blossoms and bluebird babies

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ mountain laurel

So… there were other treasures waiting to be discovered while we were on our long hike Saturday. In 1907 the mountain laurel, a lovely native American shrub, was designated as the official state flower of Connecticut. They are just starting to blossom and we saw loads of them.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ wild geranium, another native wildflower

I was raised by the melody
Of the whispering grove
And learned to love
Among the flowers.
~ Friedrich Hölderlin
(Odes & Elegies)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ eastern blue-eyed grass, another native wildflower
6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ ferns and saplings filling the edge of a meadow

Now, the staff at the arboretum is keeping a meadow open for habitat for several kinds of animals and birds. They also erected several bluebird houses and we did see a few bluebird parents feeding their young ones. They were moving too fast to catch on film but I did manage to get a few shots of a baby waiting for the next food delivery from its folks.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ bluebird and orbs

These shots were very hard to get because they were taken from so far away. I didn’t have a tripod to stabilize the camera and the zoom lens. I climbed a bank on the side of the trail, through a thicket of plants and saplings, and then leaned one arm on a tree to steady my grip, trying to avoid the gypsy moth caterpillars. (I wound up bringing at least one tick home – I hope I won’t find any more…) Even though I had to delete most of the shots I took it was a thrill to get home and find that these three came out!

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ bluebird and orbs

Sing strong and clear, O bluebird dear!
While all the land with splendor fills,
While maples gladden in the vales
And plum-trees blossom on the hills:
Float down the wind on shining wings,
And do thy will by grove and stream,
While through my life spring’s freshness runs
Like music through a poet’s dream.
~ Maurice Thompson
(The Bluebird)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ bluebird and orbs

I love all the orbs I captured, along with that adorable little bluebird head. My guess is that it will fledge soon.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ mosses and grasses

We were just thinking of turning around and retracing our steps when Beverly was beckoned by yet another tree growing through the rocks. So we left the path and carefully navigated our way through uneven terrain of rocks and bushes. I found a spot to take the picture. More orbs!

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ tree with orbs
6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ looking up the same majestic tree

After finding our way back to the trail I finally put away the camera, took a long drink of water, sprayed on some more bug repellent and enjoyed the long walk back, hands free.

deep in the woods

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

On Saturday afternoon my sister and I did some hiking in the uncultivated part of the Connecticut College Arboretum. It was like being in the woods we played in and rambled through as children. We encountered a doe along our path, she stopped short when she spotted us and then darted off sideways into the woods.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

Nature — sometimes sears a Sapling —
Sometimes — scalps a Tree —
Her Green People recollect it
When they do not die —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #457)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ gypsy moth caterpillar, an invasive forest pest from Europe

When I was at the doctor for a check-up last week he said it seemed like he was treating nothing but rashes from these little villains. Why do people even touch them, I wondered? But they can dangle from invisible threads and I was startled when I walked right into one. No rash, so far…

Death is like the insect
Menacing the tree
Competent to kill it,
But decoyed may be.

Bait it with the balsam
Seek it with the saw,
Baffle, it cost you
Everything you are.

Then, if it have burrowed
Out of reach of skill —
Wring the tree and leave it.
‘Tis the vermin’s will.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1783)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

For some reason I am drawn to trees that seem dead, but sculptural, and yet still have a few green leaves up near the crown. Sometimes dying is a very gradual process.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ this feels like a carefully composed still life to me

And this, our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
~ William Shakespeare
(As You Like It)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ roots

One will see roots while looking down (photo above), of course, but also when looking up (photo below). The tree below decided it could grow sticking out of a rock face, high above the ground. There must have been just enough soil between the layers of rock for it to sustain itself. Maybe it is strong enough to move the rock some to give the roots more space.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ tree growing out from between two layers of rock

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
~ William Wordsworth
(The Tables Turned)

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ ferns and mosses on the rock face

Ferns (above) with visible roots growing on the rock face. Plenty of moss to soften the surface, too.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

A tree (above) seems to have been blown over in a storm and left with a large cavity between its roots and the rock below. Stones and boulders, dumped by receding glaciers eons ago, are so ubiquitous in Connecticut and it seems the trees have no choice but to grow above, below, around and between them.

6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ two more of Emily’s “scalped” trees
6.10.17 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum ~ a stone benchmark?

