down by the river

11.17.21 ~ Poquonnock River Walkway

We are lucky in Groton to have a long boardwalk alongside the Poquonnock River, squeezing in a bit of nature between industrial parks, shopping centers, a small airport and the railroad tracks and bridge. The flatness of the walkway is not good for Tim’s back, which does much better on uneven terrain, but there are a few well placed benches along the way where he can sit and readjust his muscles enough times to make it a doable walk. We were wearing our winter coats this day and most of the birds and berries we saw were nestled in the reeds and trees. No waterbirds on the river, except for an occasional gull touching down for a few moments. And one amazing flyby of Canada geese high in the sky.

juniper berries
Canada geese

We avoided this walk during the pandemic because there wouldn’t be enough room to stay six feet away when passing other walkers. But since we both have had our booster shots we felt safe enough to take a chance. One jogger passed by us twice, on his way out and back. We also passed an elderly man walking along, talking to himself.

downy woodpecker
downy woodpecker
golden autumn
maple leaves between beech tree trunks

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

~ John O’Donohue
(Conamara Blues: Poems)

tree silhouette reflection in water
under moss covered branch and bankside foliage
reindeer moss and lichens on dying branch
northern mockingbird with orbs
northern mockingbird
northern mockingbird

So far as our noblest hardwood forests are concerned, the animals, especially squirrels and jays, are our greatest and almost only benefactors. It is to them that we owe this gift. It is not in vain that the squirrels live in or about every forest tree, or hollow log, and every wall and heap of stones.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, October 31, 1860)

autumn river beauty
one can forget the civilization is so close by
multiflora rose hips
(thanks to Eliza for the id)
blackberry
(thanks to Leelah and Eliza for the id)
crabapples
(thanks to Eliza for the id)

The wild cherries ripen, black and fat,
Paradisal fruits that taste of no man’s sweat.

Reach up, pull down the laden branch, and eat;
When you have learned their bitterness, they taste sweet.

~ Wendell Berry
(Fall, for Wallace Fowlie)

komorebi

11.13.21 ~ Saint Patrick Cemetery, Mystic, Connecticut

The interplay between light and the leaves when sunlight filters through trees. The Japanese have a word for it: komorebi. Every spring and autumn the wonderful quality of the sunlight surrounding the equinoxes makes our walks in the woods (or cemeteries) seem so enchanting, whether the leaves are on the ground, on the trees, or fluttering around in the air. It’s starting to dim now that we are closer to the winter solstice, but I thought I might squeeze in one last batch of leaf photos!

little splotch of sunlight

We came back to this cemetery after we discovered it a couple of weeks ago. It had lots of trees and natural beauty, set on the banks of the picturesque Mystic River. A wind and rain storm was due later in the afternoon and it was already getting breezy. The sky was still blue to the east and getting pretty gray to the west. Still, enough sun came out to play at times.

And all the lives we ever lived
And all the lives to be
Are full of trees and changing leaves.

~ Virginia Woolf
(To the Lighthouse)

view across the Mystic River

I love autumn and winter more. Something opens up in me then ~ something soft and deep and glowing ~ which is far too shy to expose itself to the inexhaustible light of summer.
~ Sharon Blackie
(The Enchanted Life, Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday)

a blue bike and a blue bug
the license plate says “OLE BUG”
same driveway as seen in above picture
love this burnt orange color
Mystic River
a rare bit of red? or burnt orange?
stuck on the fence
another view across the Mystic River
木漏れ日 (koh-mo-reh-bee)

A couple of hours after we got home a quick but terribly windy thunderstorm with heavy rain passed through. Later we learned that four confirmed tornadoes had touched down in Connecticut! One of them was an EF-1 with estimated 90 mph winds in Stonington, about 15 miles to the east of us. The other three were farther away and were EF-0s. Tornadoes in November???

The four twisters that struck Connecticut are the only four on record to occur in the state during November and the most in the state in a single day since May 15, 2018.
~ Jacob Feuerstein
(The Washington Post, November 14, 2021)

steps of passing ghosts

10.22.21 ~ Florence Griswold Museum
dragonfly from “Twisted Sisters Magical Menagerie” by Kristen Thornton

Last week, Janet, Tim and I visited the annual Wee Faerie outdoor art exhibit at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. They have a different theme every year and the trail is open for the whole month of October. This year’s theme was Folly Woods, Awesome Wee Faerie Architecture.

butterfly from “Twisted Sisters Magical Menagerie” by Kristen Thornton

Historic real-world follies are ornamental buildings designed to enhance the view at grand estates, public parks, and gardens. The fanciful forms of a folly is its function. Often inspired by the classical architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans, folly architects also borrow decorative elements from Egypt, India, and Japan. This year, the wee faeries present FOLLY WOODS, a collection of miniature architectural masterworks for you to enjoy.
~ Folly Finder program

butterfly and bee homes from
“Arden’s Edenesque Escape” by Vanessa Bunnell

Janet and I first started coming to these in 2011! I’ve missed a year or two for various reasons but it’s always exciting to come back and see the newest creations. Spending time with Janet is always a gift. It’s such a lovely setting on the banks of the Lieutenant River that we found ourselves captivated by the trees and flowers as much as by the little fairy buildings.

