morningtide

6.24.20 ~ Eastern Point
Canada goose papa watching over his family

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
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
juvenile loon
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)

eastern towhee

5.7.20 ~ Avery Farm Nature Preserve
Ledyard & Groton, Connecticut

Back in April we had a great walk in the Candlewood Ridge open space property which led to a sand plain with a glacial erratic on top of a ridge in the distance. On May 7th we decided to explore the property north of it, Avery Farm Nature Preserve, and followed a trail to get to the elevation from the opposite direction.

5.7.20 ~ welcome!

This historic 305-acre farm spans the border of Ledyard and Groton in a scenic rural setting. It is contiguous to the 91 acre Candlewood Ridge property, Groton and Ledyard town-owned open spaces, and to the Town of Groton conservation easement on a 7-acre former cranberry bog. Combined, over 430 acres of habitat area are available for wildlife and watershed protection.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

Avery Farm is part of a critical large block of diverse wildlife habitats highlighted on the State of CT Natural Diversity Database maps: grasslands, hedgerows, early successional forest, oak-hemlock-hickory upland forest, Atlantic white cedar swamp, a habitat managed power utility corridor, forested peatlands, kettle type bogs, poor fens, multiple seeps, several Tier I vernal pools, Ed Lamb Brook, Haley Brook, and the southern portion of a 38 acre marsh.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

The walk through the woods was lovely as we ascended gradually. I took more pictures on the way to the overlook than I did on the return part of the loop trail, which went through a low wetland.

5.7.20 ~ Tim with a glacial erratic

What on earth is that noise? Who goes there?

5.7.20 ~ eastern towhee

A strikingly marked, oversized sparrow of the East, feathered in bold black and warm reddish-browns – if you can get a clear look at it. Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size. Their chewink calls let you know how common they are, but many of your sightings end up mere glimpses through tangles of little stems.
~ All About Birds website

As we were walking along we heard a lot of rustling a few feet off the path and I tried to get a picture of the bird making the commotion. The “best” one is above. At home I used my new bird identification app and learned it was an eastern towhee. Had to laugh when I read the description above. Our sighting was definitely a string of brief glimpses and the rummaging was quite loud!

5.7.20 ~ We finally reach the large glacial erratic overlooking the sand plain!
We approached from behind it.
5.7.20 ~ we did not sit in the chairs, keeping COVID-19 in mind
5.7.20 ~ view from the overlook across the sand plain,
down to where we were standing the month before
5.7.20 ~ taken with telephoto lens

Then we climbed down the steep trail to the sand plain and returned by the lower wetland trail. On that portion of our walk we encountered four people coming from the other direction. We always got six feet off the trail and let them pass, wondering if they would have done the same for us if we hadn’t done it first. One man was operating a drone which we couldn’t see but could hear buzzing nearby. Another man was jogging. And two women were looking for a waterfall. (I think they may have mistaken this property for Sheep Farm.)

5.7.20 ~ moss and lichen
5.7.20 ~ wintergreen

The walk lasted about an hour and a quarter, our longest one yet. ♡

rolling meadows

4.28.20 ~ Preston Nature Preserve, Preston, Connecticut

A little change of pace, out of the woods and out to cross a few meadows on gently rolling hills. The sky was beautiful, the scenery divine. As we’re learning, the uneven terrain made for easier walking with less pain for Tim. The fresh air and sunshine was restorative for this quarantine-weary couple. We eagerly kept wanting to see what was over the next hillock or down the next inviting path. There were many interlocking trails. I lost count of how many grassy fields we crossed.

Two trails featuring varied land features and vegetation, including two hills, a valley, hardwood and cedar forest, brushland, meadows, pastures, swamps and ponds. Well-established 0.5 mile trail system with bridges.
~ Avalonia Land Conservancy website

I have to say, there were more than two trails, even on the map, and we certainly walked more than half a mile! But we didn’t walk all the trails and perhaps we will return some day.

4.28.20 ~ up a hill
4.28.20 ~ in the middle of a lovely meadow
4.28.20 ~ another meadow beyond

As with our other walks, the songs of birds filled the air. And we had a few bumble bees follow us a time or two.

