Thursday, July 9, 2009
Hi! I'm back. The cool, overcast weather calls me to the Groton Library, spacious, quiet and friendly. To the Poquonnock Riverwalk, where I find "answers" at the end of the ramp. Where today I spied two white swans and their four silver-gray ducklings on the riverbank, treading quietly so as not to scare them. Or, so as they wouldn't scare me? (Hissssss!) And past Burrows Farm, the rams and chickens, the vegetable gardens; for ice cream at DQ. And sometimes to Poquonnock Plains Park for a walk around the track. The Great Outdoors is calling me once again! If you are in the area, check out Ocean Beach and all it has to offer. The beach, of course, mini golf, Olympic size pool, kiddie rides, fried food, ice cream, the boardwalk (complete since April) -- it's like being in California! -- the Alewife Cove Nature Walk, OASIS (Observation Platform), Sandbar Cafe, divers banquet halls, and evening entertainment. Mondays, Cruise Night, with classic car show and oldies KOOL101 radio station live broadcast (see friends and family, old and new), movies on the beach, magic show, Q105 Sock Hop, and live rock n roll bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Come join the fun! It's fun; it's safe (police protection). Who can beat that? THINK SUNSHINE!...Denise...Denise Dances...2009. SAILFEST THIS WEEKEND, WITH FIREWORKS ON SATURDAY NITE IN NEW LONDON AND GROTON. Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Please see post of June 24, 2009: "One of the Last Great Places" for PHOTOS of my TRIPS TO RODMAN'S HOLLOW, Block Island, Summers of 1997 and 1998. In '97, I was a teacher at Huntington School of Business & Allied Health. Adults. In '98, I was a full time office temp at Pfizer-Groton (Duration: 6 months.) Yeah, we BIKED Rodman's Hollow. Down Snake Hole Road. I think it's only meant to be WALKED. Take the plunge. Grip the handlebars. Hang on for dear life. Just hope. Curving, winding, plunging, still steeper, dirt road, rocks, bumpity-bump, bumpity-bump. "It's like being flushed down the toilet!" Took a spill. Upswing. We did it. (CHARMED MINUS ONE: Denise, with sisters Karen and Kelley. MIA: Kim.) Would I do it again? You better, you bet!!!...Denise...Denise Dances...2009.OK, the story you've all been waiting for...excerpts from "Rodman's Hollow and Black Rock," one of America's last great places. Rodman's Hollow is named after the island's first doctor, John Rodman II whose family purchased the hollow in 1684. During the 1960s, developers bought it, proposing a dozen houses on its wild slopes. So dismayed were island residents of that time that they formed the Block Island Conservancy, along with the late Captain Rob Lewis as their leader and raised enough money to buy it back, for $137,000 so that it could be forever wild...Rodman's Hollow, a meltwater channel, was formed by a glacier melting and its water flowing out to the ocean, which at that time was 70 miles away. The flowing water took most of the good soil with it, which is why most of the hollow is sandy. At its lowest point, it is 20 feet above sea level. It's been called "a wild and beautiful cleft in the rolling southwestern terrain, the haunt of hawks, white-tailed deer, and several rare species of wildflowers." For more info on continuing conservation efforts on all parts of Block Island, go to: http://www.blockislandtimes.com. "The vast expanse of virtually undisturbed land...runs from Cooneymus Road all the way to the Atlantic Ocean...It is the birth place of Block Island's continuing conservation effort...Walk (note: not bike) down the state-managed trail off Cooneymus Road...Take the option about a quarter mile down, of a path that begins beyond a turnstile gate on your left, marking the official entrance to the trails...This is a preferred habitat for nesting and migratory birds. The thick vegetation and covered wetlands allow birds to avoid predators, while providing fruit and insects, dependent on the shrubs. In the grassy areas, savannah sparrows, ring-necked pheasants and American woodcock make their homes...northern harriers and barn owls...If you take the right fork as the trail splits, you soon emerge out of the greenery atop a high ridge that affords an amazing view...it is a panorama that will never change: 200 unspoiled acres from Black Rock on the right, down through Rodman's Hollow, encompassing the recently acquired Jones property to the southeast as the countryside undulates down to the headland overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. All the color and life pours out of this glacial outwash plain, topography created thousands of years ago when the land itself would have stretched out 70 more miles from today's beachhead into a far-flung ocean...The scene captures Block Island as it was centuries ago which so many have worked to preserve. It is Block Island as it will be for centuries to come, to be experienced and enjoyed by future generations. Come on! Bring your mountain bike (with helmet!). Your walking shoes. Bird-watching binoculars. Sunscreen. Insect repellant. Hop aboard the high speed ferry from New London. Go see the home of one federally endangered species -- the American burying beetle -- and four state-endangered species -- the northern harrier, Barn owl, clay-banks tiger beetle and bushy rockrose. Come see why they love to call Rodman's Hollow on Block Island home...Denise...Denise Dances...2009. (Source: BLOCK ISLAND SUMMER TIMES, June 2009, "Rodman's Hollow and Black Rock: Block Island as it was and will be," by Scott Comings, and "Block Island Landmarks," pp. 2-21, 28.)
