Tag Archives: Rindy Higgins

Snow Day: Noon Scenes

As the snow continued throughout the morning, alert “06880” readers sent in photos from around town. Here are a few:

Without entitled parking -- at least, none we can see -- the Starbucks near the diner looks positively serene. (Photo/Diane Lowman)

Without entitled parking — at least, none we can see — the Starbucks near the diner looks positively serene. (Photo/Diane Lowman)

Whenever the Minute Man is decorated with a Santa cap or Easter bunny ears, a few folks complain. Today, Mother Nature decorated Westport's favorite figure. Enjoy! (Photo/Anne Hardy)

Whenever the Minute Man is decorated with a Santa cap or Easter bunny ears, a few folks complain. Today, Mother Nature decorated Westport’s favorite figure. Enjoy! (Photo/Anne Hardy)

Staples junior Eliza Goldberg snapped this shot of her dog Gracie.

Staples junior Eliza Goldberg snapped this shot of her dog Gracie.

Rindy Higgins lives on Saugatuck Shores. This morning she saw this sight. Because he's reddish-gray, black behind the ears with a white chest and long tail that stuck out straight when he scooted off, she's pretty sure he's a fox -- not a coyote.

Rindy Higgins lives on Saugatuck Shores. This morning she saw this sight. Because he’s reddish-gray, black behind the ears with a white chest and long tail that stuck out straight when he scooted off, she’s pretty sure he’s a fox — not a coyote.

A meadow view, on Meadow View. (Photo/Krystof Bondar)

The view on Meadow View. (Photo/Krystof Bondar)

A River Runs Through Town Hall

For a while now, a series of intriguing photos and posters has greeted visitors to the 2nd floor of Town Hall.

On Thursday afternoon, the exhibit — called “A River Runs Through It” — was officially dedicated. It’s now a permanent installation.

One of the very informative and educational panels in the exhibit.

One of the very informative and educational panels in the exhibit.

Curator Rindy Higgins gave an informative talk, filled with questions. She asked:

  • Do you live in a watershed?
  • One of the main cargoes carried on our Saugatuck River was an essential agricultural product that our ancestors used – and that most of us still use every day for cooking. What’s often the first thing in your skillet after the oil?
  • As we age, some of us change our shape. Our old river has had a long life, and it too has changed shape. How and where has it changed?
  • Do you know that we also have a garden under the river?
  • So what can we do to keep the Saugatuck River clean? We’ve all seen garbage washing down into a storm drain. We fertilize our lawns. How do our activities on our own properties affect the river?

The answers — including information about oysters (the answer to that garden question) — can be found in the exhibit.

She also asked whether anyone knew that the US Navy named an oiler in honor of the Saugatuck River.

“Despite the irony of an oiler,” Higgins said, “we want to keep our river clean — now and for future generations.”

In honor of its proud heritage — and the goal of preserving river quality — she gave a Navy cap, emblazoned “USS Saugatuck,” to “the commanding officer of the town of Westport”: 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

Rindy Higgins salutes First Selectman Jim Marpe. He's wearing a "USS Saugatuck" cap, which she presented to him.

Rindy Higgins salutes First Selectman Jim Marpe. He’s wearing a “USS Saugatuck” cap, which she presented to him.

 

 

Saugatuck River Winds Up In Town Hall

Most people go to Town Hall for one reason: to do their business. They pay their taxes, pick up a clamming permit, complain about their neighbor’s swing set.

Now there’s another reason to go. And linger.

Clarinda “Rindy” Higgins has just created — from scratch, and virtually alone — a fascinating poster series about the Saugatuck River. Hanging on the 2nd floor (front entrance level), just to the right when you walk in, it’s educational, entertaining and eye-opening.

The 2nd floor exhibit in Town Hall.

The 2nd floor exhibit in Town Hall.

Rindy — a longtime environmental educator  — provides Town Hall visitors with a comprehensive history, and behind-the-scenes (okay, “below the surface”) look at this important artery which, since the time of the earliest settlers, has shaped how our town looks, feels and acts.

