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Workin’ It. November 30, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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Pete Ward working a sport route in Western Massachusetts:

…on a bitchin’ cold day. Pete W and Pete C got shut down by thin moves and frigid fingers, but will be back on a warmer day to have their way with it.

With a day of prep work, I’ll have a better angle on this action, and pictures to prove it. 😉

This post may get expanded as I process more of the photos from yesterday’s shoot.

Phall Pholiage Photos! October 10, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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More colors from this sub-optimal (but still pretty cool) season.

Locally, some back roads:

A Conway beaver pond:

Bittersweet on a barn in Hawley:

A few Deerfield river shots:

The real color, though, was higher up in the hills. I’d seen The Change coming to Southern Vermont and headed that-a-way, passing through the heights of Rowe, MA on the drive, and stopped off at a seldom-visited beaver pond for a couple of quickies:

I especially liked this shot of orange jelly fungus popping out of a fallen spruce along the pond’s edge:

All of these are from Elliot, bless his little mechanisms.

In Vermont, the best colors were along Route 9 between Searsburg on the east and Bennington on the west:

Of that last bunch, the more expansive views were captured by Ollie, the last two are from Gizmo.

This year, Autumn has been a finicky visitor and seems anxious to be moving on.

Oh well, let her go, I say. Can’t stop her anyway.

I may head farther afield in the next few days, searching for a few last kisses before Bleak November arrives.

A Pow-Wow. August 27, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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A mile from our house sits a sacred patch of land where both local and visiting Indians dig for their roots. It’s called the Indian Plaza.

And before you get too far along the path of thinking I ought to have said “Native Americans,” I’m going to go with the ‘druthers of the people I’ve talked to at these gatherings and use the umbrella term “Indian.” It describes them all without differentiation, and if there’s anything striking about that it’s that they see their commonality as being greater than their differences. Such is, I assume, the outfall of collective persecution.

Anyway, the Indian Plaza was badly flooded a year ago by Irene, taking on five feet of silt-laden water and looking dead as a doornail when the rive receded.

Well, it didn’t die. After months of hard labor by its faithful people, it opened last weekend with a gathering and dance:

There were perhaps a hundred people present, though I confess to being an unreliable reporter of numbers – calculate in a generous margin of error and I’m good to go.

Four or five drum circles provided, in turn, the rhythm and reason for the dancing:

And dance they did:

They danced in a measured pursuit of their heritages, my heritage, shallowly buried in the clutter of the American Present.

It was hopeful, and it was beautiful:

Lame Bull traded for this bear headdress, and wears it proudly.

Stone Elk makes staffs for walking and dancing:

And everyone danced:

It was good to see, a resurrection of sorts and a celebration of life.

The next gathering will be September 1-2, if you’re in the area.

Old Trees. August 22, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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White pines, one of the taller tree species which grow in New England. These are out behind the Hall Tavern Farm in Charlemont:

There are four or five of these great things growing amongst a younger forest – how they were spared the saw is a mystery to me, but they’re inspirational enough for someone to have built a few benches for the contemplative visitor:

Those are both tilt-shift photos, although that gets lost in this venue. The first shot has a good deal of tilt, the second a full boat of swing planted right up the tree and catching the bench on its way by.

Large trees these are, at least for these parts. Two tall men might not reach around them.

I’ll be back.

‘Tis The Season! March 4, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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It’s March here in Massachusetts.

And while it’s March in the rest of the known world, it means something a bit different here.

March is when the warmer days and below-freezing nights cause sugar maples to give it up for We The Peeps.

For centuries now, country folk hereabouts have set out on snowshoes on survivable February days to drill holes in sugar maples, drive in taps and hang buckets:

These galvanized cans haven’t evolves much over the years, though plastic surrogates and miles of piping have made their appearances over the years.

The tapping, though, represents only the tip of the iceberg of effort involved in sweetening our pancakes – there are uncounted cords of wood to be cut, hauled, split and stacked for drying, and once the conditions are right, so many gallons of sap to be retrieved, lugged to tractors or wagons, transported to sugar houses, and boiled over finicky wood fires for days, weeks, sometimes longer.  Forty gallons of sap thus transported yields about a gallon of Liquid Gold, and considering the labor and investment and pre-planning involved, it’s a steal  at $50 per gallon.

So it blows my mind and warms my heart to see it at roadside hereabouts, set out for passers-by to take as they wish and pay for as their consciences dictate:

This roadside barn corner says it all: serve yourself, we trust you.  Last year’s price was $11/pint, and that in the generic plastic jugs, not these gift-worthy glass bottles with ribbons and bows lovingly affixed.  Take what you want, put your money in that little box.

I try to imagine this paradigm being employed in a more urban environment, and come up empty.  We’re not that much different than the urban poor or the urban privileged; we’re just common folk trying to keep our heads and hearts above water from season to season.

The difference, if there is one, is that we see ourselves as being all in this together.  We’re not black or white, red or blue (though if you ask you’ll get an opinionated ear-full,) we’re just neighbors.

This is a big part of why I love it here, and have a hard time conceiving of living anywhere else.

A Rainy Afternoon… September 5, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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…down in Hadley, where the recent storms amounted to lots of rain and localized flooding, nothing particularly destructive.  I needed to get down there to run some errands and snapped off a few shots with Elliot and the 5D.  Here they are.

A pasture expecting rain:

Barns awaiting the harvest:

…and a great oak supervising the ripening of corn:

The current unsettled weather spells trouble for the rain-soaked flood regions north and west of here, but will be entirely survivable in the lower Connecticut river valley.

And it makes for interesting photos, so here they are, courtesy of Elliot.