Away Message. August 28, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Uncategorized.
I’m away for a couple of days, so if I seem unresponsive, it’s because I’m out having too much fun – see you all soon!
A Pow-Wow. August 27, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
Tags: beadwork, beeding, buckskin, Charlemont, First Nation, Indian Plaza, indians, leather, Massachusetts
A mile from our house sits a sacred patch of land where both local and visiting Indians dig for their roots. It’s called the Indian Plaza.
And before you get too far along the path of thinking I ought to have said “Native Americans,” I’m going to go with the ‘druthers of the people I’ve talked to at these gatherings and use the umbrella term “Indian.” It describes them all without differentiation, and if there’s anything striking about that it’s that they see their commonality as being greater than their differences. Such is, I assume, the outfall of collective persecution.
Anyway, the Indian Plaza was badly flooded a year ago by Irene, taking on five feet of silt-laden water and looking dead as a doornail when the rive receded.
Well, it didn’t die. After months of hard labor by its faithful people, it opened last weekend with a gathering and dance:
There were perhaps a hundred people present, though I confess to being an unreliable reporter of numbers – calculate in a generous margin of error and I’m good to go.
Four or five drum circles provided, in turn, the rhythm and reason for the dancing:
And dance they did:
They danced in a measured pursuit of their heritages, my heritage, shallowly buried in the clutter of the American Present.
It was hopeful, and it was beautiful:
Lame Bull traded for this bear headdress, and wears it proudly.
Stone Elk makes staffs for walking and dancing:
And everyone danced:
It was good to see, a resurrection of sorts and a celebration of life.
The next gathering will be September 1-2, if you’re in the area.
Birds Of Prey. August 27, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: 2X tele-Extender III, bald eagle, Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens, eagles, Gizmo, hawks, New England, red tail hawk
I haven’t seen prominent displays of eagles on the river since Spring, and our local population of hawks is pretty private, so I was pleased today to find both within range of my lens and comfortable enough with my presence to sit for me.
Well, the eagle wasn’t exactly close – it was perhaps a hundred yards away, and sitting in a densely-leaved tree, but I reeled it in with Gizmo and a 2X Tele-Extender for an effective focal length of 800mm. The shot is hand-held, albeit resting on the door of my car, and cropped pretty hard to get this:
The faster version of this lens, with image stabilization, is a cool thousand dollars more than what I paid for Gizmo, so you’ll have to suffer with us until I hit the lottery.
I did get closer to a red tailed hawk perched on a roadside fence post this very same morning, and didn’t have to crop the photo to give you this:
I crept my 4-Runner up the shoulder of the road over ten or so minutes to position myself across from this beautiful bird, who stayed put and let me. Go figure – perhaps they know the difference between being loved and hunted.
I see lots of raptors every day, but it’s not every day that I have a chance to photograph them.
Thank you, Father Sky, for lending me your children.
Shroomin’! August 27, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Dinner with TCR, macro photos.
Tags: black chanterelles, boletes, chanterelles, death trumpets, edible wild mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms in a cream sauce, red capped butter boletes, russulas, Sigma 50mm macro lens, ziggy
After a dreadfully hot and dry start to the summer, which meant that the local mushrooms weren’t blooming, we’ve had a good mix of rain and sun lately. Consequently, we’re seeing a lot of mushrooms in the woods and at roadside.
I’m totally all over that. Free food of a mysterious and slightly dangerous nature… not really, because I’m faint of heart… but the “free” part is all true, and there’s nothing like freshly foraged food.
The Boletes are out, some pretty good to eat and some really choice. I’m fond of Red Capped Butter Boletes, which are really hard to confuse with anything else. Firstly, they’re a bolete, so they have a spongy underside instead of having the fine gills of most other mushrooms. Plus, they’re bright red on top, butter-yellow on the underside of the cap, and shading from bright yellow to a vibrant red moving down the stem. There are other red mushrooms, but none which look like the Red capped Butter Bolete, so it’s a safe choice for mycophagists.
Here’s a freshly picked RCBB lying next to a Russula, which has both gills and a pure white stem which snaps like a piece of chalk when picked:
Some people eat Russulas, some people are sickened by them, so I just keep to the boletes and whatever else I know to be safe and delicious.