4.28.20 ~ so inviting
4.28.20 ~ another hill to climb
4.28.20 ~ another trail to follow
4.28.20 ~ what is it???
4.28.20 ~ the inside of it???
4.28.20 ~ we passed by a swamp with skunk cabbage
4.28.20 ~ bluets!
4.28.20 ~ yet another trail to follow
4.28.20 ~ another meadow
4.28.20 ~ a female bluebird ~ thanks to Nancy for the identification
4.28.20 ~ the birdhouse the bluebird flew out of

Before you thought of Spring
Except as a Surmise
You see — God bless his suddenness —
A Fellow in the Skies
Of independent Hues
A little weather worn
Inspiriting habiliments
Of Indigo and Brown —
With Specimens of Song
As if for you to choose —
Discretion in the interval
With gay delays he goes
To some superior Tree
Without a single Leaf
And shouts for joy to Nobody
But his seraphic self —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1484)

4.28.20 ~ down one more valley and up one more hill to reach our car

a hemlock tree

4.25.20 ~ Woodlot Sanctuary, Stonington, Connecticut

On the last Saturday in April we took a nice walk through the woods at the Woodlot Sanctuary. It was the first time in the spring that we needed bug spray! We loved all the stone walls.

4.25.20 ~ sign of the times

Three lots totaling approximately 29 acres include a variety of habitats. Much of the central portion is upland forest featuring rocky outcrops and glacial erratics. The landscape shows a history of varied forestry practices over decades. It is now dominated by oak and beech with hickory, sassafras, and scattered evergreens as well, and offers an excellent understory of huckleberry and lowbush blueberry. The eastern border is comprised of wetlands that emerge into a brook that flows ultimately into Stonington Harbor; wetlands in the western portion drain directly into the Deans Mill Reservoir. The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife including several species which have special status in CT. Box turtles and spotted turtles have been found on the property. Red-shouldered hawks and broad-winged hawks are regular nesters as well.
~ Avalonia Land Conservancy website

4.25.20 ~ an inviting turn on the path

When we spotted the huge boulder below I was so surprised by what I found behind it. A hemlock tree! There aren’t too many of these beloved trees left in Connecticut because of the woolly adelgid infestation. You can imagine I spent a lot of time communing with this one.

hemlock tree trunk

It’s not easy to get to the lower branches. I remember getting a chair or a stepladder to help me get to the bottom branches so I could climb my tree.

underside of lower branches
looking up

For a child, the branches are nice and close together, making the climb feel pretty safe. I don’t think I could fit between those branches as an adult! After I grew up my mother told me that she couldn’t keep watching if she looked out the window and saw me climbing my favorite hemlock tree. But she never stopped me.

the bark

How do parents feel about children climbing trees these days? There are so many safety rules, like wearing bike helmets or harnesses in high chairs, that we never had when I was a child.

what a beauty

I would have loved to climb this hemlock! But it was so pleasant spending some time with it and touching it and appreciating its being. I hope it’s okay. I wonder how it survived. When you think of it, trees have suffered from their own pandemics over time. The deaths of my childhood hemlocks were very prolonged and painful for me to witness.

one of many stone walls
4.25.20 ~ princess pine poking through the leaves

We now have 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 623 confirmed cases and 43 deaths. Still rising. But, I’m starting to feel a little bit of hope.

There’s a chance that hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine could be available by early next year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said Thursday, even though the federal government has not approved a vaccine against the virus.
~ Brakkton Booker
(National Public Radio, April 30, 2020)

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.

feeling warm and comforted

3.28.20 ~ Moore Woodlands, Groton, Connecticut

Perhaps kind thoughts reach people somehow, even through windows and doors and walls. Perhaps you feel a little warm and comforted, and don’t know why, when I am standing here in the cold and hoping you will get well and happy again.
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett
(A Little Princess)

Last week was a little tricky. My gut pain flared up after a relatively good spell and I was pretty down in the dumps about it. I’m trying to learn to live with the fluctuations between good days and bad days and how unpredictable it all is.

anyone know what this is?

By Thursday I was well enough to attempt a walk at the beach, thinking a familiar place would be better than a new adventure. But it was disappointing to see too many people there, many of them not respecting the social distancing obligation. Friday we tried again and I was so disheartened to find cigarette butts on the rocks and a big pile of dog crap on the lawn. No smoking is allowed on the beach property! And dogs are supposed to be on-leash and their poop scooped. I suspect some people are coming to the beach to visit with their friends because their usual hang-out places are closed. I was also depressed not seeing any gulls, although the brant geese seem to be making the beach their new home.

Saturday we sadly decided to take a walk somewhere else and found Moore Woodlands, on the other side of town. We encountered a friendly family of five on their bikes near the entrance and we all respected the 6-foot social distancing protocol, much to my relief.

As we were leaving we came across a couple looking for a nearby cemetery and had a nice conversation with them across the stone wall from a safe distance. Another family came by and also gave everyone a very wide berth. It made me feel so much better about people after the distress I felt at the beach.

It was a lovely cloudy day and the mood in the woods was tranquil, with many birds singing. It was good to get a walk in before the rain came later in the day. It was as if nature was kindly whispering the comfort I needed so badly.

