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My Poor Garden. August 26, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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It hasn’t been a great year for gardening here in Massachusetts.

First the freezes kept coming, delaying planting.  Then we planted, and the rains began.

It rained for two months before we saw the sun again.  The greenery grew head high while the air was washed clean of pollinators and the fruit didn’t set.

I kept thinking, “Shoulda planted rice.”

But still, something happened.  The garden, despite looking like hell, began to produce:

my garden

First came the strawberries, arugula and bok choy.  Then, explosively, two kinds of kale, broccoli, and summer squash:

kale, etc.

…followed by tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, onions, Hungarian wax (hot) peppers and eggplant:

tomatoes, etc.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but hey.

Late Blight claimed almost all of the tomato crop in Southern New England and tried to take mine as well; but whereas most “real” gardeners pulled and bagged all their plants, I tried an organic spray recipe I heard on NPR, and three weeks later I’m still battling it, but I’m up to my ears in tomatoes!

Every couple of days I get a harvest which looks something like this:

harvest

The mushrooms (chanterelles, hedgehogs and russulas) I picked on the way home from work as part of my “Hundred Yard Diet.”

There are flowers, too – first the columbines, lupines and daisies, now bee balm:

bee balm

…cone flowers:

cone flower

…and, of course, sunflowers:

sunflower

That last was photographed against a back-drop of echinacea and yellow tansy.

Hey, I gotta go.  It’s time to layer in some tomatoes and basil and red onions and fresh mozzarella.

🙂

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When Heroes Go Down. August 26, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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Driving to work this morning, I turned on my radio only to learn that my Senator, Ted Kennedy, had passed away.

I cried.  We all knew it was coming, but hoped he’d somehow slip the noose.

Despite the personal failings of his younger life, Ted became one of the finest voices for social justice which this country has ever produced.  He was way ahead of us on so many progressive issues, from health care reform to immigration reform to…  the list is long.

His skill as a Statesman was legendary, marked by compromise on details and a laudable moral steadfastness.  I can’t think of another politician who so championed the causes of ordinary Americans, despite coming from a home life of almost unimaginable privilege.  It seemed that, to him, “Noblesse Oblige” was but a starting point for a life of service to you and me.

Replacing him with someone half as effective will be a challenge.

Goodnight, Senator.  You will be sorely missed.

Ruby Tuesday – Reflections! August 24, 2009

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“Well, it’s right down the road, and it’s beautiful, and I probably needed something from town anyway.”

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Ruby reflections in the Deerfield River at Shelburne Falls:

SF reflections

And to my left, an honest reflection of two-story buildings atop a concrete river wall belies the idyllic image of cottages and gardens generated by a glance across the Bridge of Flowers:

SF reflections

Not the most “Ruby” of Tuesdays, but it’s what I have tonight.

Visit Mary over at Work of the Poet for many more iterations of this Ruby meme!

An Unexpected Guest… August 23, 2009

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…on a lily at Slim’s place:

spider in lily

This little critter was about the size of my thumbnail, and seemed unconcerned about the rain dappling its world.

I dug it.

A Few More Shots… August 22, 2009

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…from New Hampshire.

At Diana’s Bath, a series of cascades and pools coursing toward North Conway:

Diana's bath

A kid wading in the Ammonoosuc River, west of Mount Washington:

wader

…and a White Mountains sunset, rode hard and put up wet:

Whites sunset

I may not have gotten what I wanted this past weekend, but I got what I needed.

One For Cuz. August 22, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Every time I see mist-shrouded hills (which is quite often these days) I think about my Siamese Cousin Bob (yes, it’s true – we were separated at birth.  By several years and a thousand miles.)

Bob traded his beloved Appalachians for love, and a new home in Costa Rica.  And while I’m absolutely certain that he “traded up” and suspect that the rainy season in CR will deliver vistas similar to the ones he knew ’round his Secret Lair, I’m guessing that one can never get too much of what one loves.

So Cuz, here’s a shot from this evening, between deluges and despite tornado warnings:

one for Cuz

Taken about a mile from my place.

Hope you catch this, Bob.  And I trust that life is being kind to you in your new digs.

😉

Back. August 19, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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From New Hampshire’s White Mountains, on a beautiful summer weekend.

Here are a few shots from along the way.

Followed the Ammonoosuc River up valley:

Amanoosuc

…to its source, high up on the western flanks of Mount Washington, the loftiest peak in the Northeast:

MWV Hotel

That’s the Mount Washington Hotel, by the way.  I’ve only admired it from a distance; they say if you have to ask, “How much?” you can’t afford it.

I first became aware of this area at the age of ten, a little young for Boy Scouts, but my Dad was an Assistant Scout Master, so I got to go along for the summer fun.  I remember we swam in the Ammonoosuc River, at a roadside swimming hole which is now miles from the nearest pavement (think “road relocation.”)  It’s prettier without the cars, though it still draws plenty of visitors:

crowded pool

I had to work to get clean “nature” shots without my fellow tourists in them:

Ammonoosuc River

turbulent wall

Not that I minded the work.  🙂

Anyway, I was soon off to Cathedral Ledge, a 500′ monster overlooking North Conway:

cathedral

Again with the tourists – sheesh!

