The days move more swiftly now, too, with late dawns and early dusks. The days march toward the winter solstice like a winter farmhand with the wind at his back. And the long nights become the sleep of the earth itself, the rest, the waiting.
The fox barks in the night, in the glitter of winter starlight. The deer shelter in the hemlock thickets on the mountain. The woodchuck sleeps, breathing only once in five minutes. And that hurrying wind whistles in the naked maples. November is at hand. This is the hurrying, impatient wind of winter that I hear in the night.
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. 🙂
On May 5th we took a lovely walk in the Connecticut College Arboretum. I usually walk there with Janet or Beverly so it was fun to drag Tim along this time. (I do miss my other walking buddies!) Again, he did well on the uneven terrain. At first we wore our masks, thinking it was in the city and might be more populated than the places in the woods we visit. But there weren’t many people there and no one else was wearing a mask so we felt comfortable taking them off.
One of my all time favorite music albums, since I was a teen, is All Things Must Pass by George Harrison. Lately, the song “Beware of Darkness” keeps playing in my head, and I think it is so fitting considering what all of us are going through now with the pandemic. Nights can be rough. But nature walks in the light of day are the perfect counterbalance.
Watch out now, take care Beware of falling swingers Dropping all around you The pain that often mingles In your fingertips Beware of darkness
Watch out now, take care Beware of the thoughts that linger Winding up inside your head The hopelessness around you In the dead of night
Beware of sadness It can hit you It can hurt you Make you sore and what is more That is not what you are here for
Watch out now, take care Beware of soft shoe shufflers Dancing down the sidewalks As each unconscious sufferer Wanders aimlessly Beware of Maya
Watch out now, take care Beware of greedy leaders They take you where you should not go While Weeping Atlas Cedars They just want to grow, grow and grow Beware of darkness
~ George Harrison ♫ (Beware of Darkness) ♫
Governor Ned Lamont today (May 9) announced that his administration has released documents detailing specific rules that eligible businesses falling under phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening plans must follow amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase – which includes restaurants; offices; hair salons and barbershops; retail stores; and outdoor museums and zoos – is currently planned to take effect beginning May 20. The governor stressed that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner – they are not required to open if they do not choose, however if they do they must follow the rules as prescribed. ~ The Office of Governor Ned Lamont website
We now have 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 784 confirmed cases and 56 deaths. I don’t think I’m ready to come out of our bubble yet. Will wait and see what happens to the numbers after May 20.
On the last Saturday in April we took a nice walk through the woods at the Woodlot Sanctuary. It was the first time in the spring that we needed bug spray! We loved all the stone walls.
Three lots totaling approximately 29 acres include a variety of habitats. Much of the central portion is upland forest featuring rocky outcrops and glacial erratics. The landscape shows a history of varied forestry practices over decades. It is now dominated by oak and beech with hickory, sassafras, and scattered evergreens as well, and offers an excellent understory of huckleberry and lowbush blueberry. The eastern border is comprised of wetlands that emerge into a brook that flows ultimately into Stonington Harbor; wetlands in the western portion drain directly into the Deans Mill Reservoir. The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife including several species which have special status in CT. Box turtles and spotted turtles have been found on the property. Red-shouldered hawks and broad-winged hawks are regular nesters as well. ~ Avalonia Land Conservancy website
When we spotted the huge boulder below I was so surprised by what I found behind it. A hemlock tree! There aren’t too many of these beloved trees left in Connecticut because of the woolly adelgid infestation. You can imagine I spent a lot of time communing with this one.
It’s not easy to get to the lower branches. I remember getting a chair or a stepladder to help me get to the bottom branches so I could climb my tree.
For a child, the branches are nice and close together, making the climb feel pretty safe. I don’t think I could fit between those branches as an adult! After I grew up my mother told me that she couldn’t keep watching if she looked out the window and saw me climbing my favorite hemlock tree. But she never stopped me.
