Herring Cove Beach, where we used to spend days at the beach when the kids were small. The waves here on the bay side are more gentle than they are on the beaches facing the open Atlantic. When they got older they preferred the excitement of Race Point Beach. This beach is pretty rocky, lots of small stones, making trips in and out of the water rough on tiny feet.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea ~ E. E. Cummings (The Lyric Self in Zen & E. E. Cummings)
It was fun photographing the gulls sunning themselves in a different background than the large rocks they usually perch on at our local beach. The future is always uncertain, but lately possible scenarios seem to be monopolizing my thoughts, creating anxiety even as I try to stay living in the present. Spending so much time on the Cape has helped me restore a sense of peace with things as they are or will prove to be. It’s not so much a feeling of resignation, but more of an accepting of the inevitable flux and flow of life.
When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke (Letter to Clara Rilke, March 27, 1903)
When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory. Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. It is not the previously known. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself. ~ Alan Alda (Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself)
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder … he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. ~ Rachel Carson (The Sense of Wonder)
Childhood is a mystery: the soul is timeless, the body new, and the world complex. What a conjunction: the great unfolding in the small. … Childhood asks us what reality really is, what the world is, and where it came from. Childhood asks where life came from, and where it goes. Does the soul exist? Where was the soul before birth? How many realms are there? Are fairies real? Do ghosts and spirits exist? Why are some people lucky and others unlucky, why is there suffering? Why are we here? Are there more things in the innocent-seeming world than we can see? These are some of the questions that the state of childhood asks, and which perplex us all our days. … Childhood is an enigma, a labyrinth, an existential question, a conundrum. It is the home of all the great questions about life and death, reality and dream, meaning and purpose, freedom and society, the spiritual and the secular, nature and culture, education and self-discovery. ~ Ben Okri (A Time for New Dreams)
It had been well over a week since I had last visited Grandmother Elm. Almost two weeks – thirteen days to be exact. I might not be visiting her as often as I had hoped to in the days ahead. As you might imagine, having a cancer patient in the house has made planning our days unpredictable, as we slowly adjust to expecting the unexpected. But look how well the elm’s leaf canopy has filled in during my absence!
Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”
~ Mary Oliver (Thirst: Poems)
According to one Celtic tree calendar, my birth date (January 12-24 and July 15-25) makes the elm, the good-tempered tree, my guardian tree. And my gemstone is the moonstone. Deposits of moonstone can be found in Norway!
You are probably quite unaware of the value of your ability to conquer anxiety, just as you are unaware that you are hard-working, reliable and creative. You don’t try to belong to any group and you don’t want to be organised. On the contrary, you are allergic to labels, even respectable ones. You are overcome by embarrassment when the spotlight falls on you. Your sense of moderation alerts you to the fact that an excess of light for one person can soon become too little for someone else. You would rather hide your own light under a bushel than take it away from anyone else. You prefer to praise your fellow men than to be exposed to their praise. ~ Michael Vescoli (The Celtic Tree Calendar: Your Tree Sign & You)
Well, all those things above do describe me well, not only am I overcome by embarrassment when a spotlight falls on me, I blush to a very bright red, which only adds to my distress. Oh how I love to keep a low profile and hang around in the background! 🙂 The things I am discovering by means of my elm tree!
The seagulls know the truth of it And scream it overhead ~ David Gray ♫ (Nos Da Cariad) ♫
Growing up visiting the beaches of Cape Cod I never paid close attention to seagulls, taking them very much for granted. But in 2011, after reading the book, A Time for Everything, by Karl O. Knausgård, I’ve been drawn to these interesting sea birds. However, it wasn’t until April of last year (2012) that I noticed that there are different kinds of seagulls, when I saw a pair of black-headed gulls perched on a dock at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia.
Now I’m pretty sure the gulls we commonly have on our beach here in Connecticut are ring-billed gulls. One day last August (2012), Tim & I were having a light supper sitting at a picnic table on the grass at our beach. We were chatting away and I was watching a gull behind him, who was loitering on the grass, hoping for a handout. (We never give them anything, however, because our food is not good for them.) Slowly it dawned on me that this was the biggest gull I had ever laid eyes on! And yet he had the speckled coloring of an immature one.
Thankfully I had my camera, but when Tim turned around to see what I was so excited about the gull took off. He came back, however, and began strutting along the sidewalk as if he owned the place.
Eventually he walked up onto the rocks and posed for me.
In the pictures above and below I was trying to capture this huge baby standing as close to an adult “regular” gull as I could, to illustrate the difference in size. There were two of these large gulls present that day, but this was the one that came closer to us.