Nearby Whitehorse Ledge is similarly scenic, though without a road to the top, it’s left to climbers and hikers:

whitehorse

I’ve climbed both of these faces more times than I can count (as has my buddy Frau B.,) but this trip was just for looking; perhaps in the future I’ll get back on the rock.

I love this area.  The White Mountains are somewhat of an anomaly for the Northeast, having relatively large areas above treeline and hosting remarkable swaths of sub-alpine eco-niches.

I expect to get back up there as autumn approaches; it should be spectacular if the wet weather continues into September.

Gone. August 14, 2009

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For a couple of days.  Up to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, on a gorgeous weekend.  With any luck I’ll come back with photos to share.

See you then!

An Evening Shot. August 13, 2009

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Sunsets in these parts have lately been pretty “meh,” with occasional fleeting color thrown in.

One evening, around the time of the Sturgeon Moon, the western sky offered up a puff of pink as the land lost its light:

pink sunset

It was the kind of night which yielded a better experience than photograph.

Lately I’ve been stopping when the light gets good, getting out of the car and into the fields, leaving the camera behind.  I don’t want to miss this, this Season of Light.  I want to live it.  And sometimes that means having my hands free, traveling lightly, focusing on a distant point of interest.

Sometimes I don’t have much to show you here, and if I’m lucky, it’s because I’m just too busy looking at it myself.

Namaste.

The Hairpin Turn. August 13, 2009

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As you take route 2 west past my place, the road leaves the Deerfield river and snakes its way upward along the Cold, then abandons that as well, making a break for the summit plateau of Florida, a town with a wry sense of humor.  Don’t even think about planting corn here – the growing season’s way too short.

You crest the Eastern Summit, passing beautiful views if they’d ever fix that damned tower, and coast down through Florida’s central business district, that is, the place where there used to be a store.  It’s gone now, so you keep going too.

It’s a warm summer afternoon, with the late sun coming through the clouds just as you ease up over the Western Summit.  Slowly now; the view here is spectacular for these parts, with North Adams occupying the valley far below and seeming somehow incongruous against the backdrop of Mount Greylock and the Taconic Range.

The road turns sharply right and begins a long diagonal down the hill, snaking along road cuts running with the rains of the past sunless month, now glistening, making you squint against the glare as you pass the silhouette of a sign, “Trucks Test Brakes,” and you don’t.  The downshift coming around the corner feels so automatic, seems so sufficient, that you aren’t thinking about the load at your back.  It’s a lot of weight, but it’s well tied down, and between the smooth ride, the long view and the sun on your shoulder, you’re just happy to be alive.

The curves come tighter now, 500 feet below the crest, exposing your speed for excessive despite the first class pavement.  You hit the brakes and down-shift.

Or you try.  Clutch, neutral, clutch, third, but no go.  It’s like it’s not there, What The Fuck, and in that second of trying, you’ve picked up speed.  You stand on the brake and not much happens, you Stand On The Brakes, God Damn It and finesse the shifter and nothing happens, and as you blow past the “Hairpin Turn” sign you hear a disembodied whimper, sense it leaving the passenger side window, leaving you with your non-shifter and your non-brakes, getting out while the getting’s good, escaping into the turbulence between the screaming chrome and the glistening shale.

The load at your back groans and shifts as the curves fly by, and then there it is, the Hairpin Turn, Speed Limit 15, and at 75 the thought never crosses your mind, it’s not an option, and horrified horns wail as oncoming traffic chooses the guardrail and you choose the gap between the restaurant on the right with the beautiful views and the double-decker porches filled with couples who seconds before had been Livin’ Large and whose knuckles turned white to see you and the gaggle of tourists on the left, gathered around the Pay-Per-Minute binoculars on the weathered wood platform, the Japanese couple dropping that expensive camera, the fat American girl lurching over the guardrail, going ass-over-tea-kettle down the slope, poor kid probably hurt herself for nothing, ’cause you see it, you see The Gap, and it’s not even a choice, it’s your path, it’s your future, it’s all that there is, and as time slows down, as it does, it’s enough, the Herculean effort of steering your monster into the void, leaving them all with forty more years despite their soiled pants, it’s enough, the minor class victory of flattening a very expensive little Mercedes convertible as its owner chokes on his lobster up on the second floor porch, it’s enough, the crisp snap of an ineffectual guard rail, the nearly instant transmuting of the agitated groaning of steel into the white noise of rushing air, and as your eyes close, you’re in the back seat of a ’65 Buick driving too fast on a winding country road, the levee rising up, the pavement falling away, your stomach colliding with your intoxicated giggle,

“Daddy, do it again!”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Hairpin Turn above North Adams and the Golden Eagle Restaurant at its tip, technically jutting northward into Clarksburg:

Golden Eagle

The gap in the guardrail has welcomed too many truckers for me to know, only one of whom survived (after flying over a hundred foot swath of oak trees and landing in the steep woods beyond.)

Unsuspecting touring bikers enjoy the view:

bikes at hairpin

It’s pretty, but I probably wouldn’t park right there.

Sorry to make off with you like that, but I just was at a loss for a way to introduce these photos.  😦