roses by the sea

5.22.23 ~ Napatree Point

Only about 20 miles east of us the sea changes from the gentler waters of Long Island Sound to the open Atlantic Ocean with its bigger waves.

One last walk on the dunes and beach at Napatree Point…

first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean
we came to smell the beach roses and breathe in the salty air
Napatree Point, a 1.5 mile long curved peninsula
between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Narragansett Bay
beach roses nestled into a dip in the dune
Watch Hill Light
we came to hear the waves crashing

It was a very hazy day, the smoke particles in the air came all the way from the wildfires in Alberta, Canada. Sometimes the camera captured some blue in the sky and others times the sky came out very gray.

we came to hike across the dune trails

We heard this male yellow warbler sweetly singing before we finally spotted him flitting around the thickets on the dune, in the same area we saw a female back in September. It’s amazing to think that this little songbird spent the winter in Central America and has arrived here to breed.

“sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet”

As we were walking along a robin came wandering down the dune path towards us. He would take a few steps, pause, look around, and then take a few more. We stood still and he kept coming closer, and closer and closer. After he checked us out, he turned around and started retracing his steps in the same manner. Curious little fellow.

American robin
beach pea
(thanks to Eliza for the identification)
harbor scene ~ I love that house!

When we got back to the parking lot these two herring gulls were having a spirited encounter. The one on the right kept making a long call and the one on the left kept jumping down into the water and bringing up globs of seaweed. The first one ignored the seaweed and kept repeating his long call.

we came to say a fond farewell

one morning in two lovely spring gardens

Edgerton & Stengel Memorial Wildflower Garden
5.7.23 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

One last walk with Janet in Connecticut… (There may be walks together in North Carolina in our future…) It was a lovely, sunny, spring day. So many blossoms!!!

golden ragwort
wild azalea
large-flowered bellwort (aka merrybells)
roseshell azalea
wild columbine (aka red columbine)
mayapple
bluets
eastern redbud
dwarf crested iris
Virginia bluebells
path into a rock garden
purple trillium
nodding trillium
yellow birch (aka swamp birch)
great white trillium
fern forest
Solomon’s seal
toadshade (aka toad trillium)
gray catbird singing for us
Caroline Black Garden
5.7.23 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

After enjoying the wildflower garden we crossed the college campus and visited another garden, this one of ornamental trees and shrubs from around the world.

huge copper beech in the background
Janet noticed this bat lying motionless on a rock
blossoms reflected in water pool
unfurling
Janet looking into a garden “room”

You think winter will never end, and then, when you don’t expect it, when you have almost forgotten it, warmth comes and a different light. Under the bare trees the wildflowers bloom so thick you can’t walk without stepping on them. The pastures turn green and the leaves come.
~ Wendell Berry
(Hannah Coulter: A Novel)

magnificent copper beech
stunning copper beech leaves
copper beech bark
looking up into the copper beach
eastern tiger swallowtail
dandelion seed caught on a flower stigma

I will miss my adventures with Janet, sharing with each other all the little details we notice along the way.

serene and honey sweet

“May Morn” by John Henry Twachtman

Another dawn — serene and honey sweet. At such times, it seems to me that dawn is nine-tenths of the day. Staying up late at night has a sameness about it; but every dawn is different. And this is the dawn of May — May, the month that is never long enough. This is May the first as the first of May should be. … On such a day as this, it is enough to spend the hours soaking in the sunshine, breathing slowly, sensing to the full all the perfumes of spring. It is enough to delight in the varied shades of green, in the forms of trees and the colors of flowers. On such a day, all our moments out-of-doors are lived in quiet pleasure.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)

spring is surely coming

“Springtime” by Claude Monet

Oh, spring is surely coming,
Her couriers fill the air;
Each morn are new arrivals,
Each night her ways prepare;
I scent her fragrant garments,
Her foot is on the stair.

~ John Burroughs
(Bird & Bough)

~ spring equinox ~
(5:24 pm eastern time zone)

a winter without winter

2.22.23 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

Skunk cabbages (above and below) were emerging everywhere near and in the water at the arboretum on our latest walk. Three difficult weeks had passed without a walk and it was such a relief to finally be outside again.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

~ John O’Donohue
(To Bless the Space Between Us)

reindeer moss on the leaves

Our longings have taken us in a new direction. We have decided to move to North Carolina this summer to be near our grandchildren! It was not an easy decision to make as we’ve lived here most of our lives and love New England. I will also miss my sister and living by the sea.

