Here we go again! Following the repeated urgings of the local weather forecasters, yesterday I shoveled about two feet of packed layers of snow and ice off of our balcony. It was so pretty but roofs and decks all over Connecticut have given way under the weight of these record snow falls. And cold temperatures. We haven’t even had our typical January thaw!
And the forecast? Snowstorm tomorrow, ice storm Wednesday, snow storm Saturday…
These pictures are more from January a year ago, a different day when my sister and I took an early morning walk through the arboretum. Notice there is no snow on the ground, and you can see how drab Connecticut usually is for a good part of the winter. Which is probably why I love snow storms so much! But not this much!!!
But I have enjoyed curling up with my new Kindle, a birthday gift from Tim. 🙂 The feature about it that delights me the most is that I can adjust the size of the print to make reading a breeze, no matter what mood my eyes are in. I think in the long run this will be cheaper than buying new reading glasses every time my middle-aged eyes begin to get persnickety. And maybe I can get the size of my physical library under control, while my cyber library grows.
And the day climbs down from its blue loft-bed on a slanting ladder of sunbeams, pauses a moment between the trees, airy-light, young. ~ Hans Børli (The Quiet Room)
I noticed two of my Facebook friends talking favorably about an author named Mary Oliver, and so selected one of her books as my first choice. I found out that she has been called the Bard of Provincetown. Already I’m enjoying all the connections the poet and author has to one of my refuges on Cape Cod. 🙂
Batten down the hatches! Are we ready for more of this unbelievable winter?
It was 4°F when I got up this morning. A year ago in January it wasn’t this cold when we had visitors for a weekend, Tim’s youngest cousin and her three children. Allegra is 18 years younger than Tim, who is the oldest in that group of cousins. (The span between the oldest – Nate – and the youngest – Lizzie – second cousins is even greater – 30 years! But they are not part of this particular story.) I hadn’t started By the Sea yet, so I’m remembering this wonderful day here now.
So… on one day of the visit we decided that taking a long cold walk at Bluff Point would be an invigorating way to release some pent-up energy…
Bluff Point is a 1½ mile long peninsula here in Groton which juts out into Long Island Sound. It is part Connecticut State Park and part Coastal Reserve. The trails meander through the woods and open areas and finally lead to the bluff. The main trail is a four mile loop.
Winter is an etching… ~ Stanley Horowitz
The Poquonnock River (above) is on the west side of the peninsula, and on this day we followed the river. Cold as it was there were lots of people out and about, walking dogs, riding horses, and jogging, as well as walking like we were.
The winter sun is striking… Families who come outdoors find some satisfaction for the hunger to connect with nature and with each other, in any season.
A glimpse of a beach in the distance helps to encourage us forward, in spite of very rosy cheeks!
We didn’t make it to the bluff because we took a detour to Bluff Point Beach, which faces the sound and stretches into a barrier between the sound and the river, Bushy Point Beach. The Great Hurricane of 1938 (aka the Great New England Hurricane) washed away more than a hundred cottages here, which were never rebuilt. (Mother Nature doesn’t have to tell the typical New Englander twice when rebuilding would be a bad idea!) The storm surge also breached Bushy Point Beach which created an island at its western end.
We endured the wind a little while to explore the beach, and Allegra found a whelk egg case.
We were so cold by then that we decided to retrace our steps back to the car. So in the end we walked almost four miles, according to the pedometers. We came home to a round or two of hot cocoa…
Maybe our family will come see us again in a different season, and perhaps then we’ll make it to the bluff – we were so close! – and finish the loop on the other, eastern side of the peninsula!
Each of our lives is a path. To know this requires intuition and trust. If we are true to the steps we take, the travel makes sense and the journey confirms itself. ~ Lin Jensen
According to Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth.” Iðunn is “a keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness.” (Idun, Iduna, Idunn, Ithun, Idunna)
A few words following about October and apples, which we are enjoying daily since we went apple-picking last weekend. Nothing like crunching into a juicy McIntosh fresh from the tree! An old saying keeps popping into my head: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Now’s the time when children’s noses All become as red as roses And the colour of their faces Makes me think of orchard places Where the juicy apples grow… ~ Katherine Mansfield (Autumn Song)
There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. The sunshine is peculiarly genial; and in sheltered places, as on the side of a bank, or of a barn or house, one becomes acquainted and friendly with the sunshine. It seems to be of a kindly and homely nature. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne (The American Note-books)
When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!
