Milford, Delaware is an old shipbuilding town with the Mispillion River flowing right through the center of it. It’s close enough to the Delaware Bay to be affected by the tides, and high tide used to provide access for the shipbuilders of yore to launch their ships seaward. But wooden ships are of a bygone era.
Today the little town of Milford celebrates its river in a more scenic way. The Mispillion Riverwalk has been constructed nearly the entire length of its passage through town connecting parks and nature centers, affording easy enjoyment to joggers, strollers and bicyclists. This section of the walkway offers a glimpse into the backyards of a few of Milford’s stately old homes in the downtown area.
A simple happy scene at a favorite beach, with late day sun casting long shadows in the sand. Cape Henlopen is a narrow finger of land that juts out into turbulent waters, where the Atlantic Ocean to the east meets the Delaware Bay to the west. The Harbor of Refuge Light is one of two lighthouses built on breakwaters that were constructed to form a safe harbor for ships in stormy weather.
When the lands that make up the state of Delaware were granted to William Penn in the late 1600s, he set aside Cape Henlopen for public usage, making Cape Henlopen one of the future nation’s first “public lands”. It has remained in the public domain ever since, with no private property cottages, condos or highrises, boardwalks or amusement parks. Just sand and sea! The crowds, the arcades, the trinket shops and glitzy nightlife are all nearby enough for those who seek them, but it’s also very good to have some protected natural places left to enjoy. Delaware is a little gem of a state that has placed a greater percentage of its land into protected parkland status than any other state.
Nearly 16,000 acres of preserved wetlands along the Delaware Bay make up the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. It was a snowy December day when my husband, my brother and I decided to go exploring. We pretty much had the whole 25 square miles to ourselves. It was a heavy wet snow that quickly melted from the roadways but it transformed the marshy landscape, clinging to the reeds and tall grasses. We saw a great many birds that day, but this Great Blue Heron convinced me to paint him when he spread his broad wings to take flight.
Delaware is a small state, but big on ocean and bay beaches. Much of the Delaware Bay coastline feels like a throwback to the 1960’s with tiny coastal communities that seem frozen in time. Many old bayside cottages have lost their fight to cling to a narrow strip of beach in the face of rising sea levels and battering storms. Only about a dozen homes remain standing on the narrow sandy strip that is Big Stone Beach. They have a bay in front of them and a marsh behind. A bright blue sky with puffy clouds drifting over the marshy cattails caught my eye on this late summer day.