mostly dull colors

10.23.20 ~ Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
Mystic, Connecticut

It’s been a challenge finding red leaves this autumn, while dull yellows are everywhere. Looks like our nights haven’t been chilly enough to encourage a brighter display this year. Perhaps the drought is a factor, too. But I continue the search. On Friday we walked on the Denison Farm Trail at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.

amber

To get a really good, colorful display, you want to have chilly nights alongside sunny days. The sun helps stimulate the leaves to produce sugars, according to the National Wildlife Foundation. Then the cold nights close off the veins that allow the sugars to escape back into the tree. It’s these trapped sugars that eventually show off the brilliant reds and violets; if this process falters, you get more dull-looking browns and yellows.
~ Scott Sistek
(KOMO News, October 17, 2020)

nature’s art on a boulder

Our drought continues, but was lowered from extreme to severe. We’ve been getting a little rain here and there, and next week more is expected. It was a very cloudy day.

lemon chiffon

I found no pleasure in the silent trees, the falling fir-cones, the congealed relics of autumn, russet leaves, swept by past winds in heaps, and now stiffened together.
~ Charlotte Brontë
(Jane Eyre)

eastern white pine cone
beautiful erratic covered with moss, lichens, fallen leaves and vines
dull can be very pretty
turning crimson?

I have tried to delay the frosts, I have coaxed the fading flowers, I thought I could detain a few of the crimson leaves until you had smiled upon them; but their companions call them, and they cannot stay away.
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to William Austin Dickinson, Autumn, 1851)

Tim spotted a glacial erratic off the trail
and another one
this glacial erratic juts out into the parking lot

On the way home I finally spotted some red in Old Mystic. It wasn’t in the woods and it had wires going through it, but I took what I could get. 🙂

scarlet!

Looks like we’re hunkering down for winter and the growing surge in the pandemic. I hope our bubble holds. Statistics:

New London County now has 3,456 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 23 people are in the hospital and 136 have lost their lives. That’s 1,497 new cases since September 30 when I last reported.

Our contact tracers continue to report that they have observed many instances of family and social gathering connections. We are also seeing a significant number of cases associated with sporting events. Cases associated with institutions (schools, long-term care facilities, etc.) remain relatively low.
~ Ledge Light Health District website

Groton is now a “red alert town.” We are advised to cancel gatherings and events with non-family members. (We’ve been doing this all along, but our neighbors haven’t.) The Parks & Recreation Department has suspended all programming.

Connecticut’s positive test rate is 2.9%.

eastern towhee

5.7.20 ~ Avery Farm Nature Preserve
Ledyard & Groton, Connecticut

Back in April we had a great walk in the Candlewood Ridge open space property which led to a sand plain with a glacial erratic on top of a ridge in the distance. On May 7th we decided to explore the property north of it, Avery Farm Nature Preserve, and followed a trail to get to the elevation from the opposite direction.

5.7.20 ~ welcome!

This historic 305-acre farm spans the border of Ledyard and Groton in a scenic rural setting. It is contiguous to the 91 acre Candlewood Ridge property, Groton and Ledyard town-owned open spaces, and to the Town of Groton conservation easement on a 7-acre former cranberry bog. Combined, over 430 acres of habitat area are available for wildlife and watershed protection.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

Avery Farm is part of a critical large block of diverse wildlife habitats highlighted on the State of CT Natural Diversity Database maps: grasslands, hedgerows, early successional forest, oak-hemlock-hickory upland forest, Atlantic white cedar swamp, a habitat managed power utility corridor, forested peatlands, kettle type bogs, poor fens, multiple seeps, several Tier I vernal pools, Ed Lamb Brook, Haley Brook, and the southern portion of a 38 acre marsh.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

The walk through the woods was lovely as we ascended gradually. I took more pictures on the way to the overlook than I did on the return part of the loop trail, which went through a low wetland.

5.7.20 ~ Tim with a glacial erratic

What on earth is that noise? Who goes there?

5.7.20 ~ eastern towhee

A strikingly marked, oversized sparrow of the East, feathered in bold black and warm reddish-browns – if you can get a clear look at it. Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size. Their chewink calls let you know how common they are, but many of your sightings end up mere glimpses through tangles of little stems.
~ All About Birds website

As we were walking along we heard a lot of rustling a few feet off the path and I tried to get a picture of the bird making the commotion. The “best” one is above. At home I used my new bird identification app and learned it was an eastern towhee. Had to laugh when I read the description above. Our sighting was definitely a string of brief glimpses and the rummaging was quite loud!

