waning summer

9.13.20 ~ Eastern Point

Beach season ended with Labor Day weekend. We took a walk down there the following weekend and were greeted by this solitary gull on the rocks.

On the ocean, gulls are good luck. Gulls are strong, brave, commanding. They are harbingers of land, of fish just below the surface, of a coming storm. Legend has it they hold the souls of drowned sailors and fishermen, so killing one is bad luck.
~ Sara Anne Donnelly
(Yankee, July/August 2020)

nonbreeding adult laughing gulls

When we got down to the sand we found a large gathering of gulls hanging out. They have reclaimed the beach! I was delighted because the tiny laughing gulls were actually on the sand, which is a much more appealing backdrop than the asphalt parking lot where I usually see them. There was quite an assortment of sizes and colors.

juvenile laughing gull and nonbreeding adult herring gull
laughing gull, second winter and nonbreeding adult herring gull
juvenile laughing gull
nonbreeding adult laughing gull
nonbreeding adult ring-billed gull
laughing gull and herring gull, both nonbreeding adults
these two seemed to be great friends
At first I thought the large one might be a great black-backed gull because he seems pretty huge, but he doesn’t quite fit the description. I dusted of my “Gulls of the Americas” reference book and discovered that there has been some cross-breeding between the great black-backed and herring gulls. Maybe that’s what’s going on here…
perhaps a version of yoga tree pose
nonbreeding adult ring-billed gull
juvenile laughing gull
waning summer
weed and post art
jellyfish!

There really is a kind of insane beauty around us all the time. It’s just a question of learning to slow down, take a deep breath, and meet the moment.
~ Graham Nash
(Eye to Eye: Photographs)

It was fascinating watching this creature propelling itself through the murky water. It moves so fast I was surpised that some of the pictures actually came out!

The bars are still closed in Connecticut and now that the beach gate is open I’m sure it won’t be long before people start returning to the beach to socialize, bringing their dogs and leaving their trash, cigarette butts, and empty beer bottles. We will probably return to the woods soon, and try to do a better job of avoiding the poison ivy. Enjoying the autumn weather!

morningtide

6.24.20 ~ Eastern Point
Canada goose papa watching over his family in Avery Pond

One morning, four days after the beach “opened” for the season on June 20, we got up early and headed down there before it opened for the day. What a difference! Now that people have to pay for a pass to enter between 8am and 8pm the freeloaders and all their litter, cigarette butts and dog crap have disappeared. Peace is restored and we had such a lovely walk!

killdeer parent and three tiny chicks
near Avery Pond
killdeer on the run after the speedy little chicks

In contrast to the tranquil Canada goose family, the killdeer parents were beyond frantic, chasing after and chirping to their three chicks, who were darting all over the place and in every direction. It made getting their pictures next to impossible! They blended in well with the gravel.

the morning dew promised a humid day

Someone is tending some beautiful rose bushes near the entrance, along the chain link fence.

rose and chain link fence

I love the contrast between rusty old metal and fresh new flower.

rose and buds

The water was very calm on the river/estuary side of the point.

juvenile gull
female common eider
flying over the Thames River estuary
underwater and above-water seaweed
please, please, please

Another risk factor to worry about:

The two stretches of DNA implicated as harboring risks for severe COVID-19 are known to carry some intriguing genes, including one that determines blood type and others that play various roles in the immune system. In fact, the findings suggest that people with blood type A face a 50 percent greater risk of needing oxygen support or a ventilator should they become infected with the novel coronavirus. In contrast, people with blood type O appear to have about a 50 percent reduced risk of severe COVID-19.
~ Dr. Francis S. Collins
(Genes, Blood Type Tied to Risk of Severe COVID-19,
NIH Director’s Blog, June 18, 2020)

I have type A blood. Fortunately my husband, children, and grandchildren are all type O. Reading this article made me glad that we haven’t let our guard down and continue to remain firmly self-quarantined. And now our governor has ordered out-of-state travelers to quarantine for two weeks when entering Connecticut because of the way COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire in so many other states. I’m glad to know he is still looking out for us. The numbers are getting very alarming again.

It’s good to know my beach sanctuary is available to me again, at least for the summer. Looking forward to many early morning walks on the sand.

The salt of those ancient seas is in our blood, its lime is in our bones. Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments, or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.
~ Loren Eiseley
(The Unexpected Universe)

gull tracks

I like this place, and willingly could
Waste my time in it.

~ William Shakespeare
(As You Like It)

? near Beach Pond
red-winged blackbird near Beach Pond

We are nature. We are nature seeing nature. The red-winged blackbird flies in us.
~ Susan Griffin
(Made from this Earth: An Anthology of Writings)

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)

our bubble

4.14.20 ~ morning moon

As we continue to carve out a new life for ourselves in quarantine, we have started referring to “our bubble.” Stay safe, stay home. We are wary of popping our bubble by some careless slip of protocol. We care for our safe zone (our bubble) and speak of it fondly sometimes, as we tend to it like one would a houseplant or a pet.

4.14.20 ~ Elm Grove Cemetery, Mystic, Connecticut

Yesterday we went for an early morning walk at Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic. It’s a large scenic resting place along the Mystic River, just north of Mystic Seaport. The seaport is closed for the pandemic and many (most?) of its employees have been laid off. We parked at the south end of the graveyard where we could see the dockyard across the water and also explore the fascinating carvings on the gravestones of past sailors.

4.14.20 ~ Mystic Seaport from a distance
4.14.20 ~ sailing poetry on a headstone
4.14.20 ~ Mystic Seaport buildings

We’re going to renew our membership to Mystic Seaport anyway. Even though we have no idea when it will be safe to visit again.

4.14.20 ~ looking across the Mystic River

I’m pretty sure that cliff and house (above) are part of the Peace Sanctuary, where Janet, her mom and I took a lady slippers nature walk back in 2013. See lady slippers.

4.14.20 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre, still covered for winter

Will the Viking ship have any adventures this year? I have my doubts there will be a Viking Days festival this June…

4.14.20 ~ a soggy stuffed bunny hiding
4.14.20 ~ New London Ledge Lighthouse
4.14.20 ~ one of the cemetery’s peaceful ponds
4.14.20 ~ a lighthouse for a monument
4.14.20 ~ a small decorative well that Tim loved
4.14.20 ~ another peaceful pond

And we finally came around back to our car. Can’t believe it’s six years old! In some places folks aren’t permitted to drive somewhere to take a walk but we are, thankfully. Tim says it isn’t good for cars to sit without running for long periods of time. Our car is an important part of our bubble!

This was our first walk where we did not encounter a single person! Not sure if it was the location or the time of day that did the trick. I suspect there will be more cooler early morning walks as the warmer summer days come along. As long as we can manage to stay safe in our bubble.

We now have 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town.

two little waterfalls

4.7.20 ~ Sheep Farm, Groton, Connecticut

On Tuesday we took advantage of beautiful weather and took a very long walk at a new park that was created in 2010. We walked straight downhill through a forest to Fort Hill Brook, saw a small waterfall and then followed the stream down to another one. And then we climbed up a switchback trail to our starting point, a loop that took us an hour.

4.7.20 ~ first waterfall

The Sheep Farm has a diverse habitat including rocky outcroppings, glacial erratics, bluestem meadows, deep forest interior habitat, forest edge habitat, early successional forests, extensive wetlands, seeps, shrub swamps, a string of Tier 1 vernal pools, Class A stream – Fort Hill Brook, and two waterfalls.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

4.7.20 ~ moss and lichen on pretty striped boulder
4.7.20 ~ skunk cabbage

Twice we moved six feet off the trail to avoid other hikers, and spotted some people on other trails on the other side of the brook.

4.7.20 ~ we didn’t see one
4.7.20 ~ second waterfall

There was a better spot to take a picture of this waterfall, but, a woman was practicing yoga in a bathing suit behind the tree so this was the best I could do. 🙂

4.7.20 ~ I’m noticing boulders more these days
4.7.20 ~ almost there!

When we got back to the parking lot we had to find a rock to sit on for quite a while. A family had parked right next to our car and they were getting in and out of their car trying to sort something or other out. They were much closer than the required six feet for social distancing! But we enjoyed looking at some plantings while we waited patiently for them to leave.

We now have 11 detected cases of coronavirus in our town. Population: 39,075. (In 2017) I find myself preoccupied with statistics these days.

morning at the beach

4.1.20 ~ sidewalk greetings, Eastern Point Beach

Noon — is the Hinge of Day —
Evening — the Tissue Door —
Morning — the East compelling the Sill —
Till all the World is ajar —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1060)

4.1.20 ~ treasures in the sand

On Wednesday we went down to the beach earlier in the morning and found it less populated and more peaceful. Chilly, but wonderful! Staying connected with family and friends and even feeling better physically. Full of gratitude.

4.1.20 ~ looking east
4.1.20 ~ looking west, New London Ledge Lighthouse and Tyler House
4.1.20 ~ looking north, Zbierski House
4.1.20 ~ looking down
4.1.20 ~ specks of garnet in the sand
4.1.20 ~ solitary tree, Thames River

Spring! Back at home in my garden, the chionodoxa (glory of the snow) are out! What a cheerful greeting and welcome home. ❦

4.1.20 ~ chionodoxa popping through the mulch

boulder deposits

3.21.20 ~ Glacial Park, Ledyard, Connecticut

Saturday we took a walk at Ledyard Glacial Park. Life has seemed so surreal lately and even the woods seemed too quiet. But soon we heard the voices of youngsters having fun and then appeared a mother walking down the trail with her four children. We moved about 6 feet off the path, to comply with social distancing. The family respectfully continued past us but greeted us with multiple rounds of “hello,” “bye,” and “enjoy your walk!” We responded in kind. So that’s how it is supposed to work and it felt good to know we were on the same page and in the same world as strangers, our neighbors.