WHAT IS A WATERSHED? A watershed is an area of land where water from rain and snowmelt collects in streams, lakes, estuaries, wetlands, aquifers, and the ocean. Many species call it home. Our coastal watershed here at Ocean Beach starts in Canada, travels down through Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, into the Connecticut River Valley; from streams, wetlands and rivers that drain on the shore of Long Island Sound. These waterways are a birthplace of life (the Fertile Crescent?) -- a breeding and feeding grounds for a variety of species. SALT MARSH HABITAT: The Alewife Cove Salt Marsh is fringed with low-lying vegetative growth and periodically covered with salt water from the tides of Long Island Sound. Features tranquil and natural beauty. The marsh, tidal creek and mud flats are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Snowy egret...Green heron...Blue heron...Mud snail...Salt meadow grass...Smooth cord grass...Herring gull...Kingfisher (I saw one Monday in the reeds!)...Fiddler crab...Salt marsh snail...Alewife -- Mummichog -- and Silverside -- all fishesssssssssssss! Class...class...class -- I hope you enjoyed this lesson! Miss Hickey(once a teacher, always a teacher!)
ALEWIFE COVE NATURE WALK: (Home of OASIS: "Outdoor Art Studio - isolated scene," 1st day, Mon., July 6, 2009). The Ocean Beach Nature Walk project was initiated by Save Ocean Beach (SOB), a local citizen's group dedicated to the preservation and protection of Ocean Beach Park -- in conjunction with the City of New London. It's a natural trail which follows Alewife Cove, a 400-foot pedestrian and handicap accessible nature walk with an elevated observation platform (home of OASIS) at the mouth of Alewife Cove where it meets Long Island Sound. It's an area of the beach long overlooked, under-maintained, and otherwise neglected. A grant from the CT-DEP, the Long Island Sound license plate program helped to fund the project. Pfizer funded the interpretive signs which you see lining the trails and the source of my information. The City of New London funded the Observation Deck (thank you very much!!). The New London Public Water Authority Community Fund (NLPWACF) supported the native plantings and handicap rail. SOB has ongoing fundraisers for which Boston Concessions Group (BCG) has provided food, drink and equipment. More than 100volunteers have logged over 1000 hours of time, to return this site to its natural beauty, begun in Spring 2000. GATEWAY GARDEN is a habitat restoration area at the entrance to the Nature Walk.
HISTORY OF OCEAN BEACH PARK (the past 100 years) New London, CT -- Ocean Beach Park (OBP)is over 100 years old. (Prior to purchase by the City of New London, it was originally named White Sands Beach.) Before the Hurricane of 1938, there was a long, narrow boardwalk with steps the full length of the beach. Summer homes and shops lined the boardwalk and cottages lay beyond it. Gift shops, ice cream parlors, hot dog stands, rides, a penny arcade...In the Sound was a diving platform called "the Dolphin." Most of it was destroyed during the Hurricane of '38. A 1939 referendum had voter approval for a 40-acre park. Ten streets were eliminated. 160 buildings were demolished. 300,000 cubic yards of sand were pumped from the bottom of Long Island Sound. Ocean Beach re-opened on June 30, 1940. Over 15,000 people attended the opening ceremonies. The new park had an expansive boardwalk, Olympic size pool, a 3/4 mile long beach, a football field wide. With a nautical theme, its logo features a spouting whale. The Gam and Bathhouse Buildings were designed as "two ships meeting at sea," the portico, a plank between them. (Don't give up the ship, Denise!) Ocean Beach Park (OBP) receives support from: The City of New London, the CT Department of Environmental Protection (CT-DEP); Boston Concession Group (BCG) and Save Ocean Beach (SOB).
