Clearing My Head

There are some annoying and discouraging things happening in my life. Sometimes I amazed that at my age I can still be so upset about some things that people do that cause me pain. Let. It. Go. I tell myself and can feel the tension starting to release. Still agitated. Then I go to the beach.

I needed solitude, the wind, a large sky, the sound of the water lapping the shore and the sight of the winter ducks bobbing in the waves. Fortunately it is only a ten minute drive for me to the shore of the Long Island Sound.

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It was just what the doctor ordered. As I walked onto the beach I loved the contact of my sneakers with the wet sand and pebbles underfoot and the slight angle of the spit of land I was walking on.

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It was a little harder to walk on the pebbles and sand than at the park, but the challenge was what I needed to work out my angst and my knotted muscles.It was almost low tide so there were a lot of wet pebbles and shells to walk on.

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As I stepped forward I picked up my head and noticed what a beautiful S-shaped curve the beach made today. Every time I walk here this sand spit is shaped and reshaped by wind and water.

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Along the way I picked up a few objects as I often do. Although I am overly familiar with what the tide usually deposits along this shore, I nonetheless felt the need to scoop up a few nicely scallop-edged oyster shells (for which these waters were once famous), as well as a couple of pieces of beach glass which are a rare find these days. The tactile contact with these gifts from the sea helped to calm me.

Now and then I paused just to gaze at the seascape and take it all in. I needed those deep inhalations of sea air to clear my body of my personal toxic fumes. There was just enough of a breeze to feel the cleansing action of my breathing.

Overhead sea gulls were plentiful and very busy snapping at shellfish and dropping them from above in an effort to break open their shells. The sea gulls were quite noisy today providing a constant background of squawking and squealing which I found quite soothing in its familiarity.

Then suddenly, in the curve of the shore, I noticed them: a group of Brant floating at the shore’s edge. It hasn’t been a typical winter, warmer than usual as is the case mostly everywhere, so the usual winter ducks haven’t always been around. But the Brant were here today and they were close enough that I got to hear their honking sounds.

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I walked a bit further and turned back. The sun, wind, sand and water had done their job. My raw edges were softened a bit and I was able to sit and read for a while in the fading sunlight.

News Flash! The Eagle’s Nest Is Still There

As promised, today my daughter and I went back to check on the eagle’s nest we recently learned about in a nearby town near a pond. On our first visit a few days ago, we spotted the nest, but alas, no eagles.

Today, two days after a ferocious nor’easter, we returned to check on the nest, hoping it would still be there…with its inhabitants. When we pulled in to the parking lot across the street, we saw the nest intact, but again no eagle. As we walked back toward our car, my daughter, ol’ “eagle eyes” herself, spotted the eagle in the nearby trees.

We quickly jumped in the car and drove across the street to the parking lot adjacent to the pond where several bird watchers were standing with their binoculars trained on the eagle in the trees.

After watching the eagle which was perfectly still for about ten minutes, and chatting with the local birdwatchers, it suddenly lifted off the branch it was perched on and flew majestically and slowly across the pond toward its nest. A big “oooh” and “ahhh” went up from the crowd as together we watched the eagle put on its display.

Its wingspread was majestic as it flapped over us, in no hurry, as though it had decided to demonstrate to us just how amazing a bird it is. It landed on the nest and proceeded to do some rearranging or tearing something apart (perhaps some food it had captured).

I didn’t get to see it, but my daughter saw the eagle’s mate pop her head up for a moment, enough to be visible to those with binoculars. The male eagle continued with whatever he was doing, then moments later, again took off. This time he went in the opposite direction, toward the LI Sound, no doubt hunting for food.

At that point we birdwatchers were all chased away by the manager of the motel whose parking lot we were in. This made me sad as we were a quiet group of nerdy birders, thrilled with the eagle’s display, far removed from the actual motel. Why couldn’t he understand our absolute joy in this moment?

I’ve never before seen an eagle on Long Island, much less in mid-suburbia. The ospreys have made a huge comeback in this area since the ban on DDT, but seeing an eagle is equally, if not, more of a thrill because it is so rare. Of course, we’re all hoping we’ll see babies in the spring!