5.7.20 ~ We finally reach the large glacial erratic overlooking the sand plain!
We approached from behind it.
5.7.20 ~ we did not sit in the chairs, keeping COVID-19 in mind
5.7.20 ~ view from the overlook across the sand plain,
down to where we were standing the month before
5.7.20 ~ taken with telephoto lens

Then we climbed down the steep trail to the sand plain and returned by the lower wetland trail. On that portion of our walk we encountered four people coming from the other direction. We always got six feet off the trail and let them pass, wondering if they would have done the same for us if we hadn’t done it first. One man was operating a drone which we couldn’t see but could hear buzzing nearby. Another man was jogging. And two women were looking for a waterfall. (I think they may have mistaken this property for Sheep Farm.)

5.7.20 ~ moss and lichen
5.7.20 ~ wintergreen

The walk lasted about an hour and a quarter, our longest one yet. ♡

candlewood pines

4.17.20 ~ Candlewood Ridge, Groton, Connecticut

On Friday we tried the new-to-us park again and this time there was noone in sight at the trailhead – yay! This property was acquired in 2013. After crossing a little bridge over a brook we climbed up to Candlewood Ridge and enjoyed looking up and down the ravine on the other side. We followed the trails for over an hour. Tim’s legs and back did much better and I’m wondering if walking on the earth is better for him than walking on hard surfaces like pavement and concrete.

4.17.20 ~ crossing a stream, skunk cabbage

Candlewood Ridge is part of a critical large block of diverse wildlife habitats highlighted on the State of CT Natural Diversity Database maps: early successional forest, oak-hemlock-hickory upland forest, native shrubby and grassy habitat, forested peatlands, kettle type bogs, tussock sedge, poor fens, multiple seeps, several Tier I vernal pools, and streams.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

4.17.20 ~ almost to the top of the ridge
4.17.20 ~ a very tall bare tree trunk
4.17.20 ~ taken with telephoto lens, a huge boulder across the ravine

The songs of birds filled the air! A chickadee scolded us from a branch so close I could have reached out and touched it. But he flew off before I could lift the camera…

4.17.20 ~ the glacial erratics found here were fewer and more
widely spaced than the ones we saw in Ledyard’s Glacial Park

We followed the trail north along the top of the ridge and then it slowly went downhill until we reached a bridge across another stream. From studying the map it looks like the two unnamed streams join and then eventually merge with Haley Brook.

4.17.20 ~ second bridge on the trail
4.17.20 ~ a squirrel nest
4.17.20 ~ the little stream
4.17.20 ~ vernal pool?

All the green under the water (above) looked to me like drowning princess pines.

4.17.20 ~ taken with telephoto lens across the sand plain
4.17.20 ~ the sand plain with glacial erratic in the distance

We turned around here without crossing the plain and climbing that ridge!

4.17.20 ~ might these be the candlewood pines
(pitch pines) the ridge is named for?
4.17.20 ~ pussy willows
4.17.20 ~ one tree favors moss, the other lichens

Crossing the stream on the return trip, a tiny bright spot of yellow-orange caught my eye. What is it??? I used the telephoto lens to get a picture and tried to identify it when I got home. Hope I got it right. A mushroom.

4.17.20 ~ calostoma cinnabarinum, telephoto lens
(stalked puffball-in-aspic or gelatinous stalked-puffball)

Just before crossing the second stream on the return walk, a garter snake slithered across the path right in front of me. Startled, I then spotted him trying to hide in the leaves. Don’t think I’ve seen a garter snake since I was a child, sunning themselves on the stone walls around the garden.

4.17.20 ~ hiding garter snake

It was a wonderful walk!

4.17.20 ~ beauty in a vernal pool

I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.
~ John Burroughs
(The Gospel of Nature)

two little waterfalls

4.7.20 ~ Sheep Farm, Groton, Connecticut

On Tuesday we took advantage of beautiful weather and took a very long walk at a new park that was created in 2010. We walked straight downhill through a forest to Fort Hill Brook, saw a small waterfall and then followed the stream down to another one. And then we climbed up a switchback trail to our starting point, a loop that took us an hour.

4.7.20 ~ first waterfall

The Sheep Farm has a diverse habitat including rocky outcroppings, glacial erratics, bluestem meadows, deep forest interior habitat, forest edge habitat, early successional forests, extensive wetlands, seeps, shrub swamps, a string of Tier 1 vernal pools, Class A stream – Fort Hill Brook, and two waterfalls.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

4.7.20 ~ moss and lichen on pretty striped boulder
4.7.20 ~ skunk cabbage

Twice we moved six feet off the trail to avoid other hikers, and spotted some people on other trails on the other side of the brook.

