There is nothing like Black Rock and the St. Mary's by the Sea neighborhood for dog walking. I took our male Jack Russell Terrier, Patches, there last Sunday, and it was absolutely spectacular.
While the temperature already was in the high 80s when we began our walk at about 10:30 a.m., the breeze felt refreshing and the setting was spectacular. I'm a Fairfield guy, but Black Rock and St. Mary's are perfect.
Patches and I have our regular route, which begins on Courtland Street just below Midland. There is always a shady spot to park, and, even better, the location is just a couple of blocks from Harborview Market, among our most favorite hangouts for Sunday morning breakfast. Harborview is a Black Rock institution, and the crowd is always diverse and fun. The food is wonderful, and if the owner, Rick, who has a political background is there, he makes things more lively.
Our walk last Sunday took us up Courtland to Grovers Avenue and down Grovers to St. Mary's by the Sea. Grovers becomes a wide boulevard at St. Mary's, and the homes overlooking the sound are breathtaking.
By the time we had reached St. Mary's, which snakes along the sound for about a half mile, we had seen at least five different kinds of dogs, a number of runners and lots of walkers.
The Sound looked like glass that day and boaters were out en masse. The entire scene was definitely like a watercolor on canvas. I was in heaven, and Patches was along for the walk.
Our view of Jennings Beach in Fairfield was perfect, the beach was crowded and it was barely 11 a.m. Boats were moving smoothly out of the inlet, close to St. Mary's, and sun bathers were already stretched out on a little piece of an extended dock.
As we neared the end of the walkway around the Sound, I saw a large black dog playing with its ball in the water. Its owner was seated comfortably in her beach chair just on shore. Poor Patches was panting from our walk, so I decided to take him down to the water to explore.
It took a couple of little waves and Patches getting his delicate paws wet to convince my little friend that the water was nice. He watched intently as the other dog chased its ball.
Within minutes, a couple arrived at the little inlet with their Lab, Sophia, and soon that dog was swimming out to chase her ball. Things got interesting very quickly, and soon Patches was barking at both dogs, who were having an absolute blast in the water. Patches watched longingly as they chased their individual toys. We had all introduced ourselves by this time.
"Does Patches swim?" Sophia's owner asked me.
"I'm sure he does," I said, chuckling. "I'm just afraid that if I threw his ball, he'd retrieve it but probably never come back."
We both laughed, said we'd probably see each other again soon and Patches and I continued on our walk, now on Gilman Street and back toward Midland Street. This stretch of the walk took us along the salt marshes of Ash Creek. The creek was like a giant mirror, glistening in the bright sunshine, and birds were sunning themselves on the peaceful marsh land.
Patches was beginning to tire -- an ironic thing, I know, for a Jack Russell -- but the warm weather and the route had tuckered the little guy out. So I slowed up along Gilman, and Patches just plopped down on some shady grass. We were pretty close to Midland Street, so a little rest was certainly in order.
I love the homes along Midland Street and was pleased to see one for sale right at the corner of Midland and Lake Avenue. Of course, I'm sure with Bridgeport's high taxes, the home would be costly to own. But it was really charming, and I envisioned quiet Sunday mornings when, as new Black Rock residents, my wife and I could roll out of bed and take the dogs for a nice walk around St. Mary's and stop back at Harborview Market for a hearty breakfast and a chat with other locals or weekenders. We're trying to sell our home through the same brokerage, so I made a mental note to ask my agent for sales information.
I glanced at my watch and our short walk had turned into an hour and a half. Patches had just enough strength to climb into the front seat of our PT Cruiser and collapse. I patted his head gently as I climbed in next to him and said, "Let's do this again, Bud. It was the perfect walk on a perfect morning in a special place."
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.