As the exhibit points out, the Saugatuck River is such a vital part of Westport that we sometimes ignore it.

Rindy’s posters — which (despite her protests that “I’m no Miggs Burroughs” and “I have limited computer skills”) she designed and printed herself, each one taking 30 hours — highlight its significance. Along with the river’s history, beauty and fragility.

Rindy - 2An introductory panel describes the Saugatuck’s name (“pouring out” of the “tidal river,” from the Paugussett tribe), and notes that it “meanders 23 miles from its headwaters in Danbury.”

Westporters cross the river several times a day, without really looking or thinking about it. The next poster notes the importance of our bridges; they unite the 2 sides of 1 town. Back in the days of ferries, the Saugatuck divided 2 towns.

Panels 3 and 4 — “Bustling Maritime Trade” and “Industry” — show the enormous  impact of wharves, vessels, onions and riverside factories.

The next poster shows the USS Saugatuck — a Navy ship named after the river. I’ve lived here my entire life, but this one’s news to me.

The USS Saugatuck

The USS Saugatuck

“Changing Riverscape” details the effects man and nature have on the water. Whether we fill in the river to create a parking lot behind Main Street, or the tides work their magic, the Saugatuck changes as constantly as any living thing.

Rindy - 5“River Quality = Quality of Life” reminds us that “how we choose to use the land and the water affects not only Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound but also our own properties, livelihoods and quality of life.” Our river is part of a watershed stretching all the way to Quebec, as a we’re-all-in-this-together map vividly shows.

The penultimate panel says “Each of Us Can Make a Difference.” Calling each property a “micro-watershed,” Rindy offers suggestions for making sure that river and coastal water quality begin at home. From our kitchens, bathrooms, laundry and garage to our basements, gutters, driveways and gardens, everything we do can ensure the health of the Saugatuck River (and thus Long Island Sound) for decades to come.

Or it can help destroy it.

This Saugatuck River exhibition was Rindy’s labor of love. Gault Energy, Jim Marpe and Eileen Flug gave donations, but she paid for everything else out of pocket. She even bought the frames (from Walmart.)

Rindy’s posters are well worth a trip to Town Hall.

And as you leave — catching a glimpse of the Saugatuck River in the distance — you realize you will never again think of it in the same way.

Rindy - 3

That Sunken Vessel: A 2nd Opinion

Rindy Higgins read this morning’s post about the sunken vessel — visible at low tide just south of the Bridge Street bridge — and has a different story than Jean Paul Vellotti’s. She said:

According to G.P. Jennings’ Greens Farms, Connecticut and E.C. Birge’s Westport Connecticut, this is the remains of the Henry C. Remsen.  Her namesake was a well-known New Jersey coastal merchant who lost his life at sea, long before the ship was built in 1851 in Red Bank, New Jersey.

The American Lloyd’s Register of American and Foreign Shipping and the Connecticut Ship Database say the Remsen was registered in the name of Ebenezer Allen by 1868. The 2-masted schooner was 85 feet long, with a draft of 6 feet 2 inches.

The barely visible sunken vessel.

The barely visible sunken vessel.

Jennings wrote:

Captain Ebenezer Allen ran the schooner Remsen between Southport and New York in the market trade starting about 1883.  This old schooner finally was allowed to rot on the mudflats just below the Saugatuck carriage-bridge: its hulk can still be outlined in the mud at low tide.

Cargos included: onions, bound for the West Indies, and spices carried on the return, plus industrial garnets, mined in New Haven, bound for the Old Mill here. The Mill ground the garnets to sand, then shipped them out to be made into sandpaper.

After Ebenezer died, his brother, William H. Allen, took over at the helm.

Birge added: “She was finally grounded in the cove between the two bridges  at Saugatuck where she was ultimately broken up. At low water the imprint of her frame is still visible.”

Many of its wood beams were salvaged to build Allen’s Clam House — the restaurant, now demolished, on the edge of Sherwood Mill Pond.