EDITORIAL

Fall takes flight, or does it?

Posted 11/11/21

The lawn was frosted early Sunday morning and mist rose mystically from the bay, like a steaming pot. Only it was chilly. The sky was brightening and the southern horizon glowed orange. I had remembered to set the clocks back an hour the night before,

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in
EDITORIAL

Fall takes flight, or does it?

Posted

The lawn was frosted early Sunday morning and mist rose mystically from the bay, like a steaming pot. Only it was chilly. The sky was brightening and the southern horizon glowed orange.

I had remembered to set the clocks back an hour the night before, but my body was still on daylight savings time. I awoke at 3:30 and told myself it was too early to start the day. That really didn’t work. I catnapped until 5 before getting up and checking on conditions outside.

The tide was rising and although not at its apex already nearing the second from the top stair on the seawall. This has been a stretch of king tides, when the moon’s elliptical orbit is closest to the earth and its gravitational pull causes unusually high and low tides for several days.

King tides are harbingers of what rising sea levels could bring to the Ocean State. The king tides of today will become the customary high tides of tomorrow, meaning extensive flooding when there’s a king tide, or worse, a storm surge. We’ve published maps showing what different rises in sea level in inches would mean to Warwick. Much of Conimicut and Oakland Beach would be submerged. Warwick Neck would become an island.

On the brighter side, a king tide makes for an easy launch of my 18-foot long rowing scull. Thoughts of rising waters were replaced by the beauty of the dawn and the companions I was soon to encounter. Over the past month, brant geese have made their return from their summer Artic retreat. They are smaller than Canada geese, gregarious and usually stay close to shore in flocks of 30 or more birds. For the first couple of days after arriving, they are wary of me and craft with its extended oars that must resemble a waterfowl attempting to get airborne. Within a week of arriving, they accept me and I take their chattering and morning muttering as a greeting.

The same can’t be said for cormorants. They are preparing for the flight south after gorging on the schools of bait fish that up until two weeks ago were driven into the shallows by blues and stripers. Cormorants are gangly birds whose long necks are disproportional to their bodies. They look prehistoric perched on buoys or pilings, necks up and wings outstretched to dry themselves.

I didn’t see any cormorants Sunday. There weren’t any osprey, either. I recall that seeing an osprey was extraordinary, as there was once so few of the birds. They have made a recovery, and this summer I marveled at how they would circle above before hovering before folding their wings and plunging to snatch a fish from the water. I figured they had flown south until Dave Chartier came in the office with a photo of one catching a fish in Apponaug Cove. Apparently the osprey had found better fishing grounds, not taken leave of Warwick for the winter.

The same could be said for the mallards. They know where they can get a good breakfast. I found about 50 of the ducks in the shallows off Roberta Humble’s yard. Some were already on her backyard waiting for her daily handout of cracked corn. Roberta takes good care of her feathered friends.

Maybe it was the return to Eastern Standard Time that defines the change of seasons, although for me it’s the return of the brants and the departure of the cormorants, not to mention the chill in the air.

And then there are the robins. Yes, robins. I spotted two fat ones in the yard after my row.

“Aren’t you supposed to be heading south by now?” I muttered.

They stopped their patrol of the lawn to watch me.

Maybe they know something about the approaching winter that we don’t.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here