American wintergreen

Early in February we came down with our first head colds since before the pandemic began. (Our covid tests were negative.) Ten days of misery… And before he was fully recovered from his cold Tim was struck with a violent case of food poisoning. He’s okay now and we were grateful to finally take another walk!

reflections in the bog

In the arboretum there were plenty of signs of spring being right around the corner. January was the warmest one on record for Connecticut, with temperatures averaging ten degrees above average. I won’t be surprised to learn that February will be setting a similar record. Hey, if it’s not going to snow and be winter up north here we may as well move south, right?

pitcher plant in the bog
one of the few carnivorous plants in North America

While blowing my nose nonstop I kept busy online exploring the area that will become my new home, the Piedmont plateau region of North Carolina, the gentle rolling hills between the flat coastal plain and the Appalachian mountains. There are a lot of land conservancies, open spaces, state parks, botanical gardens, an arboretum and trails to keep us happy walking and exploring, at least when it isn’t too hot to go out. We suspect we will be more active in the winter down there. 🙂

fallen branch with lichen on the leaves

There might even be more birds to see. But for this chilly and raw walk we were pleased to see a pair of hooded mergansers swimming and diving for food in the pond.

male hooded merganser
female hooded merganser
stump and its reflection

Thanks to a tag on this shrub, Alnus serrulata, I was able to identify these smooth alder catkins, flowers on a spike, another sign of spring.

smooth alder catkins and fruiting cone

The [smooth alder] flowers are monoecious, meaning that both sexes are found on a single plant. Male (Staminate) catkins are 1.6-2.4 in long; female (Pistillate) catkins are 1/2 in long. Reddish-green flowers open in March to April. … The ovate, dark brown, cone-like fruit is hard with winged scales. Seeds are produced in small cones and do not have wings. Fruit usually matures during fall and is quite persistent.
~ Wikipedia

smooth alder catkins

I have to admit, thinking about the logistics involved to move is filling me with anxiety. The last time we moved was 29 years ago and that was just across town. Except for a couple of years living in Greece I’ve lived in Connecticut my whole life. When I moved to Greece with my parents I only had a trunk to fill and that was pretty simple. My parents took care of all the other planning. Now I’m coping with a chronic illness that is bound to complicate things. But we have family and friends helping us so I think we will make it somehow. And to be settled and living near our grandchildren while they are still very young will make it all worth it.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
~ John O’Donohue
(To Bless the Space Between Us)

flora by the sea

10.10.22 ~ Cognitive Garden at Avery Point

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day my good friend Janet and I took a long afternoon walk from Eastern Point to Avery Point and back again, passing by Beach Pond both ways. The weather was picture perfect, if a bit on the breezy side.

After admiring the views of Long Island Sound and identifying the various islands and lighthouses we could see on a clear day, we found the “Cognitive Garden” on the Avery Point campus. There was still a lot of interest to see there in the middle of autumn. Textures and colors.

Cognition means to acquire knowledge through the senses, experience, and thought. A cognitive garden encourages learning through these three processes while exposing people to nature. While the benefits of nature extend to all ages, young children learn primarily through their senses and a multitude of studies have demonstrated a correlation between sensory stimulation and brain development.
~ University of Connecticut, Avery Point Campus website

The naturalist is a civilized hunter. He goes goes alone into a field or woodland and closes his mind to everything but that time and place, so that life around him presses in on all the senses and small details grow in significance. He begins the scanning search for which cognition was engineered. His mind becomes unfocused, it focuses on everything, no longer directed toward any ordinary task or social pleasantry.
~ E. O. Wilson
(Biophilia)

black-eyed Susan

I wish I could include the smell of a patch of thyme for you, dear readers. What an amazing scent filled the air!

thyme ~ it smelled wonderful!
a bee enjoying the smell, too

On the way back I was happy to see that Beach Pond was full of water again, although we were still in a moderate drought that day. I suspect Thursday’s torrential rains may have moved us up into the abnormally dry category. No waterbirds around but still some flowers blooming, and others spent.

asters at Beach Pond
cattails with fluff

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

~ Mary Oliver
(Red Bird: Poems)

the pond is full of water and the breeze was making little ripples
juvenile song sparrow
backside of a lingering swamp rose mallow and orbs
swamp rose mallow bud and orbs

It felt so good sauntering along and catching up with a friend!!!

picked out by the sun

10.7.22 ~ Caroline Black Garden, Connecticut College Arboretum

Caroline Black Garden is known as the secret garden of Connecticut College, located on a steep hill between the college and the Thames River. Starting with this gate you follow paths passing through various garden “rooms.” It has four acres of native and exotic ornamental trees and bushes. We enjoyed a morning of exploration.

western red cedar
paths connected the “rooms”

Sit and be quiet. In a while
the red berries, now in shadow,
will be picked out by the sun.

