tipping rock

2.24.21 ~ Hewitt Farm, North Stonington, Connecticut

Because of the winter storms we hadn’t had a real walk in the woods in over a month. “Get out there!” my favorite TV weatherman advised on Wednesday morning. We opened the door and the birds were singing and it felt like a spring day at 45°F (7°C). Most of the snow had melted. So we headed out to a new park for us, the Hewitt Farm in North Stonington.

This 104-acre park and recreation area was purchased by the Town of North Stonington in 2008 for the enjoyment of its residents and visitors to the region. The property consists of forests, fields, wetlands and streams; more than a mile of hiking trails, including the town’s Bicentennial Trail; the Shunock River; 3.5-acre Lower Hewitt Pond and dam; and several structures. The dam originally provided water-power to John Dean Gallup’s woolen mill located nearby.
~ Hewitt Farm Trail Map

a preview of the bigger rock to come

We took the Bicentennial Trail. It felt so good to be outside with a just a sweatshirt and no gloves needed! We walked for an hour and a half, up a hill to Tipping Rock, a huge glacier erratic that didn’t disappoint. From the top of the hill we could see the wooded landscape 360° all around us. But there was also lots to see along the way.

moss texture
another glacial erratic with a different energy
interesting root formation

For most of us knowledge comes largely through sight, yet we look about with such unseeing eyes that we are partially blind. One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?”
~ Rachel Carson
(The Sense of Wonder)

perhaps the largest burl we’ve encountered

Not sure how long the trail would be we were thinking of turning back but then we saw the sign. So we pressed on up the hill…

first glimpse (telephoto lens)
what? could that be a ladder?
yes, indeed
no, we do not “do” ladders!
photo by Tim

After much oohing and aahing we headed back down the hill. It was a lot easier and faster than climbing up, but we still paused to see a lot of nature’s delights.

pincushion moss, I think
another interesting root formation

About half way down we heard the delighful sounds of excited children approaching. Two mothers with two babies and four little ones between them were coming up the trail so we took our usual six-feet-off-the-trail position as they passed. We exchanged pleasant greetings. They were wondering about the ladder…

remnants of autumn and winter

We were so happy to be out and about, as much as is possible, during the pandemic. Tim got his first shot on the 17th. Next one scheduled for March 17. My age group opens up on Monday but it may take a while to get an appointment because there are a lot more people in my age group than there are in Tim’s.

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)

many a word ~ a quirk of speech

Credit: Library of Congress Photo Collection, 1840-2000/Ancestry.com

Man is no mushroom growth of yesterday.
His roots strike deep into the hallow’d mould
Of the dead centuries; ordinances old
Govern us, whether gladly we obey
Or vainly struggle to resist their sway:

Our thoughts by ancient thinkers are controll’d,
And many a word in which our thoughts are told
Was coined long since in regions far away.
The strong-soul’d nations, destin’d to be great,
Honour their sires and reverence the Past;
They cherish and improve their heritage.
The weak, in blind self trust or headlong rage,
The olden time’s transmitted treasure cast
Behind them, and bemoan their loss too late.

~ John Kells Ingram
(Sonnets & Other Poems)

The things we think and say and do. We don’t grow up in a vacuum, our parents teach us many things, either by word or example. Their parents taught them, too. Messages and mannerisms get passed down through the generations, often without awareness. Subconsciously we just know and do.

When we were getting tucked into bed as children, our mother would tell us to sleep tight and wish us sweet dreams. Who was the first mother who used this expression? At the end of one of the last phone calls I had with my mother before she died, she said “sleep tight” instead of “good-bye.” I hadn’t heard her say that in years, although I was saying it often to my own children at bedtime.

The “tight” in “sleep tight,” meaning “sleep soundly,” almost certainly comes from the use of “tight” and “tightly” to mean “soundly, securely, properly,” a use that dates back to Shakespeare. The phrase “sleep tight” also first appeared in the mid-19th century.
(The Word Detective, August 14, 2008)

Although I may not agree with all the sentiments in John Kells Ingram’s poem, I do love the idea that “many a word in which our thoughts are told was coined long since in regions far away.” It reminds me of a quote I like even better, which I shared in a post seven years ago.

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. These spirits form our lives, and they may reveal themselves in mere trivialities – a quirk of speech, a way of folding a shirt. From the earliest days of my life, I encountered the past at every turn, in every season.
~ Shirley Abbott
(Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South)

winter in the marsh

2.20.19 ~ marsh observation area ~ Barn Island Wildlife Management Area
Pawcatuck, Connecticut

Yesterday Janet and I explored Barn Island Wildlife Management Area in Stonington, the “largest primitive coastal area left unspoiled in Connecticut.” It was a cloudy, chilly winter afternoon, with snow flurries starting up just as we were leaving.

Red-breasted Merganser
moss and ice on stone
trees with fluffy moss?
tidal creek
solitary evergreen
one tree with shelf mushrooms
feather
ice falling into ebbing tide
common loon, winter plumage
common loon, winter plumage
ice falling into ebbing tide
spotted wintergreen
great blue heron
great blue heron

devoted to trees

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
trailhead ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

This past weekend we took a long walk in the woods at Connecticut College Arboretum, and found ourselves fascinated with all the dead and dying trees. Some have been recently toppled, either by Hurricane Sandy or Blizzard Charlotte. This is the time of year to see deep into the woods, before the view is obscured by green foliage.

