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

a weed by the wall

summer 2008 ~ Center Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Our moods do not believe in each other. To-day I am full of thoughts, and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought, the same power of expression, to-morrow. What I write, whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world; but yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages. Alas for this infirm faith, this will not strenuous, this vast ebb of a vast flow! I am God in nature; I am a weed by the wall.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Circles)

Haley Farm State Park

view of Palmer Cove from Haley Farm State Park

Groton is also home to Haley Farm State Park. Last year in February Beverly and I took a long walk here, too. This winter I have not been as interested in getting outdoors, but it’s nice to remember when I had a bit more energy, and blog about last year. Above is a lovely view of Palmer Cove from Haley Farm.

backside of Canopy Rock

The backside of Canopy Rock, above. It seems to be a place for kids to hang out and leave artwork. We didn’t see any litter, which was thoughtful of them.

side view of Canopy Rock

In the above side view picture the “canopy” part of the rock is clear. In the distance is the Amtrak railroad elevation. In the picture below is a tunnel under the railroad tracks, originally used for livestock – it must have been small livestock – clearance is only 4 feet! Can’t imagine a cow crawling under there!

livestock tunnel under the railroad tracks

If one doesn’t mind crawling through, our map tells us that on the other end of this tunnel are paths connecting to the trails in Bluff Point State Park. We didn’t attempt it, curious or not, we’re not engineers but we wouldn’t want to be under there if a train should zoom by overhead. A little close for comfort, too. At least we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, still… If we turned around now, we could see Race Track Pond, or actually the reeds surrounding it.

Race Track Pond, obscured by reeds

We decided to follow a deer trail, figuring they would know the easiest way through the reeds to find the pond for a drink of water.

reeds surrounding Race Track Pond

We did find a spot where the ice had been broken through and guessed that might be where the deer would find their water.

I please myself with the graces of the winter scenery, and believe that we are as much touched by it as by the genial influences of summer.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Nature)

snow covered ice on Race Track Pond

It was beautiful with the long winter shadows of the reeds on the snow-covered ice. We didn’t know it then, but we were to be inexplicably unable to retrace our steps. Lost!

When a man named Caleb Haley owned the farm he built a lot of stone walls around his pastures, using an ox drawn stone-puller. I meant to photograph some of them on our way out, but, we were very cold and had very likely been walking around in circles trying to figure out a badly drawn map. When we finally saw the entrance (exit!) I quickened my step and fell on an icy spot of snow. Wrenched my shoulder so badly it still hurts a little even now, a year later.

So perhaps this year, maybe in the spring, I’ll return and try to get some stone wall pictures!

Candlemas

"Candlemas Day" by Marianne Stokes
“Candlemas Day” by Marianne Stokes

Brighid of the mantle, encompass us;
Lady of the Lambs, protect us;
Keeper of the hearth, kindle us;
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory
~ Caitlín Matthews
(A Blessing for Hearth Keepers)

"The shortening winter's day is near a close" by Joseph Farquharson
“The shortening winter’s day is near a close” by Joseph Farquharson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, and housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(The Snow-Storm)

Imbolc: February 3, 2011, 11:20 p.m
February 4, 2012, 5:13 a.m.

Candlemas Day ~ Groundhog Day
St. Brigid’s Day ~ St. Valentine’s Day

Fire ~ Quickening

Seasonal movie:
Groundhog Day
Activities: Light candles
See lambs at UConn Animal Barns