Ledyard is among the areas of the United States that was covered by a continental ice sheet during the last Ice Age. Therefore, Ledyard has its share of interesting glacial geology. The glaciers that covered Ledyard carried the many large boulders that litter the town. The town has set aside land designated as a “Glacial Park” which consists of a section of end moraine and outwash deposits (containing kettles). This area encompasses a segment of the “Ledyard Moraine” — a clast-supported boulder deposit that is anomalous in nature.
~ Wikipedia

Please enjoy the photos. I took way too many!

3.21.20 ~ quartz
3.21.20 ~ spotted wintergreen
3.21.20 ~ We took the left fork and then turned right on the by-pass. Half way up the by-pass we turned around and went back the way we came.

On Sunday we learned of the first case of coronavirus in our town. A 52-year-old woman. So it’s here…

distress

7.11.19 ~ my gull friend landing after a scuffle

This time I brought my camera to the beach, in hopes of seeing my gull friend with the mangled leg again. He was sitting on the highest rock, resting. Both of the benches along the sidewalk where we usually sit were occupied so we went to a bench on the rocks between Tyler House and the water. It’s kind of nice there anyway because it’s in the shade and there is a dip in the boulders creating a watering hole the gulls frequent for drinks.

As we were eating it sounded like some kind of scuffle was happening around the side of the house, with several gulls crying. Excited human voices were in the mix. Perhaps one of the gulls stole a hot dog and the others fought him for it. I think my friend was involved because when the calls died down he flew around the corner and landed in front of us, crying with great distress. And he went on crying for quite a long time. He was shuddering terribly, too.

After a long while — maybe after he was finished telling us the story? — he sat down and was quiet and seemed content to watch us eat. When I was finished I went over to him and sat on the rock with him. We communed for quite a while and I got a few pictures.

And then he suddenly stood up and started crying again. I looked to my left and saw a very large, menacing great black-backed gull standing there, staring my gull down. It flew off when I turned my camera toward it. Maybe these two are fighting about something?

7.11.19 ~ my gull friend after confronting a great black-backed gull

After he calmed down I gave him a little pep talk and then we started to leave. He followed us to the sidewalk and then flew across the grass. It was if he was walking (flying) us to the car. I hope we see him again next week under better circumstances!

7.11.19 ~ see you next week, my gull friend!

Coumeenoole Beach

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Visiting Coumeenoole Beach Saturday afternoon was amazing! I was already excited to have learned, the night before as I was browsing online, that parts of the movie Ryan’s Daughter had been filmed on this beach. This brought back to me a distant memory; Ryan’s Daughter was the first R-rated film my parents allowed me to see. And I was in awe of the cinematography.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

We stopped first at the top of the bluff to take in the breathtaking scenery from above. You’ll have to forgive me for posting so many pictures! I took hundreds and it was impossible to choose just a few.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Then Tim and Larisa drove down the steep road (see below) from the bluff to the beach. Dima and Katherine decided to walk down the path and stairs and I followed them with the camera.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Oh what a wild and free Atlantic Ocean!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the family looks down to the beach below

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ father and daughter share a love of adventure

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ those were some huge waves down there!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ almost down to the road

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the road from the steps down

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ look at those tiny people down there!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I finally make my way to the sand

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ our little explorer

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide is coming in, rather quickly

I learned later that at low tide the beach goes much farther out. The tide continued to come in. I’m not sure how many hours we spent there enjoying all the nooks and crannies in the rocks.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I was worried the tide would catch Tim over there

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ late afternoon sun

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Katherine never tired of exploring ~ she has always loved the great outdoors

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ having people in the pictures helps to get a sense of scale here

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I’m pretty sure this was Dima and Katherine’s creation

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I took lots of close-ups of the rocks for my sister, the geologist

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and Katherine, still moments by the sea

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima sets off on his own adventure ~ he disappeared around the corner and I have to admit I was a little concerned for his safety

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ my darling little Katherine

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Even though I loved climbing trees as a child I still cringed when my kids started climbing trees and rocks. I never stopped them but I couldn’t look. After I grew up my mother told me she couldn’t watch my sister and me climb trees either. That feeling rose up again watching some of the rock climbing Larisa and Katherine did. Eventually I turned away… The rocks my kids climbed on at our local beach look pretty tame now after seeing the young ones taking on these rocky cliffs!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide looks like it might be in

So that ended my picture taking. Well, I also used up both camera batteries. 🙂

I watched Ryan’s Daughter again one afternoon this week. (It’s a very long movie with an intermission.) It was fun recognizing Coumeenoole Beach in parts of the film. The storm scene was shot during an actual storm on this beach. The waves were about 20 feet high. Tim guessed the waves were about 8 feet high the day we were there.

What wonderful memories I will cherish of this awesome afternoon by the sea…