How do parents feel about children climbing trees these days? There are so many safety rules, like wearing bike helmets or harnesses in high chairs, that we never had when I was a child.
I would have loved to climb this hemlock! But it was so pleasant spending some time with it and touching it and appreciating its being. I hope it’s okay. I wonder how it survived. When you think of it, trees have suffered from their own pandemics over time. The deaths of my childhood hemlocks were very prolonged and painful for me to witness.
We now have 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 623 confirmed cases and 43 deaths. Still rising. But, I’m starting to feel a little bit of hope.
There’s a chance that hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine could be available by early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday, even though the federal government has not approved a vaccine against the virus. ~ Brakkton Booker (National Public Radio, April 30, 2020)
I found this picture some time ago on Wikimedia Commons and have been saving it for pairing with a poem or a quote but, so far, nothing has turned up to inspire. However, today is my ten year blogging anniversary and the timing seems right. The picture captures the best of my childhood memories in the woods. I used to pretend those tiny hemlock cones were bushes for the landscaping around the little houses I built in my sandbox…
After about a month of doing well on medication for the radiation proctitis I suffered a setback at the end of January, leaving me frustrated and discouraged and tied to the house again. We’re trying something new and hoping things will improve soon. In the meantime I’ve pushed myself to resume my yoga for seniors, which I hadn’t done since last fall when I got so sick. And much to my surprise, I’ve taken up doing jigsaw puzzles! It seems easier than reading these days. Using a different part of my weary brain, no doubt. Watching the birds at my feeder provides hours of entertainment.
Naturally a lot has changed in ten years since I started blogging! I used to spend more time sharing images, lyrics, poetry, and quotes, and I still love a good pairing of words and pictures now and then. Now, my main joys seem to be nature walks and photography and family history research. I do hope I will be able to get back to them in the near future.
The wood is decked in light green leaf. The swallow twitters in delight. The lonely vine sheds joyous tears Of interwoven dew and light.
Spring weaves a gown of green to clad The mountain height and wide-spread field. O when wilt thou, my native land, In all thy glory stand revealed?
~ Ilia Chavchavadze
(Anthology of Georgian Poetry)
“Summer is coming!” the soft breezes whisper; “Summer is coming!” the glad birdies sing. Summer is coming — I hear her quick footsteps; Take your last look at the beautiful Spring.
~ Dora Read Goodale
(Summer Is Coming)
To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.
~ George Santayana
(Words of Wisdom & Quotable Quotes)
How many Flowers fail in Wood — Or perish from the Hill — Without the privilege to know That they are Beautiful —
How many cast a nameless Pod Opon the nearest Breeze — Unconscious of the Scarlet Freight — It bear to other eyes —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #534)
Honor the space between no longer and not yet.
~ Nancy Levin
(Grief Interrupted: A Holistic Guide to Reclaiming Your Joy)
Finally, some leaves have appeared on my tree! I think it is an elm tree.
My grandparents had an elm tree on the northwest corner of their house lot. Its branches and leaves could almost be touched when looking out the window of the green bedroom, feeling like the leaf canopy of this elm in the above picture.
Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.
~ Hal Borland
(Countryman: A Summary of Belief)
Toby went into the hospital for cancer surgery five days ago, and will probably be staying there for another week or so. The day he went into the hospital I had to go up to my father’s house for a few days to help out with the ancient ones. Chelsea had some time off so my aunt Em from Maryland came up and she and I tried our best to fill Chelsea’s shoes! It’s good to be back home now and slip into a more “normal” routine again, at least for a little while.
Up at my dad’s it was so quiet without Bernie around, but I was able to get outside for a short walk and take a few pictures. Later, while sitting on the porch watching birds with Dad, I experimented with the telescopic lens and got a fairly decent picture of a nuthatch (below), if a little blurry! But next time I think I will use the sports setting with the auto-shoot feature. It worked so well today with the flag picture this morning (above), which was whipping in the wind. Enjoy!
