a day at the aquarium

5.19.21 ~ Mystic Aquarium ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Oh what a joyful day it was when our grandchildren and their parents finally arrived for a post-quarantine visit!!! We hadn’t seen them in 18 months. Katherine, who is now called Kat, arrived with an injured foot, which put my dreams of a long walk in the woods or on the beach on hold again, but we managed to have a good time in spite of the challenge. Kat wanted to go to the aquarium so we borrowed a wheelchair and made a day of it.

beluga whale

While she was here Kat attended school (first grade) remotely which was fascinating to observe. When her teacher heard she was going to the aquarium she suggested Kat create a presentation for the class of the things she would see there. So she used her iPad to take videos and stills, as you can see in the picture above. Of course Finn wanted to ride along with his big sister. 🙂

Steller sea lion, the largest of all sea lions
Steller sea lion, napping in the sunshine
Steller sea lion, napping in the water
rhododendron
African penguin
Kat still loves her penguins, filming them swimming underwater

The outdoor marsh habitat was full of life…

turtles
frog
polywog
rhododendron

We spent some time at the Ray Touch Pool…

Larisa and Finn touching stingrays
Kat mastered the touching technique

And took in the California sea lion training show…

I think Kat got better pictures than I did!
California sea lion

So many creatures to see in all the tanks. Tim & I were amazed at all the new exhibits they’ve added. There was some disappointment that the Jurassic Giants exhibit, ‘featuring giant animatronic dinosaurs, two 4D theaters, and visits with frogs and reptiles,’ was closed for renovations.

lions mane jellyfish

We’ve been bringing our own children (sometimes along with their grandparents!) since they were little ones, when this research aquarium was so small it was all in one building. It opened in 1973 and we moved down here in 1976 so I’d say we’ve been coming here for 45 years! Now it’s a sprawling complex, almost impossible to fit all of it into one day of exploring.

Amazon milk frog

The next day I listened as Kat made her virtual presentation to her class. It was fun listening to the voices of the other children as they asked her questions and made comments. She answered them like a marine expert! Her teacher thanked her for taking them along on such a great field trip. 🙂

west garden, box garden, rock garden

5.6.21 ~ water tower ~ Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford, Connecticut

So… I decided to combine the west, box and rock gardens into one post because they pretty much flowed into one another. Please enjoy the pictures!

I don’t divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one.
~ Luis Barragán
(Designing Outside the Box: Landscape Seeing by Doing)

Roman Renaissance Revival architecture
common grackle
johnny-jump-ups
Beatrix Farrand was one of the two women who designed these gardens

Should it not be remembered that in setting a garden we are painting a picture?
~ Beatrix Farrand
(Beatrix: The Gardening Life of Beatrix Jones Farrand, 1872-1959)

buttercups
frog

It therefore results that the enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it, tranquilizes it, and yet enlivens it, and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.
~ Frederick Law Olmsted
(America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents)

the orator

image credit: pixabay

His Mansion in the Pool
The Frog forsakes —
He rises on a Log
And statements makes —
His Auditors two Worlds
Deducting me —
The Orator of April
Is hoarse Today —
His Mittens at his Feet
No Hand hath he —
His eloquence a Bubble
As Fame should be —
Applaud him to discover
To your chagrin
Demosthenes has vanished
In Waters Green —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1355)

Demosthenes (Δημοσθένης) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens, generally considered the greatest of the Greek orators.
~ Wikipedia

rainy night and toad

10.16.18 ~ Katherine with toad
photo by Dima

So, I’ve been in North Carolina for almost two weeks now, spending lots of time with Katherine and helping out her parents as best I can. Tim, too, but he left very early this morning and made it all the way home to Connecticut this evening! He’ll be back, though, after taking care of a few obligations.

Larisa has been pretty miserable but now that the shingles is improving she’s feeling a little better. This morning she remembered that my friend, an interpreter, told us that in Spanish pregnancy is called “la dulce espera,” the sweet wait. I hope these last couple of weeks will be sweeter now.

On the day tropical storm Michael arrived here, Katherine observed her Grandpa frequently tracking the storm on his weather app. She happened to be outside when the first raindrops fell so she rushed inside, so excited, and exclaimed, “Tell Grandpa the storm is here!” And so it was. We listened to the torrential rain and from her bedroom window watched the ferocious wind pelt the lower roof with twigs and branches.