I wondered if someone might have set this stone deliberately pointing up as a benchmark for future hiking adventures. It’s amazing to contemplate that these stone walls deep in the woods once surrounded fields and pastures in colonial days. Farmers used the stones cluttering their land to build the walls but in the end, growing crops was difficult. Many eventually abandoned their homes and headed west for better farmland. The woods slowly came back and claimed the landscape once again.

weekend in the mountains

12.10.16 ~ cougar, Western North Carolina Nature Center

Last weekend we flew to a different part of North Carolina, where Tim’s brother had rented a vacation house in the southern Appalachians. So we had a little family reunion and an early Christmas there. We spent the better part of Saturday at the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville. It was very cold there in spite of the welcome bright sunshine!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine was very much interested in understanding and using the map

We bundled up and enjoyed seeing many animals native to the Southern Appalachians. All of the animals there are rescues and could not survive in the wild. Katherine especially loved watching the river otters gliding in and out of the water, but I couldn’t get a good picture of them. They were moving too fast!

12.10.16 ~ Katherine studying the brochure
12.10.16 ~ sunshine made the bitter cold easier to bear
12.10.16 ~ Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ watching other children play
12.10.16 ~ sunlit beauty
12.10.16 ~ let’s see, where should we go next?
12.10.16 ~ let’s proceed!
12.10.16 ~ taking in a bit of rock climbing
12.10.16 ~ we didn’t take this trail but I thought the sign was beautiful
12.10.16 ~ deserted picnic area – too cold for a picnic
12.10.16 ~ coyote, Western North Carolina Nature Center
12.10.16 ~ another beautiful sign
12.10.16 ~ screech owl, Western North Carolina Nature Center

This little screech owl is blind in one eye and is being used to educate the public about rescuing wildlife. Katherine was paying close attention.

12.10.16 ~ Katherine in Mama’s arms, watching the screech owl and listening attentively to its handler

We stayed in Asheville for dinner out at the Tupelo Honey Cafe, “a southern restaurant with mountain south roots.” Tim enjoyed the food so much he bought their cookbook! And after dinner we took in the Christmas light and music extravaganza at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. There were so many light displays it took us a full hour to drive through the two-mile maze, synchronized holiday music playing on our car radio! It was a pretty dazzling experience.

Sunday we stayed in the cabin, enjoying each other’s company by the fire. Dima, Larisa and Fran whipped up some scrumptious dishes for us. A perfect weekend!

wild turkeys

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You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.
~ Hal Borland
(Sundial of the Seasons)

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After way too many days of miserable heat and sticky humidity the weather finally changed Sunday afternoon. We celebrated by going to our favorite gluten-free pizza place and having our supper there outside in the fresh air.

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On the way home I spotted six wild turkeys in a field and insisted Tim turn around so I could get some pictures. Most of them had their heads down in the grass, feeding. But the lookout was keeping his eye open for danger or trouble. I’m glad he didn’t seem to think we posed any threat.

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This field is separated from the road by a stone wall. After feeding for a while, the lookout turkey jumped up on the stone wall and started watching the cars go by. It seemed like he was looking for a good opportunity to cross the street with the rafter of turkeys in his charge.

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There was just too much traffic! We grew tired of waiting and the other turkeys kept on feeding themselves so we decided to leave. When we drove past him on the road I tried to get a picture of him from that side of the wall, but it came out blurry. But still, it was fun to watch them, and a great way to end the weekend.

another weed by the wall

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autumn 2015 ~ Center Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts

There is a place where an artist lives in a house surrounded by a garden full of sculptures and a stone wall embedded with crystals and other treasures. In all the years I’ve been going to Provincetown I had never known it was there because I had never been down that particular street. But in 2008 our niece showed it to us.

When I started blogging I remember being especially excited to match a picture I took there with an Emerson quote and posted this: a weed by the wall

Seven years later, on our recent trip to the Cape, I decided to go see the stone wall again. This time there was no weed growing by the first crystal, but there was another weed growing by a different crystal.

shy weeds by a wall
retracing steps with pithy
moments of delight
~ Barbara Rodgers
(By the Sea)

Hurricane Sandy I

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
a fallen tree across the street from our condo complex ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Tuesday morning we went down to see how our beloved beach had fared in the storm. We kept taking turns with the camera so I’ll credit us both with the pictures in this post! Beach Pond Road was closed to traffic so we walked by the pond on our way to Eastern Point Beach. The storm surge had breached the dunes separating the pond from Long Island Sound, and pushed the water and debris across the street and up onto the lawns across the street.

