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A Crossing. January 31, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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This past weekend marked my Susan’s birthday, and to celebrate the occasion I booked us an overnight at a Bed & Breakfast on Nantucket Island.  Neither of us had ever been there before, and we were both excited to check it out.

Winter is the “off-season” at the coast, so we (correctly) assumed we’d have a quiet time away, which was just what we wanted.

Getting to Nantucket is a bit of a chore, involving a three and a half hour drive and an hour-long ferry ride out of Hyannis.  The usual commuter ferry wasn’t running, so we had to take a slightly more expensive private boat over.

Hy-Line Cruises did a nice job, though – the boat was clean and fast and steady, a relief to the two of us, who are inveterate land-lubbers.

Here’s our ride, the Lady Martha:

I planned to snag a window seat to take a few photographs, but the windows were caked with salt spray on the outside so that was out.  Instead, we spent a fair part of the ride on the upper rear deck, where the views were exciting for this hill town boy.

We picked up speed as soon as we’d cleared the Hyannisport jetties:

The mainland receded quickly, leaving me scanning the horizon for our destination.  Here’s a view out the bow windows:

,,,nope, nothin’ but water and sky.

It was chilly out in the wind:

…so we ducked inside for a while.

Most of an hour passed before Nantucket reared its low, gentle “heads,” as coastal highlands are called in these parts, and I annoyed my fellow passengers by shouting, “Land, Ho!” in my best Mr. Krabs voice:

We rounded Brant Point:

…and docked.

Next, “On The Island Of Nantucket!”





I’m Off… January 28, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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…for a couple of days; see you all early next week.

Have a really nice weekend!


Winter Views. January 28, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here in The Berkshires we’ve been getting a pretty good dose of Winter.  It reminds me of the Big Snows of my childhood memories, and frankly, I like it.

January has been both snowy and icy, with the trees up in the hills encased in ice for the last many days.  Here are a few shots of that.

Mount Greylock, our highest point, from a distance:

That’s the Veterans’ Memorial Tower and the AMC’s Bascomb Lodge on top taken from miles away, courtesy of Gizmo.

A roadside maple magically encased in ice fog:

A barn slumbering in the stillness of snow:

Farm machinery takes a break:

A logging operation awaits warmer weather:

The main road to/through Upper Florida glows in late afternoon:

A fox’s trail through deep snow:

And finally, as the day ends, a look back toward where i began:

Despite the travails of winter living in these parts, the beauty of it keeps me here.

Thanks for sharing my day.


Forget Me Not. January 27, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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Driving around yesterday, way up in Hawley, I turned down Forget Road looking for rural scenes to photograph.

I came across this, a small cluster of trees in a landscape of high fields, just before sunset – Doane Cemetery:

The snow was deep, and I post-holed out among the stones, being too lazy to put on snowshoes for such a quick stop.

Many of the markers were too old to read, and I found it ironic that they were out here on Forget Road.

But I could read the name of Charlotte Wells, whose smaller stone is on the right in this photo:

…next to her husband’s larger and more ostentatious memorial.  His name has been erased by time, and remains only on Charlotte’s stone, as she was called, “Charlotte, wife of ________ Wells.” Two hundred years ago she was regarded as little more than his possession; now she can name or not name him, as a witness wishes.

I wish to remember Charlotte, no longer anonymous.

The sun went down, and what I had envisioned as an interesting black & white photo essay blossomed into this:

It was as if the snowy fields had somehow ignited:

I actually took some of the color out of that one.

Goodnight, Charlotte.

Gone Local! January 24, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
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The hill across the river from our place hosts a ski area (just around the corner from our view of the mountain) and, as of late, a wind turbine!

I think it’s pretty cool, having home-grown power rather than busing it in through countless miles of powerline clearings, and without creating pollutants.

I know, “They kill birds!”

Nukes kill fish, and by the tens of thousands.

“They make noise!!”

So does mountaintop removal mining, while it “removes” the entire mountain and fills in the surrounding valleys with toxic tailings.

I went up the back of the mountain the other day to see how close  I could get – I’d heard they had closed the gate on the access road at one point, and didn’t have time for a long walk, so I was hoping to get close enough to at least see the thing up close.

Turned out they’d opened the road again but hadn’t plowed it – it was being used as a snowmobile track!  But there were truck tire marks all the way, so I followed them until…

There!  The road was clear all the way.

I got out and set up my tripod, making myself narrow to let a gaggle of sledders pass, then took this long-ish shot to get the motion of the majestically spinning blades.

These things are big

That left-hand green electrical cabinet was taller than me (alright, no wise cracks!  😉 )

The view to the east was nice, and might make for a good sunrise shot:

If you knew where to look you could see our house in the valley bottom, just between the rocks.

Damn,  that’s big!

…And by the way, it was all but silent, though I understand they can get louder when the wind picks up.

All of these shots are basically straight out of the box – I didn’t feel like staying up tonight, as 5 o’clock is going to come early tomorrow!

G’night now.

Hawley Bog Sunset. January 22, 2011

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My planned excursion to Hawley Bog this morning didn’t happen.

When I woke at 5am with plans to be driving at 6, it was five degrees F out, and being alone, it didn’t seem prudent to go snow-shoeing around off-trail, crossing snow covered streams (some of them deep) to get to where I wanted to be.

I’d have gone with my usual Partner In Crime Lizz; it’s a totally different game taking chances with a capable friend close at hand.  But alone, uh-uh.  My desire to live life fully includes both intensity and longevity.

