it’s nowhere near over

9.7.21 ~ Eastern Point
double-crested cormorant on the rocks

Another nice day Tuesday. After Labor Day the beach is “closed.” No lifeguards, concession stand or restrooms open. Fewer people to navigate through. Great for a morning walk. Got closer to a cormorant than I’ve ever been before, but as luck would have it, the sun was behind him and he came out as mostly a silhouette.

ring-billed gull on the rocks
immature male common eiders in the estuary

The gift for this morning was spotting four immature male common eiders hanging out in the estuary. I’ve only seen a female common eider once, last summer. New England is in the southernmost part of their range. I was enchanted.

A bird of the cold north with a warm reputation, the Common Eider is famous for the insulating quality of its down (typically harvested from nests without harming the birds). Breeding males are sharp white and black, with pistachio green accents on the neck. Females are barred with warm brown and black. These largest of all Northern Hemisphere ducks gather along rocky ocean shores, diving for mussels and other shellfish, which they pry from rocks using long, chisel-like bills. Males court females throughout the year with gentle, crooning calls.
~ All About Birds website

monarch butterfly on the lawn

The coronavirus pandemic rages on, surging especially among the unvaccinated. But the fully vaccinated are getting sick, too, which gave us pause and led to our postponing our trip to North Carolina to see our grandchildren until we can get our third dose of vaccine. We don’t even want to get the “mild” version of COVID-19. We’re back to wearing double masks in the grocery store. And because we’re super cautious we stopped going inside anywhere else. Avoiding crowded outdoor places, too. Masks at the farmers market.

My sister reports from Connecticut College that on Monday, 20 students who were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and some of their friends were tested. Through contact tracing, it was determined that the students who had contracted the virus had been socializing without masks in cars, in friends’ rooms or apartments, at parties or in bars. Tuesday morning the test results showed an additional 34 students had tested positive. All were moved to isolation housing.

double-crested cormorant in the river

Connecticut College requires all students and staff to be fully vaccinated (and to wear masks indoors) so these are breakthrough cases. Beverly spent one week with us but is now teaching remotely from her home and probably won’t be back here for the semester. 🙁 I’m just glad we were able to see each other a few times this summer before this new social distancing period seems prudent. Sigh.

It’s been a while since I’ve made note of our local coronavirus statistics. We have had 3,014 detected cases in our town. Connecticut has had 376,747 confirmed cases and 8,395 deaths. We’re coming close to the 8,500 number of estimated deaths we had in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. On September 8th we had 403 new cases. Overall, 2,368,830 people or 66% of Connecticut’s population has been fully vaccinated.

driftwood caught in the rocks

And now CNN is reporting that 1 in 4 new cases of COVID-19 are in children.

summer’s end

It’s nowhere near over.

Update: As of Thursday 107 students have now tested positive. Many are going home instead of quarantining on campus. Seems like that would not help to contain the spread.

in a thicket

12.13.20 ~ Eastern Point ~ leaves in the estuary

After my yucky week Tim made sure I got out for another walk soon, especially since we’re supposed to be having a few storms this week. I haven’t been finding many birds lately, and not even the gulls were cooperating at the beach, where we found ourselves on Sunday.

and driftwood
and seaweed
young man meditating on the rocks

But then I remembered a song sparrow I had seen back in July in a thicket near a chain link fence on top of a cement wall near the estuary. (timelessness and quiet ecstasy) I decided to see if some song sparrows were still there. Yes! They live here year round and are native to North America. Finding them made my day! 🙂

song sparrow on the lookout

in a thicket by
the sea the song sparrows are
still keeping a home

~ Barbara Rodgers
(By the Sea)

the top of a chain link fence serves a useful purpose

Feeds heavily on seeds, especially in winter, mainly those of grasses and weeds. Birds in coastal marshes and on islands also feed on small crustaceans and mollusks, perhaps rarely on small fish.
~ National Audubon Society website, page on song sparrows

If you would have the song of the sparrow inspire you a thousand years hence, let your life be in harmony with its strain to-day.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, May 12, 1857)

in this very present moment

6.4.20 ~ beach rose
Napatree Point Conservation Area, Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Along the shoreline, about 19 miles east of us, the waters of Fishers Island Sound give way to the the bigger waves of Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. When leaving Connecticut and arriving in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, the terrain and the beaches feel a lot more like Cape Cod to me. The irresistable desire to hear those waves crashing led me to drag Tim to Napatree Point Thursday morning and he was a good sport about a hike over the dunes.

