Welcome to day 23 of 28 Days of Have Heaven, a short month of posts about heaven, paradise, perfection and desire, perfect places, art, theology, gardens, and more, using the Enya song “China Roses” as a jumping off point. Each post will look at these elements in itself, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may only peripherally be related. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.
In many ways Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire, wasn’t heaven today. It was muddy, mucky, icy (and snowy);
Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus; shown), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), and other opportunistic plants are thriving, choking out other plants, and the state park folks are trying to eradicate them, which rarely really works (and uses a lot of resources) because “invasives” are only a symptom of an underlying change in the ecosystem;
and the worst, the most hellish, there was a beautiful bird I’d never seen before, laying just above the beach, stone-cold dead. We think it’s a razorbill. Rest in peace and joy, razorbill. Fly free.
by David Wilbur
After some 40 plus years of birding
you would think I would have seen it all,
at least on the East coast.
Still, yesterday, I was pulling into the parking lot
at Indian River Inlet in Delaware (below Rehoboth Beach)
when I had a Razorbill get up off the water
and fly out towards sea.
First time I’ve ever seen an alcid
while sitting in the comfort of my car.
Even in Newfoundland, Maine and northern Europe,
I had to get out and walk a little
or, in the Atlantic, off New Jersey and Delaware,
get on a boat.
You never know what you’ll see,
until you look, I guess.
“You never know what you’ll see, / until you look, I guess.” And also, a sort of corollary, you can look all you want but if what you see isn’t something that means anything to you — if that razorbill rising off the water and flying away is just a shorebird to you (or “a wildlife,” as I once overheard someone call a great egret in a marsh on Jekyll Island, GA) — you won’t understand and appreciate what your eyes took in. Someone else pulling into a parking lot might never have noticed the razorbill rising and flying, because it wouldn’t have registered as anything to notice. That reminds me that we saw three hawks in trees overlooking the highway on our drive down — if you look for them, you will usually find them. (There was also one dead on the road. RIP.)
Though there was the sadness of the death of a beautiful mortal being (the razorbill looked so soft and sturdy), an ongoing war on “invasives,” and my complicated and contradictory thoughts about it that took me out of the moment, and slippery paths that required looking at the ground more than I prefer, still the beach was full of things to discover, things you can’t always predict, partly because nature (including people) and the ocean are both so changeable, partly because there’s luck, chance, accident, coincidence, and serendipity operating all the time. (The same reasons we have death, invasions of plant and animal species, and broken hips from falling on icy paths.) Can pure heaven include happy surprise, the shock of wonder and joy, or is there a certain changelessness and lack of chance that precludes it?
I loved almost literally stumbling on this urchin shell. The intricate raised dot and curved line pattern reminds me of a vase I used to have, a little like this gemstone tassel cap. Fancy.
This staghorn sumac is so velvety right now. Go ahead, touch it.
There were a few of these iron-red rocks on the beach today.
Found art, made from fiberglass, a hose, an array of lobster traps, rope, and the bare trees behind it.
This golden grassy meadow, as I think of it, growing between sandy-rocky beach and cove is a favourite of mine, and today I could walk on it without getting wet. The rocks were like large Easter eggs hidden there.
The green-gold jeweltone grass feels geometric to me, a sort of Matisse-cut-out meets carpet-remnants look.
Several red-breasted mergansers paddled and dove in the cove, and two surf scoters (we think?) along with a common golden-eye, plus four loons were feeding in the Piscataqua River/Little Harbor, too far for decent photos but identifiable.
(Got better photos of other red-breasted mergansers, a loon, and a herring gull in the Piscataqua River outside the window of Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery, Maine, about 5 miles away, where spouse and I had a late lunch. It helps when they approach within 150 feet.
I had a hankering to take photos of rocks and seaweeds underwater, so I did; and I found some other rocks I really liked (in addition to the few smaller ones I brought home)
This cedar(?) tree reminded us of a menorah, its trunk leading to limbs that all run parallel. I hadn’t noticed that tree-growth formation before.
This grizzled boulder made a statement on the beach.
Most of the beach was ice-free (in contrast to the wooded inland paths and to the rock ledges along the beach) but this ice sculpture, seemingly plunked down on the sand, struck me as marine-like, with something of an octopus and something of a seahorse about it. Right? Or was that the salt air influencing my imagination?
One of the many shagbark hickory trees managed to catch its own hickory nut, I think, and the white berries of a vine (poison ivy?) winding its way around the tree’s trunk seemed so fanciful, dainty + shaggy, shabby chic.
Finally, we noticed these rusted rotted anchors piled together behind the science center. I wonder what their story is?
If you want to see more photos from Odiorne or learn more about it, check out A PLACE OF CORRESPONDENCE: ODIORNE POINT (RYE, NH) from 8 Nov 2016 or 31 DAYS: APOCALYPSE, NOW ~ DAY 5 :: LOW TIDE from 5 Oct. 2018.
Featured image: perforated black seaweed