Hell, I’m just gettin’ good!

Besides, it was so friggin’ cold out, and my bed was nice and warm.  🙂

So, all you folks get is the previous night’s sunset, snagged during my recon for the morning shoot which didn’t happen.  It wasn’t a promising evening for a “keeper,” as thick clouds were moving in and the Magic Hour was slipping away, but I got across the first major stream and set up Elliot in about three feet of snow.  To get a fallen tree in the foreground and the jagged spruce snags on the skyline, I applied a degree and a half of tilt, focused on both and waited for a break in the clouds.

And waited, and stomped around, and waited some more.  My watch said it was now or never; the sun was setting, and that would be that.

Then, as these things are wont to happen, the horizon cracked just enough to allow me a few dim shots, of which this one had the most to offer:

I had to bring the levels up in Photoshop, but hey, that’s what the kids do these days, and if us Old Farts want to stay in the game we’d better learn to do it too.

Anyway, I had to have something to show for the effort of breaking a trail in for the ‘morrow, and I do mean “breaking it in;” the whole thing was a latticework of icy brush and boughs bent to the ground and linked in luminous lace.  It was a beautiful pain in the ass, and I’m happy to have salvaged something from the evening’s work.

I’ll be back there in the light, if I can manage it while the icework lingers.

The Promised Barns. January 21, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I mentioned last night that I had a couple of “barn shots” to put up, and after a bit of processing, here they are – two barns up in Florida.

First, a horse barn:

The sky was kinda nice right then…

…and second, a big old barn at a dairy farm nearby:

I don’t know if this farm is still working; I don’t recall ever seeing cows in their fields.

Both of these were hand-held at higher ISOs and, frankly, taken from my driver’s seat – it was getting late and the air was filled with waves of blowing snow, and I just took what I could get from the warmth of my car.

Tomorrow, if I have the nerve to get out in the pre-dawn cold, I’ll be getting some shots in upper Hawley.

Wish me luck.   😉

Black And White On Ice. January 20, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here are a few Black & Whites from our recent ice storm.

North Union Street in Plainfield:

Blackbirds on ice in Hawley:

…and, finally, black cherries in a mixed forest, again up in Plainfield:

Ice storms have their own inherent black-and-whiteness which renders the colors within almost irrelevant.

Next post, more barn shots!  😉

Ice Storm Blues. January 19, 2011

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We’ve had quite a winter storm here over the last couple of days, with heavy, wet snow followed by sleet and freezing rain.  It’s made driving perilous, and shut down schools and some state offices and businesses.

Today seemed to be the end of it, at least until Thursday night when we’re expected to get the next Weather Event.

And being that we had some iced trees down here in the river bottom, I figured it might be interesting to get up into the hills to see what had accumulated there.

The answer, of course, was…ice!

Here’s a shot I took up in Hawley of a fallow field as sunset approached:

It was snowing lightly but insistently, and I got a bit of it on my lens.  I kinda liked the effect, so I left it.

I’ll have a few more to share with you later, though they’ll probably be black and whites, as the light was generally pretty flat.

For now, it’s “G’Night, Folks!”

A Moment In Time. January 17, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Yesterday, in an effort to deal with water leaking into the house through an upstairs window, I got a really large extension ladder out of the barn and, despite protests from my non-functional shoulders, set it up against the ice-berm at the front of the house.  The mission was simple: rake the snow off the roof and remove the ice dam without dying.

Now, as a charter member of the Pansy’s Club, I’m all over that “not dying” clause, whether it holds legal water or not.  So I looked up (a LONG WAY UP) at that ladder resting on a rail of ice and went back out to the barn, returning with a greasy looking utility rope, doubtless one of Lizz’s old climbing ropes which had been retired to Yard Duty.  I fixed one end of it to an outdoor faucet (hey, it was around two corners, so friction would be my friend) and the other to a small shrub near our fair-weather fire pit (ditto on the friction there) and took the middle up-ladder, pulling it tight and securing things about where I thought they ought to be.

So up I went, roof rake and three pound sledge in hand(s) to deal with The Issue.  I got most of the roof cleared from one position, though there was a good deal of leaning and lateral force involved, and I was glad to be tied off, albeit to sketchy anchors.

Then, just as I was (delicately) attacking the ice berm/dam at the lip of the slate roof, a huge gust of wind caught me, sending the ladder four feet to the right and ending up all akimbo at a crazy angle…  I came to a soft halt, Thank You Jesus, and thanks to my sketchy but sufficient anchors.

With limbs quivering from the adrenalin I regained the roof’s edge, planting the roof rake and hammer in the slush of the remaining ice dam, and took a deep breath.

I looked around to compose myself.

Over my left shoulder, the wind turbine atop Berkshire East ski area had begun spinning, sending a message of local self-sufficiency back through the grid.

To my right, above the newly snow-free ridge line of our house, a fat gibbous moon was rising; and from a tree delineating our eastern property line, a huge eagle was just taking flight!

I swear, a big fatty eagle, with a wing span that looked like five feet.  It circled me once, then headed down river.

Call me a liar, or call me a slacker for not having my camera at hand, but hey, I was busy.

I finished the task at hand and got the ladder back in the barn without incident, though I have to admit that I was pretty hosed by the time it was all over.

And miracle of miracles, the leaking window stopped being bad.

And so it goes, and so it goes.