The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. How easily we might walk onward into opening the landscape, absorbed by new pictures, and by thoughts fast succeeding each other, until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present, and we were led in triumph by nature. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson)
The Merritt Family Forest is part of a large block of forested open space. The upper portion includes a steep, rocky, wooded upland with a mature hardwood forest. Descendants claim the forest remained uncut since the family acquired the property in 1848. The lower portion includes a meadow, and hosts a Tier 1 vernal pool and two Class A streams – Eccleston Brook and an intermittent tributary. Eccleston Brook flows into Palmer Cove, Fisher’s Island Sound and Long Island Sound. ~ Groton Open Space Association website
I had an especially good time enjoying the paths through the trees on that lovely, warm spring day. And I had an enjoyable afternoon creating this post today, a month later. A pleasant memory to savor. It’s been rough the past few weeks, battling the poison ivy. Tomorrow will be my last dose of prednisone and it will be nice to say goodbye to its side-effects, for me, anxiety and a headache. It’s no fun being up half the night with a panic attack! I’m ready to start living again. 🙂
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.
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
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…
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.
All the green under the water (above) looked to me like drowning princess pines.
We turned around here without crossing the plain and climbing that ridge!
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.
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.
It was a wonderful walk!
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)
I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable lines between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves — we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.
~ Mary Oliver
(Upstream: Selected Essays)
When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
~ Ansel Adams
(Meditation on Both Sides of the Camera: A Spiritual Journey in Photography)
Life has felt pretty blurry, quiet and strange lately, what with the shingles odyssey for Tim and the unusually warm weather for this time of year. It was a welcome change to get outside and take a walk with Janet, camera in hand, to enjoy a pleasant, spring-like day in December. We found plenty of natural beauty exploring the woods behind my condo complex. Even so, I’m yearning for the first snowfall…
At home I have two woodpeckers who frequent my suet feeder. I’ve learned their call now because they always squeak before they start eating. So while on this walk I recognized a woodpecker call in the wild for the first time and started looking around to locate it. Found him in the reeds!
And now the weekend begins. Content with silence for the time being, I hope it will be a relatively quiet one, with time for continued healing. Wishing you a great weekend, too!
Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw, I dearly like the west, For there the bonnie lassie lives, The lassie I lo’e best: There wild woods grow, and rivers row, And monie a hill between; But day and night may fancy’s flight Is ever wi’ my Jean.
I see her in the dewey flowers, I see her sweet and fair: I hear her in the tunefu’ birds, I hear her charm the air: There’s not a bonnie flower that springs By fountain, shaw, or green; There’s not a bonnie bird that sings, But minds me o’ my Jean.
~ Robert Burns
(Poet’s Walk, Hillsborough, North Carolina)
Tim’s cousin, Allegra, and I took a road trip to visit Dima, Larisa, and Katie in North Carolina last week. One day we kept Katie home from daycare and discovered she is a lover of the great outdoors. In the house she was fussy and dealing with the remnants of her bout with bronchiolitis, but when we took her for a walk to have lunch at the Mellow Mushroom in Chapel Hill she enjoyed the stroller ride and charmed the server at our patio table. She fell asleep on the walk home but after what Allegra called a power nap, she was fussy again. So I took her outside in my arms and we stood by the trees, looking up into the boughs. Katie kept looking up, cooing with pleasure and seemingly spellbound by the soft breeze stirring the leaves and the occasional bird fluttering or insect buzzing through. Special moments with my granddaughter for me to remember.
After such a long hard winter I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled we were to be where spring is well under way. We slept with the windows open for three nights in a row! And woke to the delightful calls of the early birds! The sky was so blue!
Another day Allegra and I went to the place where I took all these pictures, Ayr Mount & Poet’s Walk in Hillsborough. The modest mansion is a Federal-era plantation home built by William Kirkland of Ayr, Scotland, about 1815. No photographs allowed inside, but the tour was very interesting, and after a scrumptious lunch break at Hillsborough BBQ Company, we returned to the property and walked the trail meandering through woodlands and meadows and the banks of the Eno River.
On the last day of our visit Larisa and I walked to Katie’s six-month checkup with her pediatrician. One of the things I do love about Chapel Hill is that one can walk to just about any where one might think of going. Katie is doing very well and was enjoying the time spent with her mother. She is petite for her age, but there are so many short people in our family that this comes as no surprise. Of course there were the obligatory vaccination shots at the end of the visit and the inevitable wails of protest, but comfort and sympathy was given quickly and soon we were off for our walk home, lunch out, and a fun afternoon of clothes shopping. Katie is starting swimming lessons this week and needed the appropriate attire, and of course, Grammy had to buy her a couple of dresses that she seemed to like.
That night, as we all went out for ice cream, I suddenly realized I had not taken any pictures of Katie! I was simply having so much fun just being with her. So I managed to get this one at Maple View Farm, in another part of Hillsborough, where we went after dinner to catch the sunset as we indulged in farm fresh ice cream. The sunset wasn’t spectacular, and Katie had discovered the joy of sticking out her tongue, so the picture-taking session was mostly a disappointment, but that’s okay. We’ll settle for this one.
Please enjoy the rest of the pictures from the Poet’s Walk.
