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)
We are lucky in Groton to have a long boardwalk alongside the Poquonnock River, squeezing in a bit of nature between industrial parks, shopping centers, a small airport and the railroad tracks and bridge. The flatness of the walkway is not good for Tim’s back, which does much better on uneven terrain, but there are a few well placed benches along the way where he can sit and readjust his muscles enough times to make it a doable walk. We were wearing our winter coats this day and most of the birds and berries we saw were nestled in the reeds and trees. No waterbirds on the river, except for an occasional gull touching down for a few moments. And one amazing flyby of Canada geese high in the sky.
We avoided this walk during the pandemic because there wouldn’t be enough room to stay six feet away when passing other walkers. But since we both have had our booster shots we felt safe enough to take a chance. One jogger passed by us twice, on his way out and back. We also passed an elderly man walking along, talking to himself.
I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding. ~ John O’Donohue (Conamara Blues: Poems)
So far as our noblest hardwood forests are concerned, the animals, especially squirrels and jays, are our greatest and almost only benefactors. It is to them that we owe this gift. It is not in vain that the squirrels live in or about every forest tree, or hollow log, and every wall and heap of stones. ~ Henry David Thoreau (Journal, October 31, 1860)
The wild cherries ripen, black and fat, Paradisal fruits that taste of no man’s sweat.
Reach up, pull down the laden branch, and eat; When you have learned their bitterness, they taste sweet.
Our first walk of the morning was at “our” beach. The clouds were dramatic and it was too windy so we didn’t stay very long.
We had to stop at the post office after that walk so we decided to explore a new Groton Open Space Association property. Walt’s Walls & Woods was acquired on July 31st and it is near the post office. We wound up taking another walk.
Walt’s Walls and Woods provides a small forest, wetlands, exquisite stonewalls and gardens to a neighborhood green space for the residents and visitors of downtown Groton. Wetlands surround the property on three sides, and Town-owned open spaces cover two sides. A spectacular steep ravine, part of an ancient rift valley, is located nearby, separating the Ledges and Boulder Heights properties. … Walter Watrous spent many years constructing the exquisite stonewalls in front of the cliffside ledge, using a drystone technique, backfilling with crushed stone and providing room for the roots of the weeping cherry trees. Colorful creeping phlox, heathers, azaleas, rhododendrons and purple coneflowers extend the blooming season. ~ Groton Open Space Association website
Autumn teaches us that fruition is also death; that ripeness is a form of decay. The willows, having stood for so long near water, begin to rust. Leaves are verbs that conjugate the seasons. ~ Gretel Ehrlich (The Solace of Open Spaces: Essays)
It was a lovely walk. We’re looking forward to coming back to see the weeping cherries bloom come spring. But, first we’ll have to see what winter has in store for us.
Last weekend I went with Tim to the Connecticut MG Club’s ‘British by the Sea’ Gathering. I liked the blue MGB GT (above), the color, knowing nothing of cars… Tim, however, was hoping to see a Triumph Herald, his first set of wheels, but came away disappointed.
He did enjoy looking at the 1947 MG (above). I couldn’t help wondering if he has a thing for red vehicles from 1947! (Take a peek at the 1947 Ford Pickup he was admiring a couple of months ago in this post: with fields of lavender)
This tiny Wolseley Hornet Mk III (above) caught Tim’s eye because he said he had never heard of Wolseley Motors before…
I was amused by the sticker placed on one of its windows, indicating the auto was actually its actual size. 🤣
The above buggy was made in 1937 and had only three wheels.
After we browsed for a while I noticed some flowers peeping over the hedge surrounding the nearby cutting garden. We took a little detour to get a few end-of-summer snapshots!
Back at home…
… on Monday I started and finished the above 300-piece puzzle in one afternoon. With all the practice I’ve been getting during the pandemic it seems I’m getting faster and am developing a marked preference for Charles Wysocki jigsaw puzzles.
On Wednesday the remnants of Hurricane Ida arrived, and by the time she left Thursday morning, had dumped 5 inches of rain on us. When I looked out the window early Wednesday afternoon I spotted a mourning dove hunkering down for the storm in one of the arborvitaes.
Each time I looked over the next several hours he was still sitting there in the same place and position. Finally, just before dark, he was gone. We heard some thunder rumbling in the night but thankfully no tornadoes or flash flooding in our neck of the woods.
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…
Another gorgeous day of mild temperatures and low humidity presented itself on Wednesday, so off we went to visit a small castle in Connecticut. The last time we were there was in 1981, when the gypsy moth infestation was in full swing. 40 years ago — where does the time go? My memories are of trees stripped of their leaves and our three-year old son stomping on every single caterpillar in his path. And there were many. It was slow going…
The castle sits high above the Connecticut River. It was designed by William Gillette (1853-1937), an American stage actor who famously portrayed Sherlock Holmes in multiple productions. He lived in his castle from 1919 until his death. We couldn’t get any indoor pictures but it was a very enjoyable and informative tour. (We were required to wear masks inside the castle and the visitor center.) The man owned 15 cats and had designed many built-in features to entertain them, like a round table with wooden toys dangling off the edge.
Looking at the river we spotted the ferry crossing from Hadlyme to Chester, which brought back another memory. One day when the caterpillar crusher was a teenager he wanted to visit a certain obscure comic book store, far from home and on the other side of the river. We went by the interstate but I decided we would take a side trip on the way home to locate an ancestor’s gravestone at a cemetery on this side of the river, and that we would take the car over the river on the little ferry. It was an adventure!
