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.

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…

before the storm

9.2.16.4110
9.2.16 ~ juvenile laughing gull

Five days ago there were a lot of birds at the beach, perhaps getting ready for Tropical Storm Hermine… I had some fun trying to identify the different stages of life of the laughing gulls…

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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull

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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull

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9.2.16 ~ non-breeding adult? or first summer? laughing gull

We had a few gusts of wind which ruffled some feathers…

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9.2.16 ~ laughing gull with feathers puffed up from a gust of wind

I wondered if the cormorants would be staying out on their island during the storm…

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9.2.16 ~ cormorants on their exclusive off shore island

The baby great black-backed gull wondered if we would be handing out a french fry. Tim had unintentionally dropped one recently, renewing hopes for some of the younger birds…

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9.2.16 ~ juvenile great black-backed gull

My friend knows better — he’s content to visit with us. 🙂

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9.2.16 ~ my herring gull friend with the mangled foot

We also saw a great egret — they don’t often come this close, preferring their island in the middle of one of the salt ponds.

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9.2.16 ~ great egret

The swan’s pond has mostly dried up due to the drought…

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9.2.16 ~ swan

Sharing the estuary by the sea wall, we were amazed to see eight snowy egrets feeding with the great egret, the swan and a flock of Canada geese!

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9.2.16 ~ swan and snowy egrets

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9.2.16 ~ great egret, snowy egrets and Canada goose

The calm before the storm… Hermine gave us mostly gale force winds and drizzle. Several branches and many leaves and twigs came off the trees, but no trees were uprooted in our vicinity. That was more than enough excitement for us!

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9.2.16 ~ swan and Canada geese

safe harbor

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9.4.16 ~ USS Truxtun found a safe harbor at Fort Trumbull Pier in New London, Connecticut

Tropical Storm Hermine is supposed to head out to sea south of us, sending us very little rain or wind. (Too bad because we could really use some rain here.) Of more concern is a predicted storm surge of 2-4 feet tomorrow and beach erosion. But Hermine delivered us quite a surprise yesterday, a huge guided-missile destroyer, seeking shelter from the storm.

Today we decided to take a water taxi across the river so I could get a picture of this huge warship. As it happened, three sailors from the ship were on the water taxi, too, and Tim got to talking with them while I was snapping pictures. After the storm passes they will be headed to the Gulf or the Med, which is sailor slang for the Mediterranean Sea. They are hoping for the Med because it is hotter than hell in the Gulf.

When Tim called their ship a boat they corrected him — they refer to it properly as a destroyer. We may think this vessel is huge but they said it is one of the smaller navy ships.

These fellows seemed so young, even younger than our own children. As we go about our busy lives, it’s so easy to forget that our nation is still at war, that so much is being sacrificed. Carry on sailors, and thank you for your service.

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9.4.16 ~ the USS Truxton dwarfs the Cross Sound Ferry and New London Ledge Light

waves still crashing

The authorities couldn’t keep the folks who love their beach away for too long. A couple of hours after Tim & I attempted to go and were stopped, Nate & Shea (son and daughter-in-law) went for a look and they were finally letting people in! All the pictures in this post were taken by Shea on Sunday, the 28th, and are being used with her permission.

Beach Pond Road, leading to Eastern Point Beach, was still flooded.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

Another tree downed – so sad… Look at all the seaweed left on the street.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

One of Shea’s nephews on the beach…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

And her other nephew…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

Part of the wall between the beach and the parking lot was damaged…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

A park bench moved by the waves into the parking lot. The pay-loader was cleaning up the sand from the beach which had been swept up by the sea and was covering the parking lot.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

Local lads enjoying the force of the wind…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

Three more benches landed here…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

The little house on the little rock island made it through –  I suspect the storm surge was probably up to the first floor.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

Waves still crashing on the parking lot. At its peak the storm surge covered the parking lot with white caps – I saw a picture of it on Facebook but haven’t got permission to use it.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

Damage on the Thames River end of the parking lot.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

The pile of beach sand the pay-loader scooped up. I wonder if they will move it back down to the beach at some point.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Eastern Point

Photos by Shannon Rodgers

Some people have expressed disappointment that this storm wasn’t as exciting as it was predicted to be. I just have to put my 2¢ in:

Making sensible preparations for a hurricane is like putting on your seat-belt. There’s a reason why people are always saying to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. When we drive or ride in our cars and arrive safely at our destinations do we complain that we didn’t have the possible accident we are ready for? Or that we are disappointed because the ride wasn’t exciting enough? Sure, some newscasters get carried away with their superlatives, but many try to emphasize the basic unpredictability of hurricanes and underscore the importance of being safe and not sorry. So far 38 people were killed in this storm, 2 of them in Connecticut. And 3.3 million people are still without power, and many have lost their homes. No doubt they feel they had more than enough unwanted excitement.

Thank you, Shea, for the great pictures! I think this marks the end of my Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene coverage…

storm surge

We were not permitted to drive down to the beach because it is still flooded, even at low tide. So we got as close as we could get, a bit north of the beach on the Thames River. No one playing golf today! Notice the white caps on the Thames River, from the tropical storm winds.

8.28.11 ~ Thames River
8.28.11 ~ Thames River

Other families had the same idea – gathering on a little strip of land between the golf course and the Thames River. The wind was still very strong, in fact I had trouble pushing my car door open!

8.28.11 ~ Thames River
8.28.11 ~ Thames River

It’s hard to comprehend that this is the low tide!

8.28.11 ~ Thames River
8.28.11 ~ Thames River

This gull was gliding in place, kind of floating in the wind…

8.28.11 ~ Thames River
8.28.11 ~ Thames River

In this picture you can see a line of seaweed on the lawn, marking where the storm surge reached at high tide, and this home is on the Thames River. I hope I can get to the beach tomorrow as I can only wonder how things are down there with the houses right on the ocean!

8.28.11 ~ Thames River
8.28.11 ~ Thames River

downed trees

Happy to report that we are safe and sound and the kids are as well. We partially lost our power early this morning, so we have no air conditioning – ugh! We ran an extension cord into the kitchen to keep the refrigerator running. We’re only getting a couple of cable stations. We brought our laptops down here to the living room and set them up where we have power. There’s a good stiff breeze, but it’s still a pretty humid breeze.

8.28.11 ~ Sound Breeze
8.28.11 ~ Sound Breeze

We slept through the worst of it and were lucky to have no damage. We did lose part of a tree in our condo complex (above). Then we decided to go out for a drive… This tree (below) was behind the Groton Town Hall.

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

The storm surge at low tide still swelled the Poquonnock River…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

A large family of swans on the Poquonnock River seems to be all accounted for…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

This tree was near the Groton-New London Airport…

8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.28.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Irene was a tropical storm when she got to us so we were very grateful – things could have been so much worse. With the windows open now I’m smelling the aroma of someone’s delicious dinner coming in on the wind. Tim’s asleep and I’m hoping Irene washed all the ragweed pollen out of the air!