To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The outdoor air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.” ~ Henry David Thoreau (Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript)
Now the meadow was full of flowers and dragonflies and we really enjoyed our few minutes there, but the sun was hot and we longed for the cool shade again. So we left the meadow on the other side, and wandered through the woods for a while until we stumbled across the woodland garden we found in May. No Cheshire cat to host us this time, and no other visitors. There wasn’t as much blooming as there was on our earlier visit, except for tall meadow rue, wild leek and lilium medeoloides. But the rue and lily were so lovely they more than made up for the lack of other blooms!!! In the picture above, Janet is examining an insect who was busy devouring the lily’s leaves.
The woods were made for the hunters of dreams, The brooks for the fishers of song; To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game The streams and the woods belong. There are thoughts that moan from the soul of pine And thoughts in a flower bell curled; And the thoughts that are blown with the scent of the fern Are as new and as old as the world. ~ Sam Walter Foss (A Trail for All Seasons: Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail in Words & Pictures)
I will be the gladdest thing Under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers And not pick one. ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay (Afternoon on a Hill)
On our way back to the exit we spotted a cactus with a few yellow blooms left on it! And, yes, we then headed for Ruby Tuesday again for those luscious strawberry lemonades! Looking forward to Shakespeare-in-the-Arboretum next week…
This is fun, I get to use all kinds poetry to go with my photos… But after this I might run out of new poems to decorate with!
We found a meadow in the arboretum, stunningly sunny and bright. Yes, there were plenty of dragonflies in all colors and sizes. One even had a huge dark body paired with totally transparent wings. Again, the contrast between the sunlight and the shade was very sharp.
Most of my efforts to capture them with my weary camera failed, as I half expected. However, there was one very special BLUE one! And it held still for a very long time. Long enough for me to come to my senses and use the zoom and get a shot. One more click, got it again!
Poking around online I have learned (from Wikipedia) that “the Norwegian word for dragonflies is ‘Øyenstikker’, which literally means Eye Poker.” And that just as people who love to watch birds are birding, ones who love to watch dragonflies are oding. And that “oding is especially popular in Texas, where a total of 225 species of odonates in the world have been observed.” Well, that would explain why Lili gets so many great dragonfly pictures down there!
And magically, yesterday, Paul stopped by with a gift from Linda, an amazing knitted square with a dragonfly knitted right into the design! Paul said it was a pot holder but it’s too pretty and delicate to be used in the kitchen. And it doesn’t have a loop to hang it up. (And I hope I don’t get him in trouble for not delivering it sooner, he said he had carried it around for a few days – or was it weeks?)
Silently a flower blooms, In silence it falls away; Yet here now, at this moment, at this place, the whole of the flower, the whole of the world is blooming. This is the talk of the flower, the truth of the blossom; The glory of eternal life is fully shining here. ~ Zenkei Shibayama (A Flower Does Not Talk: Zen Essays)
A garden chapter of this rambling account should soon follow this post…
Every time I see mushrooms I think of Paul Stamets and his theory about mycelium, “the vegetative part of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching thread like hyphae.”
I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape. ~ Paul Stamets (Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World)
I first read about Stamets a few years ago when I was waiting and skimming through magazines at my aunt’s dentist’s office. The idea of the earth being conscious was something I already believed in and the article I was reading mentioned something about the connections between fungi physically resembling the neurons in human brains. I was captivated and ordered his book that night. At some point I found a talk he gave on TED, 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.
I have to admit that I began reading the book but couldn’t continue because it was scientifically way over my head. I brought the book to my Dad, the microbiologist, and my brother-in-law, the botanist, and they devoured it and were impressed by the theory as well. My brother-in-law commented that the idea was in line with what they were researching when he used to work at The New Alchemy Institute, before it evolved into The Green Center.
But I digress and must return to our walk. Yesterday I was having a lot of trouble organizing the post and accidentally published it before I was done. Wasn’t sure if I could un-publish it without deleting it so I decided to call it a day.
Janet and I kept leaving the trails in pursuit of getting a closer look at some of the more unusual trees. The first one had a benign tumor, or a burl. The burl could have been caused by an injury, infection, or an unformed bud gone haywire. Any of these things can trigger the cells to grow excessively and unevenly, leaving it with unique shapes and ring patterns. Woodworkers and artists often find creative ways to use the patterns found in burled wood.
