Not the greatest pictures I’ve ever taken, but I was thrilled to see more birds than usual on this winter walk. Interesting that we didn’t encounter another human being on this day. Maybe everyone is shopping for the holidays. Not us! It was a sunny day with light westerly winds, a relatively comfortable 44°F/7°C with a feels-like temperature of 39°F/4°C. Connecticut’s positivity rate yesterday was 8.16%.
The Brain — is wider than the Sky — For — put them side by side — The one the other will contain With ease — and You — beside — ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #598)
At about 4:00 pm the storm started up again, but with lighter rain and wind. I guess it was the eye of the storm we went through. My daughter called from North Carolina and while I was talking to her the blue jay came by for a third time today. This time I put down the phone and picked up the camera and then got back to Larisa, who completely understood her distracted mother.
Turns out the reason my new friend looked so bedraggled is that he is molting!
He seemed happy to pose in one of the arborvitae trees. Then I remembered an experience I had with a blue jay over a decade ago. It had appeared and called outside my window just before I got an unexpected tornado warning. I wrote a post about that here: my first tornado warning!
When my sister called, a little after my daughter had called, I told her about the new blue jay story. To Beverly it was obvious, our mother was looking out for me again. Our mother’s nickname was BJ and she had made the same connection back then in 2010. (Beverly got her own bird visit recently. A cardinal built a nest in our mother’s andromeda bush outside her kitchen window.)
We never lost power and the weather is much calmer. I decided it was safe to take some chicken out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge for supper tomorrow. Since I woke up at 3:30 this morning I’m feeling tired and ready for bed after all the day’s excitement. Good night, dear readers! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments today! 💙
The sun is almost out and it has stopped raining and the the wind is still. A strange period of calm. Tim says we are in the eye of the storm. According to the experts, the storm made landfall at 12:30 pm at Westerly, Rhode Island, about 17 miles east of us. The city where our daughter was born. Where we go to see bigger waves at Napatree Point. Where we used to go to see Shakespeare-in-the-Park. (Wilcox Park) We will see if storm conditions return.
Early this morning as the rain started up, a bedraggled blue jay landed on the railing of our balcony and peered inside. I wished him luck in the storm and off he flew. I forgot all about him. Well, he just came back and gave us another look. He looked just as disheveled as he did earlier. After checking me out he flew into the arborvitae and gave an unusual call, a clear whistle. I did some research and found that it might have been “an alarm for a low-intensity threat.” Interesting…
Come, ye cold winds! at January’s call, On whistling wings; and with white flakes bestrew The earth. ~ John Ruskin (The Poems of John Ruskin, Volume 1)
Blizzard Colbie gave us 22 24 inches of snow. I have been waiting for some decent snow this winter and it finally arrived. Zoë and I had a delightful afternoon watching the birds feeding in the snow on our balcony.
Tim sets up a webcam when it snows up here, so our kids in Georgia and North Carolina can watch the storm as it progresses. Nate, who has loved the color red since he was a baby, pinged me to let me know I had a cardinal out there. I already knew that, but it warmed my heart to know that he is still partial to all things red.
They still have not come to plow the parking lot of our complex and I’m wondering what the hold up is. Tim returned from doing some volunteer work at the Red Cross shelter and got stuck in the entrance to the driveway. Fortunately our very kind neighbors dug him out and created a parking space for him, too. All the neighbors’ cars are still buried.
Edit – the morning after – the final snow total for Groton was 24 inches! The town of Thompson got 33.5 inches!
“Nay, nay,” said a nuthatch, making its way, head downward, about a bare hickory close by, “The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat. Only the superfluous has been swept away. Now we behold the naked truth. If at any time the weather is too bleak and cold for you, keep the sunny side of the trunk, for a wholesome and inspiring warmth is there, such as the summer never afforded. There are winter mornings with the sun on the oak wood-tops. While buds sleep thoughts wake.”