We lost power late in the afternoon, 45 minutes before the pot roast was done. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious. We each had a flashlight to navigate in the dark. When it stopped raining we took our flashlights and went out for a walk in the dark. Katherine had colorful flashing lights on her rain boots which made it easy to keep track of her. Dima’s flight was diverted to Atlanta so he didn’t make it home until the next day. Our power came back around noon the next day, too.

Our niece and her husband learned that their house, of newer and more hurricane-resistant construction, was spared. They returned to help their neighbors and search for missing persons. They even had a story written about their efforts in The New York Times!

Katherine still loves to take her nature walks, even in the dark. One night her father spotted a toad and took the picture above. So much wonder in the world!

And the sweet wait continues…

mountain laurel sanctuary

6.26.13 ~ Union, Connecticut
Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
6.26.13 ~ Union, Connecticut
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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary

Mountain laurel, which is in the heath family, is Connecticut’s state flower and is abundant in moderately shaded woods in this state. The flower of the native shrub produces clusters of beautiful pinkish white blooms between Fathers Day and Fourth of July in this part of the state. The foliage is evergreen so it stays green all winter long. Hiking in the woods one may come across a thicket of mountain laurel and wonder if it is at all possible to penetrate through the tangled branches that grow close to the ground.
~ Mountain Laurel Sanctuary

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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
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frog ~ 6.26.13 ~ Union, Connecticut
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Nipmuck State Forest, Mountain Laurel Sanctuary
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a whimsical woodpecker,
evidence of other human visitors

There was a blue dragonfly flitting about us (not to mention hoards of mosquitoes!) but it wouldn’t stay still long enough to be photographed.  A few days later, however, Janet found a more cooperative blue dragonfly resting on one of her tomato cages at home and sent me this picture!

dragonfly.janet.blue
blue dragonfly photo by Janet Hale

lady slippers

5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
Liz (Janet’s mom) ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

On Friday, Janet, Liz and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at a Lady Slippers Walk & Picnic at the Peace Sanctuary in Mystic, Connecticut. Our guide was Maggie Jones, executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. Before we began our walk in the woods, Maggie gave us a little history of the 45-acre sanctuary property.

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The Universal Peace Union had been founded in Providence in 1866 by a group of reformers whose belief in nonviolence after years of bloody warfare led them to a broad critique of American imperialism, U.S. immigration and Native American policies. The local branch had formed among Rogerene Quakers around Ledyard, and the first national meetings took place in private homes there. As the number of members grew, including large numbers of women, the annual meeting moved to a larger venue in Mystic. By the 1880s and 1890s, the gathering attracted as many as ten thousand attendees. In 1890, the organization purchased land from Silas Burrows and the Fish family on a hill overlooking the river on the northwestern side of town. Meetings then took place at this open and undeveloped spot, attracting such speakers as reformer Lucretia Mott and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” Julia Ward Howe.
~ Leigh Fought
(A History of Mystic, Connecticut: From Pequot Village to Tourist Town)

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happily growing in a decaying tree trunk ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

When peace became less popular around the start of World War II, the land was purchased by explorer, naturalist, cartographer and writer, Mary Jobe Akeley (1886-1966), who turned it into a summer nature camp for girls. Camp Mystic was very popular and attended by girls from across the nation. Renowned explorers often visited the camp and shared stories of their experiences with the girls. Sadly, during the Great Depression the camp was closed.

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almost ready to bloom ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

After her death in 1966, the Mary L. Jobe Akeley Trust & Peace Sanctuary was established and the property is now looked after by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. In the month of May nearly 400 native pink lady slippers, also called pink moccasin flowers, can be found blooming in the woods on the property.

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Lady slippers are part of the orchid family and are native to Connecticut. They love the acid soil found in the woods, and need a certain fungus found there in order to survive. They grow 6 to 15 inches tall and the flowers are about 3 inches long. They can often be found growing in decaying logs. I used to see them occasionally when I played in the woods near the swamp where I grew up, so it was a treat to see so many of them in one day!

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5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The pink lady slipper has been the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island since 1947, and the state wildflower of New Hampshire since 1991.

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different stages of blossoming ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Our walk was mostly uphill and when we reached the top we were treated to an outdoor picnic buffet in a lovely woodland garden. I had stinging nettle soup for the first time, and another soup made with wild leeks.

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narcissus ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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garden shed ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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daphne ~ 5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut
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a frog bidding us good-bye as we made our way back down the hill
5.17.13 ~ Mystic, Connecticut