Wabi Sabi is a tree faerie dedicated to sharing his love and respect for trees. He inspires the artists to see the greatness of the variety of trees on the property. His house is in a Japanese maple nestled in this leafy bush. It is the ideal setting for him to watch over the magnificent trees surrounding Miss Florence’s boardinghouse. From his home he can easily fly to inspect a spruce, elm, pine, or walnut tree. If he ventures farther afield, he can console the weeping willow, take a walk along the beech branch, or even pine away at the top of the evergreens.
~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making
The power of imagination makes us infinite.
~ John Muir
(John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir)
Remember back in July, when Tim & I started to discuss adopting a couple of cats? (Two Cats in the Yard?)
Remember back in October when I started posting pictures of all the little fairy dwellings in the Wee Faerie Village at the Florence Griswold Museum? I found a couple more that I never got around to posting… (Windwood Faeriegrounds)
Remember back in November when my sister-in-law Fran’s feral cat, Zoë, decided to make friends with me? (Second Day of Christmas)
Well, back in November, it would seem that Zoë was sensing a shift in energy, somehow knowing that changes were afoot. As it turns out her family is moving from Virginia to Germany this month, and Zoë and her sister needed a new home. So they arrived here to live with us last weekend and they are slowly settling in. They don’t feel at home here yet – who could blame them after a long car ride and leaving the only home they’ve ever known – but when they do feel a little more comfortable I will take some pictures. Zoë is very affectionate and talkative, purring when petted, but her sister, Scarby, is still hiding under the stairs in the basement, only coming out to eat and use the litter pan. It looks like it will take her longer to warm up to the idea of living here.
I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Oh! where do fairies hide their heads, When snow lies on the hills? When frost has spoiled their mossy beds, And crystallized their rills: Beneath the moon they cannot trip In circles o’er the plain: And draughts of dew they cannot sip, Till green leaves come again.
~ Thomas Haynes Bayly
(Songs & Ballads, Grave & Gay)
…we heard it was snowing in Connecticut, but alas, we were in Georgia…
Our car ride from Virginia to Georgia was long and grueling, but we finally made it to our destination very late Thursday night. It was so wonderful to see Nate & Shea again, and the rest of their multi-generational family: Shea’s mom, Angie, who so generously gave us her room for a few days, and Shea’s sister Sarah and her two little boys, Julius and Dominic. It is a full house, but a big house, and we thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality we were shown. Angie is a fabulous cook and kindly catered to our food quirks!
We brought the little guys some Lego bricks sets as a gift. Dominic adores his Uncle – and the feeling is mutual – so we got a kick out of watching Nate help him build his little Lego helicopter.
Dominic loves bugs and animals and I enjoyed reading his dinosaur book to him. Thankfully it had a pronunciation guide. Little ones have so much energy!!!
On the fifth day of Christmas Nate, Shea, Tim and I drove into Florida and ate lunch at Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean seafood restaurant in Jacksonville – the food was great and the atmosphere was tropical. Then the four of us went to see Life of Pi in 3D – it was the 3rd time for me and the 2nd time for Tim, but not in 3D before. The 3D experience was better than I thought it would be!
After we returned to the house we were treated to a spectacular sunset, Georgia style, which kind of made up for missing our snowstorm…
On the sixth day of Christmas the guys watched football while Shea read her new Nook, a Christmas gift, and I read my old Kindle. Later Tim & I sat up late (late by my standards anyway) into the night with Nate, talking about the movie, interplanetary travel, quantum physics, gun control, and assorted other existential and scientific topics. I am always amazed by these conversations because Nate seems to have gotten his logical side from Tim and his sense of wonder from me in perfectly balanced proportion.
On the seventh day of Christmas we started the long journey home, from southern Georgia to northern Virginia. Lady Zoë was looking for me and let me pet her again, but still was not ready to sit on my lap.
On the eighth day of Christmas we drove from Virginia to Connecticut, resisting the urge to stop by Dima & Larisa’s, but thrilled to find snow still on the ground in Connecticut! Winter is finally here and I hope it plans to stick around for a little while this year. And our Christmas tree was still standing and looking as pretty as when we left – we had been afraid that a week without watering would be the end of her. All in all, it was a wonderful trip!
Driving from New York City to northern Virginia the day after Christmas is something we probably will never do again! We were stuck in crawling traffic in the rain and wintry mix of precipitation most of the way and were so relieved to finally reach our destination! We enjoyed a lovely evening out at a new restaurant and at the home of Tim’s brother and sister-in-law we found a very lovely white pine Christmas tree, decorated in red and gold.
This is my friend, Zoë, (below) taking her morning sun bath as we were getting ready to depart the next morning. My sister-in-law has a very kind heart and has opened her home to a feral cat and three of her kittens. (They have all been spayed now.) The mother won’t come inside, but the younger ones have learned about the comforts to be found in human dwellings. But Zoë, perhaps taking cues from her mother, is not friendly and had some insulting names given to her, which I won’t mention here.
For some reason, when we were visiting in November for Thanksgiving, Zoë decided she liked me and let me pet her and then started to purr! She seemed to like the name Zoë so I renamed her. My sister-in-law was astonished because even though she treated this one kindly she had never warmed up to her like the other two eventually did. When I returned on this trip a month later Zoë remembered me and let me pet her again. I felt very honored! I invited her to sit on my lap and she considered it, but decided she wasn’t ready for that much contact yet. Who knows what might happen when we meet again?
The longest leg of the trip was next, northern Virginia to southern Georgia!