to the marsh, up the lighthouse steps

2.19.24 ~ Jekyll Island
great blue heron

Some pictures from the rest of our one sunny day… After leaving Driftwood Beach we stopped at an observation deck looking over one of Jekyll Island’s marshes. Lucky for me, I found another life bird. 🙂

Little Blue Heron, #84

A small, dark heron arrayed in moody blues and purples, the Little Blue Heron is a common but inconspicuous resident of marshes and estuaries in the Southeast. They stalk shallow waters for small fish and amphibians, adopting a quiet, methodical approach that can make these gorgeous herons surprisingly easy to overlook at first glance. Little Blue Herons build stick nests in trees alongside other colonial waterbirds. In the U.S., their populations have been in a gradual decline since the mid-twentieth century.
~ All About Birds website

juvenile little blue heron

Eventually we wound up on St. Simons Island for a late lunch and a visit to St. Simons Light.

The Lighthouse and Keeper’s Dwelling were built in 1872 to replace the original lighthouse built in 1810 by James Gould of Massachusetts, the first lighthouse keeper. The original lighthouse was destroyed by Confederate forces in 1861 to prevent the beacon’s use by Federal troops during the Civil War. The Lighthouse is one of only five surviving light towers in Georgia. The Lighthouse still serves as an active aid to navigation for ships entering St. Simons Sound, casting its beam as far as 23 miles to sea. Visitors may climb the 129 steps to the top to experience spectacular, panoramic views of the coast including Jekyll Island, the mainland (Brunswick), and the south end of St. Simons Island. The Keeper’s Dwelling is a two-story Victorian structure that was the home of lighthouse keepers from 1872 until the 1950s. Today it houses the Lighthouse Museum, and includes interactive exhibits, rare artifacts, and period rooms that reveal the history of St. Simons Island and the life of a lighthouse keeper.
~ Golden Isles website

St. Simons Lighthouse Museum
Coastal Georgia Historical Society
image credit: Wikipedia

All four of us climbed up the 129 steps, stopping at each landing to catch our breath and take pictures out the windows. I think it worked out in such a way that there was one window facing in each of the four directions. There was a sign on the wall of each landing and window, indicating the number of step remaining to climb.

The view was amazing but Tim complained of vertigo so he didn’t get to walk around the balcony up top.

waxing gibbous moon

When we got back down we toured the keeper’s quarters…

kitchen
parents’ room
children’s room
parlor

And then it was back to the vacation cottage for one last evening of conversation before we were to leave the next morning. It was a very long, wonderful day!

roses by the sea

5.22.23 ~ Napatree Point

Only about 20 miles east of us the sea changes from the gentler waters of Long Island Sound to the open Atlantic Ocean with its bigger waves.

One last walk on the dunes and beach at Napatree Point…

first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean
we came to smell the beach roses and breathe in the salty air
Napatree Point, a 1.5 mile long curved peninsula
between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Narragansett Bay
beach roses nestled into a dip in the dune
Watch Hill Light
we came to hear the waves crashing

It was a very hazy day, the smoke particles in the air came all the way from the wildfires in Alberta, Canada. Sometimes the camera captured some blue in the sky and others times the sky came out very gray.

we came to hike across the dune trails

We heard this male yellow warbler sweetly singing before we finally spotted him flitting around the thickets on the dune, in the same area we saw a female back in September. It’s amazing to think that this little songbird spent the winter in Central America and has arrived here to breed.

“sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet”

As we were walking along a robin came wandering down the dune path towards us. He would take a few steps, pause, look around, and then take a few more. We stood still and he kept coming closer, and closer and closer. After he checked us out, he turned around and started retracing his steps in the same manner. Curious little fellow.

American robin
beach pea
(thanks to Eliza for the identification)
harbor scene ~ I love that house!

When we got back to the parking lot these two herring gulls were having a spirited encounter. The one on the right kept making a long call and the one on the left kept jumping down into the water and bringing up globs of seaweed. The first one ignored the seaweed and kept repeating his long call.

we came to say a fond farewell

missing the lighthouses already

5.14.23 ~ New London Ledge Light
half a mile from Avery Point

One last walk at Avery Point…

Race Rock Light, eight miles away
from Avery Point
“Azucar” by Christopher Wynter
(Tim’s favorite sculpture)
common eider
New London Ledge Light
from the ledge in front of Branford House
in the garden on the ledge in front of Branford House
Avery Point Light
from the ledge in front of Branford House
two copper beeches on the Avery Point campus
one of the Cross Sound ferries
from New London, Connecticut to Orient Point, Long Island, New York
copper beech, gifts of healing energy for me
beautiful copper beech leaves
allium in the Cognitive Garden at Avery Point
daisy
lighthouse mosaic in the garden walkway

