herring gull, third winter

11.29.21 ~ Harkness Memorial State Park
herring gull, third winter

Another turn at Kathy’s photo shorts game. (“One photo. Write something short. Then move on into your day.”)

Yesterday we took a cold (37°F/3°C) walk by the sound and saw lots of herring gulls and a couple of common eiders. It was a dull gray day with a light northerly wind. Not great for photography so this one will suffice.

one morning, two walks

11.15.21 ~ New London Ledge Light from Eastern Point

Our first walk of the morning was at “our” beach. The clouds were dramatic and it was too windy so we didn’t stay very long.

hydrangea seed heads?
content Canada goose
American crow
climbing bittersweet?

We had to stop at the post office after that walk so we decided to explore a new Groton Open Space Association property. Walt’s Walls & Woods was acquired on July 31st and it is near the post office. We wound up taking another walk.

11.15.21 ~ Walt’s Walls & Woods, Groton, Connecticut

Walt’s Walls and Woods provides a small forest, wetlands, exquisite stonewalls and gardens to a neighborhood green space for the residents and visitors of downtown Groton. Wetlands surround the property on three sides, and Town-owned open spaces cover two sides. A spectacular steep ravine, part of an ancient rift valley, is located nearby, separating the Ledges and Boulder Heights properties. … Walter Watrous spent many years constructing the exquisite stonewalls in front of the cliffside ledge, using a drystone technique, backfilling with crushed stone and providing room for the roots of the weeping cherry trees. Colorful creeping phlox, heathers, azaleas, rhododendrons and purple coneflowers extend the blooming season.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

notice the seam where the tree is meeting the erratic
other side of the same erratic and tree
this erratic looked like the back of a sea lion to me
beautiful autumn sky
reflecting sunlight
moss and lichen
autumn texture
steep hill

Autumn teaches us that fruition is also death; that ripeness is a form of decay. The willows, having stood for so long near water, begin to rust. Leaves are verbs that conjugate the seasons.
~ Gretel Ehrlich
(The Solace of Open Spaces: Essays)

a stone wall interrupted by a glacial erratic
some of Walter Watrous’ stone walls
a dandelion in November?

It was a lovely walk. We’re looking forward to coming back to see the weeping cherries bloom come spring. But, first we’ll have to see what winter has in store for us.

sunlight by the sea

10.15.21 ~ Waterford Beach Park

This is my second annual Walktober post with Robin over at breezes at dawn. If you would like to, click the link to learn more about it and perhaps join us. Everyone is welcome! 🍂

great blue heron

For our walk I decided to visit a place my Birding in Connecticut book suggested. We had never been to Waterford Beach Park before. There was a long path through a wooded area and then through a salt marsh and then over a dune to get to the beach. And then we had a pleasant walk up and down the scenic beach on Long Island Sound, although the sand flies were pretty bad that day. It was also unseasonably warm. A few people were arriving with beach chairs as we were leaving.

great egret

Great blue herons stay here for the winter. I thought great egrets flew south but apparently during mild years they stay as far north as Massachusetts. The summer ones in Groton are gone, maybe they come over here for the winter. 🙂 Or maybe the warm weather has merely postponed their departure. Tim noticed the interspecies friendship moment in the picture below.

great blue heron and great egret together
(taken from the John A. Scillieri, Jr. Overlook Wetlands path)

Waterford Beach Park offers nearly 1/4 mile long stretch of sandy beach and an extensive tidal marsh. Visitors have the rare opportunity to experience an unmodified natural beach with outstanding views of Long Island Sound.
~ Town of Waterford website

path over the tidal marsh and dune, leading to the beach

I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.

~ Wendell Berry
(The Peace of Wild Things)

tidal creek coming from Alewife Cove
beach roses

The beach views took our breaths away! A friendly town employee greeted us and when we told him we had never been there before he kindly filled us in on all sorts of events held there. A summer pass is quite expensive though, so I suspect all our visits will be off-season when there is no entrance fee.

looking west

Since we started looking for nature walks when the pandemic began we still keep finding “new” places near home that we’ve never been to before. It’s a good thing, though, since our health problems keep us from traveling too far away from our nest.

squabbling gulls

We spent quite a bit of time watching the gulls at the west end of the beach. They were having a feast. I can’t figure out if they are juvenile herring gulls or juvenile great black-backed gulls. And I don’t know what kind of creature they were eating inside those shells.