I also found some chanterelles, including red (rare,) yellow (common) and black (exquisite!) The black aren’t uncommon so much as they’re invisible on the forest floor. I’ve hunted then fruitlessly for hours, then suddenly realized I’d been walking through them most of the while.
The ones I got this week were thin tubes, a bit browner than their more trumpet-shaped black brethren:
I put a load of these into a cream sauce, and they’re exquisite, with a strong nutty flavor and a texture suggestive of al denté penne. They’ll meet their end on a bed of polenta tomorrow.
I have a variety of really choice boletes to prepare tomorrow, including king, queen and yellow-footed in addition to the red capped butter boletes. I’m not sure if I’ll get to eat them or just dry them for later; I’ll be away for most of midweek, and don’t want them to go to waste!
Weather. August 25, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: black and white photography, low clouds, skies
Here’s a black and white photo of some low clouds passing through a couple of days ago:
This scene was interesting to me partly because its “interesting” aspect was so ambiguous. None of the elements were particularly compelling, yet the whole scene worked, and I wasn’t clear on how it worked. It took me a while to conceptualize it as you see it, and in that time the skies changed enough so that I nearly missed the shot.
I gotta learn to think faster.
Summer. August 22, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
Tags: Chesterfield Gorge, Chesterfield MA
I was at a meeting of a few folks last night, outdoors, at a picnic table. We talked past sundown into twilight and beyond, and with just a tee-shirt on, I got cold.
This signals a turning point which I’ve ignored in past years, the turn toward winter, the Long Sleep of the Green Things, the time of thicker clothes and bigger fires.
Not that it’s winter, not nearly; it’s just that this year I noticed the subtle shift from warm evenings to cooler ones.
Still, there’s another month of Summer to be had, though it’s going to become less dependable from here on out.
It’s now or never, people, or at least now or next year. Get out and get some summer!
At the Chesterfield Gorge in Chesterfield, MA:
Young folks exploring the river.
Old Trees. August 22, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
Tags: Charlemont, Hall Tavern Farm, Massachusetts, New England, Old Growth Forest, old trees, white pines
White pines, one of the taller tree species which grow in New England. These are out behind the Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont:
There are four or five of these great things growing amongst a younger forest – how they were spared the saw is a mystery to me, but they’re inspirational enough for someone to have built a few benches for the contemplative visitor:
Those are both tilt-shift photos, although that gets lost in this venue. The first shot has a good deal of tilt, the second a full boat of swing planted right up the tree and catching the bench on its way by.
Large trees these are, at least for these parts. Two tall men might not reach around them.
I’ll be back.
Steel Bridge Dinner, 2012. August 21, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
Tags: 2012, 2012 Bridge Dinner, Shelburne Falls, Steel Bridge Dinner
Shelburne Falls’ 12th Annual Bridge Dinner happened this past weekend. The village’s main street bridge closes to motor vehicles and becomes a dining room for 400, which is a surreal situation when the light cooperates:
A long table is set with flowers and glasses and linen:
…the guests trickle in:
…and soon assumed their stations, anticipating their coming meal in the beautiful Autumn air:
It was a lovely evening to be out and about as people settled down in the hot sun and cooler evening air:
…thanks to the servers from Mohawk Trail Regional High School:
..and we dug it:
The table filled as the sun settled low:
…and the evening was well enjoyed:
The servers cranked:
…and the love of the moment flowed:
There was pleasant conversation:
…and LOTS of food:
Friends caught up between courses:
It was all well received, the meat and fish dishes and sides of all sorts, and at last, dessert:
It was quite a nice night, so much so that I didn’t mind working – what I saw made me smile, and I had high hopes of capturing some of it to share.
I hope you’re smiling too.
Refuge From The Storm. August 20, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
Tags: dreaming, dreaming boy, Heath Fair, Heath Free Library, Heath MA, in the rain, reading
At this weekend’s Heath Fair, a sudden rainstorm sent the crowds scurrying for cover. Among the varied refuges was the Heath Free Library’s tent, presciently provided with windowed walls which kept the storm at bay while providing a safe haven for dreaming:
I watched this young man for some while, shooting with a rain sleeve over my camera. It seemed risky from the perspective of my equipment, but important enough to press on, taking whatever precautions I could against the weather.
I think this shot is my favorite from three days of shooting at this particular fair, both for the emotional roots of it and for its unanticipated quality. As much as getting the shot I set out for pleases me, surprises are what fuels my desire to photograph.