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
a mighty one fallen ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

This fallen tree brought underground stones, embedded in its root system, up into the air, along with the soil.

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
Tim (5’8″) to give some perspective ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
skunk cabbage ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

Skunk cabbage is one of the first plants to bloom in spring. Its flowers are often partly or wholly hidden beneath last year’s fallen leaves. Like many other dark-colored flowers, skunk cabbage is pollinated mostly by flies. The flowers actually produce heat — a benefit to the flies out in cold weather. The leaves emerge after the flowers. They smell unpleasant if they are crushed, hence the name “skunk cabbage.”
~ Connecticut Botanical Society

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
dying of natural causes ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
living with scars and imperfections ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
roots anchored in massive boulders ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
boulders deposited by ancient glaciers ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
roots partly above water ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
swamp reflections ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
mushrooms! ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know of life. It is a sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent.
~ John Ruskin
(The Stones of Venice)

3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut
a new life, just a few inches tall ~ 3.23.13 ~ New London, Connecticut

amazing mycelium

giant mushrooms (Auckland, New Zealand) photo by wonderferret
giant mushrooms (Auckland, New Zealand) photo by wonderferret

I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.
~ Paul Stamets
(Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World)

Paul Stamets on 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

peach season

9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home.
~ Jacqueline Kelly
(The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate)

Today we went to Holmberg Orchards to pick a few peaches for Tim. There were some nectarines ready to be plucked, too – lucky me!

9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

On the way home Tim spotted a gnarly old tree sporting a few mushrooms!

9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

And after a lot of fuss and bother in the kitchen, a portion of homemade peach cobbler for my honey!

9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
9.5.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

into the forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

Sunday turned out to be the best day for Janet and me to begin exploring Pachaug State Forest, which is the largest one in Connecticut, with a total of 24,000 acres in parts of five towns, including Voluntown, where we began.

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

We had to adjust to not having signs to identify the trees and plants we were looking at. This place is pretty wild, not like the well-marked arboretum we’re used to!

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

There were a lot of unusual mushrooms, like the red one with white dots (above) and the huge rust colored ones sticking out of a stump (below)…

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
a close up ~ 6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
a cheery clump of ferns growing on top of a very tall stump ~ 6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest
a girl and her horse enjoying a stroll through the forest ~ 6.26.11 ~ Pachaug State Forest

Next trip Janet is going to introduce me to me kayaking! Wonder if I’ll have to leave my camera on the shore…

osteomalacia and hypertension

Has anyone ever heard of osteomalacia before? Turns out I have it, although before discovering this term, all I was aware of was the severe Vitamin D deficiency my doctor said my blood-work revealed last year. This whole experience reminds me of when I learned that I had menorrhagia for most of my adult life without knowing the medical term for it.

For the past year or so my doctor has been trying to get my Vitamin D deficiency and high blood pressure under control. Thursday evening I happened to hear Dr. Michael F. Holick on the radio discussing his book, The Vitamin D Solution. When he mentioned musculoskeletal pain and muscle weakness, and even hypertension and a few other problems, being due to a lack of Vitamin D, I picked up my new best friend, my Kindle, and had the book in my hands electronically within moments. I spent the better part of yesterday reading the eye-opening information and finished it up this morning.

I think I now know how this happened!

In 2004 I had a basal cell carcinoma surgically removed from my forehead and on the advice of my dermatologist became totally paranoid about receiving any exposure to the sun from then on. Turns out this was ill-advised as I am now depleted of Vitamin D, in spite of supplements.

Just as we need a little fat and salt in our diet, we also need a little sun.
~ Michael F. Holick
(The Vitamin D Solution)

collared lizard by Lawrence Gamble
collared lizard by Lawrence Gamble

Did you know that Vitamin D is not really a vitamin? It’s a hormone!!! And every cell in our bodies has a Vitamin D receptor? Hormones are “regulatory substances produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action.” The skin is the organ that uses sunlight to produce the Vitamin D hormone that performs wonders throughout our bodies. Cats and lizards don’t need scientists to tell them they need the sun!

For my skin type, fifteen minutes of direct sunlight a day on half my body around noon from May to October should be sufficient to turn things around for me, and also to store enough Vitamin D to carry me through most of the winter. Will be taking additional supplements, year-round, too, and eating wild-caught salmon (farm-raised salmon have almost no Vitamin D because they are fed pellets of grain instead of their natural diet from the ocean food chain) and plenty of sardines, too, which I happen to love, thank goodness. And mushrooms, the only source of natural Vitamin D in the produce aisles of the grocery store.

Fifteen minutes! Sunlight! A wonder “drug” for free! Of course today it is pouring rain, so I’m chafing at the bit, but I’m getting out there first chance I get…

"Sunflowers in a Blue Vase" by Christian Rohlfs
“Sunflowers in a Blue Vase” by Christian Rohlfs