Napatree Point is a slender, 1.5 mile long peninsula in Block Island Sound. To the north of the peninsula is Little Narragansett Bay, a small estuary into which the Pawcatuck River empties. The small bay is an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean.
~ Wikipedia

dunes

First we walked along the bay side, but not all the way to the end of the peninsula. The water was calm and there were lots of birds busy fishing and flying, but only one herring gull. He was quite handsome and paid no attention to us.

What is it with me and gulls? I won’t say how many pictures I wound up taking of this one. 🙂 But the sound of the waves on the ocean side was beckoning…

Time to take a shortcut over the dune. We made it across without encountering someone coming the other way. With COVID-19 ever on our minds we knew it would have to be a one-way-at-a-time bridge.

The waves were relatively calm, but bigger than the ones at our beach, and the sound of them crashing was soothing to me.

Atlantic Ocean!

Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(The Secret of the Sea)

Watch Hill Lighthouse on the point in the distance

There was a family with two children playing there on the beach. When we got closer the parents called the little ones back to their blanket and we hugged the water, putting as much distance between us as possible. We didn’t linger so the kids could quickly get back to their playing by the water. Life in the time of coronavirus.

I’ve been wrestling with several other concerns, though. Perhaps it’s stress, but my migraines have come back and have become very frequent, waking me up almost every night. Fortunately I have a stash of meds but I’m starting to worry I will blow through it before my next refill is due.

And then there is what I thought were spider bites I woke up with last Saturday morning. Mostly on my belly, a few on my face, and a couple of days later, a spot on my ankle. By the middle of the week I suspected flea bites or chigger bites. But the itching and rash now feels exactly like poison ivy. Which means I’ve got another week or two of this misery to live through. Probably picked it up in the woods on one of our walks. I think I will confine our walks to the cemetery and dirt roads for now.

Seeing the open ocean, hearing the waves, smelling the salty air, picking up a shell to remember the morning, all of it gave me some breathing space. Even the incessant itching seemed to stop for a while.

time to climb over the dune again

Try to be happy in this very present moment; and put not off being so to a time to come: as though that time should be of another make from this, which is already come, and is ours.
~ Thomas Fuller
(A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient & Modern)

This morning I read that headaches are one of the possible side effects of hydrocortisone cream, which I’ve been using on the poison ivy. Itching, too. So I’m going to stop using it for a while and see what happens. This too, will pass.

Watch Hill Lighthouse
looking back across Napatree Point from the top of the dune

I was very sorry to leave but very grateful to have enjoyed our moments there. On our way out we managed to stay far enough away from a couple of people arriving and exchanged greetings from behind our masks. “It’s the new way,” one man observed, as we all did our do-si-dos along the paths.

morning at the beach

4.1.20 ~ sidewalk greetings, Eastern Point Beach

Noon — is the Hinge of Day —
Evening — the Tissue Door —
Morning — the East compelling the Sill —
Till all the World is ajar —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1060)

4.1.20 ~ treasures in the sand

On Wednesday we went down to the beach earlier in the morning and found it less populated and more peaceful. Chilly, but wonderful! Staying connected with family and friends and even feeling better physically. Full of gratitude.

4.1.20 ~ looking east
4.1.20 ~ looking west, New London Ledge Lighthouse and Tyler House
4.1.20 ~ looking north, Zbierski House
4.1.20 ~ looking down
4.1.20 ~ specks of garnet in the sand
4.1.20 ~ solitary tree, Thames River

Spring! Back at home in my garden, the chionodoxa (glory of the snow) are out! What a cheerful greeting and welcome home. ❦

4.1.20 ~ chionodoxa popping through the mulch

low tide

5.3.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Zoë waiting patiently for her morning sunbath ~ 5.3.14

Over the years our double-paned sliding-glass doors filled with condensation and became so “foggy” that we could not see out of them. It took us a long time to get around to having them replaced, but we finally did so near the end of April. Zoë was delighted to be able to clearly see the birds and we celebrated by buying two chairs and a little table (at an estate sale) for the balcony.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
an extraordinary piece of driftwood ~ 5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Never mind that right on the heels of these sips of joy we had a flood in our basement, a sewer backup. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Funny all the twists and turns life brings. Thank goodness our home insurance is covering the cost of clean up and repair. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I’ll be glad when they finish, but we had to interrupt the process to drive to North Carolina as planned.