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
the surge had not fully receded from its highest level ~ 10.30.12 ~ Beach Pond Rd, Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
view of the flooded pond, dunes and Long Island Sound in the background ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
same view, the bushes in the foreground were still surrounded by water ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

I think city workers had already plowed away the sand on the road because we were not at all prepared for the scene that awaited us when we got to the beach itself! The road there was covered with about a foot and a half of sand!

10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
basketball court covered in sand ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
looks like the top of a tree from who-knows-where ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Tyler House still surrounded by high water ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
a park bench turned over and buried in the sand ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
amazed that we could step over the buried chain link fence ~ 10.30.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

More pictures coming soon!

covered with boulders

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Winter is well over the half-way point and we’ve had no snow to show for it. After last winter’s record-breaking snowfall amounts this is a bit unsettling. We did have a lot of snow and power outages for that freak Halloween Nor’easter in October, but that was an autumn storm, not truly a winter storm… What strange weather.

2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Bulbs are coming up months too early. Witch hazel is blooming at Mystic Seaport. Tim & I went for a walk on Saturday at Haley Farm State Park, looking for photo opportunities. The birds were chirping away as if it was a sunny spring day! This time it was warm enough for my fingers to hold the camera and take 86 pictures. Perhaps I should have tried a landscape setting for a few of them. But I’m still getting used to holding it properly and finding the shutter button at the same time…

2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Caleb Haley of Haley Farm

Caleb Haley owned and farmed this land in Noank, Connecticut, and took on the daunting task of building stone walls between the pastures all over the property. The crumbling foundations of his house, stables and barns remain. In October of 1898, Walter Hill came from New York to visit his friend here and wrote an account of their time together. Excerpts following are from the Haley Farm Souvenir Book, found transcribed at the Groton History Online website.

2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

If there is any one thing in which my friend delights more than another, it is the works of improvement which he is carrying forward at Haley Farm, Long Point; so breakfast dispatched we, of course, drove at once to the locality of the improvement now going forward.
~ Walter Hill

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

It may be mentioned here, that the land in this vicinity and for miles in all directions is covered with boulders, boulders large and boulders small, sometimes ledges, but boulders in all shapes, boulders in all positions, boulders on boulders—everywhere. The first settlers simply removed or cleared the smaller rocks, such as a horse could easily drag out of the way, leaving hundreds of heavier ones half embedded in the soil in all directions.
~ Walter Hill

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Thus thousands upon thousands of acres of splendid soil have been fit for naught but cattle runs of natural pasturage. To clear such land of everything to obstruct the free running of a plow, is a herculean task and it is this wrestling with the stern face of nature, that I found to be the delight of my host. A forenoon spent in watching and assisting in the operations, found me deeply interested. A device called a “Stone-puller” was quite fetching, and was the invention of a near-by resident whom I was disappointed to learn had never realized much out of it, for without it, such operations as are here going forward, would be prohibited by the question of cost. Mr. H— has 428 acres of just such land as described; skirting the shores of L. I. Sound with deep coves running up on either side of his property; forming between them, Long Point, which is all included in the Haley Farm, with the exception of a tract on the extreme point, which is owned by parties who started to boom it for Summer cottage purposes, but came to a dead-lock with the town authorities regarding approaches, and who should bear their cost.
~ Walter Hill

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

According to the the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection website:

In 1963 efforts to protect the farm from being sold to developers began. The State of Connecticut agreed to match funds raised for the purchase of the farm. The Groton Open Space Commission led a successful fund raising effort that led to the purchase of the property. Haley Farm became an official Connecticut State Park in July of 1970.

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We found several burls on the outstretched branches of this tree:

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

I think this is a private boathouse across the water.  I thought it looked especially cheerful and welcoming!

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

So we had a good time poking around our local historic “ruins” and enjoying the scenic views of Palmer Cove. It was nice enjoying a spring day in February, but I’m starting to get a little nervous about what weather we have in store for us this summer. For now, though, perhaps I can manage to stay in the present… It is what it is and what will be will be!

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut