(Editor's note: This is the second part of a two-part series. The first part .)
Cove Island in Stamford
We sometimes stop at other places too. We go to Cove Island in Stamford, south of Exit 9 off I-95, and walk on the beach. This municipal park is made up of 85 acres and has two sandy beaches, a playground and a mile long walking loop. Dogs are allowed on a leash all year long, but are not allowed on the beaches. A pass or an admission fee is required from May 31 to September 6.
The island park lies just south of Holly Pond which is the mouth of the Noroton River. This river is also the border between Stamford and Darien. Early settlers harnessed the ebb and flow of the tidal waters to power a grist mill in 1792. A century later what would become the world’s largest dye extracting factory was built on this site, employing over 500 workers and offering thousands of feet of wharfs for deep sea schooners to transport the raw goods in and finished product out of the factory. The factory burned down on February 19, 1919 in what is still considered Stamford’s largest fire.
In 1952, Cove Island was acquired by Connecticut Light and Power who intended to build a coal powered electric generating plant on the land. After a public outcry, CL&P built their plant in Norwalk and the land was purchased by the City of Stamford in 1955.
Like all the beaches it’s flat and we see other people walking. Ben smiles and says "hello," but no one stops to talk. They just smile and pass us by.
Sherwood Island in Westport
On other days, we go to Sherwood Island State Park just south of Exit 18 off I-95 in Westport. The local Indians, the Unquowa, called this place Machamux, which means “The beautiful land.” This island is bordered on one side by the Mill Pond and on the other side by Mill Creek.
In 1705 a grist mill was built on Mill Pond. In 1787 farm land on what was then known as Fox Island was given as a wedding present to Daniel Sherwood. In 1790, Daniel Sherwood bought the grist mill and changed the name of the land to Sherwood Island. He and his wife grew potatoes and onions there. About fifty years later oysters harvested from the Mill Pond were sold for $20 a barrel at the Fulton Fish Market in New York City.
In 1911 the Connecticut State Park Commission was formed for the purpose of finding and developing shoreline parks in the state. The then Field Secretary, Albert Turner, apparently walked the entire Connecticut shoreline from New York to Rhode Island seeking suitable sites and found the only suitable site in Fairfield County was Sherwood Island.
The commission purchased the first parcel of land for the park in 1914 making Sherwood Island the oldest state park in Connecticut. Despite some local opposition, in particular from land developers who sought to develop the land into a seaside enclave, other parcels were purchased and Sherwood Island State Park opened to the public in 1932.
Currently Sherwood Island is comprised of 234 acres and has a snack bar, changing areas, a marsh, a runway for remote control airplanes, and 2 wide beaches. . .one of which is 6,000 feet long. Pets on a leash are permitted from October 1 to April 14. Beach fees are collected from roughly May 20 to September 8.
Today, at Sherwood Island, it is a late afternoon in March. The sun hangs low in the sky and there are only a few people here. It’s not as warm as I would like, but that is okay. We walk down the wide beach together, me and my boy. I can’t talk, so I look at Ben and wag my tail.
I love how the smell of salt hangs in the air. I love digging with my paws in the grainy sand and half-heartedly chasing the sea gulls by the water. I love swimming and fetching the ball. I love having this time with my boy and sharing these moments.
Sometimes it feels like it is all going by too fast.
This moment, right now, feels so good, but moments don’t last. They are fleeting. Even now, with each step, we get that much closer to the car, the ride home, dinner and eventually the end of today.
As a dog I don’t have much. What I do have though is my time, my companionship and my Ben. For others it may seem like nothing, but I am grateful for what I have. I understand the future means change but right here, right now I’m dripping wet, covered in sand, holding a salty tennis ball in my mouth, coated in sunshine and am next to my boy.
I am a happy dog.
What more could I want?
The only thing I can think to wish for is to one day look back and remember a lifetime filled with these moments; oh, and maybe to take the long way back to the car.