plant birthdays

Jean-FrançoisMillet.Dandelions
“Dandelions” by Jean-François Millet

During every week from April to September there are, on the average, ten wild plants coming into first bloom. In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them. He who steps unseeing on May dandelions may be hauled up short by August ragweed pollen; he who ignores the ruddy haze of April elms may skid his car on the fallen corollas of June catalpas. Tell me of what plant-birthday a man takes notice, and I shall tell you a good deal about his vocation, his hobbies, his hay fever, and the general level of his ecological education.
~ Aldo Leopold
(A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here & There)

feeling the light

“Brook in March” by Willard Metcalf
“Brook in March” by Willard Metcalf

A Light exists in Spring
Not present in the Year
At any other period –
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn
It shows the furthest Tree
Opon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay –

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #962)

sunshine peculiarly genial

"Autumn Glory" by Willard Metcalf
“Autumn Glory” by Willard Metcalf

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. And the green grass, strewn with a few withered leaves, looks the more green and beautiful for them. In summer or spring, Nature is farther from one’s sympathies.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
(The American Note-books)

beautiful forests

We have just returned from a great vacation visiting family in Georgia!!! Included was an afternoon with Nate (our son) who taught me more about the technical workings of my blog. One of the things I learned was how to post a video. So I am posting the one below, which I have wanted to share for a while, and am leaving you with a promise to return to the blogosphere soon… as soon as I catch up with pressing obligations here at home… or maybe sooner, if my resolve to prioritize doesn’t hold…

I have so much to share!

The great forest, absolutely silent, save for the music of the brook, the smell of the woods, the charm of the campfire, the fragrance of the bed of boughs, all work a peace in the mind which has been accustomed for so many months to the noise and rush of the great city, the jolting of the railway train, and the smoke and dust of the locomotive.
~ Walter H. James
(Our Mountain Trips – Part I)

full worm moon

3.19.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.19.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

The above picture was taken in the Connecticut College Arboretum a year ago today, a warm and bright sunny day. Tonight will be a full moon. Native Americans in this area called this full moon the Worm Moon. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.” I have seen a lot of robins recently. And tomorrow will be Spring! We made it!

European robin with earthworm, photo by Rasbak
European robin with earthworm, photo by Rasbak

The period leading up to the spring equinox is … a time of great upheaval in nature: the first full moon of March usually heralds high tides and strong winds that enliven the long-dead period of late winter. The change of spring is one that we welcome with all our hearts, but we appreciate it warmly only because of what has gone before it. Our ability to cope with change will improve if we discover the art of living in the present moment, of being at home where and when we are.
Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

Poor Tim is working another weekend… The upheavals at his job have corresponded with the recent upheavals in nature. But he handles changes with a lot more grace than I can usually manage. As for me, I plan to go down to the beach this evening and take in the full moon and a little meditation and grounding. Perhaps there will be a high tide and a strong wind… Maybe something to photograph as I welcome spring.

How do you welcome spring?

arboretum winter walk

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Here we go again! Following the repeated urgings of the local weather forecasters, yesterday I shoveled about two feet of packed layers of snow and ice off of our balcony. It was so pretty but roofs and decks all over Connecticut have given way under the weight of these record snow falls. And cold temperatures. We haven’t even had our typical January thaw!

And the forecast? Snowstorm tomorrow, ice storm Wednesday, snow storm Saturday…

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

These pictures are more from January a year ago, a different day when my sister and I took an early morning walk through the arboretum. Notice there is no snow on the ground, and you can see how drab Connecticut usually is for a good part of the winter. Which is probably why I love snow storms so much! But not this much!!!

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

But I have enjoyed curling up with my new Kindle, a birthday gift from Tim. 🙂 The feature about it that delights me the most is that I can adjust the size of the print to make reading a breeze, no matter what mood my eyes are in. I think in the long run this will be cheaper than buying new reading glasses every time my middle-aged eyes begin to get persnickety. And maybe I can get the size of my physical library under control, while my cyber library grows.

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

And the day climbs down from its blue loft-bed on a slanting ladder of sunbeams,
pauses a moment between the trees, airy-light, young.

