Got out for a paddle on
April 30 and went out to Cockenoe Island in our Norwalk (Connecticut)
Islands where I ate my bologna sandwich, and headed around
the east end and caught a little bit of the SE wind and flood
tide for an assist to track west down on the outside to Sheffield
Island, where I stopped to eat my apple and finish my coffee.
I had pulled into a small beach next to the cupola of what
remained from an old pier that extended out from shore facing
The island is now the property of the
US government and is a wildlife preserve (Stew McKinney Wildlife
Preserve) and there are signs along the beach informing you
not to go beyond the high water mark. Back in the Ď30s a resort
went in on the island that included a golf course, tennis
courts, horse stables, and reportedly even a small airfield.
A number of structures were built, but given the times Iím
surprised that it lasted until 1937 when it was shut down
and abandoned. As a kid I remember going out there when the
main house was still standing, although its slate roof was
mostly gone but the slate was great for skipping across the
Today the houses are all long gone and
the once pristine grounds are now, and have been for years,
By Hugh McManus
overgrown with underbrush and trees. There
are plenty of deer that inhabit the area as you can see the
game trails and from time to time see them foraging along
the tide line. I walked along the old seawall which is in
disrepair and would take a regiment of Italian masons many
months to repair.
I think I might have pushed the envelope
on the high tide mark when I climbed up over the wall and
looked down inside the property, and in doing so I saw in
a little corner at the base of another inside seawall a little
flash of yellow. Upon closer inspection I discovered a clump
of daffodils that apparently have been waiting a long time
for someone to find them. The area between the walls looks
like it once had been part of a walkway that led from the
dock to the main house. There must have been other flowers
planted there, too, but these were the only ones to survive
the 70-plus years. Interesting to think that these guys have
been blooming faithfully every year for the last three-quarters
of a century.
I think the flowers were actually a highlight
of the paddle, which I continued on to nearby Wood Island
which is owned by a neighbor and found that their ospreys
have returned for yet another year on the island dock pilings.
Their nest didnít survive the winter winds, and three weeks
ago when I last paddled by there were no signs of their return.
The female was in the nest with the male (Iím making an assumption
here) perched in a tall pine tree overlooking the dock. The
nest looks as good as ever but no toothbrush sticking out
the side as was the case the year before last and the female
seems to be sitting on eggs. So yet another constant, I guess.
While the Sound looked pretty calm when
I left the house around 10am, I had, as usual, checked online
the UConn weather buoys out in the Sound and found to my surprise
that the winds were blowing about 12 knots out of the SE.
Once I had cleared the harbor I encountered the 1í-2í chop
which, as I mentioned, actually helped on the westward leg
but required you to keep on your toes, hard thing to do in
a kayak, and after 16 miles I was a little tired and even
with the dry suit on, the wind was a little chilly. Louise
saw me returning and together we hauled the boat and gear
up to the house. A good day on the water!