Friday, November 14, 2008

Deja Vu In Darien

It has been twenty plus years since I last visited Weed Beach in Darien. The 22 acre park and beach on Noroton Neck appeared exactly how I remember it. The tide was low, and so was the sun, as I walked along the shoreline. Cove Island Park, several miles away by land, was just a short distance to the west. Several gulls hunted the mudflats, keeping an eye on my presence as they searched for an afternoon meal. South of me was a large rock outcropping painted by the tides in green and brown, from the waist down. Some trees sprouted from the crevices, their roots clawing through the rock in search of soil. Something seemed awfully familiar. I was not aware of John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872) when I visited here twenty years ago. In fact, I first learned of him from a New York Times article in 2001. Since then, I have learned of his work, along with his later years spent living and painting in Darien. Kensett lived on Contentment Island, which is on the eastern end of the Darien shoreline. Long Neck Point, the Fish Islands, and Scott's Cove are the subjects of some of his later works. But what about Study On Long Island Sound (above)? Are the rocks at Weed Beach depicted in this painting? Anyone familiar with the Connecticut shoreline knows that "rocky" is the first adjective used in almost every description. From Hell Gate to Penfield Reef, one has to think long and hard to come up with a stretch of shoreline that is void of exposed bedrock and glacial erratics. Weed Beach is no exception. Perhaps this is all a coincidence. I have found no mention of Kensett in my research of Weed Beach, and the people I have asked, offered no insight. A woman walking her German Shepherd near the rocks, seemed to be reaching for pepper spray when I asked her about this. Not only did she never answer my question, she never even acknowledged it. Most likely, Kensett was painting a scene near his studio on Contentment Island. That would be the logical scenario. But as I made my way home along Nearwater Lane, I passed a jogger about my age, and thought, "hey, that looks like a guy I went to school with". Weed Beach Web Album

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