cutting garden

5.6.21 ~ Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford, Connecticut

Finally a spring day found us both feeling well and free of appointments. Off to explore the gardens at Eolia, the elegant summer mansion at Harkness Memorial State Park. So many birds and greenery to delight the senses. I took more pictures than usual and will probably make three posts out of our visit. 🙂 First, the cutting garden. Not too many flowers yet but plenty of birds and squirrels and even a bunny, who was too quick to be photographed.

gray catbird singing its heart out

His black cap gives him a jaunty look, for which
we humans have learned to tilt our caps, in envy.
When he is not singing, he is listening.
Neither have I ever seen him with his eyes closed.
Though he may be looking at nothing more than a cloud
it brings to his mind several dozen new remarks.
From one branch to another, or across the path,
he dazzles with flight.

~ Mary Oliver
(Catbird)

gray catbird
copper beech leaves
bluebells
northern mockingbird

I was very excited to spot this mockingbird. I had taken a picture of one back in 2011 but didn’t know what it was. Not too long ago I was going through old pictures and decided to post that old picture on the “What’s This Bird?” Facebook group and they identified it for me. I was pleasantly surprised to correctly identify this one when I saw it, but I did check with the group to make sure. (I’ve been known to get my shorebirds wrong…)

northern mockingbird
northern mockingbird
110-year-old Japanese threadleaf maple

I spent quite a bit of time lingering under this enchanting tree. The birds seemed very fond of it, too, singing away in the upper branches. Peeking out I could see Long Island Sound in the distance. A perfect place to curl up with a good book and, just as I was thinking that, a woman showed up with a book, looking for a place to read where she couldn’t hear the lawnmower. It wasn’t until she mentioned it that I noticed the noise droning away in the background. The lawns of the grounds of this old mansion property are vast and must require a lot of maintenance! Anyhow, I hope she was able to get some peaceful reading in, listening to all the birds.

Long Island Sound in the distance

As we left that wonderful tree Tim spotted three squirrels chasing each other in another tree. They were so cute!

playful squirrel
scratching acrobatics
dandelion dreams
beautiful mourning dove
mourning dove

Pretty doves, so blithely ranging
Up and down the street;
Glossy throats all bright hues changing,
Little scarlet feet!

~ Harriet McEwen Kimball
(The Doves)

mourning dove
tulip
Jonquil ? and ?

I will try to make my next posts about the west, box and rock gardens. We didn’t even get to the east garden and the orchard! Another time…

even the smallest thing

2.19.21 ~ white-throated sparrow, Birch Plain Creek

One can only hide from the cold for so long. One’s mind needs to be outdoors! One’s spirit needs simple things. It snowed most of the day on Thursday and Friday and when I woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning there were still flurries dancing around. We went for a walk in the scattered snow showers on Friday, with about five inches of the white stuff on the ground. Not wanting to drive anywhere, we walked in the woods and along the creek behind our condo complex.

I spotted a new bird, for me, a white-throated sparrow! She was not cooperating about posing very much but I was happy to get the above picture. One musn’t be greedy. I wonder what she was eating.

left over from a city-wide Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt
mourning dove

A mourning dove landed on a branch and eyed me. I thanked her for letting me see the coloring under her tail. Another new thing for me to see. And then she knocked some snow off the branch — yes dear little dove, I did see you do that. 😉

mourning dove knocking snow off the branch
waiting for spring

The creek was mostly frozen over. Tim spotted three gulls out on the ice. Two waiting for an opportunity and one devouring a fish. One always wonders who stole it from who…

great black-backed gull, first winter
it looks cold out there on the ice
winter survival

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing —
each stone, blossom, child —
is held in place. …

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God)

somebody’s tracks
Birch Plain Creek

My mood improved 100% by the time we returned home. Pretty flurries just continued floating through the sky all morning and afternoon, until dark, still there every time I looked up from my book. I have finished reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and have started on The Girl in the Tower, the second book in the Winternight trilogy. Perfect books for winter.

Birch Plain Creek

once more

4.25.20 ~ fledgling

Once more, my now bewildered Dove
Bestirs her puzzled wings.
Once more, her mistress, on the deep
Her troubled question flings —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #65)

Six days after the last mourning dove photo shoot I came downstairs to find that my dove had brought her fledgling here for a visit. The walk we were about to take was postponed for a few minutes so I could take some baby pictures.

And there my little doves did sit,
With feathers softly brown,
And glittering eyes that showed their right
To general Nature’s deep delight.

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Selected Poems)

I couldn’t get the camera to focus well on mama and her little one in the same frame, but I wanted this picture below for size comparison. All the other pictures are of the fledgling.

The blur is mama taking off, ending the delightful visit. Baby soon followed her and we were off for our walk which will be the subject of the next post.

visit from a mourning dove

4.19.20 ~ mourning dove on my balcony

Mourning doves have been visiting me off and on since my mother died twenty-eight years ago. They seem to arrive when I could use a little encouragement. When I used to garden one would often sit near me and watch me as I worked. Once one walked with me all the way from my garden to the swimming pool in our complex. Lately one comes to sit on the balcony almost daily and coos for as long as an hour at a time. I find her company very comforting.

Sunday morning I decided to try to photograph her through the sliding glass doors and was thrilled with the results. She didn’t seem to mind posing. I know they are plain birds, but that’s exactly why I find them so beautiful! I love them the same way I love my gulls.

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.
~ Abraham Lincoln
(Letter to Fanny McCullough, December 23, 1862)

When I first read the Lincoln quote six years ago, after my father died, I remember thinking how true it was. When my mother died I was so young it came as a terrible blow and I needed therapy to work through the grief. By the time my father died it was no longer such a shocking experience. I deeply felt the pain of loss, but it wasn’t unexpected.

