cattails, sand, shells

11.17.20 ~ Beach Pond ~ Groton, Connecticut

Yesterday we took a walk by the pond adjacent to our beach and enjoyed a chilly day that felt a lot more like late fall than it did during the recent warm spell. The temperature when we started our walk was 39°F (4°C) so we bundled up in winter jackets.

Sunday night we had a cold front come through with gale force winds and some more needed rain. We lost power for 45 minutes in the middle of the night and even lit some candles. The new moon had made it a very dark night. It was good to see some water in this pond once again.

All of a sudden I had the revelation of how enchanting my pond was.
~ Claude Monet
(Concise Encyclopedia of Semantics)

song sparrow
Canada goose
another Canada goose

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.

~ Mary Oliver
(In Blackwater Woods)

11.17.20 ~ Eastern Point ~ Groton, Connecticut

As we walked from the pond over to the beach we found sand along the side of the road, blown off the beach during the storm. And an oak leaf from a distant somewhere. The sand had shifted around on the beach itself. In the winter they don’t comb the sand like they do in the summer, so one can see what nature decides to do with the shoreline.

New London Ledge Light on the horizon and Tyler House

During the storm a tall tree at the beach came down and someone posted a picture of it on social media on Monday, lying flat on the lawn. But it was gone before we got to the beach on Tuesday, so the city had made quick work of that clean up. There were people operating equipment, working on the playground renovation. I’m looking forward to bringing our grandchildren here again some day.

The waves were bigger and louder than usual. In fact, we heard them while we were at the pond. Little tiny breakers. Most of the time Long Island Sound is pretty smooth.

looking out at New London Ledge Light

Quite a few treasures had been deposited on the beach. Ocean offerings.

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
(Gift from the Sea)

another oak leaf far from home

The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.
~ Vincent Van Gogh
(Letter to Theo van Gogh, October 31, 1876)

waning summer

9.13.20 ~ Eastern Point

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)

nonbreeding adult laughing gulls

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.

juvenile laughing gull and nonbreeding adult herring gull
laughing gull, second winter and nonbreeding adult herring gull
juvenile laughing gull
nonbreeding adult laughing gull
nonbreeding adult ring-billed gull
laughing gull and herring gull, both nonbreeding adults
these two seemed to be great friends
At first I thought the large one might be a great black-backed gull because he seems pretty huge, but he doesn’t quite fit the description. I dusted off my “Gulls of the Americas” reference book and discovered that there has been some cross-breeding between the great black-backed and herring gulls. Maybe that’s what’s going on here…
perhaps a version of yoga tree pose
nonbreeding adult ring-billed gull
juvenile laughing gull
waning summer
weed and post art
jellyfish!

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!

misty hibiscus palustris

8.4.20 ~ Beach Pond

Before Tropical Storm Isaias arrived on Tuesday, and after filling the car with gas and dropping off our mail-in primary ballots, we went down to the beach and the turtle pond for an early morning walk. We never lost power here, in spite of the high winds, but I see on the news the rest of Connecticut was hit much harder.

swamp rose-mallow and common cattail

Unfortunately the storm didn’t bring much rain here, which we could have used because we’ve had so little this summer. In these pictures you can see that Beach Pond is almost dried up, all that remains are puddles and mud. Normally there would be lots of blue-gray water behind these wildflowers.

swamp rose-mallow and common cattail

My heart always skips a beat when I see the swamp rose-mallows are blooming! They seem to be a perfect shade of pink. When I was little, pink was my favorite color. My parents even let me paint my bedroom walls pink. Blue has replaced it as my favorite color in adulthood, although I think you could call the muted shade on my current living room walls a dusty rose.

purple loosestrife
pickerelweed
swamp rose-mallow (hibiscus palustris)
8.4.20 ~ Eastern Point
rabbit’s-foot clover ?

Down at the beach I noticed these curious tiny puffy pale pink flowers (above) growing between the rocks. And there was a solitary gull (below) letting the waves wash over his feet. You can tell the wind was just starting to pick up from his ruffled feathers.

ring-billed gull

After taking the online Joy of Birdwatching course at The Cornell Lab Bird Academy, I took their suggestion and joined the “Connecticut Birds” Facebook group. It’s a private group with about 6,500 members and you cannot share the beautiful pictures other members submit. What a treasure trove! And the members are so helpful when you need assistance identifying a bird.

non-breeding male or juvenile mallard

Even if you don’t know you need guidance! Back on June 24 I saw a solitary eider swimming in the river and honestly thought it looked like a juvenile loon. But someone in the group suggested it was a female common eider and that she had never seen one before! I looked it up and agree with her identification. At first I thought this bird was another common eider but now I’m going with a non-breeding male, or a juvenile, mallard, unless I get corrected again. 🙂

tropical storm warning

Tropical Storm Fay moving northward east of the North Carolina coast. Expected to bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast and Southern New England.
~ National Hurricane Center

Looks like tomorrow might be an exciting day! Keeping our eyes on the path of this one. It’s been four years since we’ve had a tropical storm, eight years since we’ve had a hurricane. I hope this isn’t the start of a busy season.

a fisherman knows

“Fishing Boats, Calm Sea” by Claude Monet

The will in the wind and the weather,
The voice that calls and whispers…
Whether doubter or believer,
a fisherman knows this of “Him”
if he lives in the storm, He lives
also in the sunset’s glow,
and in the red of the morning.