Gothic-style pavilion from
“Periwinkle’s Picturesque Pavilion” by Lynda Cmara & Bettina Rowlands
the Green Man tucked behind a net, waiting for spring
from “Periwinkle’s Picturesque Pavilion” by Lynda Cmara & Bettina Rowlands
fall colors in the Lieutenant River
“Gwyndolyn’s Gatehouse” by The Vernons
black walnut
from “Avery’s Surreal Aviary” by Madeline Kwasniewski & T. Arthur Donnelly
Avery’s special bluebird from
from “Avery’s Surreal Aviary” by Madeline Kwasniewski & T. Arthur Donnelly
“Flora’s Artistic Atrium” by Jessica Zeedyk

Listen …
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break free from the trees
And fall.

~ Adelaide Crapsey
(November Night)

a barn owl from “Baron Belfield’s Arch” by Kathryn Stocking-Koza
“Baron Belfield’s Arch” by Kathryn Stocking-Koza
details from “Baron Belfield’s Arch” by Kathryn Stocking-Koza
One never knows when a fairy might appear!
giant turtle foundation of “Serena’s Sylvan Shelter” by Nancy MacBride
turtle top of of “Serena’s Sylvan Shelter” by Nancy MacBride
mushrooms from “Faye’s Mystic Garden” by Bill Vollers & Dawn Hutchins
from “Faye’s Mystic Garden” by Bill Vollers & Dawn Hutchins
“Rodger Dodger’s Hodge-Podge Lodge” by Billie Tannen & Bob Nielsen

If you want to see some highlights from past years just click on the Florence Griswold Museum category below and you will find all my past wee faerie posts. 🧚 Some of the artists have contributed before so if you click on their names in the categories below you might find things they’ve created in past years.

As nature descends into the sacred darkness it’s the season for me to honor my departed ancestors. This is the time of year when I feel their presence the strongest. The blessings of All Hallows Eve.

May you know that absence is alive with hidden presence, that nothing is ever lost or forgotten. May the absences in your life grow full of eternal echo. May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere where the presences that have left you dwell.
~ John O’Donohue
(To Bless the Space Between Us)

close enough!

10.29.21 ~ double-crested cormorant on Thames River

So, Tim & I were on our way home from the food co-op and decided to drive down by the Thames River. Much to our surprise, two cormorants were sitting on a rock in the water close to the riverbank. “Try to get your picture!” Tim encouraged. “When I open the door they will fly away,” I replied, but decided to try anyway, not expecting much.

Well, they didn’t fly away! As many of you know, I’ve been trying to get a decent picture of a cormorant for many years now. They are always just a little too far away to get the “perfect” picture. And I love my bird portraits and headshots. I have to say, I am finally satisfied!!!

it’s nowhere near over

9.7.21 ~ Eastern Point
double-crested cormorant on the rocks

Another nice day Tuesday. After Labor Day the beach is “closed.” No lifeguards, concession stand or restrooms open. Fewer people to navigate through. Great for a morning walk. Got closer to a cormorant than I’ve ever been before, but as luck would have it, the sun was behind him and he came out as mostly a silhouette.

ring-billed gull on the rocks
immature male common eiders in the estuary

The gift for this morning was spotting four immature male common eiders hanging out in the estuary. I’ve only seen a female common eider once, last summer. New England is in the southernmost part of their range. I was enchanted.

A bird of the cold north with a warm reputation, the Common Eider is famous for the insulating quality of its down (typically harvested from nests without harming the birds). Breeding males are sharp white and black, with pistachio green accents on the neck. Females are barred with warm brown and black. These largest of all Northern Hemisphere ducks gather along rocky ocean shores, diving for mussels and other shellfish, which they pry from rocks using long, chisel-like bills. Males court females throughout the year with gentle, crooning calls.
~ All About Birds website

monarch butterfly on the lawn

The coronavirus pandemic rages on, surging especially among the unvaccinated. But the fully vaccinated are getting sick, too, which gave us pause and led to our postponing our trip to North Carolina to see our grandchildren until we can get our third dose of vaccine. We don’t even want to get the “mild” version of COVID-19. We’re back to wearing double masks in the grocery store. And because we’re super cautious we stopped going inside anywhere else. Avoiding crowded outdoor places, too. Masks at the farmers market.

My sister reports from Connecticut College that on Monday, 20 students who were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and some of their friends were tested. Through contact tracing, it was determined that the students who had contracted the virus had been socializing without masks in cars, in friends’ rooms or apartments, at parties or in bars. Tuesday morning the test results showed an additional 34 students had tested positive. All were moved to isolation housing.

double-crested cormorant in the river

Connecticut College requires all students and staff to be fully vaccinated (and to wear masks indoors) so these are breakthrough cases. Beverly spent one week with us but is now teaching remotely from her home and probably won’t be back here for the semester. 🙁 I’m just glad we were able to see each other a few times this summer before this new social distancing period seems prudent. Sigh.