We saw a lot of poison ivy and thought we did a pretty good job of avoiding it. But it would seem I got zapped somehow and within 48 hours broke out in a mild rash. Apparently as we age there is a tendency for the reaction we get to be less severe, which seems to be what is happening with me. Benadryl is keeping the itch pretty tolerable. One thing is puzzling though, the rash is on my neck and arms. I’ve had it on my neck another time – four years ago after we attended outdoor concerts two nights in a row at the amphitheater in Saratoga Springs, New York. We were in the woods but stayed on the sidewalks. On our way home the rash broke out so I went to the walk-in clinic here and they said it was poison ivy! Such a possibility had never entered my mind.
I wonder why it broke out on my neck that time and this time, too. The only other time I’ve had it was when I was a kid and it was all over my face and arms. That time I could logically trace it to the fact that I had been crawling around on my hands and knees playing hide and seek in the bushes at a picnic. It was a crummy way to start the summer, and it was much worse than this episode.
Janet noticed a tree which seemed to have four or five trunks reaching up from the main trunk. So off we went to get a closer look, leaving the trail behind us – somewhere…. Goodness knows what we were walking through…
Still can’t figure out what was so mesmerizing abut this tree. I just had to touch it. It has a very strong energy and I bet we couldn’t find it again if we were required to. (I’m still looking for another tree I saw there last winter…)
A Murmur in the Trees – to note – Not loud enough – for Wind – A Star – not far enough to seek – Nor near enough – to find – ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #433)
After meandering around, not really that lost, we spotted a bright sunny clearing beyond the trees! So we forgot about locating the trail again, and headed off to discover what we might find in a summer meadow. Maybe dragonflies?
The meadow chapter of the story will have to be put into the next post…
He walked and he walked, and the earth and the holiness of the earth came up through the soles of his feet. ~ Gretel Ehrlich (Legacy of Light)
…Cool, verdant spaces Beneath the trees Secret empty places Nobody knows… ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter ♫ (I Have a Need for Solitude) ♫
Last week we had a spell of absolutely perfect weather. No humidity and comfortable mid-70 temperatures. One morning Janet and I went out for a lengthy walk deep into the woods. We were beckoned off the paths a few times and got a little lost, well, not terribly lost, just a little confused… As far as I can tell, we only went around in a circle once, and only had to retrace our steps one time.
I have only recently learned that stone walls, which I see everywhere I go, are almost completely absent outside of New England. The first European settlers to arrive here started clearing the woods for their farms, and the exposed topsoil began to erode. Rain would soak deeper into the subsoil, which was full of rocks. When the moisture froze and expanded, it pushed these rocks to the surface, and they began to call them New England potatoes. What better thing to do with the “crop” than to clear them off the fields and build them into stone walls?
In the 1800s people began abandoning their farms to live in cities or to move out west as pioneers in the westward expansion, and the woods came back to much of New England. And so it is that one cannot take a walk in the woods without encountering at least one of these ubiquitous grey stone walls.
On this day the sky was bluer than blue and the sun was so bright, its light penetrating through the tree canopy wherever the leaves let it through. The contrast between the splotches of bright light and dark cool shade was striking.
To see the Summer Sky Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie – True Poems flee – ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1491)
Sun-stone’s kiss, midsummer pleasure, Welcome all and some. ~ Caitlín Matthews (The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)
The stars speak through the stones. Light shines in the densest matter. Earth and heaven are one. Our physical beings and our heavenly souls are united in the mystery of being. ~ Philip Carr-Gomm (Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century)
I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright. ~ Henry David Thoreau (Walking)
Yesterday Karma was blogging about red squirrels. Now seems as good a time as any to pull out this old blog and post it here. The picture above is one of my rare successes (in my humble opinion) photographing wildlife.
One of the things we did on our anniversary was take a walk on Beech Forest Trail at Cape Cod National Seashore. It felt so peaceful and invigorating being out in the salty fresh air and filtered sunlight… At one point a little chickadee flew very close to me and landed on a branch at eye-level, just inches from me. I put out my hand but he declined to land on it, disappointed because I had no seeds for him. But he stayed close and talked to me for a bit, posing for pictures on his little branch. Unfortunately the pictures came out blurry! However, a little farther along the trail, someone had put out a few seeds for the birds on a stump, but an adorable red squirrel was hogging that feast! He wouldn’t pose for my camera, but didn’t mind if I got close and tried to get a few shots with the “children and pets” setting. I’m now thinking perhaps the chickadee was asking me to shoo the red squirrel away from the seeds… ~ Barbara Rodgers (Gaia Community, 12 May 2009)
But indeed, it is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson (Essays of Travel)