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Working on the Chickley River. December 9, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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The Chickley river in Hawley took a massive hit from Tropical Storm Irene over a year ago, and has since been cleared of storm debris and redirected into a channel which doesn’t threaten Route 8A.

But the clearing left the river looking more like a canal than a wild river; Hawley’s head of public works had all obstructions removed, and deepened and straightened the channel. Locals protested, but up here in the Hilltowns, there are plenty of people in positions of power who don’t give a crap about girly stuff like fish habitat and letting Nature be Nature.

Thankfully, several State agencies stepped in and imposed a program of re-naturalizing the river, rebuilding it to where it might not only return to being a viable hatchery for native species, but might also stand a chance of surviving future floods.

Here, an ET&L excavator is replacing boulders previously removed from the riverbed and adding contours to the banks to slow seasonal run-off:


The banks are still a mess, and I expect the raw spots to be colonized by fast-growing invasives like Japanese knot-weed, which was taking hold here before the flood and will likely take advantage of the open space afforded it.

But at least there will be trout habitat, and something in the channel to slow the Spring floods:


This work is nearing its end, and the sad turbidity of the worked-in water will give way to the clarity of winter, only to be followed by Spring’s reworking of what Man has done.

I feel bad for the people of Hawley, many of whom objected to the inappropriate channelization of the river, and all of whom (and their children and grandchildren) will be paying for the bond needed to fix this avoidable mess.

“Freeze At Last, Freeze At Last…” January 13, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Well, we failed miserably at our stated intention of having a White Christmas, but it looks like we’re working our wintry way toward a White Martin Luther King Day.

Let me know if you detect a hint of irony there.

Not that it’s entirely “in the bag” – we only have a couple of inches from last night’s weather event, and a bit more predicted for tomorrow – but still, it’s as close to Winter as we’ve gotten since October!

I took a ride up into Hawley to catch a few views of the white stuff before nightfall.  Along Route 8A, stately white pines stabbed skyward beneath a burden of heavy, wet snow:

It was the kind of snow which insists on not being shoveled despite its low loft, and even when it’s plowed, can render a steep driveway a Triple-Black-Diamond run:

The sign here reads “Eggert’s Folly,” and it’s rated Most Difficult.   I took their word for it.

The new coat of white rendered a hot property a bit easier on the eyes:

That tumble-down old garage actually sits on a nice piece of property, if you don’t mind being limited to six hours of sunlight a day (it’s in a narrow spot in the deep Chickley river valley.)

But my favorite shot from the ride was this one, of the Chickley burbling along through a relatively undamaged section of the elsewhere devastated river:

I’m always amazed at the vivid greens proffered by snow-sopped rivers; it often (as here) contrasts with the monochrome surroundings of wet wood and white snow.

We’re expecting a bit more snow tomorrow, followed by blistering (but seasonally appropriate) cold, which I hope will provide me with more traditional winter shots, with sparkly landscapes beneath Arctic-blue skies.

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?




Chickley In The Rain. August 19, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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It rained on the way home from work today.  I paddled eastward over the hills through darkly photogenic fogs, but it was coming down too hard to get out and shoot.

I kept going till I was nearly home, then took advantage of a lightening in the gloom to snap this shot of the Chickley river along Route 8A:

It was an atmospheric scene, but my kit was getting wet pretty quickly, so I beat it.

Frozen River. January 6, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Rivers in these parts supply, incongruously, some of the best (and only) color evident in our landscape.  Fresh snow piles up on rocks rising above the water’s surface; then, as melting on the hillsides propels the rivers’ rise, the snow-mallows are engulfed, reflecting back to our wondering eyes a surreal green light:

Here are a few shots of the Chickley River, flowing down through Hawley toward Charlemont.  The first one is looking upstream:

And the second, looking down:

A bit of green to tide us over ’till Spring!

Still Rainin’, Still Dreamin’. August 2, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This is most unusual.

I don’t recall ever having a summer like this, where it doesn’t get hot and it never stops raining.  I can count the sunny days thus far on one hand.

But still, it’s visually interesting, with the brief periods between rains being shrouded in fog as the water wends its way skyward:

chickley in fog

That’s the Chickley river between showers.

Right near there a field of sunflowers danced in the rain while wishing for a bit more heat:


…and minutes later, the rain stopped and the fog lifted from the fields:

trees and fog

Yes, it’s an unusual summer, but not an ugly one.  At this point I feel like a quitter, setting my sights on autumn rather than delving deeply into the present.  But I’ve taken a butt-load of foggy landscape shots this year, and I’m ready to move on.