4.7.20 ~ we didn’t see one
4.7.20 ~ second waterfall

There was a better spot to take a picture of this waterfall, but, a woman was practicing yoga in a bathing suit behind the tree so this was the best I could do. 🙂

4.7.20 ~ I’m noticing boulders more these days
4.7.20 ~ almost there!

When we got back to the parking lot we had to find a rock to sit on for quite a while. A family had parked right next to our car and they were getting in and out of their car trying to sort something or other out. They were much closer than the required six feet for social distancing! But we enjoyed looking at some plantings while we waited patiently for them to leave.

We now have 11 detected cases of coronavirus in our town. Population: 39,075. (In 2017) I find myself preoccupied with statistics these days.

boulder deposits

3.21.20 ~ Glacial Park, Ledyard, Connecticut

Saturday we took a walk at Ledyard Glacial Park. Life has seemed so surreal lately and even the woods seemed too quiet. But soon we heard the voices of youngsters having fun and then appeared a mother walking down the trail with her four children. We moved about 6 feet off the path, to comply with social distancing. The family respectfully continued past us but greeted us with multiple rounds of “hello,” “bye,” and “enjoy your walk!” We responded in kind. So that’s how it is supposed to work and it felt good to know we were on the same page and in the same world as strangers, our neighbors.

Ledyard is among the areas of the United States that was covered by a continental ice sheet during the last Ice Age. Therefore, Ledyard has its share of interesting glacial geology. The glaciers that covered Ledyard carried the many large boulders that litter the town. The town has set aside land designated as a “Glacial Park” which consists of a section of end moraine and outwash deposits (containing kettles). This area encompasses a segment of the “Ledyard Moraine” — a clast-supported boulder deposit that is anomalous in nature.
~ Wikipedia

Please enjoy the photos. I took way too many!

3.21.20 ~ quartz
3.21.20 ~ spotted wintergreen
3.21.20 ~ We took the left fork and then turned right on the by-pass. Half way up the by-pass we turned around and went back the way we came.

On Sunday we learned of the first case of coronavirus in our town. A 52-year-old woman. So it’s here…

to dew her orbs upon the green

6.26.19 ~ heavy with dew

And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.

~ William Shakespeare
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

6.26.19 ~ cedar waxwing enjoying a mulberry
6.26.19 ~ dragonfly landing on dewy grass

We had a very wet spring and so far it’s looking to be a wet summer, too. Tuesday we got two inches of rain! It rained all day and I enjoyed many hours of family history research. But Wednesday we emerged from our den and took a walk in the very wet woods. And we saw several cedar waxwings, a new bird for us!

6.26.19 ~ cedar waxwing
6.26.19 ~ serenity
6.26.19 ~ ferns covering a bubbling brook
6.26.19
6.26.19 ~ cedar waxwing

As I approached this tree I was trying to figure out if it might be a shagbark hickory. (Still not sure…) And then a new experience for me: orbs appeared in the viewfinder when I went to take a picture! In the past, orbs have been an occasional surprise when they show up in pictures downloaded from the camera. But these were there before I even took the picture.

6.26.19
6.26.19 ~ looking up the tree with orbs
6.26.19 ~ more magic, sunlight highlighting a stone covered in lichen

In the span of centuries the rock became glazed with a gray-green crust of lichen almost indistinguishable from the rock itself, a bare coating of life.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
(Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & The Teachings of Plants)

6.26.19 ~ juniper berries?
6.26.19

These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Collected Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1823-1911)

Caher Conor (Fahan Beehive Huts)

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ not sure if the 2,000 BC date is accurate ~ other sources suggest the 12th century

Sunday happened to be Imbolc, Groundhog Day, Candlemas or Brigid’s Day, about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It marks the beginning of spring, which I now see comes a lot sooner in Ireland than it does in New England. Our first stop was at these fascinating beehive huts.

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the canine proprietor greeting us was eager to sell us tickets

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the ticket booth was a bit run down but Larisa found him friendly enough

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima, Katherine and Tim had already started the 2-minute walk up the mountain path

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the path narrows

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ stone wall path boundary

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ looking back down at the sea behind us

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I loved the lichens on the stones and the little green mosses and plants

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

Also known as the Fahan Beehive Huts, Caher Conor (Cathair na gConchuireach) is located on the south side of Mount Eagle west of Dingle. The complex consists of five structures.

The clochan (beehive huts) in Caher Conor were probably single family dwellings and were attached to each other with a doorway leading from one to the other. They were built in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the center than the one beneath and so on up to a small aperture at the top that could be closed with a single small flagstone or capstone. No mortar was used in building, which is called corbelling.

