Tag Archives: beach


I wasn’t planning to take the last week off of blogging.  But I guess I took a little vacation; it was a tough week.  I’ll probably write about it sometime, but not today.  For now, enjoy the shots of our beautiful beach day.

How’s your summer going?

PS- I’m posting the July Green Moms Carnival, with the topic of Food Preservation. Email me your submissions by July 14!


Filed under Adventures, Nature, Outside, Photo Essay

Exploring at the Beach


Filed under Adventures, Natural Learning, Nature, Outside, parenting, Photo Essay

Day at the Beach

My mom and I took a trip to Hammonasset State Park today.  I like to walk on the beach, but I don’t like to sit in the sun and get burned (my mom loves to sit in the sun).  However, today we explored and prepared for the field trip this coming week.

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At Hammonasset, West Beach is migrating, or eroding away.  It’s a natural process, but the park is trucking in sand to try to keep the beach.  My Environmental Science class is going to study the beach and examine some solutions for the erosion, including the possibility of letting the natural process of beach migration occur, instead of fighting it.

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The Meigs Point Nature Center is a great resource for information about the geology and biology of the beach.  We picked up a trail guide to the plants growing on the glacial moraine, and quickly explored the displays, but wanted to get back outside on the beautiful day.

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We walked down the boardwalk and identified plants that my Botany class will study while there.  Although I’ve been on the plant trail before, I wanted to check for what was in bloom and be prepared for our trip.  Above, a white beach rose blooms.

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Throughout our explorations, my mom and I remarked how fortunate we feel to live so close to the beach.  In a matter of minutes, we can taste the salty air, hear the waves, and feel the sand between our toes.  We can collect shells and sea glass, watch gulls drop shellfish on the road to break them open, and take pictures of the blue sky and blue waters.

What’s special about where you live?


Filed under Outside

This Fine Piece of Water: Reflections Part IV

Reflections Part I

Reflections Part II

Reflections Part III




Strangling the Sound

            This chapter details the role of nitrogen in the Sound, as well as the consequences of too much nitrogen.  I found the discussion of salt marshes to be particularly interesting because my father often speaks of making salt hay in Stony Creek when he was a child, but my family no longer keeps up that tradition, so I did not know much about salt marshes. 

            The amount of nitrogen flowing into the Sound has risen dramatically.  “Four centuries of ever-increasing development and population had swollen the Sound’s burden of nitrogen to 91,000 tons per year, a 128 percent increase over the estimated 40,000 tons that flowed to the Sound before European settlement.  The additional 51,300 tons of nitrogen included 29,600 tons from sewage plants and factories, and 8,800 tons from storm water runoff.”  The effects of eutrophication began to be evident as oxygen levels decreased, but unfortunately the hypoxia was largely ignored, until repeated crashes that seemed to occur in August.  In 1973, the National Marine Fisheries Service found that “compared with 1972, there were 86 percent fewer benthic animals and 55 percent fewer benthic species.  In other words, almost nine out of ten individual animals, and more than half of all the kinds of animals, were wiped out.”  Such large effects on the populations in only a single year’s time are simply terrifying.

            The overall message that I got in this chapter was the need for an effective way to remove nitrogen from wastewater.  While nitrogen will runoff from many different places, I believe that focusing on the wastewater treatment plants will be a good start.

The Brink of Disaster

            My blue-collar roots made the story of John Fernandes resonate with me.  Being raised on a farm myself, and marrying into a fishing family, I can only imagine how heart-breaking and scary it was for Fernandes to pull up what he thought would be 300 pound worth of lobsters to sell, and instead finding that they were all dead.  As Phil Briggs from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation said, “They’re fearful for their livelihood right now, and I don’t blame them.” 

            Researcher Barbara Welsh lays out the scenario that as the western parts of the Sound became hypoxic, the lobsters, fish, and other mobile animals migrated eastward, in search of oxygen.  So while western lobsterman like Fernandes weren’t catching anything, there were record catches toward the middle and east of the sound.

            Anderson goes on to describe that 90% of lobsters in the Sound are caught when they reach their legal size, so it is important to the survival of the species that they are able to reproduce before being caught.  He also describes the many illegal measures that lobstermen will take, including territoriality, keeping shorts in underwater cages, scraping the eggs off females.  The consequences for getting caught are high, including losing your license.  I am friends with some commercial lobster fishermen who live on a little island in Maine.  The older lobstermen tell tales of territoriality in their early days, and they all talk about getting buoys getting cut and losing pots, people hauling someone else’s pot, and boats getting sunk.  Even in the last five years, a man that I know had his boat sunk when he moved into a new town.  Their description of protecting the lobster population is more encouraging: females with eggs have their tails notched, and in Maine it is illegal to catch a lobster with a notched tail, since it is known that she is a breeding female.  This is the type of management that I would like to see in the Sound.  However, there are decreasing yields of lobsters in Maine as well, and the prices have also dropped, making, as Anderson describes, a man work much harder for the same amount of money.