I have to get to the beach. Are we going? We're going, aren't we? If we don't go, I'm going to be mad! (Summer 2001-2005) I'm tired of doing the same thing! (Summer 2006) a half-hearted shrug in response to my cheers upon splitting the cost of the season's pass...(Spring 2007)... "We'll Always Be Friends:" Denise Hickey and Paula Gillespie. NOTE: The boardwalk restoration project was begun in Winter 2006 and finally completed this April 2009. Parallel to my "near demise" and concurrent returning (not there yet) to perfect health. SAVE OCEAN BEACH - "Buy a board" commemorative boards still available. Call (860)447-3031 (ext. 132) or go to: http://www.saveoceanbeachpark.org. $100 tax deductible. Forms available at Gift Shop. PANORAMIC VIEW: "Ancient History of Fisher's Island Sound, the Race, and the eastern end of Long Island Sound." Tens of millions of years before human beings came, rivers carved a valley (the Fertile Crescent?) through the landscape you see now. Between 150,000 and 20,000 years ago, glaciers covered the whole scene (the Ice Age). When the last glacier pulled back, a huge freshwater lake was left. The North and South Forks of Long Island mark the edge of the glacier's advance and staggered retreat. About 17,000 years ago, the lake drained through an eroded gap near Fisher's Island, exposing the ancient valley. When the rising waters of the ocean poured through the gap, and through another gap at the western end of the valley, Long Island Sound was born. That was about 11,000 years ago. The wetlands started appearing along the shore about 4000 years ago, when the sea level rise began to slow. Since then, the Sound has risen another 20 feet and it continues to grow through erosion and rising sea levels. POINTS OF INTEREST: Bluff Point Coastal Reserve, Groton, CT. (Hiked it. Biked it. Canoed it. Sailed it. Kayaked it. As a child, swam there at Groton Town Beach with my cousins, across from the airport.) University of CT at Avery Point, Groton. New London Ledge Light - 1909. Automated in 1987. (Yeah, toured it as part of a group aboard the Envirolab out of Groton.) Fisher's Island, N.Y. (4 miles away) a private summer resort. Awarded to NY State in 1879. In 1920s, Frederick Law Olmstead designed the eastern end as an exclusive enclave of estates. Year round ferry service available from New London. (Been there! as a Landscape Gardener, Spring 2000 - got bronchitis, in need of surgery, myomectomy - burnout -bad temper! you know that went South!) Race Rock Lighthouse - Guards the entrance to Long Island Sound and the dangerous waterway known as "The Race." (Yeah, been there! Wrote about it in a story called SAILING!! Coming soon!!) P.S. Belongs to U.S. Coast Guard. Built in 1879. Little Gull Light - Original in 1804. Present day since 1868. (also belongs to USCG). Alewife Cove, divides New London (Ocean Beach) and Waterford (Town Beach). (Yeah, crossed the channel many times, wading or swimming, to Waterford Beach -- to Camp Harkness-- to Harkness Park -- Seaside Hospital grounds -- the Strand beach -- and back, during the earlier part of this decade!) Harkness Memorial State Park - Waterford, CT. (a Roman-Renaissance Revival mansion built in 1906.) Bought in 1907 by Edward and Mary Harkness. Summer home and working 200-acre farm. In 1950, it was left to the State of CT. (Yeah, OK. I worked at Camp Harkness for just a few days. Lost it! Wasn't my line of work.) What haven't you done???? There's only one thing I haven't done....Take care!!! * * * :)...Denise...Denise Dances...2009.