We now have 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. There are moments I feel terribly anxious about this. It’s starting to sink in that it may be be many months or even more than a year before it will be safe to visit our grandchildren again. As it stands now, I don’t think I will feel free from danger before there is a vaccine. But we are trying to make the best of it and even find a sense of humor at times.

I find myself wondering how my parents would respond to the coronavirus pandemic. I imagine they would probably be just as blindsided as the rest of humanity. But since Mother Nature sees fit to send me such a sweet comforter as this lovely mourning dove I will stay grateful.

It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Letter to Arthur Davison Ficke, October 24, 1930)

4.19.20 ~ this might be my favorite pose

The Millay quote has been one of my favorites for a long time. It amuses me and helps me to laugh at the ironic situations I think I find myself in. The coronavirus pandemic feels unprecedented, and perhaps it is in my lifetime, but not at all in the history of the world.

In the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, the protagonist, Kristin, dies from the Black Death at the end. It’s one thing to read about plague statistics in history books, quite another to experience what it must have been like while reading the words of an excellent storyteller. It comforts me to know others have felt the same fear.

Being a highly sensitive child, whenever I would lament about the sad things happening in the world my father would sigh and advise me, “‘Twas ever thus.” When my mother was dying of cancer and my heart ached for her suffering he would gently remind me that “every creature struggles for life.” He was a naturalist and scientist who taught us compassion for animals and people, but also prepared us for loss. Whenever one of our pets died he would tell us to “remember the good times.” I am so grateful for the lessons he taught me.

4.19.20 ~ showing off her feathers

‘Twas ever thus — from childhood’s hour I’ve seen my fondest hopes decay, I never loved a tree or flower but ’twas the first to fade away.
~ Charles Dickens
(The Old Curiosity Shop)

Blizzard Colbie ~ 1.27.15

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1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Come, ye cold winds! at January’s call,
On whistling wings; and with white flakes bestrew
The earth.
~ John Ruskin
(The Poems of John Ruskin, Volume 1)

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1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Blizzard Colbie gave us 22 24 inches of snow. I have been waiting for some decent snow this winter and it finally arrived. Zoë and I had a delightful afternoon watching the birds feeding in the snow on our balcony.

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an odd couple ~ 1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Tim sets up a webcam when it snows up here, so our kids in Georgia and North Carolina can watch the storm as it progresses. Nate, who has loved the color red since he was a baby, pinged me to let me know I had a cardinal out there. I already knew that, but it warmed my heart to know that he is still partial to all things red.

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an angry looking jay,
perhaps because I didn’t put out peanuts in the shells for him
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this cardinal seemed to be eating snow all afternoon
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Tim liked this picture a lot so I included it here
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oh how I love my friendly, inquisitive mourning doves
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a sweet little junco, he captivated Zoë’s attention for quite a while
1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut
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1.27.15 ~ Groton, Connecticut

They still have not come to plow the parking lot of our complex and I’m wondering what the hold up is. Tim returned from doing some volunteer work at the Red Cross shelter and got stuck in the entrance to the driveway. Fortunately our very kind neighbors dug him out and created a parking space for him, too. All the neighbors’ cars are still buried.

Edit – the morning after – the final snow total for Groton was 24 inches! The town of Thompson got 33.5 inches!

midsummer mourning dove

6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut
6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

After years of trying I was finally able to capture some good pictures of a mourning dove! She seemed to be posing for me on a tree in Janet’s yard and I was thrilled.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

Janet and I had a great time celebrating the summer solstice on Saturday. We went strawberry picking in the morning, then made a lunch out of grilled eggplant with goat cheese and other veggies, devoured it outside on her sundeck and finished with our fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

We took a long afternoon walk in the woods and meadows at Machimoodus State Park. The day was breezy and warm – we could not have ordered more perfect weather! Back at Janet’s we had grilled wild turkey and veggies, enjoying supper outside as well.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

Then, as dusk finally fell on the longest day of the year, we shared a campfire and watched the stars come out and the fireflies twinkle in the trees and eventually the embers dying down. We even heard a pack of coyotes howling in the distance. It was wonderful to have spent the entire day outdoors with the companionship of a good friend.

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6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

mother and child

mourning dove family by Watching Seasons
mourning dove family by Watching Seasons

The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Many thanks to Tracy at Seasons Flow, for permission to use the above photograph, found on the Late Nesters post of October 1, 2001. When I first saw this touching picture of a mother mourning dove and her squab it warmed my heart and filled me with joy. Today I have a perfect opportunity to use it – in memory of my mother, who would have been eighty years old today. I miss her still.

The vegan adventure continues, although it’s been challenging not being able to chop vegetables or lift heavy pots and pans while my hand is on the mend. And it turns out that I also cracked a rib when I fell two weeks ago… (Finally decided to check things out with a doctor.) Six more weeks expected for everything to heal…

We had an encouraging surprise from Tim’s brother, the one who just had a heart attack in September. After doing some of his own research he’s also decided to become a vegetarian, so we may get a meat-free Thanksgiving after all!

And this weekend we found a local Asian cuisine restaurant. Tim had the Vegetable Delight with steamed tofu, and he ate it, all of it. I wasn’t sure I could believe my eyes!

my best friend

Image: Sivaprasad R.L via Wikimedia Commons

For Tim, from deep in my heart… Thank you.

Hear the mating call of the mourning dove
Like Romeo angels in the roof above
Rains will come sweet and clean
Let the tears of God keep the mountains green

Roll back the covers, raise the shades
We don’t want to miss out on the best part of the day
You’re my best friend, you shared my crazy ways
Now we don’t want to miss out on the best part of the day

~ Bernie Taupin & Elton John
♫ (The Best Part of the Day) ♫