A mood of melancholy has followed me around like a dark cloud the past couple of weeks. It probably has a lot to do with the anticipated move out-of-state for our son and daughter-in-law drawing ever closer.
Tuesday Laurie of Speaking from the Heart, posed the question, “What’s been your most recent surprise?” Well, the night before Tim gave me the dragonfly pendant pictured at the right. Laurie hinted that she wanted to see it, so….
Other recent gifts have been a long phone call from my daughter and of course, this new web domain from my son. I feel blessed and full of gratitude, and yet, still blue. I’m also taking more steps on a path to vegetarianism and am engaged in a pensive, inner spiritual struggle. Planning to write a post about that soon…
Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragonfly Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky: So this winged hour is dropped to us from above.
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti
I went up to visit my father Tuesday, and stayed overnight, returning yesterday morning. Visiting him always leaves me sad as there is so little I can do to make his life easier. My only hope is that my presence somehow makes him feel as comforted as the presence of my own children makes me feel…
Bernie, my sister Beverly, and I took a walk in the woods Wednesday morning. Bernie is showing his age and was in a little funk himself. If you haven’t been introduced to Bernie yet, you can find his story here.
Lately I’ve thought a lot about “my” hemlock tree, which I climbed all the time when I was a child. I loved to sit high up in it and absorb its energy and have now been wondering what its energy would feel like these days. Part of me wants to climb it again, for old times’ sake, but I’d have to bother someone for a ladder to get to the lowest branch and I question my agility and this stage of my life. The tree has been under attack and weakened from an infestation of the hemlock woolly adelgid, which my brother-in-law, who is a botanist, is trying to control. So I took a picture to show where Hurricane Gloria snapped its crown off in 1985. You can see where new growth has filled in above the break, in about the middle of the photo.
When I got home and uploaded the picture I was delighted to find it full of orbs! Orbs have been on my mind recently, too, since seeing Kathy’s picture of a golden brown orb on her post at Lake Superior Spirit. I think the orbs are a good sign that my tree still has some healing energy. Maybe I will bother someone about a ladder… Later on, walking along the path to the mailbox, I thought this little clearing looked pretty so I snapped another picture, and didn’t realize until I got home that it was full of orbs, too.
But that was it for surprise orb photos. The hemlock below has not fared so well, and has become an ideal place for woodpeckers to drill for insects…
I liked the texture I found in a pile of scrap lumber by the shed…
And to end on a more cheerful note, a pretty flowering sedum in Beverly’s rock garden…
Yesterday Janet and I took a three-hour stroll through the Connecticut College Arboretum, and I came home with 147 pictures! First we made our way through the native plant collection…
… and then hiked through the woods, noticing the abundance of mountain laurel and flowering dogwood under the dying hemlocks, which used to rule the forest. Finally we made our way to a secret garden hidden in a corner of the arboretum, the Edgerton & Stengel Memorial Wildflower Garden.
We opened the gate and were soon greeted by a Cheshire cat, who let us know that it ‘didn’t matter which way we went’ in his lush and untamed neck of the woods. He appeared and disappeared as we explored the maze of paths, drawing our attention to various wildflowers and settings.
Janet will have to identify some of these flowers…
We were surprised to discover that maidenhair ferns have black stems – the black and green contrast was striking!
See the cinnamon sticks in the cinnamon fern?
To see the world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.
~ William Blake
(Auguries of Innocence)
There are a couple of Jacks-in-the-Pulpit (aka Indian Turnips) in this picture if you look carefully – they’re not fully in bloom yet.
Sadly, all the hemlocks are slowly dying… new life is taking hold under bare branches…
The Cheshire cat disappeared before we could say good-bye.
After this delightful sojourn we sat and rested for a bit and studied our map. We still haven’t seen the whole arboretum, even after three hours! So we’re planning another visit in a month, when different things will be in bloom, and of course, we hope to come and see Shakespeare-in-the-Arboretum in July, too. Plans made, we then headed for Ruby Tuesday and quenched our thirsts with two strawberry lemonades each!