Gillette also designed a short-line, narrow gauge train with three miles of track on the grounds of his 184-acre estate.
From the 1920s through the ‘30s, Gillette’s personal railroad amused visiting dignitaries from Albert Einstein to Calvin Coolidge as it carried them across bridges, trestles, and through a tunnel Gillette designed himself. The 18-inch-gauge railroad included electric- and steam-powered locomotives, two Pullman cars, and an observation car. In the 1940s the tracks and train engines were sold to Lake Compounce in Bristol. They were donated back in the 1990s and a restored passenger car is currently on display at the castle’s visitor center. ~ Connecticut History website
Tim spotted a bird high up in a tall tree and I did the best I could with the telephoto lens and no tripod! My first pictures of an indigo bunting!!! A lovely way to end the visit.
But that wasn’t the end of the outing. On our way to the castle I had spotted a picturesque body of water and Tim had spotted a place where we could pull off the road to look at it. So on the way back we stopped. There were no signs so it took a bit of investigating when I got home to identify it.
And then I spotted what looked to be part of the bark on that dying tree in the first picture above. But when I zoomed in it turned out to be a bird! The bird never moved, except to turn its head, the whole time we were there. Flitting around it were two other birds who never landed for more than a second, but I managed to get the last picture below of one of them. I was able to steady my arms by leaning on the car. With help from the good folks at the What’s This Bird? Facebook group it seems to be a fledgling barn swallow and its parents.
We stopped at our favorite restaurant on our way home again and wondered how many more of these delightful days we will have before the heat and humidity return and settle in…
The morning after the heat wave was over we couldn’t wait to get out of the house and take a walk at the beach. I’m done with hiking in the woods for the summer. I managed to get poison ivy again last week, even after being very very careful on our last ramble. I swear it floats in the air in June. Fortunately this outbreak is not as bad as the one I had last year.
Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed. ~ Mary Oliver (It Was Early)
I was very surprised to see a couple of mourning doves on the breakwater. I’ve never seen them at the beach before. And I only saw the one herring gull, looking like he might be in the middle of molting. Later on the walk we saw an abundance of feathers on the rocks and floating in the water. On this day, too, there seemed to be a colorful seaweed salad floating just under the surface of the water.
The belief that nature is an Other, a separate realm defiled by the unnatural mark of humans, is a denial of our own wild being. ~ David George Haskell (The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors)
While we were noticing everything and anything in the water we heard a familiar bird call in the distance and then a couple of American oystercatchers flew into view!!! No pictures because they kept flying in circles around the area and whenever they went to land they disappeared behind the rocks. I do hope they are going to make a nest there like they did back in 2014. That was the last and only summer we saw them here. Click here if you’d like to see the pictures: oystercatchers!
The light must have been just right and my arm must have been steadier than usual because for some reason I got some halfway decent pictures of a cormorant. Which isn’t saying much. They’re too far away and have frustrated my attempts to photograph them for years. This one had a bit of a personality and seemed different than the others.
I have started on a new drug to manage my radiation proctocolitis symptoms and am hopeful it will make things easier for me, perhaps even get me to the point where I will feel comfortable traveling to visit our grandchildren. We’ll see. My wonderful gastroenterologist is retiring. 🙁 I will see her one last time in July. She assures me, though, that she is leaving me in good hands.
Had a wonderful weekend visiting with my sister — the talking went on forever. 🙂 I hadn’t seen her in person since December, and that was on a walk outside, six feet apart, and with masks on. What a blessing to lounge around the house and catch up. Living in the present moment.
And the grandchildren are planning another trip up here in August!!!
Sunday we took a walk at Avery Point on a hot day, the temperature was way above average for this time of year, but we can park on campus without a permit on the weekends so we decided to give it a try. A nice sea breeze made it bearable.
A killdeer surprised me by standing very still, as curious about me as I was about him/her. Because the 30th anniversary of my mother’s death is coming up on Thursday, Mom and her love of birdwatching have been much on my mind. At home I decided to pull out her well-worn 1947 edition of A Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Peterson, including her life list. She first saw a killdeer on March 17, 1951. She was 19 years old.
It looks like she started birding in earnest that year. There are a few birds marked with a check, which she probably remembered seeing before she started to keep a record. Lots of Florida birds were spotted in the 1960s, when I was a child and we made many trips down there to visit relatives. The last new bird she noted was a red-breasted nuthatch on December 20, 1989, 17 months before she died at the age of 59.
Mom recorded 5 kinds of gulls: great black-backed, herring, California, ring-billed, and laughing.
Mom recorded her song sparrow on March 20, 1951. This one was singing such a pretty song, the moment filled my heart with joy.
Funny thing was, I was hoping to find a Canada goose family with goslings, but we didn’t see any. People have been posting pictures of them in the beach’s Facebook group. Oh well. Encountering the killdeer was a welcome blessing, an even better experience. Another lesson in flexibility and living in the present moment. And it was nice that the killdeer led me to take a peek back into one of my mother’s life’s passions.
Mom first saw a mourning dove on May 23, 1951. A little synchronicity there. This walk was taken on May 23, 2021, seventy years later. Ever since my mother died I’ve been comforted by the mourning doves who keep coming to my garden and my balcony, as they keep reminding me of her presence and love.