Maybe it's the grimy, three-week-old piles of snow at the side of the road.
Or maybe it's the endless brown and white monochrome of the landscape. Whatever the reason, I needed to get away.
But after a blizzard and a couple of feet of snow, it's hard to find a snow-free place in Connecticut to visit. So I figured a trip to the beach would give me my best chance to catch spring fever.
I used to believe the Connecticut shoreline was pretty much limited to Hammonasset and Rocky Neck state parks. I figured everything else had to be private, with high seawalls and no trespassing signs. But through writing this column, I have visited places like the Farm River and Bluff Point state parks, abandoned shoreline trolley trails, and found out that Long Island Sound isn't so off-limits as it seems.
Guilford's Chaffinch Island is a place visitors can go to stroll down a beach or breathe in some briny air. There are views across West River and its confluence with the Sound. The Faulkner's Island lighthouse in the Sound seems to follow you as you make your way around the island.
Although surrounded by water, you won't need a boat to get to the island. The island's southern and eastern borders are the West River and Sound. But its northern and western borders are tidal channels flowing through salt marshes. Part manicured lawn with picnic tables and part coastal forest and beach, the island is the southernmost publicly accessed point in town.
The beach is fascinating, with a huge variety of seashells of all shapes and sizes strewn about. From pieces of coral to conch, quahog, oyster, scallop, and slipper shells, visitors will feel like they should be tiptoeing across the beach.
A path of crushed shells through dune grass leads to a jumble of huge boulders and ledges with two large, stunted trees growing from a patch of soil. Shells lie smashed on top of the rocks and picked clean by the shorebirds who dropped them from the sky. Waves gently lap across a swath of sea grass in front of the rocks.
So if winter has you down, head to Chaffinch Island and search for the perfect seashell or sit on a rock and view the state's second oldest lighthouse. And remember, spring is only 20 days away.
Take Route 1 to Route 77, then south around the Guilford Town Green and turn right on Route 146. Take a left on Mulberry Point Road shortly after crossing the West River. Take a left on Chaffinch Island Road and follow to the end. Peter Marteka may be reached at 860-647-5365, at email@example.com or at The Courant, 200 Adams St., Manchester, CT 06040.