3.28.20 ~ collected some additions for my wooden pine cone bowl

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…

Capt. John Denison & Phebe Lay

2.23.20 ~ Denison Burial Ground, Mystic, Connecticut
Capt.
John Denison
Died 1698 Age 52
His Wife
Phebe Lay
Died 1699 Age 49

Capt. John Denison, my 8th-great-grandfather, son of George and Ann (Borodell) Denison, was born 14 June 1646 in Roxbury-Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, and died 26 April 1698 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut. He married 26 November 1667 in Saybrook (Middlesex) Connecticut, Phebe Lay, who was born 5 January 1651 at Saybrook Point-Old Saybrook (Middlesex) Connecticut, and died in 1699 in Stonington, daughter of Robert and Sarah (Fenner) Lay.

The following is from Ancestors & Descendants of Calvert Crary & His Wife Eliza Hill, Liberty, N.Y. collected by Jerry Crary, (New York, Privately Printed, 1917) 61

The marriage contract or deed of settlement, arranged between their parents, is recorded in Saybrook. By this deed of settlement, executed before the marriage, the respective parents conveyed to John Denison and Phebe Lay, the farm granted to Capt. George Denison near the mouth of Mystic River in Stonington, and the house and land in Saybrook, which Mr. Lay had formerly bought of John Post. … They settled in Stonington, on “the farm near the mouth of Mystic River.” He was known as “Capt. John Denison,” held a prominent position in Stonington, and in many ways was a man of mark.

John & Phebe were the parents of nine children:

  1. Capt. John Denison, born 1 January 1669 in Stonington, died in 1699 in Old Saybrook. He married about 1690, Ann Mason, who was born about 1669, daughter of John and Abigail (Fitch) Mason. John & Ann were the parents of five children.
  2. George Denison (my 7th-great-grandfather), born 28 March 1671 in Stonington, died 20 January 1720 in New London (New London) Connecticut. He married (as her second husband) about 1694, Mary (Wetherell) Harris, who was born 7 October 1668 in New London, and died there 22 August 1711, daughter of Daniel and Grace (Brewster) Wetherell, and widow of Thomas Harris. George & Mary were the parents of eight children.
  3. Capt. Robert Denison, born 17 September 1673 in Stonington, died there in 1737. He married about 1696, Joanna Stanton, who was born 5 June 1679 in Stonington, and died about 1715, daughter of Robert and Joanna (Gardner) Stanton. Robert & Joanna were the parents of five children.
  4. Capt. William Denison, born 7 April 1677 in Stonington, died there 13 February 1730. He married (as her first husband) in March 1698, Mary Avery, who was born 17 November 1680 in Stonington, and died there 5 February 1762, daughter of John and Abigail (Chesebrough) Avery. William & Mary were the parents of eleven children.
  5. Dea. Daniel Denison, born 28 March 1680 in Stonington, died 13 October 1747. He married (as his first wife) 1 January 1704 in Stonington, Mary Stanton, who was born 3 February 1687 in Stonington, and died there 2 September 1724, daughter of Robert and Joanna (Gardner) Stanton. Daniel & Mary were the parents of three children. Daniel married (as his second wife) 27 October 1726 in Stonington, Jane Cogswell, who died about 1736. Daniel married (as his third wife and as her second husband) 17 November 1737, Abigail (Fish) Eldridge, who was born about 1691 in Groton (New London) Connecticut and died there 17 June 1784, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Stark) Fish, and widow of Daniel Eldridge.
  6. Samuel Denison, born 23 February 1683 in Stonington, died there 12 May 1683.
  7. Anna Denison, born 3 October 1684 in Stonington. She married (as her first husband) 7 April 1702 in Stonington, Ens. Samuel Minor, who was born 28 August 1680 in Stonington and died there 8 December 1717, son of Ephraim and Hannah (Avery) Minor. Anna & Samuel had no children. Anna married (as her second husband and as his second wife) about 1718, her first cousin, Edward Denison, who was born about 1678 and died 9 December 1726 in Westerly (Washington) Rhode Island, son of George and Mercy (Gorham) Denison. Anna married (as her third husband and as his second wife) 16 July 1734 in Windham (Windham) Connecticut, Lt. Jeremiah Ripley, who was born 4 August 1662 in Hingham (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 10 March 1737 in Windham, son of John and Elizabeth (Ripley) Ripley.
  8. Phebe Denison, born 6 April 1690 in Stonington, died there 30 December 1775. She married 2 April 1706 in Stonington, Lt. Ebenezer Billings, who was born 1 January 1684 in Stonington and died there 20 July 1760, son of Ebenezer and Ann (Comstock) Billings. Phebe & Ebenezer were the parents of twelve children.
  9. Sarah Denison, born 29 July 1692 in Stonington, died there in 1733. She married 7 November 1711 in Stonington, Isaac Williams, who was born 10 April 1688 in Newton (Middlesex) Massachusetts, and died 24 March 1733 in Stonington, son of John and Martha (Wheeler) Williams. Sarah & Isaac were the parents of eight children.

