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And Along The Way… February 1, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
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…Another shot from that outing, a dam on the Housatonic river in West Lee (or is it East Stockbridge?  No, it’s the former:)

The Hoosie (as many locals call it) is a hard working river, powering many mills with its many dams.  Pity that GE dumped so many PCBs in it that it’s not fit for recreation along much of its length, and don’t even think  about eating the fish.

In the Housatonic’s case, beauty is  really only skin deep.  Clean-ups are under way, but GE’s lawyers are making sure that it happens neither right, nor right now.

BTW, that shot’s from Ollie, who did me well that day.  That’s decent depth of field for f/10, and my Canon 5D worked magic on the ISO 800 setting I used to freeze the water at 1/800 0f a second.

Thanks, guys.  You complete me!  🙂

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Up Country. February 26, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Trucks sleep up in the fields of Shelburne after the last big storm:

Cattle daydreaming about green grass in Hawley:

A workhorse grown coarse and shaggy for the season:

…while in the valley below, Salmon Falls saves itself for Spring:

It’s a little farther along down in the flat-lands of Franklin County, but even here there’s a change in the air, a feeling that Winter is dying as Spring struggles to be born.

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.

😉