“Hear! hear!” screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, “winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it,” and then the speaker shifted to another tree farther off and reiterated his assertions, and his mate at a distance confirmed them; and now I heard a suppressed chuckle from a red squirrel that heard the last remark, but had kept silent and invisible all the while. ~ Henry David Thoreau (Journal, November 28, 1858)
According to Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth.” Iðunn is “a keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness.” (Idun, Iduna, Idunn, Ithun, Idunna)
A few words following about October and apples, which we are enjoying daily since we went apple-picking last weekend. Nothing like crunching into a juicy McIntosh fresh from the tree! An old saying keeps popping into my head: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Now’s the time when children’s noses All become as red as roses And the colour of their faces Makes me think of orchard places Where the juicy apples grow… ~ Katherine Mansfield (Autumn Song)
There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. The sunshine is peculiarly genial; and in sheltered places, as on the side of a bank, or of a barn or house, one becomes acquainted and friendly with the sunshine. It seems to be of a kindly and homely nature. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne (The American Note-books)
When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!
To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The outdoor air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.” ~ Henry David Thoreau (Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript)
Southeastern Connecticut doesn’t usually have many exciting weather events and I’ve pondered whether I should bother to write about the wild thunderstorm we had Thursday morning. Maybe it has just taken me this long for me to gather my wits about me again.
I was at the computer, perhaps playing Scrabble, enjoying the start of a day all to myself. Heard some rumbling of thunder and didn’t think much of it, except that it rarely thunders in the morning here and it seems to be happening a bit lately. Then a blue jay started calling at my window, very insistently. I finally got up to see what all the fuss was about. When I came to the window it flew off the balcony to a nearby tree, now quiet, but staring at me. The storm was coming on fast and I didn’t like the feel of it. Then suddenly it was right overhead – it felt like someone was dropping boulder after boulder on the roof and the house was shaking. The lightning was striking fast and furious, crackling and sizzling like it was ripping the air to shreds.
About 8:45 I turned on the TV just as the station was interrupting programming and two meteorologists appeared with their dazzling technology. They pointed right to our town where the darkest red indicator was right overhead. They zoomed in – there was our street right under the reddest red. There was a tornado warning, too, and Dr. Mel informed us that this was the first early morning tornado warning ever issued in the history of southeastern Connecticut. Then he advised us to turn the TV up really loud and go down to the basement.
I didn’t do it. I froze in fear. It makes me wonder about my ability to respond appropriately in an emergency. When I spoke to my sister about it she said instinct probably was making me play dead like a terrified bunny.
There were multiple reports of a funnel cloud over the river, but later in the day authorities determined it was smoke coming from an industrial stack. Then the civil defense sirens started wailing from 9:02 to 9:05. (By now I was taking notes…) I kept expecting some sort of announcement from the loudspeakers but there was no message. A warning with no instructions – very puzzling. I kept watching the TV as the storm moved to the east, until it left our area and regular programming resumed.
A news report quoted one woman saying, “I scooped up my 3-year-old out of a dead sleep, grabbed him and ran into the bathroom. I heard the sirens go off, which seemed like forever.” Maybe if I had a child to protect I would have been less paralyzed, maternal instinct might have kicked in.
After it was gone the experience seemed surreal, as if I had dreamed it. But Nate called to see how I was, since Tim was away visiting his brother in England, so I guess it did happen. He saw 4 or 5 lightning strikes right outside his window at work. I never looked out the window, probably a wise move. It was the worst thunderstorm I have ever experienced! Although it probably wouldn’t have seemed that bad to someone who lives in Kansas… The storm did leave behind downed trees and wires, and flooded streets. Several homes were hit with lightning and there were power outages.
The blue jay came back to sit on the balcony again, apparently no worse for wear. But it was trying out some different sounding calls. Wish I could have understood its version of the disturbance!
The following is from the town webpage:
Shortly before 9am on August 5th, the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for New London County and targeted Groton and our immediate shoreline being at highest risk. The Town’s emergency sirens, located throughout town, were activated in response to this immediate threat to life and property.
This event was the first time the emergency sirens were activated for a tornado warning and this tornado warning was the first issued for our area in recent memory. Due to the extreme weather patterns we have experienced over the past year or so, the chance of more storms of this type cannot be discounted.