My Denison Line

Capt. John Denison (1646-1698)
George Denison (1671-1720)
Daniel Denison (1703-1749)
Mary Denison (1728-?)
Elias Thompson (1773-1848)
Lucy Anne Thompson (1808-1852)
William Martin White (1836-1925)
Samuel Minor White (1873-1949)
John Everett White (my grandfather)

2.23.20 ~ Denison Burial Ground, Mystic, Connecticut

Last Revised: 29 February 2020

Avery-Morgan Burial Ground

1.17.20 ~ Thomas Starr (1668-1712)

Now that I am adjusting to this new chapter in my life I’ve been feeling the urge to locate more ancestral resting places and get back to work on our family histories. Looking through my data I discovered a cemetery close to home here in Groton, a cemetery I had no idea even existed! And four of my ancestors lie buried there. Good place to start.

This graveyard is way off the beaten path. First we had to take Filtration Plant Road north off Route 1. We had assumed the only thing up there was the filtration plant! But before reaching the guardhouse a road goes off to the left and then forks again to the left, leading to Smith Lake Cemetery (1863), which we had to drive through before reaching the much older Avery-Morgan Burial Ground (1685).

Thomas Starr, my 7th-great-grandfather, son of Samuel and Hannah (Brewster) Starr, was born 27 September 1668 in New London (New London) Connecticut, and died 30 January 1712 in Groton (New London) Connecticut. (The stone reads 1711 because he died when the Julian calendar was in use.) He married (as her first husband) 1 January 1695 in Groton, his stepsister, Mary Morgan, who was born 20 March 1671 in New London, and died 14 September 1765 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, daughter of James and Mary (Vine) Morgan.

Mary married (as her second husband and as his third wife) 14 December 1717, William Peabody, who was born 24 November 1664 in Duxbury (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 17 September 1744 in Little Compton (Newport) Rhode Island, the son of William and Elizabeth (Alden) Peabody.

Mary is not buried here with her first husband, but in Crary Cemetery in North Stonington, Connecticut. Thomas and Mary became step-siblings when Thomas’ mother (Hannah Brewster) married Mary’s father (Capt. James Morgan) about 1690.

The following is from The Brewster Genealogy, 1566-1907; a Record of the Descendants of William Brewster of the “Mayflower,” Ruling Elder of the Pilgrim Church Which Founded Plymouth Colony in 1620, Volume 1 by Emma C. Brewster Jones, (New York: The Grafton Press, 1908), 20

Thomas Starr “was one of the patentees of New London, Conn., Oct. 14, 1704; soon after settled in Groton on his large farm bordering the river; was a shipwright and built a sloop called the Sea Flower.”

Mary & Thomas were the parents of seven children:

  1. Mary Starr, born 29 June 1696 in Groton, died there 15 April 1774. She married 1 November 1716 in Groton, Capt. John Chester, who was born 29 March 1692 in Groton and died there 1 June 1771. Mary & John were the parents of eight children.
  2. Hannah Starr, born 29 August 1698 in Groton. She married 17 March 1719 in Groton, Joseph Buttolph, who was born in 1694 and died in 1759. Hannah & Joseph were the parents of three children.
  3. Thomas Starr, born 26 September 1700 in Groton, died there in 1701.
  4. Jerusha Starr, born 8 February 1703 in Groton and died before 11 May 1773 in North Stonington. She married 30 July 1724, her stepbrother, William Peabody, who was born 21 February 1702 in Little Compton and died 3 June 1778 in Stonington, son of William and Judith (Tilden) Peabody. Jerusha & William were the parents of nine children.
  5. Rachel Starr (my 6th-great-grandmother), born 15 September 1705 in Groton and died there 4 February 1791. She married (as her first husband) 14 November 1726 in New London, her second cousin, Daniel Denison, who was born 27 June 1703 in New London and died 2 February 1749, son of George and Mary (Wetherell) Denison. Rachel & Daniel were the parents of ten children. Rachel married (as her second husband and his second wife) 21 November 1759 in New London, Col. Ebenezer Avery, who was born 29 March 1704 in Groton and died there 11 July 1780, son of James and Mary (Griswold) Avery.
  6. James Starr, born 18 October 1708 in Groton and died about 1787.
  7. Thomas Starr, born 10 April 1711 in Groton and died 14 May 1759. He married Jerusha Street, who was born in 1715 in Groton and died 6 July 1790, daughter of Nicholas and Jerusha (—) Street. Thomas & Jerusha were the parents of two children.

Coming soon I will post about the other ancestors buried here.