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Ice-Out. January 31, 2013

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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Temps in the 50’s and a heavy rain overnight have flushed the Deerfield clean of its frazil ice, as well as its shoreline shelf ice. All of it went over the dam at Shelburne Falls:

January Thaw

It’s looking a lot like a Spring thaw there; hope that wasn’t it!

As a side note, I had occasion to cross the Connecticut river this afternoon, and got a chance to wave “Buh-Bye” to said ice!  🙂


Expecting Spring. February 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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The fields outlying Northampton ought to be deep in snow this time of year, anticipating the annual floods which accompany the Spring thaw.

But they’re not.  They’re silt-laden from the waters of Irene, cracked and dried in the subsequent sun, and anticipating nothing beyond longer days and warmer temperatures:

The Holyoke Range recedes into the east, with Mount Hitchcock appearing as the high point, though it’s not quite that.

With nothing to melt in these parts and scant snow cover up north, I’m not anticipating much of a Spring Surge on the Connecticut river, the once-proud benefactor of the fertile farmlands of its namesake valley.

Again, I wonder what this is all coming to.  Change happens whether we participate in it or not – I’m not lamenting the change, but rather wondering if we’re causing it to happen faster than the rest of Nature can adapt.

This is a bit more of Elliot’s handiwork, though the foreground fodder was barely worth noticing.

Flood Stage! April 19, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Snow melt in the North Country (VT and NH) and rain down in these here parts are swelling the Connecticut river to flood stage, and even though the flood warnings are targeted at areas an hour or two to our south, it’s still pretty impressive to watch it all flow by on it’s way to the sea.

Below the Turners Falls Dam, the Great Falls Bridge spans a maelstrom of frightful foam and crashing waves:

Apparently I missed the highest water, if these piles of logs and lumber cast up on the rocks like bloody bones are any indication:

I was awed by the thunder and glory of it, even as a steady rain mixed with the mists blowing down the valley to the ocean far below.

Roll on, Great River, roll on!

Transition. March 30, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Up here in the hills, there’s still plenty of snow wherever shadows lie deep.

But down in the valley, it’s looking very Spring-like – the snow is mostly gone:

…and the rivers are dropping:

This despite a forecast for 6-12″ of snow on Friday!

March came in like a lion, and seems determined to go out like a, um, lion!


More Valley Shots. March 4, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here are a few shots from a recent evening down by the Connecticut river.

First, a view from a corn field near the Northampton Airport:

…with the Seven Sisters range receding into the distance.  Courtesy of Elliot, my 24mm Canon TS-EII lens.

This expanse of flood plain is broken only by widely spaced tree rows…

…and the occasional farm out-building:

Here’s a view of the sun setting over that same area, from across the river in Hadley:

By the end of the month there’s a strong possibility that much of what’s in these photos will be at least partially under water –  the plains of Northampton are outside of the levee system which protects the town proper.

More on this as the waters rise.

Lowlands’ Lament. February 24, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Half an hour’s drive east of here, the Deerfield river flows into the Connecticut, New England’s longest and grandest waterway.

The lowlands of the Connecticut are legendary for their fertility.  For the hundred centuries since the draining of ancient Lake Hitchcock, yearly floods have replenished the fertile flood plain with organically rich silts, turning the once-lake-bottom into some of the most productive farmland in North America.  For generations, the Connecticut River Valley was an exporter of cash crops, most notably tobacco, and in the last century, the fabled Hadley asparagus.  The latter has of late succumbed to a rust blight and is now in decline.

As population in the valley grew and the bottom lands were developed, however, the cost to individuals of the yearly Spring floods, some of which were really quite monstrous, prompted calls for control of this awesome force of nature.  Dams were built, levees erected, and except for rare breaches, Civilization was saved.

But as with all such human interventions, there were unforseen consequences.  The end of the yearly floods marked the beginning of the decline of the region’s reign as Bread Basket (or humidor, as the case might be) of The Northeast.  Crop yields dropped even as the amount of fertilizer needed increased, raising the cost of doing business and driving much of the commercial farming elsewhere.  While Summer still sees the valley bottom sown with corn, tobacco and assorted pumpkin patches, the area has lost its preeminence as a commercial farming hub.

Here’s a winter eve’s view of the Holyoke Range, with Mount Tom’s impressive basalt escarpment in relief on the right, as seen across a stubble of corn between Northampton and the Great River itself:

Stars are just beginning to twinkle at upper left in this thirty-second exposure, while the Milton coal-fired power plant’s stack glows malevolently red in the gap where the Connecticut transects the range.

This image reminds me of Western landscapes I’ve loved forever, and I intend to mine this spot through the seasons until you beg me to stop.


Down By The River… February 21, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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…I shot my camera.  Got this photo of trees reflecting in the Connecticut up at the Montague/Sunderland line:

…and this one, of a New Age Tobacco Barn in Hatfield at sunset:

Both of these venues have potential for some interesting photographs, and will bear watching through the seasons and in various weather.


Photo Quickie! October 30, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Because my internet has been in-and-out for the past several days (mostly out!) I’m gonna cut to the chase and just dump these photos on you.

Sunrise and sumacs:

St. James Episcopal in Greenfield:

The French King Bridge over the Connecticut River in Gill, MA:

The Westfield River as it runs through Chesterfield Gorge:

And lastly,Pegasus makes an appearance at sunset:

Now to hit the “send” button before I pop offline again…

Self-Portrait. June 4, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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On the way to photograph my friend Tim and his friend Mark rock climbing at Farley Ledge, I stopped at the French King bridge, route 2’s transit of the Connecticut river.  It’s an iconic structure, impossibly tall for these parts,elegant to the casual passer-by, terminal to those so inclined, and there have been many.

I stopped to photograph passing pleasure boats (my ex and younger daughter being among the river’s guests on this day) and got nothing worth sharing, though of course I still will:

…this being a shot of a kayaker about to brave the wake of a fast moving pleasure boat which appears not to care a whit about its impact on the world around it.  Shore erosion as a result of speed-induced wakes is a major concern on this stretch of the river, as is the impact of power boats on human-powered watercraft.

And as I hung out waiting for photo ops I noticed my own silhouette on the river’s surface far below, and snapped this image:

…See me there?  I’m leaning over the bridge rail, and made a bump on its shadow.

Anyway, I was on my way to photograph some friends rock climbing, so that will get posted next, or at least soon.

The French King Bridge. January 13, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
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On route 2, between Montague and Erving:

The light was right.