(?) the gulls were feasting on these
this calm one must have finished eating
looking east
slipper shell
art in the sand
beach rose and sand, summer lingering…

As we headed back through the marsh we could see out past Alewife Cove to the lighthouse we usually see from our beach. From our beach it has nothing but the water of Long Island Sound behind it. I’m not sure what the land mass is behind it from this vantage point. I’m going to try to find a map to study…

New London Ledge Light from tidal marsh at Waterford Town Beach

It looks like our fall colors are arriving later this year. We’ve been avoiding the woods because of the mosquitoes, of which we’ve had a bumper crop. I didn’t appreciate it at the time but last year’s drought kept the mosquitoes away and made all those autumn walks in the woods possible. May a first frost arrive here soon!

Thank you, Robin, for hosting Walktober! 🍂

golden pollen

“Provincetown” by Childe Hassam

But from Labor Day through Halloween, the place is almost unbearably beautiful. The air during these weeks seems less like ether and more like a semisolid, clear and yet dense somehow, as if it were filled with the finest imaginable golden pollen. The sky tends toward brilliant ice-blue, and every thing and being is invested with a soft, gold-ish glow.
~ Michael Cunningham
(Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown)

wild unconscious depths

9.29.21 ~ Napatree Point

All these phenomena of the natural world fling forth to the human a challenge to be responded to in literature, in architecture, ritual, and art, in music and dance and poetry. The natural world demands a response beyond that of rational calculation, beyond philosophical reasoning, beyond scientific insight. The natural world demands a response that rises from the wild unconscious depths of the human soul. A response that artists seek to provide in color and music and movement.
~ Thomas Berry
(The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future)

The summer crowds are gone and we had a lovely walk at Napatree Point. This time we climbed a side dune and took in some slightly different vistas. I was bundled up in my hoodie while Tim was still in his shorts — it’s that time of year. 🙂

dune grass
Watch Hill Light
breakwater from a different angle
a response that rises from the wild unconscious depths of the human soul

We saw a couple of gulls flying overhead and a couple of cormorants on buoys in the marina, but the beach itself was deserted. Lots of shells.

And there were lots of beach roses still blooming in the dunes, many rose hips and heaps of goldenrod.

After we got back to the car we drove over to find out if there was any way to visit the Watch Hill Lighthouse. It’s a long walk down a private road, but being over 65 has its perks, we were allowed to drive down! So we found out where we could park in the future and then continue walking out to the lighthouse. Watch this space!

by land and by sea

9.25.21 ~ By Land & By Sea Antique Vehicle Show at Mystic Seaport
1930 Ford Model A Pickup Truck

Watch our village come alive as pre 1932 cars, trucks and motorcycles go about the typical activities of a busy waterfront village. Many of these vehicles are more than 100 years old! The advent of motor vehicles greatly improved the movement of goods from coastal areas to inland communities.
~ Mystic Seaport Museum

1931 Ford Model A Side Window Town Sedan

The weather was perfect for our visit to this car show! Rick, the owner of this Model A, was very quick to point out that the seats were made of mohair as he invited me to sit in his car. This is the first time I can remember being in one of these old cars. Most of them have signs saying “do not touch.”

mohair seats
new experience for yours truly
Rick explained that car trunks used to be actual trunks
and this flying quail hood ornament was a symbol for fast starting
Rick and his Model A

Tim noticed the bright sunlight and water reflections on the stern of this ship as we walked by.

Charles W. Morgan

And then I spotted a beautiful blue car. We were admiring it and next thing I knew the owner and his son were helping me into the rumble seat!

1931 Ford Model A Roadster

Ted and I quickly became friends. (My father’s name was Ted, too, and it turns out, this Ted was born in 1931, the same year as my mother was.) He’s 90 years old and I enjoyed listening to him tell me about his late wife, his sons, and his family history. But most of all, about how much he loved this car. He said he and this car were the same age but that the car was in much better shape. Although he admits to having a few replacement parts himself. 😉

He saw it at an auction and decided he could bid up to $5,000 for it. He was outbid and left the auction, very disappointed. But a while later one of his sons came up to him with the keys and told him he now owned it! Without telling his father, the son had joined in the bidding and got it for $7,500. He used his money to make up the difference. What a gift!

Ted grew up on a farm, just like my father did. I loved hearing the stories about the chores he had to do, and how when he was 10 years old all his older brothers left home to serve in World War II. His father took a job and suddenly Ted had much more responsibility helping his mother on the farm.

