begin this meal with grace

image credit: Deborah Hudson at pixabay

As we begin this meal with grace,
Let us become aware of the memory
Carried inside the food before us:
The quiver of the seed
Awakening in the earth,
Unfolding in a trust of roots
And slender stems of growth,
On its voyage toward harvest,
The kiss of rain and surge of sun;
The innocence of animal soul
That never spoke a word,
Nourished by the earth
To become today our food;
The work of all the strangers
Whose hands prepared it,
The privilege of wealth and health
That enables us to feast and celebrate.

~ John O’Donohue
(To Bless the Space Between Us)

May your Thanksgiving be blessed with good chat and cheer
and the love of family and friends!

a memory you can’t recall

“Autumn Bouquet (Portrait of Vera Repina)”
by Ilya Repin

The mind is never so open as such clear days in the fall,
when the air has a special tang of flowers and frosty iron,
and something flits lightly past you,
a memory you can’t recall,
a dream forever undreamt and forever far beyond.

~ Inger Hagerup
(The Magic of Fjords)

This might be my last post tagged with “pandemic.” It’s been two and a half years! Not that I think we won’t eventually catch covid, but we have gotten our state-of-the-art bivalent booster shot now and we seem to be living in a new world, coexisting with a treatable endemic virus. We’re still masking inside public places but getting more adventurous…

The autumn equinox now seems like a perfect time turn over a new 🍁 and stop focusing on the virus. Yes, the mind is never so open as such clear days in the fall!

elusive thought

“Stilhet” by Helene Schjerfbeck

A Thought went up my mind today —
That I have had before —
But did not finish — some way back —
I could not fix the Year —

Nor Where it went — nor why it came
The second time to me —
Nor definitely, what it was —
Have I the Art to say —

But somewhere — in my soul — I know —
I’ve met the Thing before —
It just reminded me — ’twas all —
And came my way no more —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #731)

a new bridge

7.8.22 ~ Avery Farm Nature Preserve
daisy fleabane (?-it was a very tall plant)

Back in May a group of seven volunteers from the Groton Open Space Association replaced a dilapidated bridge over Haley Brook in this nature preserve. The new bridge is longer, wider and has more secure handrails. So on this pleasant day we decided to use some mosquito repellent and take a rare walk into the summer woods to check out the new bridge.

To compare with an autumn view of the farm relic pictured above, see here: autumn afternoon.

the new bridge
a clump of ferns by the brook
view of Haley Brook from the new bridge
spotted wintergreen flower

I didn’t want to risk contact with poison ivy or ticks so I couldn’t get too close to the spotted wintergreen flowers, but I was very excited to spot them out of the corner of my eye. I’ve only seen these plants before on my winter walks and have never seen the flowers. Tim used his walking stick to hold some of the surrounding vegetation back so I could at least get this blurry picture.

All of us derive security and comfort from the imaginary world of memories and fantasies and plans. We really don’t want to stay with the nakedness of our present experience. It goes against the grain to stay present. These are the times when only gentleness and a sense of humor can give us the strength to settle down.
~ Pema Chödrön
(The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times)

mushroom

There were lots of damselflies fluttering through the air. One finally landed on a leaf long enough to get some pictures. Unfortunately another leaf was obstructing the view of its body but I was happy to capture some of the detail on her wings. The white dots at the end of each wing identify her as a female.

female ebony jewelwing
aka black-winged damselfly
another mushroom
view of bridge from the other side, coming back
pine cone in tangle of branches and vines
someone planted a little garden in a stump

The bug repellent seems to have worked. I heard one mosquito around my ear but never got bit. Since I discovered a couple of things (wintergreen flowers and black-winged damselflies) I’d never seen before I wonder if it might be worth the trouble to take more summer walks in the woods…

And now the covid positivity rate in Connecticut is about 10%. Heading in the wrong direction…

deepest meaning, awe-inspiring workings

“Spring Woods” by Childe Hassam

Trees in particular were mysterious and seemed to me direct embodiments of the incomprehensible meaning of life. For that reason, the woods were the places where I felt closest to its deepest meaning and to its awe-inspiring workings.
~ Carl Jung
(Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

a living museum

2.11.22 ~ Alewife Cove Nature Walk
Ocean Beach, New London, Connecticut

When we arrived at Ocean Beach and started walking down the boardwalk to get to the Alewife Cove Nature Walk we heard a couple of starlings singing the loveliest songs and couldn’t believe our ears. (Back at home I was surprised to learn that “they have impressive vocal abilities and a gift for mimicry.”) I’ve only heard them making unpleasant noises until this day.

European starling

As we went along I spotted a cat spying on us. He must have been enjoying the spring-like weather.