It’s been a while since I’ve made note of our local coronavirus statistics. We have had 3,014 detected cases in our town. Connecticut has had 376,747 confirmed cases and 8,395 deaths. We’re coming close to the 8,500 number of estimated deaths we had in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. On September 8th we had 403 new cases. Overall, 2,368,830 people or 66% of Connecticut’s population has been fully vaccinated.

driftwood caught in the rocks

And now CNN is reporting that 1 in 4 new cases of COVID-19 are in children.

summer’s end

It’s nowhere near over.

Update: As of Thursday 107 students have now tested positive. Many are going home instead of quarantining on campus. Seems like that would not help to contain the spread.

hazy, hot, humid

8.11.21 ~ New London Ledge Light from Eastern Point

Air quality alerts, heat advisories, ugh… We came out of our nest twice yesterday, once to go to the farmers market and after supper down to the beach. Not much going on there and we didn’t stay long because of the oppressive humidity. Walking was a struggle. No sea breeze…

New London Harbor Light from Eastern Point
only one gull on the rocks

When we heard some vigorous splashing we looked over in the river to see a gull taking a bath. Was he cleaning off or cooling down? I’m amazed these pictures came out at all!

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a tiny least sandpiper running around on the sand. He’s only six inches long and this is the only picture that came out! So cute!

least sandpiper

Back inside, we’ve been working on jigsaw puzzles again…

sightings

7.14.21 ~ banded American oystercatcher ~ Eastern Point

I submitted my sighting of this banded American Oystercatcher to the American Oystercatcher Working Group and have now recieved a history of this bird’s travels. He was caught on Cape Cod in July of 2012 and has been spotted along the shoreline from the Cape down here to southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island over the past nine years. 🙂 Thank you so much, Donna, for letting me know I could do this!


7.23.21 ~ northern mockingbird
Fort Trumbull State Park, New London, Connecticut

On a visit to Fort Trumbull last week the northern mockingbird, above, landed on top of the rampart while we were up there enjoying the views. I was surprised to see one so high up as the ones I’ve seen so far have been on the ground.


Monday night at the beach seemed to be reserved for ring-billed gulls. I looked in vain for the Captain and for any laughing gulls. Looking back now at my older posts I’ve noticed that all my pictures of laughing gulls are dated August and September so perhaps that’s when they ususally show up here. I’m learning.

7.26.21 ~ ring-billed gull on the rocks ~ Eastern Point

Tim noticed several osprey flying above the Thames River estuary but we couldn’t identify them until we got home and the helpful people from the What’s This Bird? Facebook group assisted us. 🙂

osprey
osprey

The sky was gray and hazy from the smoke from the fires out west. We’ve been under an air quality alert. The birds have no choice but to breathe this air, though.

ring-billed gull on the Thames River beach
great egret in Thames River estuary

I almost missed the tiny killdeer skittering about on the island in the estuary. They’re fuzzy because they were on the move and the island was so far away from my camera!

killdeer on island in Thames River estuary
great egret
killdeer
juvenile gull
great egret
one of my little song sparrows on the stone wall near the thicket
sun setting in smoky haze over Thames River

I started feeling a little nostalgic as we walked around. Years ago I was so busy keeping an eye on my children at the beach that I didn’t notice the shorebirds. But as I watched the lifeguards gathering up their equipment for the day, the sights and sounds and smell of the salty air filled me with a longing for those happy summer days so long ago…


for Leelah: my mossy fairy garden

salt marsh, forest and scrubland

3.30.21 ~ Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, Connecticut

Recently my blogging friend Linda, over at Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy, has been posting about her visit to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and this inspired me to finally visit Connecticut’s own national wildlife refuge. I’ve lived in Connecticut most of my life and had never been! We decided to start with the Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook, closest to home.

visitor center

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 10 units stretched across 70 miles of Connecticut’s coastline. It was established in 1972 and was originally called Salt Meadow National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was renamed in 1987 to honor the late U.S. Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who was instrumental in expanding it.
~ Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge website

welcoming start of the Loop (Green) Trail
a spent heart leaf dangling in the forest
the trail was wide and well maintained
young and old
wildlife viewing platform

We were very excited to reach the wildlife viewing platform overlooking the salt marsh. Unfortunately, though, we did not see a single waterbird, even though we waited patiently for a while. Wrong time of year or maybe wrong time of day…

the Menunketesuck River runs through the Salt Meadow
looking south
looking down ~ mud
signs of human habitation in the past

I was surprised to find an andromeda bush (on the right) in the woods. Perhaps it originated in the garden of Esther Lape & Elizabeth Read, who owned the property and donated it to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 1972.

andromeda aka lily-of-the-valley bush
someone planted hundreds of bulbs along the trail
rotting tree trunk
a little dollop of sunshine
squiggle art
twisty art
new green
chionodoxa

Looking forward to returning some day to take the Marsh (Blue) and Woodcock (Orange) Trails. And maybe to see some birds!