Ten days after this gull encounter at the beach we had to take Tim to the hospital in the middle of the night. At dawn I came home to shower and then return to the hospital. As I started driving down Bank Street in New London there was a seagull in the middle of the street, feasting on some roadkill. He didn’t move out of the way of my car until it was almost too late. When he did take off he didn’t fly away, though. He kept flying just a few feet in front of my car, flying very low, all the way down Bank Street to Parade Plaza.
If seagull shows up it means it’s time to clean up your home environment and let go of and recycle as much as you possibly can. … Spend a significant amount of time at the seashore meditating, allowing the rhythms of the waves and the wind to be your guiding pulse. ~ Dr. Steven D. Farmer (Animal Spirit Guides)
It wasn’t until late September, when we took a day trip to Block Island, that we got a clue about the identity of these giant seagulls. Our tour guide asked us if we had ever seen a great black-backed gull, the largest of all gulls. Apparently they are showing up on Block Island, too!
After Tim came home from the hospital, but before we went to Block Island, son Nate came up from Georgia to help “clean out our home environment” after Tim’s hospital stay. While he was here we took him to the beach one evening, all excited about showing him the big seagulls. But they weren’t there that night. However, we sat with him there for hours, soaking up the healing power of the sea and talking about the wonders of the universe – a memory I will treasure forever. The following sketch reminds me of some of our conversations, Mr. Logic and Ms. Wonder, chatting with their son…
Since Nate left to go back home we have spotted the great black-backed gulls at the beach again many times, even after Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Charlotte, so it looks like the two of them are planning to stick around for a while. And my sister has reported seeing them there a couple of times, too, when she’s gone to the beach to eat a peaceful lunch in her car. Beverly thought I had to be exaggerating until she saw them for herself!
At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander. ~ Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
Well, I finally figured out how to use the latest version of PhotoShop – I have no idea how many versions there were between my old one and this one, but I was totally lost… Now I can post some pictures of things from the last six months. In April Janet’s sister Nancy was visiting and the three of us spent a lovely afternoon on the reclaimed dune area at Ocean Beach. I love the shoreline in the off-season. Enjoy!
All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole. ~ Hal Borland (Stopping: How to Be Still When You Have to Keep Going)
Saturday was an overcast day. “Welcome aboard the Jessica W,” our captain’s voice came over the sound system. “We have rough seas today so please stay seated.” And we were off! Our very first high-speed ferry ride! We zoomed past the red lighthouse (above) and, a short time later, the lighthouse with solar panels on the deck (below). We kept our eyes on the horizon so we wouldn’t get sea-sick and a little over an hour later we docked at Old Harbor and set foot on a very picturesque Block Island for the first time in our lives.
“What took you so long?” quipped our taxi-driver/tour-guide, when he found out we lived just over the sound in Connecticut and had never been to Block Island before. He was a gregarious old salt with many a tale to tell about the heroes and villains of the island’s history. And we were amused by his frequent references to the historical society, which he called the “hysterical” society, presumably because of its overly zealous efforts to keep the island “as-is” for future generations.
One story was about the woman portrayed in the above statue. Apparently the temperance movement was quite active during Prohibition on Block Island and to pacify its members this monument was erected by the town to honor the biblical Rebecca-at-the-Well. Because of the grape clusters hanging from the woman’s ears, though, it is thought that the woman is actually Sophrosyne, the Greek goddess of moderation, self-control, restraint, and discretion. In other words, Temperance.
Look, stranger, on this island now The leaping light for your delight discovers, Stand stable here And silent be, That through the channels of the ear May wander like a river The swaying sound of the sea. ~ W. H. Auden
Our new friend took us to Payne Overlook where we could look 182 feet down the bluff to the beach below. Next time we go, we plan to bring a picnic lunch and spend some time at Mohegan Bluffs. There are 152 wooden steps down to the beach below, so we can do some beach combing and then climb back up the steps at a snail’s pace with time for lots of rest stops.
When I inquired about the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge I was told there were lots of them. (Later on I bought a trail guide and found that there are indeed ten wildlife areas on this small island.)
Picking up on my interest in nature, our guide then asked if we had ever seen a great black-backed gull. It is the largest of all the seagulls. As he described it I began to think that perhaps he had helped us solve a mystery about a pair of gigantic seagulls that were visiting our beach in Groton (left) for a few days near the end of August. They were so much larger than the regular gulls, but were speckled like immature gulls. After we got home I did a little more research and found a picture of an immature great black-backed gull which does very much look like the ones we saw here in Groton. Larus marinus
Later on, we visited Southeast Lighthouse. The following picture I took looking up the five-story stairway in the light tower.
It was a delightful day trip we had, something we’ve been meaning to do for many years. There are many more things to explore on Block Island. A cemetery that may be the resting place of some of my newly discovered Littlefield ancestors. A labyrinth… Below is the Jessica W, high-speed ferry, waiting to take us home.