Monday, January 16, 2017

Full Moon at Crescent Beach

It has been a long time since my last post, but there has been much going on behind the scenes. Like the full moon that rose over the beach on Thursday, January 12, life happens in cycles of beginnings and endings.

I was in the right place at the right time to capture these photos of the moon shimmering on Niantic Bay, as it was already doing so through thin clouds, which thickened and covered the moon shortly after my adventure.

I felt as if the moon were performing its ritualistic rise just for me, since nobody else was around on this chilly winter evening. I hope you can take the time to chase a full moon, too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Footsteps into the Past: Sandy Toes and Classic Cars by the Sea

I've been spending more time at Harkness State Park in Waterford, CT, this spring than I usually do. I met some friends there one day, and another day I took a peek at the British by the Sea (Connecticut MG Club) classic car event. Both days had sparkling sunshine with a cool ocean breeze.

British by the Sea at Harkness State Park in Waterford

The gardens are blooming with the late spring flower varieties, and every day and week are different. I happened to get there when the wisteria was just finishing blooming.

A walk down on the beach ignited the creativity in me. I took some slipper limpet shells and embellished some footprints I found. Too bad the "mermaid's toenails" shells I often find are not appropriately shaped for this project!

Slipper limpet shells make nice "toes"

I was really excited to find a piece of blue sea glass, even though it was pretty small.

The tide was low enough that this cluster of mussels and seaweed made for a nice photo compositon:

There are enough rocks down on that beach so you can find some treasures or use them as subjects for photography.

The water is still cold, but very clean, clear and inviting:

Up at the gardens, I saw the most georgeous salmon-colored poppies.

Lovely poppies!

The serenity of the east garden:

Flaming pink azaleas in full bloom!

I am not much of a classic car afficionado, but it was still fun to see others who are passionate about their vintage beauties.

I met one couple who had a silver Jaguar that they'd kept for 20 years, after buying it from someone (disinterested in the car) who had kept it in storage for 18 years. Some other vehicles were more "modern," like this 1986 Lotus. Move over, Crockett and Tubbs!

Another MG model:

No matter if people go to enjoy the cars or other events, or the beach, picnic area, gardens or the view of the sea, Harkness is the most diverse southeastern Connecticut state park to enjoy this summer!

Have fun in the sun!
And check out my Harkness video:

~ Cheryl

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Roses and Rocks

I love late May and the beginning of June because that's when the Rosa rugosa, or beach roses, start blooming by the oceanside!

Rosa rugosa blooms in sandy dunes by the oceanside.

I got a whiff of the lovely fragrance of these flowers when I had an evening walk at my favorite local beach this past week. A few of both the pink and white roses were blooming, and I never tire of photographing them.

It's a good thing I went when I did, because in typical New England fashion, this week it's freezing cold again and rainy. (But we really need the rain!) The sun has been so warm that people sunbathe and go in the water, even when the temperatures are still chilly.

I like this time of year because the water is very clean and inviting...but only the brave souls go in!

Somebody made some dome-shaped castles in the sand:

Waves crash onto the sand in the early evening light:

At the west end of the beach there is a rose-lined path up to a rocky point of land. Makes for great scenery:

Roses line the path up to the rocky outcropping

Fishermen and kids who dare to play in the water near the rocks like to come to this end of the beach.

It's mesmerizing to watch the water slosh around the rocks out here:

Reflections on the smooth sand, so soft your feet sink in.

It's amazing how deserted the beach is even on the nicest evenings. I wonder where everybody is? Perhaps they only like coming on weekends.

I had to stop again on the path back to the parking lot to take some parting shots of my pink- and white-petaled friends.

My favorite view of Alewife Cove is the same landscape this rose witnesses every day of its life:

I'm not a fisherwoman, but I've learned that alewife is a species of herring.
Perhaps in a couple of weeks there will be many more roses in bloom. I'll let you know!

To learn more about coastal parks and beaches in southeastern Connecticut, find my 150-page full-color PDF eGuide at!

Happy beach season!

~ Cheryl

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Birds and Blooms by the Sea

You never know what you'll find when you take a side trip to a shoreline location on a nice day. Recently I stopped at Enders Island in Mystic to have a few quiet moments in the gardens and by the water. I like to think of it as one of my secret spots, but obviously it's not a secret anymore!

St. Edmund's Retreat in Mystic, CT

St. Edmund's Retreat here is a spiritual center that offers all kinds of workshops. It may be more meaningful if you're Catholic, but they welcome all faiths and specialize in helping those in recovery.

When I arrived for my visit, I saw a lone bird sitting way out at the end of the rocky portion on the northeast side of the property.

I was very surprised when it let me creep closer and closer. I knew I should know what this bird was, but for some reason I wasn't sure, and I didn't have my bird book with me.

