Meandering On The Saugatuck

Bistro du Soleil — the French-Mediterranean restaurant in the old post office on Riverside Avenue — has a loyal following. But it does not get enough attention, either for its food or the ever-changing art on its walls.

This Sunday (November 3, 4 to 7 p.m.), there’s a reception for Westport photographer Tom Kretsch’s photos of the Saugatuck River — the water that runs directly behind the restaurant.

His new exhibit is called “River Take Me Along.” Tom writes:

“The River that Flows Out” is the translation of the word Saugatuck. The Paugusset Indians gave this 23-mile river, with its origins in Danbury, its name.

This treasure of a resource served first as a place of early settlements by Native Americans. Later, settlers farmed along its banks. In the 19th century it was a large shipping port, with warehouses nestled by the edge.

Saugatuck River (Photo/Tom Kretsch)

Today this winding river, flowing through the heart of our community, serves as a wondrous resource for physical and spiritual reflection. From the fishermaen who cast their lines off the Cribari swing bridge to those who fly fish up stream, from the rowers who ply its waters both solo and in team sculls, to the many who simply stop and pause to sit on a bench by the library, the Saugatuck River holds a place in the hearts and souls of many Westporters.

Living close to its banks for 45 years sparked my interest to capture the many magical moods of this flowing body of water. Its ancient path that winds its way, sacred and slow, through woods, ponds, reservoirs and finally into Long Island Sound has provided me a palette to create my impressions of its spirit and soul.

From vantage points on a kayak floating slowly down the stream, to walking along its wooded banks, to standing on a bridge on a misty morning, the river can truly “take our breath away,” as Dar Williams sings eloquently in “The Hudson.”

Saugatuck in the mist. (Photo/Tom Kretsch)

In my series of images I have tried to create both impressionistic and realistic photographs of this ever-changing body of water. I hope the work will speak to you, and draw you into the beauty and spirit of the river.

I hope too it makes you pause and appreciate what a great natural resource this river is for all of us.

Perhaps it will inspire you to take time to explore the Saugatuck’s many nooks and crannies, or simply pause on a quiet summer evening, an early misty morning fog or deep in the fall foliage season to gaze at this gift we have been given.

My journey on this water is always evolving. I continue to look for those moments that speak to me; to capture the many hidden treasures it holds, and that can only be captured in the light that breathes life into our treasure, the Saugatuck River.

(The reception this Sunday is free, and open to the public. Tom Kretsch’s exhibit runs through December 28.)

3 responses to “Meandering On The Saugatuck

  1. Looks like a nice show!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    These are wonderful pictures. The Saugatuck fascinates me also. From 1943 to about 1965 we lived close to the Saugatuck River. As kids it fascinated us that we could wade at Ford Road and not far from Ford road the Saugatuck was wide and deep due to Lee’s Dam. There were a few winters when there was a deep enough freeze to ice skate and in the summer we could hear all the fun from Camp Machano. The river has many “personalities”. Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures. I wish I could come to see more.

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