The last time I was at this place was in April of 2012, almost ten years ago, with Janet and Nancy. It’s changed a lot due to the many storms forever reshaping the coastal landscape. Here is what I posted back then: walking is discovery. When Tim & I walked at Waterford Beach Park back in October we could see this nature area across the cove and so I made a mental note to revisit it soon. See: sunlight by the sea.

song sparrow
Alewife Cove and Long Island Sound
great blue heron
Alewife Cove
looking west across Alewife Cove to the walkway to Waterford Beach Park

On the walk ten years ago I discovered a praying mantis egg case like the one above. On this walk we saw dozens of them! This must be a favored habitat for them because I’ve never noticed these anywhere else on our wanderings. Apparently the nymphs, up to 300 of them, will emerge as soon as temperatures warm in spring.

praying mantis egg case

Whatever the environment from which it springs, local knowledge matters, because enchanted living begins with local living: genuinely understanding, and so living in harmony with the landscape you occupy.
~ Sharon Blackie
(The Enchanted Life, Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday)

praying mantis egg case
driftwood caught in the brush
driftwood on the sand ~ maybe part of a tree trunk?
cat hanging out at the beach pavilion

It was a great day for a walk. It’s a good thing we left when we did, though, because the Ocean Beach parking lot, which was empty when we arrived, was suddenly full of activity and people placing traffic cones everywhere to make space for lines of cars. They were setting up for free covid testing. We had to to exit out of an entrance to finally find our way out of the maze! A reminder that the pandemic is still with us. Our positivity rate is currently 5%. Seems to be going down slowly…

a thing made of holes

12.7.21 ~ Pequotsepos Brook Preserve, Stonington, Connecticut

Properly bundled up for the weather, we had a nice long walk in this 44-acre nature preserve a couple of days ago. It was originally part of 500 acres given to Capt. John Gallup in 1643, a reward from the royal court in England for his part in the Pequot Massacre.

the first colonial stone slab bridge we saw
lovely moss greenery in the dull landscape
path cutting through one of many stone walls
looking up into an old oak, a “wolf tree”
a relic from farms of the past when trees along the edges of open fields
could spread their branches without competition from other trees
leftover autumn leaves
Tim was captivated with this tree,
which grew sideways before it grew up
windswept pine needles
backlit oak leaf
pine sapling nursery

There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realise that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realise, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are.
~ Helen Macdonald
(H is for Hawk)

tangled up
breaking down
Pequotsepos Brook running under another colonial stone slab bridge

It was a sunny day, 41°F/5°C, with a feels-like temperature of 34°F/1°C, due to a moderate wind from the northwest. Connecticut’s positivity rate jumped to 8.33%. Sobering, indeed. So grateful we still have the woods to explore and fresh air to breathe.

hurrying and delaying

image credit: pixabay, cocoparisienne

For the perfect accomplishment of any art, you must get this feeling of the eternal present into your bones — for it is the secret of proper timing. No rush. No dawdle. Just the sense of flowing with the course of events in the same way that you dance to music, neither trying to outpace it nor lagging behind. Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present.
~ Alan Watts
(Does It Matter?: Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality)

When I came across this quote the other day it made me think of the art of saying good-bye. I want to give everyone a quick hug, say good-bye, hop in the car, rushing to get the painful separation over with. Like ripping off a bandage quickly, I tell my husband. But Tim tends to prolongs the misery. Announcing that it’s time to go, yet staying in his seat for another half hour. Slowly getting up. Dawdling! It takes forever to gather his things while new conversations are initiated and we linger inside the front door for extended periods of time.

I’m good at hurrying and he’s perfected delaying. Long ago we stopped judging each other and do our best to compromise. (Different doesn’t mean better or worse, good or bad, is one of our rules of thumb.) But this quote got me thinking, what would the proper timing of a good-bye feel like?

Maybe the way we used to say good-bye to my grandparents when I was a little girl. We said good-bye with hugs in the kitchen and then went out to the car. After we got in our seats, no car seats back then, my grandparents would stick their heads in our windows to see how we were set up for the journey home. And then my father would drive down the driveway while my grandparents stood arm in arm on the porch, blowing kisses and waving until we were out of sight. I can still see them standing there, after all these years.

How do you say good-bye?

wonder

Finn at 3 years old ~ photo by Larisa

Wonder shining in my eyes
Like I’m three years old

~ David Gray
♫ (Heart & Soul) ♫

One of the things that has helped me get through this pandemic — besides taking walks with my husband, working on jigsaw puzzles, practicing yoga, video calling with friends and family, blogging — has been listening for hours on end to the music streaming on my favorite indie radio station. Hearing some songs, like David Gray’s Heart & Soul, will forever bring me back to these days. Will it be possible that in the future some of us will look back on this time with a tinge of bittersweet nostalgia?