Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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A Winter Wonderland from Forest to Shore

By David Wright
Town Historian

A Winter Wonderland from Forest to Shore

We’ve just experienced another crazy December storm. The Connecticut Post ran an article this past weekend from December 16th, 1973 describing the severe ice storm which occurred on that day.  That led me to search for what other ice storms we may have experienced that were comparable in magnitude and overall damage. There were two comparable ice storms in1956 and 1921. None of these storms inflicted the type of damage in Stratford that they did in other parts of the state.

This observation was recorded concerning the ice storm of 1973: Some Connecticut residents described the 1973 ice storm as one of both devastation and beauty.  When it stopped raining and the sun came out, it was like a crystal palace outside with the light shining on all the ice and the trees,” New Canaan resident Edward O’Neill told The Greenwich Time in 1998.  It was gorgeous…”

I have discovered, over many years that one of the most beautiful times to observe Stratford is in the winter “crystal palace” time. In no particular order, these are some of my most beautiful winter locations to visit: Roosevelt Forest, Longbrook Park, James Farm Road Open Space, Peck’s Mill Pond, Short Beach, Long Beach, Stratford Sea Wall, Motil Park Pond, Raven Pond, Boothe Memorial Park, Clover Field, Frash Pond, Greenway, Paradise Green, Sikorsky Bridge, and Stratford Point.

One of my favorite New Year’s traditions is to visit one, or more, of these locations for my New Year’s Day walk.  I always like to take my camera along because some of my favorite photos of Stratford have been taken when the town is blanketed in a coating of white.

If you decide to visit Roosevelt Forest in the snow, I recommend you walk the Red Trail from Peter’s Lane.  On the Red Trail, you’ll reach the highest elevation in Stratford, and you can also experience a unique view of the pond adjacent to the parking lot several feet below you.

At Longbrook Park, visit the upper and lower ponds.  The surface of the ponds serve as a frontispiece for the surrounding homes and walkway.

The Sea Wall is beautiful any time of year. However, I think it’s at its peak in beauty when winter storms have coated the rocks and beach at the eastern end of the sea wall with ice and snow.  Additionally, from this vantage point you have an unobstructed view of Russian Beach and Stratford Point.

You never know what sea birds you might see while walking from Short Beach towards Stratford Point. Brants, semi-palmated plovers, American wigeons, and eiders can be seen in the waters of the Sound off Short Beach and the Stratford Point.

Winter’s severity can be greatly mitigated when using it as a backdrop to Stratford’s beauty. I hope to see you at one, or more, of these locations this New Year’s Day.

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