Everyone’s experience indicates that everything we are, and everything we do, is simply the movement of existence itself. It’s here that we come to the highest realization indicated in all the great spiritual traditions: we do not exist as anything apart from the flow of nature and that flow is an unformed, inexplicable dance accomplishing itself.
~ Darryl Bailey
(Essence Revisited: Slipping Past the Shadows of Illusion)

For a few days forgetting about the ‘inexplicable unformed flow of nature’ in our basement, we started our journey south and delivered Aunt Flora’s rocking chair. We had a wonderful time visiting family. Nate & Shea drove up from Georgia, and I got to see an old friend from high school who happens to live about 2 miles from Dima & Larisa.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

And then… Tim got sick with diverticulitis (not again!) which delayed out trip home by a day so the antibiotics he was prescribed could have a chance to start working. Needless to say, we didn’t arrive home feeling particularly refreshed physically, although emotionally we were revitalized for having spent so much time with our children.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Last weekend we made it to a local farmers market. This morning we took a walk on the beach – the tide was very low, revealing the largest piece of driftwood I’ve ever seen. Tim estimates it to be 20-25 feet long! What could it possibly have been? This afternoon we ate our farm-to-table lunch out on our new little table on our sunny balcony. Life is good!

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

driftwood twisted

Painted Bunting on Driftwood by Robert Burton/USFWS
painted bunting on driftwood by Robert Burton

Even driftwood twisted into wooden ghosts, overgrown worms, gnarled and craggy, appeals. The final arbitrator of its form has been friction with the world. It becomes what it is through long travel.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts & What Remains)

what happens next

Piping Plover by Mike Morel/USFWS
piping plover by Mike Morel, Puerto Rico

The details don’t matter – they belong to all of us – and loss, after all, is mostly a story about what happens next. What’s next for me, it seems, is the story of realizing that if there are answers at all, they might not be found in the broadest expanses. I find myself mostly lowering my habitual gaze-out-to-sea and settling down to rummage in these greenish-brown, often stinking, bug-infested wrack lines, the likes of which I must have skirted or stepped over thousands of times in my younger-me rush to get to the water. Sometimes I notice what lies tangled within them: the moon snail with its grotesque foot, trash turned into sea glass, driftwood, egg cases, jellyfish. And sometimes I notice what’s gone. Not just my grandiose quest, but also the vanished tangible.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts & What Remains)

wanting the sea

"Connecticut Shore, Winter" by John Henry Twachtman
“Connecticut Shore, Winter” by John Henry Twachtman

Searching my heart for its true sorrow,
 This is the thing I find to be:
That I am weary of words and people,
Sick of the city, wanting the sea;

Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness
Of the strong wind and shattered spray;
Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound
Of the big surf that breaks all day.

Always before about my dooryard,
Marking the reach of the winter sea,
Rooted in sand and dragging drift-wood,
Straggled the purple wild sweet-pea.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Exiled)

 Where Mermaids Arrange their Hair

Hurricane Sandy II

10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
sand so deep it covered the curbs ~ 10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
sand covering the road, the entrance, the grass, the playground
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
sand and seaweed caught in the fence
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
the wall between the beach and the playground

The surge took large chunks of stone from the top of the wall separating the sandy beach from the grassy playground. The playground was now covered with sand and rocks from the wall. The sidewalk running along the playground side of the wall was badly damaged, too.

10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
Barbara contemplating the awesome power of Mother Nature
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
there is normally a good stretch of sand between the life guard chair and the water
10.30.12 ~ Eastern Point Beach
driftwood in the foreground, Avery Point campus in the distance

Still more pictures coming soon!