The hillside at one time had over 400 of these drystone, corbelled huts surviving, prompting one antiquarian in the 19th century to refer to the area as the “City of Fahan”. Dating the huts is difficult because the skill of corbelling has been used in Newgrange (3100 B.C.) and as recently as the 1950s. The huts at Fahan along the Slea Head Drive may well date to the 12th Century when the incoming Normans forced the Irish off the good land and out to the periphery of the Dingle Peninsula.

~ Saints & Stones website

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ this enclosure didn’t have a roof

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa coming through a doorway

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Katherine going through a doorway

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ orbs ~ I found the one with the bright center very interesting

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ it was so cold that Katherine finally relented and put her coat on ~ notice the pink plastic spoon in her hand ~ it was with her most of the day

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and a gorgeous view

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima and another view

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ this cross would make more sense being here if the wall was built in the 12th century

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Barbara & Tim with orbs ~ Larisa knit the hat from Irish wool ~ at first she let me borrow it but then she gave it to me ~ now I have wool hats from Ireland and Norway!

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I think Ireland may have even more stones than New England does!

2.4.18 ~ view from Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ coming around a corner

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the walk back down to the parking lot

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the canine proprietor keeping tabs on our departure

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ a door on a nearby building

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the side of the same building, set well into the steep mountainside

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the narrow, one-lane road between the entrance and the tiny parking lot

2.4.18 ~ Caher Conor, Mount Eagle, Kerry, Ireland ~ view looking down from the parking lot ~ yikes!

It was good to get warmed up in the car and drive off for our next destination.

Poet’s Walk

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4.1.15 ~ Poet’s Walk, Hillsborough, North Carolina

Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw,
I dearly like the west,
For there the bonnie lassie lives,
The lassie I lo’e best:
There wild woods grow, and rivers row,
And monie a hill between;
But day and night may fancy’s flight
Is ever wi’ my Jean.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

I see her in the dewey flowers,
I see her sweet and fair:
I hear her in the tunefu’ birds,
I hear her charm the air:
There’s not a bonnie flower that springs
By fountain, shaw, or green;
There’s not a bonnie bird that sings,
But minds me o’ my Jean.

~ Robert Burns
(Poet’s Walk, Hillsborough, North Carolina)

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

Tim’s cousin, Allegra, and I took a road trip to visit Dima, Larisa, and Katie in North Carolina last week. One day we kept Katie home from daycare and discovered she is a lover of the great outdoors. In the house she was fussy and dealing with the remnants of her bout with bronchiolitis, but when we took her for a walk to have lunch at the Mellow Mushroom in Chapel Hill she enjoyed the stroller ride and charmed the server at our patio table. She fell asleep on the walk home but after what Allegra called a power nap, she was fussy again. So I took her outside in my arms and we stood by the trees, looking up into the boughs. Katie kept looking up, cooing with pleasure and seemingly spellbound by the soft breeze stirring the leaves and the occasional bird fluttering or insect buzzing through. Special moments with my granddaughter for me to remember.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

After such a long hard winter I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled we were to be where spring is well under way. We slept with the windows open for three nights in a row! And woke to the delightful calls of the early birds! The sky was so blue!

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

Another day Allegra and I went to the place where I took all these pictures, Ayr Mount & Poet’s Walk in Hillsborough. The modest mansion is a Federal-era plantation home built by William Kirkland of Ayr, Scotland, about 1815. No photographs allowed inside, but the tour was very interesting, and after a scrumptious lunch break at Hillsborough BBQ Company, we returned to the property and walked the trail meandering through woodlands and meadows and the banks of the Eno River.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

On the last day of our visit Larisa and I walked to Katie’s six-month checkup with her pediatrician. One of the things I do love about Chapel Hill is that one can walk to just about any where one might think of going. Katie is doing very well and was enjoying the time spent with her mother. She is petite for her age, but there are so many short people in our family that this comes as no surprise. Of course there were the obligatory vaccination shots at the end of the visit and the inevitable wails of protest, but comfort and sympathy was given quickly and soon we were off for our walk home, lunch out, and a fun afternoon of clothes shopping. Katie is starting swimming lessons this week and needed the appropriate attire, and of course, Grammy had to buy her a couple of dresses that she seemed to like.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

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…Larisa and Katie…

That night, as we all went out for ice cream, I suddenly realized I had not taken any pictures of Katie! I was simply having so much fun just being with her. So I managed to get this one at Maple View Farm, in another part of Hillsborough, where we went after dinner to catch the sunset as we indulged in farm fresh ice cream. The sunset wasn’t spectacular, and Katie had discovered the joy of sticking out her tongue, so the picture-taking session was mostly a disappointment, but that’s okay. We’ll settle for this one.

Please enjoy the rest of the pictures from the Poet’s Walk.

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

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4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina

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Ayr Mount ~ 4.1.15 ~ Hillsborough, North Carolina