timelessness and quiet ecstasy

7.14.20 ~ ring-billed gull cooling his feet at Eastern Point Beach

The humidity lowered just a tad on Tuesday morning so we snuck down to the beach for an early morning walk. The only gull out and about was on the rocks, a ring-billed one with his bright yellow legs. He wanted to be friends and walk along with us.

When we went down on the sand he decided to come, too, and lead the way.

follow me, please
pardon me while I cool off my feet again

Then Tim spotted a butterfly flitting about on the wrack line!

monarch butterfly

When it moved to the sand I tried to get a shot of it with its wings open.

shadow on the sand

Yet there are other windows through which we humans can look out into the world around us, windows through which the mystics and the holy men of the East, and the founders of the great world religions, have gazed as they searched for the meaning and purpose of our life on earth, not only in the wondrous beauty of the world, but also in its darkness and ugliness. And those Masters contemplated the truths that they saw, not with their minds only but with their hearts and souls too. From those revelations came the spiritual essence of the great scripitures, the holy books, and the most beautiful mystic poems and writings. That afternoon, it had been as though an unseen hand had drawn back a curtain and, for the briefest moment, I had seen through such a window. In a flash of “outsight” I had known timelessness and quiet ecstasy, sensed a truth of which mainstream science is merely a small fraction. And I knew that the revelation would be with me for the rest of my life, imperfectly remembered yet always within. A source of strength on which I could draw when life seemed harsh or cruel or desperate.
~ Jane Goodall
(Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey)

nature’s delightful composition
gull tracks
song sparrow having its breakfast

I’d sit on logs like pulpits
listen to the sermon
of sparrows
and find god in Simplicity,
there amongst the dandelion
and thorn

~ Jewel
(A Night Without Armor)

wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace)

We now have 144 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 1,345 confirmed cases. Of those 4 are still in the hospital and 102 have lost their lives. I fret over the figures coming out of North Carolina and Georgia, where my children live. Stay safe and take care…

portrait setting

9.1.19 ~ my gull friend at Eastern Point Beach, portrait setting

Last night we went down for our last supper from the concession stand at the beach. (Tonight will be the last night it is open but it is supposed to rain today so we won’t likely be going down there.) As we were waiting for our order my gull friend flew to the post nearest Tyler House to greet us. I took a few pictures and then was suddenly inspired to try out the portrait setting on my camera. The gull was happy to keep posing.

9.1.19 ~ portrait setting
9.1.19 ~ portrait setting
9.1.19 ~ this is where he was standing for his portraits

When some people approached by land and a noisy little motorboat came close to shore, he took off and didn’t come back while we were eating on our bench. But I was grateful for the short visit we had.

9.1.19 ~ a young ring-billed gull who watched us eat our supper
9.1.19 ~ so long, summertime

I expect we will bring our own food down to the beach on warm autumn days, but I have to say, this was the first summer I’ve actually enjoyed in a very long time.

a cast of characters

8.16.19 ~ Eastern Point Beach
This is probably a laughing gull somewhere on the road to adulthood.
It takes them 2-3 years to gain adult plumage.
He kept a close eye on us, staring intently as we ate our supper.
This young ring-billed gull decided to attract our attention with all sorts of antics right in front of our bench.
His long call was not very long or very loud, thankfully.
They grey freckles on his head are fetching.
Showing off some fancy footwork.
This guy kept his distance as he was performing
the amazing “feet” of standing on one leg.
He stayed like that the whole time we were eating.
Look to the right…
Head down…
Keeping his gaze forward…
Now to the left. Perhaps he was doing some gull yoga.

There were no herring gulls there that evening, not even my friend with the mangled leg. But we were well entertained by these visitors.

an abundant small goose

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach, a visiting flock of brants

The Canada geese we have around here seem to live here year-round. Several times a day I hear them honking overhead as they fly from the beach to the south, to the golf course to the west, and to the salt marsh and fields to the east of us. I love that sound.

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Yesterday as we were taking a walk down by the beach we saw a flock of geese feeding on the grassy area but there was something different about them. They seemed smaller than Canada geese. Tim walked around behind them so they would come toward me and the camera. The one below seemed a little curious.

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Then they decided to walk away from both of us in a third direction.

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

When Tim joined me again they decided it was safe to return to their original dining area. They went back single file!

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach ~ brants filing by Zbierski House

After researching online I think it is indeed a type of small goose, called the brant. I love discovering new kinds of visitors when I go to the ‘same old’ beach!

An abundant small goose of the ocean shores, the Brant breeds in the high Arctic tundra and winters along both coasts. The Brant along the Atlantic have light gray bellies, while those off the Pacific Coast have black bellies and were at one time considered a separate species.
~ All About Birds website

Of course there were plenty of gulls feeding, too. But they’re after the seafood found in shells…

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach ~ one of my gull friends eyeing a meal

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach ~ late afternoon sun behind Tyler House, shining through the left corner window on the second floor

It was a lovely winter afternoon at the beach.

in the offing

In all the excitement yesterday I forgot I had a prescription to pick up at the drug store. So… we decided to go get it this morning, even though it was already raining, but with no wind to speak of. Workers were boarding up the large expanse of windows at CVS. I wonder if they will stay open for 24 hours through the storm.