~ Gunnar Reiss-Andersen
(Sea & Sky)

rainy night and toad

10.16.18 ~ Katherine with toad ~ photo by Dima

So, I’ve been in North Carolina for almost two weeks now, spending lots of time with Katherine and helping out her parents as best I can. Tim, too, but he left very early this morning and made it all the way home to Connecticut this evening! He’ll be back, though, after taking care of a few obligations.

Larisa has been pretty miserable but now that the shingles is improving she’s feeling a little better. This morning she remembered that my friend, an interpreter, told us that in Spanish pregnancy is called “la dulce espera,” the sweet wait. I hope these last couple of weeks will be sweeter now.

On the day tropical storm Michael arrived here, Katherine observed her Grandpa frequently tracking the storm on his weather app. She happened to be outside when the first raindrops fell so she rushed inside, so excited, and exclaimed, “Tell Grandpa the storm is here!” And so it was. We listened to the torrential rain and from her bedroom window watched the ferocious wind pelt the lower roof with twigs and branches.

We lost power late in the afternoon, 45 minutes before the pot roast was done. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious. We each had a flashlight to navigate in the dark. When it stopped raining we took our flashlights and went out for a walk in the dark. Katherine had colorful flashing lights on her rain boots which made it easy to keep track of her. Dima’s flight was diverted to Atlanta so he didn’t make it home until the next day. Our power came back around noon the next day, too.

Our niece and her husband learned that their house, of newer and more hurricane-resistant construction, was spared. They returned to help their neighbors and search for missing persons. They even had a story written about their efforts in The New York Times!

Katherine still loves to take her nature walks, even in the dark. One night her father spotted a toad and took the picture above. So much wonder in the world!

And the sweet wait continues…

Hurricane Michael

NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite provided this visible image of Hurricane Michael after it made landfall in the Florida panhandle on Oct. 10. Credit: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)/ NOAA

If we were still in Connecticut this major hurricane would not be affecting us. But since we are in North Carolina we have what is now Tropical Storm Michael raging outside today.

The storm first became very interesting to us because our niece, who just got married last month, lives in Panama City Beach, Florida, with her new husband. They evacuated, of course, with their three kitties, and fled to North Carolina to stay with her parents (Tim’s brother and sister-in-law). So the four of them came up here to Larisa’s for dinner last night, and we sat around the table for hours looking at the pictures people had shared online of the devastation in their area. Presumably taken after the tempest had passed. Several buildings near their home were severely damaged and a brick and mortar middle school was a pile of rubble. No pictures of what might be left of their home as of last night. They are very close to where the eye made landfall.

We’re waiting for more news…

Tim & I are down here helping Larisa while Dima is on a business trip. Larisa is in a lot of pain but is putting on a brave front. We all hope this baby decides to come sooner than later! Since Katherine wanted me to play with her this morning it fell on Tim to follow my recipe and start a pot roast in the slow cooker. Hope we don’t lose power! Dima should be home tonight unless the storm interferes with his flight…

Coumeenoole Beach

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Visiting Coumeenoole Beach Saturday afternoon was amazing! I was already excited to have learned, the night before as I was browsing online, that parts of the movie Ryan’s Daughter had been filmed on this beach. This brought back to me a distant memory; Ryan’s Daughter was the first R-rated film my parents allowed me to see. And I was in awe of the cinematography.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

We stopped first at the top of the bluff to take in the breathtaking scenery from above. You’ll have to forgive me for posting so many pictures! I took hundreds and it was impossible to choose just a few.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Then Tim and Larisa drove down the steep road (see below) from the bluff to the beach. Dima and Katherine decided to walk down the path and stairs and I followed them with the camera.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Oh what a wild and free Atlantic Ocean!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the family looks down to the beach below

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ father and daughter share a love of adventure

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ those were some huge waves down there!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ almost down to the road

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the road from the steps down

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ look at those tiny people down there!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I finally make my way to the sand

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ our little explorer

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide is coming in, rather quickly

I learned later that at low tide the beach goes much farther out. The tide continued to come in. I’m not sure how many hours we spent there enjoying all the nooks and crannies in the rocks.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I was worried the tide would catch Tim over there

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ late afternoon sun

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Katherine never tired of exploring ~ she has always loved the great outdoors

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ having people in the pictures helps to get a sense of scale here

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I’m pretty sure this was Dima and Katherine’s creation

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I took lots of close-ups of the rocks for my sister, the geologist

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and Katherine, still moments by the sea

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima sets off on his own adventure ~ he disappeared around the corner and I have to admit I was a little concerned for his safety

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ my darling little Katherine

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Even though I loved climbing trees as a child I still cringed when my kids started climbing trees and rocks. I never stopped them but I couldn’t look. After I grew up my mother told me she couldn’t watch my sister and me climb trees either. That feeling rose up again watching some of the rock climbing Larisa and Katherine did. Eventually I turned away… The rocks my kids climbed on at our local beach look pretty tame now after seeing the young ones taking on these rocky cliffs!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide looks like it might be in

So that ended my picture taking. Well, I also used up both camera batteries. 🙂

I watched Ryan’s Daughter again one afternoon this week. (It’s a very long movie with an intermission.) It was fun recognizing Coumeenoole Beach in parts of the film. The storm scene was shot during an actual storm on this beach. The waves were about 20 feet high. Tim guessed the waves were about 8 feet high the day we were there.

What wonderful memories I will cherish of this awesome afternoon by the sea…

hope

tufted titmouse ~ Image source: AnimalSpot.net

“Hope” is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all —

And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm —

I’ve heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest Sea —
Yet — never — in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of me.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #314)

Welcoming Winter