I wondered why it was just sitting there contentedly, not caring that I was nearby. When some Canada geese flew overhead, it looked up and squawked at them. Then I got too close and it finally decided to swim off.

Later I figured out it was a brant, a type of sea goose related to Canada Geese. I have seen brants lots of times before, at other shoreline areas, but always in groups and not so close up. No wonder I was confused.

I also saw a great egret (two, actually) fishing in the shallows around the island, because it was low tide. 

 I walked back up to the lawn and saw a gorgeous line of narcissus along the stone wall. There is a lot of natural stone around the property, creating walls, terraces, and other garden areas.

There is a panoramic view of Fishers Island Sound from the island. It is so quiet out there, which is one reason it is ideal for spiritual retreats.

In summertime there are several plots planted with annuals, but at this time the spring bulbs and other spring flowers were blooming. Here are some smiling pansies. Don't they look like little happy faces?

One garden plot is heart-shaped, but right now it's just dirt. It still makes an interesting photo.

The grounds are not large, but there are plenty of nooks and crannies to investigate and various things to see all year round, when different plants are blooming and the scenery changes with the seasons. However, it can get pretty cold and windy out there. We in southeastern Connecticut are so lucky to have a place like this for renewal and rediscovery. The folks in charge could always use a donation for helping to keep up the grounds!

Visit this blog again to see what's new from the southern New England coast!
Until next time,

~ Cheryl

Friday, May 8, 2015

Beautiful Blooms at Harkness State Park

It's finally spring here in southern Connecticut, and it seems like this week everything was finally in full bloom, unfurling as the warm sunshine beamed down day after day.

Every year there is a large patch on the lawn at Harkness Memorial State park that blooms with daffodils and narcissus. I heard that it was not blooming as early as prior years, but I think I ended up visiting at the right time. The flowers were not only fully bloomed, but the fragrance of the narcissus was heaven!

Since the sea breezes keep the coastline cooler than inland spots, some of what we experience with plants occurs later than in other towns. But the first week of May is always full of blooms here. The Eolia mansion at Harkness is right by the water with the lawn and gardens surrounding it. You can see it in the photo below:

Eolia mansion is in the background

Sometimes it seems impossible to get a photo that shows all the flowers from the best angle. But it's fun to try!

It's unfortunate that the popularity of this spectacle has resulted in the park having to install a sign telling visitors not to pick the flowers. So please, go and look. But respect the display and leave it intact for others to appreciate.

It's also time for the annual Friends of Harkness plant sale. I wandered over to the greenhouse for a peek inside. I remember last year they had the same plants with purple flowers.

The greenhouse at Harkness

I have noticed how all of the flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs are decorating streets and yards around the area right now, and when I was in Old Lyme on a different day, I saw this beautiful scene:

A beautiful scene on Lyme Street in Old Lyme, CT

If only the trees and lawns could look like this all the time! 

If you are looking for some visitor information about everything you can do at Harkness State Park, and nearby areas, check out my 150-page downloadable PDF eGuide here. It describes various shoreline beaches and parks in Connecticut and Rhode Island and includes full-color photos and insider tips from me, a local resident.

Enjoy the May days!

~ Cheryl

Monday, April 20, 2015

Labyrinth By The Sea

We've had a preview of summer, a couple of temperate days by the coastline in the past week. We still get the chilly breeze off the water at times, but the agreeable weather has coaxed people back outside after the long winter we endured.

On one of those days, I ventured out in the evening to see the sunset at McCook Point Park in Niantic. This location has a beach and a grassy park and playground on a high hill. There is quite a view from up there. I stayed in the car for most of my visit, because the wind off the water was chilly that evening and I was giving in to my tendency to be a chicken when it's cold.

However, I did get out for about 10 minutes and took a walk by the breaking waves. The fading light created a pretty glow over the scene. Some strapping young men were daring each other or playing some game, because about three of them took off their shirts and shoes and dove in the water for a polar dip! I'm sure the water is about 35 degrees!

As I made my way back to the car, I wandered over to the side of the beach where I saw a signpost stuck in the sand. It turns out it was the entrance to a labyrinth created with beach stones. The sign indicated the folks at the Niantic Community Church were the creators and the sign listed guidelines for using the labyrinth. I decided to walk it.

It's not a big labyrinth, so it doesn't take long to walk to the center and back out again. I wondered how a maker knows the way to draw out the path and keep it proportional and a correct design.

Because the labyrinth is small, there isn't much time to get deep into reflection when walking it, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. When I got to the center I set down on the center stone a small piece of white seaglass I'd found by the water.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a large, permanent labyrinth on every beach? A place to respect, reflect, and celebrate the beauty of where you are in the moment?

If you want to know more about McCook Point Park in East Lyme, CT, visit my website to buy my downloadable beach eGuide.

Thank you for stopping here!

~ Cheryl