8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Since we were already out and about we decided to have second breakfast (as Hobbits refer to it) at our favorite restaurant. And then we decided to go to the food co-op for Tim’s sliced almonds. And then we decided we may as well check out the beach before returning home.

On the way we spotted some die-hard golfers, out for one last round! That’s the Thames River behind them, shrouded in mist.

8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

I’m guessing these cormorants were getting a feel for the wind direction. They didn’t fly, they were just standing there with their wings open…

8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point

This little house is on a rock island in the Thames River and is the object of much curiosity and speculation. We have never seen people there before, but today these two kayaked out there! When I got home and uploaded my pictures to my laptop, I noticed that there seems to be a wind turbine just behind the bushes! I called Tim over and he had never noticed one there before either. It’s strange that I didn’t even see it while taking the picture.

8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point

We drove right up to this seagull. He was unimpressed with us and wasn’t about to leave his post.

8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point

This gull had a long and mournful cry…

8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point
8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point

As I moved closer to him I could see something wrong with his foot, perhaps it was injured and healed in an awkward position. He seemed to know I meant him no harm and allowed me to come very close to him and talk to him.

8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point
8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point

Later he was waiting patiently, hoping to get a crumb from a woman enjoying one last hot dog before the storm arrives.

8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point
8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point

On the way home we stopped at Baker Cove and found this tranquil scene…

8.27.11 ~ Eastern Point
Baker Cove ~ 8.27.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

There have been a few evacuations near us, but so far we’re good to stay. The storm track is a little more to the west, so we’re out of the “red” zone. Now we’re more concerned about Larisa in New York than about us here. There is a high new moon tide coming along with a 6′ storm surge. (We’re 20′ high.  If I see water, though, I’m out of here!) Tim has his webcam aimed out the window – wonder what we’ll see?

sailboats and seagulls

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Earlier this year I read an utterly fascinating book, A Time for Everything, a historical fiction by multiple award-winning Norwegian author Karl O. Knausgård, a story unlike any I’ve ever read before. This is how the publisher describes his most unusual story:

Antinous Bellori, a boy of eleven, loses his way in the woods in the mountains behind his home. Unseen, he stumbles upon two glowing beings, an event that leads him to devote the rest of his life to the study of angels. Bellori reinterprets moments throughout the Bible where men confront angels: the expulsion from the garden, Cain and Abel, Lot in Sodom, Noah’s isolation before the flood, Ezekiel’s visions. . . .  Through his profound glimpses, Karl Knausgaard—an extraordinary storyteller and thinker—explores with spellbinding insight how the nature and roles of these intermediaries between man and the divine have shifted throughout history.

If I had to sum it up in a sentence I would say it is about the nature and evolution of angels and what day-to-day life might have been like for the various Bible characters mentioned above. And without spoiling the story, if you want to read it, I will just say that after reading it I will never look at seagulls quite the same way again.

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Saturday evening we went down to the beach for a hot dog and a sunset. As the various seagulls came by to see if we were offering to share any of our food — we weren’t, it’s not good for them, or us, for that matter — I studied them closely and kept asking them if it was true, what Knausgård says of them. Tim kept reminding me it was fiction. He doesn’t yet appreciate the power of this amazing storyteller, nor will he unless he reads it for himself. But he probably won’t because I’ve chewed his ear off about it for a couple of months now! The seagulls only looked at me as if the question I was asking them was far too personal and none of my business.

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

While I was busy photographing the uncooperative beings an alluring schooner appeared on the horizon. I’m pretty sure it was the Mystic Whaler. We watched her approach to the Thames River, spellbound. Many years ago my aunt and I sailed on her for a two-night cruise to Block Island…

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

There were other boats around, too. The Hel-Cat II, with the dubious distinction of being New England’s largest party fishing boat. Sport fishing, that is. And on board there was a party well under way, even before she reached Long Island Sound, music and revelry blaring across the water…

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Then there was the ferry, coming in from Long Island…

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

And then a smaller sailboat appeared, hugging the shore, stirring up memories for Tim of sailing with his brother in Provincetown Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

As the sailboat approached New London Harbor Lighthouse, across the Thames River, the light came on for the evening, “three seconds white alternating with three seconds darkness, with red sector.”

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

And then the little sailboat passed by the setting sun. Sweet dreams, dear sailors!

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

After sunset, on the way home, we saw an amazing sight, a flock of about two dozen egrets (white herons?) resting in the trees in the middle of the salt marsh, seemingly all spread out to be equidistant from each other, so far apart they wouldn’t all fit in one picture… At first glance we thought someone had draped white cloths on the trees. The pictures are disappointing…

8.20.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.20.11 ~ Avery Pond, Groton, Connecticut

But it was a sight to behold and a surprise ending to a lovely evening!

Some believe seagulls embody the souls of sailors lost at sea. Karl Ove Knausgård has some other ideas…