Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stormy Hammonasset

The worst of the storm was over, but there were still lingering signs as I approached the Meigs Point section of Hammonasset State Park. Sand spilled out into the roadway, and low-lying stretches were flooded by tide and rain. Every so often the car would shake as it was broadsided by a leftover gust of wind.

Crowded in the summer months, I visit Hammonasset mostly during the spring and fall - occasionally in stormy weather. With few, or no others around, it's like having the amusement park all to yourself.

I walked the high-tide line of East Beach, eventually climbing the short bluff at Meigs Point, and its large glacial erratics. I thought back to my visit last fall when I stood atop these rocks and could see Falkner Island to the west, and Plum Island to the east. Looking across the Sound at Long Island, I wondered which towns it was I was viewing. Mattituck perhaps?

Today it didn't matter as I was lucky enough to see beyond the western edge of the park. 

The rain began falling again, so I pulled up my hood. The air was raw - far too cold for the month of May. After such a mild winter, this was perhaps a bit of payback for those summer days we received in March. 
Mother Nature has a way of evening the score.

CT Coastal Access Guide: Hammonasset State Park

Friday, March 9, 2012

Harkness State Park

I've often thought the estate at Harkness State Park seems a bit out of place with its surroundings. It's as if this 42-room, Roman Revival mansion drifted down from Newport or Sands Points, before being washed ashore by the tides here in Waterford.

The estate was purchased in 1907 by Edward Harkness, heir to a Standard Oil investment fortune. Named Eolia, after the island home for the Greek god of winds, the "summer home" sits on a 230-acre point with sweeping views of Plum Island, Fishers Island, and The Race. Left to the State of Connecticut in 1952, it was not until the 1990's that the buildings and grounds were restored to their former glory.

Despite the building's Gatsbyesque allure, it is the gardens here at Harkness which are the prime attraction. A late February visit may not be the best way to showcase this, but I wasn't about to complain. Following the  pergola's circular path, there was beauty in the starkness of the grounds, its barren vines, and a steel blue sparkle reflecting off Long Island Sound. 

I suppose, in a majestic setting as this, one ought to think great thoughts. Grand settings make for grand ideas? Maybe so, but not today.  

Instead, I thought of the mild winter, the cold breeze, my muddy shoes, and how long I'd been away.

CT's Historic Gardens: Harkness