This brick path sculpture walk by the sea at Avery Point has been our go-to walk for many, many years. So close to home and so beautiful through all the seasons. It was the first place we walked after Tim’s heart attack and triple by-pass surgery. A place for healing and contemplation, especially to listen to the buoy bells and watch the sky when a storm was approaching. So many memories and changes through the years.

a day to remember

3.27.23 ~ Harkness Memorial State Park

Please bear with me as I post more photo memories to take with me when we move! Harkness Memorial State Park is one of my favorite places, year-round for the waterbirds and in the summer for the flower gardens. On this walk we were immediately greeted by a sweetly singing song sparrow, who flew from branch to branch, teasing me. But I did get a few pictures of him!

song sparrow singing his heart out ~ it’s spring!
song sparrow
wading herring gull
American Black Duck, #76
(thanks to Donna for the identification)

American Black Duck Anas rubripes: Common coastal migrant and wintering species. In summer, an uncommon breeding species in freshwater and brackish habitats, especially coastal marshes; inland nesting occurs in freshwater marshes, densely forested swamps, and beaver ponds, mainly in central and western Connecticut.
~ Frank Gallo
(Birding in Connecticut)

The American Black Duck hides in plain sight in shallow wetlands of eastern North America. They often flock with the ubiquitous Mallard, where they look quite similar to female Mallards. But take a second look through a group of brown ducks to notice the dark chocolate-brown flanks, pale grayish face, and olive-yellow bill of an American Black Duck. Numbers of this shy but common duck declined sharply in the mid-twentieth century. Hunting restrictions have helped to stabilize their numbers, although habitat loss remains a problem.
~ All About Birds webpage

dabbling and dripping
mute swan
no mate in sight
out of the water
osprey, waiting for a mate to return?
I heard this Carolina wren singing very loudly,
but it took me a long time to locate it!
lovely snowdrops
Race Rock Lighthouse, 12 miles away on the horizon
Connecticut’s beautiful rocky coastline
very blue sky to the north
flock of brants swimming in the sound
brant
wrack line art
sand art

Today was a beautiful, calm, spring day. No wind! A woman was there trying to fly a kite, which is possible there more often than not, but she had to give up. The temperature was 52°F (11°C) so I had my first walk of the year with no thermal leggings, wearing my spring hoodie. 🙂 I am going to miss living by the sea very much.

walking clockwise instead

12.18.22 ~ Cognitive Garden at Avery Point

Whenever we take a walk at Avery Point we start out on the path that follows the sea wall to the lighthouse and then we go up a little hill and return to the parking lot by cutting across the UConn campus. But, with the thought of keeping the sun out of our eyes on the return, we decided to do the opposite this time, going clockwise instead of counterclockwise around our usual loop. Things looked so different!

There wasn’t much to see in the Cognitive Garden…

logs standing at attention
a cement orb lying in the grass, a little moon
perfect spot for a gnome to sit and contemplate
lamppost sandwiched between two trees

After crossing the campus we came to the top of the little hill and were surprised to see a view of the lighthouse from higher up. A whole new perspective…

Avery Point Light
lantern room and cupola
light shining through from the other side
— what on earth is hanging inside there?
winter sun softened by the clouds
lichen Tim spotted on a post
a cairn on top of the sea wall
meteorological tower
shriveled beach rose hip
Tyler House on Eastern Point
Black Rock (where the cormorants hang out
about 200 yards south of our beach)
& New London Harbor Light

As we rounded the point for the final stretch to the parking lot we encountered a biting northwest wind and dramatically increased our pace. I was glad to have on my layers and my Norwegian wool hat — the best souvenir from our trip to Norway — but I had forgotten my thermal gloves. Maybe by our next walk I will remember to bring everything needed.

wintering purple sandpipers

11.23.22 ~ Eastern Point

After three weeks of not walking so I could concentrate efforts on my project, we decided to take a little break on the day before Thanksgiving. In order to avoid holiday traffic we took a peaceful morning meander close to home, down at the beach. Little did I realize we would encounter a new life bird! I guessed it was a sandpiper but couldn’t figure out which kind… The good folks at the What’s This Bird? group helped me out.

purple sandpiper, #75

There were about eight of them and the sun was behind them, of course, so the pictures aren’t that great. I disobeyed the “keep off the rocks” signs to get a little closer. (That was a first for me!)

Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima: Uncommon to fairly common (May) coastal migrant, and winter visitor to rocky shores, breakwaters, and jetties.
~ Frank Gallo
(Birding in Connecticut)

A pot-bellied shorebird with a long, drooping bill, the Purple Sandpiper is a hardy species that specializes on rocky, wave-battered coastlines. These subdued, gray-and-white sandpipers nimbly explore seaweed-covered rocks as they search for mussels, crustaceans, and flies, flashing bright orange on the legs and bill. The common name refers to a seldom-seen purple sheen on some of the wing feathers. Purple Sandpipers breed on arctic tundra; they spend winters on North Atlantic shores, farther north than any other shorebird.
~ All About Birds webpage

clam shell with polka dots?
a gull stretching its left wing and left foot
gull footprints through the garnet sand
the long winter shadow of an oak leaf
cormorant silhouettes and the lighthouse
sand fences ready for winter

It was a wonderful break, and then we had a good Thanksgiving, and now, back to work on my project!

unplanned visit

9.23.22 ~ Napatree Point Conservation Area

The promise of 7′ waves from Hurricane Fiona lured us to make a spur-of-the-moment trek out to Napatree Point Friday afternoon. Tim couldn’t keep his hat on the northwest wind was so strong. I tucked his hat inside my hoodie. But the 3′ waves were disappointing, once again.

There was a solitary monarch butterfly lingering on the dunes. Hopefully it will be on its way to Mexico by the end of September!

monarch
Watch Hill Light

To get the above picture I climbed up higher on the dune, up off the regular path. (There was no rope or sign to indicate I shouldn’t!) I was delighted with the new vantage point, but then, when I turned around to retrace my steps, found myself sliding down the sandy slope with nothing to hang on to. Somehow I made it without falling. 🙂 The camera was safe, too.

seemingly random fences along the dune
gull enjoying a quick walk
view stretching all the way to the point
beach rose determined to bloom
some kind of fly
blooming in the early autumn sunshine

Earlier that day we went to a nursery and found a good pumpkin, an assortment of gourds and a pot full of mums. Stopped by the cider mill and got some more freshly pressed cider for Tim. A lovely way to celebrate the first full day of autumn!

9.26.22 ~ gourds and pumpkin with the river birch tree in my garden
(we thought the gourd on the right looked like a hand holding onto a ball)

copper beech healing

7.4.22 ~ Avery Point

If we keep having these lovely weather days I might have to change my negative feelings about the summer season. Returning to Avery Point we again found a song sparrow singing at the top of the beach rose bushes. I wonder if it’s the same one we met a month ago. He was in the same spot.

song sparrow still king of his beach rosebushes

The bushes were full of rose hips but I think there will be another bloom or two left in the season.

beach rose hip and thorns
fading
beach rosebud ~ there are still more to come
there were still a few in full bloom
Avery Point Light

Look who was very busy digging bugs out of the lawn…

northern mockingbird

I lingered under this immense copper beech tree and held my hand on it, soaking up some healing energy. (It’s trunk was way too big to hug!) Looking up into its branches was a transcendent experience.

We come into being in and through the Earth. Simply put, we are Earthlings. The Earth is our origin, our nourishment, our educator, our healer, our fulfillment. At its core, even our spirituality is Earth derived. The human and the Earth are totally implicated, each in the other. If there is no spirituality in the Earth, then there is no spirituality in ourselves.
~ Thomas Berry
(The Sacred Universe)

copper beech

Not sure what kind of tree this is (below) but the slash in its bark was striking. I wonder how long it’s been there and if it grew with the tree…

What would our lives be without trees? Bleak and inhospitable, I’d say. What a blessing to have their gifts to us and the other creatures in our summer world.

beach roses and song sparrows

maple tree by the sea
6.5.22 ~ Avery Point

The patient is safely home from the hospital and all seems to have gone well and as planned. Tim has a resting pulse now!!! So many thanks to you all for the healing energy, well wishes and prayers. ❤️

northern mockingbird eating its breakfast

A couple of days before the surgery to put in the pacemaker we took a long Sunday walk at Avery Point. It was a gorgeous day, with beach roses blooming!

the biggest clump of beach roses

This song sparrow was singing away, claiming the beach rose shrub for his territory no doubt. We listened to him for quite a while.

Then we moved on to some smaller rosebushes farther down the path…

Avery Point Light

The lovely flowers embarrass me,
They make me regret I am not a Bee —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #808)

Another song sparrow staking his claim on his bush with the sweetest melody. The adjacent garden no doubt provides plenty of buggy delights for his dining pleasure.

horse chestnut blossom

We’re planning to try a post-surgery walk here again on this coming Sunday, a week after this one. This was also the first place we took a walk after Tim’s heart attack and by-pass surgery in 2007. It’s so hard to believe that was almost 15 years ago!

Finally Connecticut’s daily covid positivity rate started to go back down this week, even if ever so slightly. It had been creeping up for weeks. Let’s hope the downward trend continues.