            Back in Connecticut, we see fisherman continuing to leave the business, selling or losing their boats, just as we see farming families selling or losing their farms.  I am hopeful that new methods of aquaculture and a better understanding of the impact of human activity as well as ecological influences on populations will lead to more sustainable management of the Sound’s fish and shellfish, both for our own benefit and the health of the Sound.


Filed under Review, Sustainable Living

Natural Living

This post is my contribution to the February APLS Blog Carnival, which will be hosted by the Green Raven a.k.a. The Purloined Letter and posted on February 20 at the Green Phone Booth.

Today at work, while in a workshop learning how to help our students reduce test anxiety, the presenter asked us to close our eyes and imagine the most relaxing places we could go to.  I imagined sitting in an Adirondack chair near my garden.  I could see all the flowers, watch the bees zoom around, smell the tomatoes, hear the wind chimes, and feel the warm sun on my skin. 

Nature is a big part of my life.  Growing up on my family’s farm, I spent lots of time outside with my family, working and playing.  Now, I love to get outdoors.  The time I spend in nature makes me feel more connected to the rest of the world and helps me to relax.

Here are some ways that I get outside to enjoy nature throughout the four seasons.  Some are regular occurrences, and some are things that I only do occasionally, but all of them are relaxing and enjoyable. 

  • Take a walk.  I am not into exercise for the most part, but I do really enjoy taking a nice walk.  I most enjoy walking when I’ve got someone to talk to, and most of the time that’s my mom.  We go for walks on the beach, the annual walk around our town’s reservoir, and around my parents’ farm.
  • Go swimming.  I usually swim in my parents’ pool, but I also enjoy going to the beach or lakes.  There’s nothing like jumping into the water and floating around.
  • Garden.  I’m already itching to get outside this year.  I’m counting down (literally) until St. Patrick’s Day when I can plant my snap peas outside.  Once it really warms up, I’ll be out in the garden weeding, watering, and admiring my plants everyday.
  • Read.  I love to sit outside and read a book, magazine, or even grade papers.  The change of scenery makes such a difference, and the fresh air keeps me motivated.
  • Visit parks in the off-season.  My mom and I like to rollerblade in the springtime at one of the local campgrounds at nearby state park.  When it’s closed, the paved roadways make a great spot to rollerblade.  We see people there walking dogs and riding bikes with their kids, and everyone is happy to be back outside in the first warmer days of spring.
  • Go to the farm.  We enjoy going my family’s farm to get outside.  From feeding fish in the spring to picnics in the summer and hayrides in the fall, there’s always something to do.  We love to spend time outside at Ed’s family’s home and go fishing on their boat, too.
  • Support other local farmers.  I’m a friend to farmland who loves to visit local farmer’s markets as well as local fairs
  • Sit outside with my husband.  One of our favorite things to do on summer evenings is sit outside and talk.  We sit in the cooler night air, sip iced tea or lemonade, and listen to each other and the sounds of the evening.  We’ll also share meals outside on our back deck in the summer time.  It’s a great way to de-stress after a long day at work.
  • Photography.  I love to get outside and snap photos of my gardens, the trees, even the snow.  While I may not be a great photographer, the time I spend outside taking pictures is time that I really enjoy.  Sunday Strolls have helped me to continue to get outside this winter, even when I would have been comfortable to stay in the warm house.  After a stroll, I always feel refreshed, even if my cheeks are rosy from the cold.
  • Experiential Learning.  I love taking my students outside to learn about nature and our area’s natural history.

How do you get outside to enjoy nature?


Filed under Gardening, Home, Local Agriculture, Outside, Sustainable Living

Beach Visit on the Last Day of September

My mom and I took advantage of our day off work today to go visit Rocky Neck State Park.  I had never been there before, but my mom attended a wedding there recently.  The beach was beautiful, with whitish sand and not very many people.  The sun moved in and out of the clouds, and it was breezy but not cold.  Perfect weather for a visit to the beach on the last day of September.  This will most likely be our last day at the beach until spring.

 There’s a tunnel under the railroad tracks that leads to the beach.

The seagulls, as usual, were tame and not afraid of us.

A piece of green sea glass to add to my collection.

Pretty yellow flowers were in bloom, contrasting the gray tones of the sand, water and sky.

The bright pink beach rose was a happy sight, and only a few blooms are left this late in the season.

The pavilion is made from field stones and looks out on the ocean.  It was built during the 1930’s.

The view from the pavilion.

A red-tailed hawk perched in a tree and was not afraid of us as we moved closer to take his picture.

We probably take the beach for granted, since we live close enough to visit whenever we want.  We usually only go a few times each summer, but every year we make plans to visit often.  Walking along the empty beach on a Tuesday really made me appreciate the beauty that waits for us to stroll by.


Filed under Outside