Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~ George Eliot (Letter to Maria Lewis, October 1, 1841)
Contained in this short Life Are magical extents The soul returning soft at night To steal securer thence As Children strictest kept Turn soonest to the sea Whose nameless Fathoms slink away Beside infinity ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1175)
Paradoxically, life is long and brief at the same time. The more we know, the more questions we have. At some point we come to accept that there will always be limits to what we know and that no matter how long we get to live so much will remain beyond our grasp. After many years of searching for something I couldn’t name, I am at peace with not knowing. Magic is everywhere, as all children know, and science keeps almost-finding explanations for it.
This week our granddaughter is going to a Woodland Fairies & Elves day camp and we get to pick her up every afternoon and hear all about it. Recently this delightful little eight-year old, formerly known as Kat, changed her nickname to Katie, the one I began calling her when she was born. (Longtime readers of this blog will remember this.) But, when she was about 2 years old, we noticed her parents were calling her Katherine so we followed suit. A couple of years ago Katherine started calling herself Kat and now she has chosen to go with Katie.
At camp the children got to choose a moniker, too, so when we go to pick her up, “Snail” is called on a walkie-talkie to come to the pavilion to collect her belongings and then Katie/Snail shows us around the fairy village the kids are creating. Katie was very excited about an exoskeleton she had found and incorporated into her fairy house design. In my clumsy attempt to get a picture of it I accidently knocked over one of the little structures! But my granddaughter was very gracious and reassured me that no harm was done as she carefully reassembled it. Phew!
One day we got a tour of the garden where Katie picked a fairy cucumber for us. It took her a while to find one because most of them had already been harvested. That day a counselor had brought in homemade fairy pickles for the campers to enjoy.
We’ve been so busy that keeping up with blogging has proven almost impossible. I am happy to report that we now have North Carolina drivers licenses and the car is registered with a NC plate. There are still things left to take care of on the “to-do” list but I am hoping by the time the hot weather relents we will have settled enough to get outside for our nature walks once again. Even the small amount of time we spend outside picking Katie up is very taxing for Tim. One day the “feels like” temperature was 98°F. Tomorrow the forecasters are calling for the hottest day of the year so far…
As we begin this meal with grace, Let us become aware of the memory Carried inside the food before us: The quiver of the seed Awakening in the earth, Unfolding in a trust of roots And slender stems of growth, On its voyage toward harvest, The kiss of rain and surge of sun; The innocence of animal soul That never spoke a word, Nourished by the earth To become today our food; The work of all the strangers Whose hands prepared it, The privilege of wealth and health That enables us to feast and celebrate. ~ John O’Donohue (To Bless the Space Between Us)
May your Thanksgiving be blessed with good chat and cheer and the love of family and friends!
It was a lovely spring day and the air was filled with birds singing and bees buzzing. I couldn’t catch most of them with my camera but the scenery at Coogan Farm reminded me of a setting from a historical drama. I half-expected to see a character from a Jane Austen novel come around the bend on our path.
It is clearly posted that dogs must be on a leash at Coogan Farm. This one arrived at the same time we did and was darting around the parking lot while its owner was getting things out of his car. We had two doors of our car open as we were getting ready for our walk, too. Next thing we knew the dog jumped into our car through the back door Tim was at, then squeezed between the front seats and exited the car through the front door I was at. She seemed very friendly and not too big so I wasn’t afraid, but, startled and annoyed. The man she belonged to called “Sadie” away and offered no apology. I assumed he would put her on a leash when he saw the signs at the trailhead. They took a different trail but our paths crossed later on and there was no leash to be seen, the man wasn’t even carrying one on his person.
We moved on, trying not to let the selfishness of others spoil a lovely walk for us.
Intensely selfish people are always very decided as to what they wish. That is in itself a great force; they do not waste their energies in considering the good of others. ~ Ouida (Wisdom, Wit, and Pathos of Ouida Selected from the Works of Ouida)
In 2016 this tower (below) was designed by an Eagle Scout, specifically for chimney swifts. It provides a suitable nesting habitat to help increase the chimney swift population: Connecticut Project Chimney Watch
Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure. ~ Jane Austen (Mansfield Park)
I’m seeing and hearing so many catbirds this year! They have a way of cheering me up. 💙
Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility. ~ Gary Snyder (The Practice of the Wild: Essays)
Connecticut’s positivity rate is up to 13%. Not good. It’s been going up since its lowest point in March.
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. 🙂
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!
We had a lovely winding stroll through what’s becoming my favorite woods on Tuesday. It felt like a visit to an early spring outdoor art gallery. The weather was perfect and we encountered quite a few people along the way enjoying the sunshine.
Even though there were many birds chirping and flitting about I was only able to capture one of them with my camera!
And solitary places; where we taste The pleasure of believing what we see Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be. ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley: In Three Volumes)
Wednesday we went to have our income taxes done. It was the last thing we did last year before we went into self-quarantine. We double-masked up, not knowing what to expect, and our masked preparer waved us a greeting and unlocked the door. It was good to know they weren’t letting people wander in without appointments. Someone in the office had tested positive recently so most of the preparers were at home in quarantine but ours had been fully vaccinated so she was working in the office. Glad to see there was plexiglass and hand sanitizer everywhere…
So it’s been a year. We have both had our first vaccination shots. Tim gets his second Moderna on the 17th and I will get my second Pfizer on the 26th. Looks like our self-quarantine will officially end on April 9. Plans for the little ones (and their parents!) to come for a visit are in the works, most likely in May. It’s all I can think about!
Unlike animals, trees cannot heal a wound by repairing or replacing injured tissues. Instead they wall them off, compartmentalizing them by means of chemical and physical barriers, and subsequently form healthy new growth around them. A succession of organisms, from bacteria and fungi to slugs, insects, and other small animals, moves in to utilize the nutrients and spaces opened up by a tree wound. These organisms in turn provide an important food source for many birds and other animals who live in surrounding uplands as well as in the swamp. ~ David M. Carroll (Swampwalker’s Journal: A Wetlands Year)
We will still wear our masks and practice social distancing in public, but I think we will go more places and are even looking forward to eating at our favorite restaurant again, starting outdoors until we feel comfortable going inside…
But, fair warning, these are the latest statistics: New London County now has 19,624 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 10 people are currently in the hospital and 417 have lost their lives. That’s 2,871 new cases since January 30 when I last reported. Will a day ever come when there are no new cases reported?
Connecticut’s positive test rate is now 3.07%. 25% of Connecticut residents have had their first dose of vaccine. Connecticut has had 7,752 deaths since the pandemic began. We are still averaging 7 deaths a day in the state. These are people and families are still being devastated by the loss of the their loved ones. Each and every one of these people represented by the numbers was the most important person in the world so someone. We still have to be very careful and not let our guard down.
My hope is, when we come out of self-quarantine, that we will continue with our nature walks and not get too swept up in the demands of a return to “normal” life.
It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of all the intoxicating existence we’ve been endowed with. But what’s life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be, is every bit as strong as ours — arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don’t. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment’s additional existence. Life, in short, just wants to be. But — and here’s an interesting point — for the most part it doesn’t want to be much. ~ Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
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)
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.
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!
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.
Then Tim spotted a butterfly flitting about on the wrack line!
When it moved to the sand I tried to get a shot of it with its wings open.
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)
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)
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…