~ Hans Børli
(The Quiet Room)

I noticed two of my Facebook friends talking favorably about an author named Mary Oliver, and so selected one of her books as my first choice. I found out that she has been called the Bard of Provincetown. Already I’m enjoying all the connections the poet and author has to one of my refuges on Cape Cod. 🙂

1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
1.27.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Batten down the hatches! Are we ready for more of this unbelievable winter?

snowiest month ever

This month is the snowiest January on record in Connecticut. In fact, it’s the state’s snowiest month in history, period. As if you couldn’t have guessed.
~ Ed Stannard
(New Haven Register, January 26, 2011)

It snowed most of Tuesday so I put off the food shopping expedition again. Wednesday morning my sister happened to be here so we decided to clean the snow off the car and do errands and shopping together before the “big” storm due that night. It was still morning, and I was standing in a very long line at the check-out with an overflowing shopping cart in the midst of folks on a quick errand for two or three items, pre-storm batteries, milk, bread, eggs or water. Even let one or two of them cut in front of me as there was no express line open. Happened to look out the window and commented to Beverly that the storm looked imminent, even though it wasn’t supposed to arrive until late afternoon. Sure enough, the first flakes greeted us as we exited the store.

When we got home Beverly took off for work early, to get a good parking spot, while I put my groceries away and then settled in front of the TV with a cup of coffee to see what the explanation might be for another inaccurate forecast. Meteorologist Dr. Mel was grinning from ear to ear as he announced that this month was now officially the snowiest month ever recorded in Connecticut history. This was before the big storm, and two more little storms predicted for Friday and Saturday. He simply couldn’t hide the delight he felt in offering this remarkable fact to his colleagues and television audience!

Then he got to the matter of the snow falling in the morning. It turns out it was another storm, an unexpected low pressure pocket formed off the coast and surprised everyone with a few inches to contend with before the big one. Unbelievable!

Woke up at 4 a.m. this morning – no official totals for the overnight storm yet – it’s still snowing. Dr. Mel says a good 10-15 inches fell so far in about 5 short hours over the state. (Does he ever go home and sleep?) There is a truck ban on the interstates until 10:00 a.m. Amtrak has suspended service. No city buses running. And of course schools are closed. Looks like Tim will be working from home this morning.

Took a picture of our Yankee weather rock in the dark. (A whimsical gift from Nate & Shea many summers ago…) Can’t see the word rock!! I’ve always loved the energy and excitement of storms, and taking this picture revealed a couple of orbs! I’ll be outside shoveling for a long time… And loving very minute of it until I get cold or tired or both…

a long cold winter walk

It was 4°F when I got up this morning. A year ago in January it wasn’t this cold when we had visitors for a weekend, Tim’s youngest cousin and her three children. Allegra is 18 years younger than Tim, who is the oldest in that group of cousins. (The span between the oldest – Nate – and the youngest – Lizzie – second cousins is even greater – 30 years! But they are not part of this particular story.) I hadn’t started By the Sea yet, so I’m remembering this wonderful day here now.

So… on one day of the visit we decided that taking a long cold walk at Bluff Point would be an invigorating way to release some pent-up energy…

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Bluff Point ~ January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Bluff Point is a 1½ mile long peninsula here in Groton which juts out into Long Island Sound. It is part Connecticut State Park and part Coastal Reserve. The trails meander through the woods and open areas and finally lead to the bluff. The main trail is a four mile loop.

Winter is an etching…
~ Stanley Horowitz

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

The Poquonnock River (above) is on the west side of the peninsula, and on this day we followed the river. Cold as it was there were lots of people out and about, walking dogs, riding horses, and jogging, as well as walking like we were.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

The winter sun is striking… Families who come outdoors find some satisfaction for the hunger to connect with nature and with each other, in any season.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

A glimpse of a beach in the distance helps to encourage us forward, in spite of very rosy cheeks!

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We didn’t make it to the bluff because we took a detour to Bluff Point Beach, which faces the sound and stretches into a barrier between the sound and the river, Bushy Point Beach. The Great Hurricane of 1938 (aka the Great New England Hurricane) washed away more than a hundred cottages here, which were never rebuilt. (Mother Nature doesn’t have to tell the typical New Englander twice when rebuilding would be a bad idea!) The storm surge also breached Bushy Point Beach which created an island at its western end.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We endured the wind a little while to explore the beach, and Allegra found a whelk egg case.

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We were so cold by then that we decided to retrace our steps back to the car. So in the end we walked almost four miles, according to the pedometers. We came home to a round or two of hot cocoa…

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Blake, Ariana and Clarice ~ Bluff Point State Park

Maybe our family will come see us again in a different season, and perhaps then we’ll make it to the bluff – we were so close! – and finish the loop on the other, eastern side of the peninsula!

January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut
January 2010 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Each of our lives is a path. To know this requires intuition and trust. If we are true to the steps we take, the travel makes sense and the journey confirms itself.
~ Lin Jensen