~ Wendell Berry
(This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems)

path leading to a magical pool
Tim pretending to climb a huge glacial erratic
water bubbling out from under this rock ~ a spring perhaps?
Japanese inspired water feature
THIS POOL GIVEN TO
THE CAROLINE BLACK
MEMORIAL GARDEN
BY THE NEW LONDON
HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY
1930
gate leaving pool “room”

The clearing rests in song and shade.
It is a creature made
By old light held in soil and leaf,
By human joy and grief,
By human work,
Fidelity of sight and stroke,
By rain, by water on
The parent stone.

~ Wendell Berry
(This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems)

prickly pear, the only cactus native to Connecticut
bee and goldenrod
another garden gate

What a natural wellspring — cooling and refreshing the years — is the gift of wonder! It removes the dryness from life and keeps our days fresh and expanding.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)

meadow, woods, old orchard

9.30.22 ~ Coogan Farm Nature & Heritage Center

It felt so good getting out for a long walk in the woods on a cool, crisp autumn day! First we enjoyed the meadows at the entrance to Coogan Farm.

milkweed pods
abundant goldenrod blooming everywhere
bee and asters
can you find the bee?
a stump that was growing out of the crack in a huge boulder

Following a path past the Giving Garden we came to the Gallup Orchard Trail, which winds through the woods before arriving at a forgotten orchard that was recently discovered and is being studied and restored.

a wolf tree welcoming us to the Gallup Orchard Trail,
a relic from farms of the past when trees along the edges of open fields
could spread their branches without competition from other trees
leaf, berries and orbs
ducked under a broken tree
marking the end of the woods and entrance to the orchard

Dating back to the original 1654 Gallup homestead and actively farmed by the Greenman brothers during the age of shipbuilding in the 1800s to feed their shipworkers at what is now Mystic Seaport Museum, the orchard contains clues that will help us uncover the history and heritage of the land.
~ Anna Sawin
(“Apples and Pears, Oh My!” ~ Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center blog post, March 9, 2020)

pear on tree
apple on tree
fall color in the distance

The orchard is on a hill. We entered at the top of the hill and when we found our way down to the bottom we found this sign. The bottom entrance is off the Stillman Mansion Trail. We followed that trail back to the parking lot and encountered a cute little song sparrow, who wasn’t singing, only staring at us apprehensively.

song sparrow

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
(The Great Gatsby)

American burnweed ~ pilewort (thanks to Eliza for the identification)

I hope we get lots of walks in this autumn! 🍂 🍁 🍂

unplanned visit

9.23.22 ~ Napatree Point Conservation Area

The promise of 7′ waves from Hurricane Fiona lured us to make a spur-of-the-moment trek out to Napatree Point Friday afternoon. Tim couldn’t keep his hat on the northwest wind was so strong. I tucked his hat inside my hoodie. But the 3′ waves were disappointing, once again.

There was a solitary monarch butterfly lingering on the dunes. Hopefully it will be on its way to Mexico by the end of September!

monarch
Watch Hill Light

To get the above picture I climbed up higher on the dune, up off the regular path. (There was no rope or sign to indicate I shouldn’t!) I was delighted with the new vantage point, but then, when I turned around to retrace my steps, found myself sliding down the sandy slope with nothing to hang on to. Somehow I made it without falling. 🙂 The camera was safe, too.

seemingly random fences along the dune
gull enjoying a quick walk
view stretching all the way to the point
beach rose determined to bloom
some kind of fly
blooming in the early autumn sunshine

Earlier that day we went to a nursery and found a good pumpkin, an assortment of gourds and a pot full of mums. Stopped by the cider mill and got some more freshly pressed cider for Tim. A lovely way to celebrate the first full day of autumn!

9.26.22 ~ gourds and pumpkin with the river birch tree in my garden
(we thought the gourd on the right looked like a hand holding onto a ball)