Then he showed me some pictures of the car when he first bought it. It was in very rough shape and was a different color. I asked him why he painted it blue. He smiled and said because blue is his favorite color. Me, too, I let him know. What a labor of love restoring this car was!

Reluctantly we left my newfound friend and headed over to see how the Viking ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre, was coming along on the seaport’s shiplift, there for routine maintenance, including painting and oiling the hull.

Draken Harald Hårfagre

I climbed the stairs up to a viewing platform for a closer look. Tim found a bench to rest. We were doing a lot of walking in the sun.

Tim was impressed with this car, lingering long enough for a picture.

1931 Cadillac 355A Sport Phaeton
This looked like fun, though we never did figure out where the ride started…
1919 Harley Davidson Model JS, motorcycle with sidecar

For the most part we felt relatively safe from covid-19 being outside. We wore our masks into the seaport welcome center to get through admissions. We didn’t go to any of the indoor exhibits. We are waiting impatiently for our third doses of vaccine so we can visit our grandchildren and feel safe. It’s frustrating because even though I got the Pfizer vaccine I won’t be 65 for another four months. And Tim got the Moderna vaccine so even though he’s old enough his booster isn’t yet available. Sigh… But at least it’s autumn and we can spend much more time outdoors while we wait.

a holy curiosity

great blue heron ~ 9.20.21 ~ Avery Pond

On our way to the beach for a walk I spotted a great blue heron perched on a stone in Avery Pond. Had to get out of the car and walk down the road to find a spot without vegetation blocking my view.

double-crested cormorant on the breakwater ~ 9.20.21 ~ Eastern Point

At the beach we found lots of cormorants on the breakwaters again. Since there were very few people down on the sand we walked the length of the beach and I was able to get a picture with some of this cormorant’s markings more visible.

ring-billed gull with feet covered in sand

Lots of gulls were enjoying the sun, sand and sea. This time of year they can hang out on the beach in peace. I know I take too many pictures of gulls but I think they are so beautiful and photogenic.

ring-billed gull by the sea
ring-billed gull woolgathering
ring-billed gull sunbathing
laughing gulls, juvenile and nonbreeding adult

I’ve seen very few laughing gulls this year. I almost didn’t notice these two.

When we headed over to the estuary I saw a bee on a goldenrod plant growing up through the cement and rocks on the edge of the parking lot. The last place I expected to see something cool to photograph!

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
~ Albert Einstein
(Life, May 2, 1955)

double-crested cormorant in the estuary

Another cormorant was out on a rock in the estuary, and still another one was swimming around fishing. It was high tide. My camera was finally able to capture some of their coloring subtleties. It’s amazing what a little sunlight will reveal.

double-crested cormorant ~ it just swallowed a fish

I love my little beach, especially this time of year.

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.

wheels, flowers, puzzle, dove

8.29.21 ~ Harkness Memorial State Park
Waterford, Connecticut

Last weekend I went with Tim to the Connecticut MG Club’s ‘British by the Sea’ Gathering. I liked the blue MGB GT (above), the color, knowing nothing of cars… Tim, however, was hoping to see a Triumph Herald, his first set of wheels, but came away disappointed.

He did enjoy looking at the 1947 MG (above). I couldn’t help wondering if he has a thing for red vehicles from 1947! (Take a peek at the 1947 Ford Pickup he was admiring a couple of months ago in this post: with fields of lavender)

This tiny Wolseley Hornet Mk III (above) caught Tim’s eye because he said he had never heard of Wolseley Motors before…

I was amused by the sticker placed on one of its windows, indicating the auto was actually its actual size. 🤣

The above buggy was made in 1937 and had only three wheels.

After we browsed for a while I noticed some flowers peeping over the hedge surrounding the nearby cutting garden. We took a little detour to get a few end-of-summer snapshots!


Back at home…

“Tall Sea Tale” by Charles Wysocki

… on Monday I started and finished the above 300-piece puzzle in one afternoon. With all the practice I’ve been getting during the pandemic it seems I’m getting faster and am developing a marked preference for Charles Wysocki jigsaw puzzles.


On Wednesday the remnants of Hurricane Ida arrived, and by the time she left Thursday morning, had dumped 5 inches of rain on us. When I looked out the window early Wednesday afternoon I spotted a mourning dove hunkering down for the storm in one of the arborvitaes.

Each time I looked over the next several hours he was still sitting there in the same place and position. Finally, just before dark, he was gone. We heard some thunder rumbling in the night but thankfully no tornadoes or flash flooding in our neck of the woods.