Gerard Drive in Late June
The first day back, I take a walk here on Gerard Drive. The road leads to the Gerard Drive beach. It is a stretch of road a mile and a half long. It is the East End road that lifts my heart to the sky and makes me feel safe in nature and in my soul. It IS the East End to me.
Homes nestled on one side in woodsy plots give out onto Accabonac Bay. Most are tucked behind clumps of bushes and we can only peer down their driveways to see a bit of house and a view of water. Other homes are across the road, buffeted by the wind of Long Island Sound—these home owners could not live here on the East End without living right on the ocean. Makes sense to me.
The ocean side houses are built on stilts, their outer walls weathered shingles. Their decks on the sea side are gray from the salt air and the water. The cottages are waiting for the families to come, to bundle up against the strong breezes and enjoy a toasted dinner or just a good glass of wine on the platform overlooking the ever-changing water. White coals from a grill warm the air.
Gerard provides me with delight. As I walk the road to the beach, sometimes I am in a shady grove of trees and homes situated between two vistas — the Sound on one side and lagoon type bay on the other. The trees that shade this length of the road provide a welcome umbrella for me on a hot day. Then, like a jump cut, the sky opens up and sea water appears on both sides of me. Bliss. There is one more of these groves before the beach, then a part where all you can see is houses. I walk briskly to get past this more crowded section of the Drive where the water is obscured from my view.
But there is more to Gerard today. The best part. As I walk back to my car, I see a seagull drop a shell – thwack– onto a short land bridge of road. The water is high now. Rain has made small tide pools in the marsh on the bay side. The gull knows that crabs and delectables are wallowing in these warm water pools.
The prey he plucks from the broken shell is large, the size of a small frog. He flies away with it in his beak as he spies me coming up the road. He has no reason to fear — I will not snatch his meal.
My pace quickens when I see a great white heron standing out in a far-off marsh, long neck, slender body, a solo statue. Does she know I am admiring her?
Suddenly she takes flight, a wide, white spread of wings soaring up and over to another nearby watery marsh. Now a second heron joins her. A pair of these birds is a special sight. Are they truly a pair, a couple? Did he see her coming home and fly over to dine, or perhaps to mate with her?
I walk on thinking about how welcoming this all feels and how fortunate I am. I look out at the osprey platforms which rest on poles planted in a swampy settlement in the lagoon. I remember when a local nature group began to build these 15 feet high nesting stages – how many years ago was that? Every year the birds build their nests and nurture their babies up in the air.
I even see a lone swan swimming out in this bay and a fat old seagull with brownish feathers in his mix of a coat, huddling next to the breakwater of giant stones. The signs near the beach caution walkers not to set foot on certain areas because of the nesting Piping Plovers.
The ecosystem is intact here and I am thinking about creation and how it is all related—the water, the grasses and sea weeds, the marsh animals and me. I sit on a rock. I feel thankful that I am present enough today to this natural beauty, to observe and rejoice, silently, to see all that has come to welcome me here. It is a subtle feeling of connectedness to be this close to nature. I feel a renewed resolve to help preserve these natural wonders, the gulls, the herons, the osprey, the swan – all of us.